2018 Manikato Stakes tips, form and betting preview

Hey Doc after winning the Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 27, 2017 in Moonee Ponds, Australia. (Alice Laidlaw/Racing Photos)

FRIDAY night’s Group 1 Manikato Stakes is the first cab off the rank in terms of big-time racing this weekend and we’re pumped about what is in store at Moonee Valley under lights.

One of the premier sprint races of the Melbourne spring, the Valley will be absolutely rocking this Friday as the best short-course specialists grace the hallowed turf.

The team at Horse Betting has pored over the form and selected our four favourite runners in the field and delivered your winning tip to kick off your weekend of punting right.

Who are the best horses in the 2018 Manikato Stakes?

Friday presents a star-studded field of sprinters, but in our opinion this quartet stands head and shoulders above their rivals.

Kementari

Kementari has drawn wide in the Manikato Stakes.

Fresh off a five week break following a fourth in the Makybe Diva Stakes, Godolphin runner Kementari drops back to the 1200m.

We’re not certain that this distance is Kementari’s ideal trip, but he’s won at this distance before and the freshen up should do him the world of good.

Watch for Kementari to be charging home late in the Manikato, and the four-year-old is at $5.50 to win at Sportsbet.

WATCH BELOW: Kementari wins the Eskimo Prince Stakes

US Navy Flag

US Navy Flag is hoping to bounce back following a disappointing run in The Everest.

The sole international raider in this year’s Everest, US Navy Flag will be a much improved galloper following that run.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained galloper didn’t appreciate the softer ground that presented at Randwick, and the firmer track will play into his favour on Friday.

A Group 1 winner back in July of this year at Newmarket, US Navy Flag is a $7 hope with the online bookmakers in the Manikato.

Sunlight

Prodigiously talented Sunlight is a star of Australian racing.

Tony McEvoy-trained Sunlight is a superstar sprinter which looks hard to beat in this one.

The filly failed in her first-up run at Morphettville against Nature Strip in the Lightning but has come on in leaps and bounds since then, recording back-to-back wins. She’s low in the weights, has a great draw and is at $4.60 at Neds.

Bring on Friday night for Sunlight.

WATCH BELOW: Sunlight wins the Silver Slipper Stakes

Brave Smash

Brave Smash (JPN) ridden by Craig Williams heads to the barrier before the Lexus Newmarket Handicap at Flemington Racecourse on March 10, 2018 in Flemington, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)

Another Everest runner Brave Smash looms as a great chance in this Manikato.

The Darren Weir-trained runner struggled to get through the heavy ground on Randwick and will relish a return to Moonee Valley. The horse has won at track and distance in the past and prior to the ordinary showing in the Everest Brave Smash finished second in the Group 1 AJ Moir Stakes on September 27.

Brave Smash is at $9.50 at Ladbrokes to win the Manikato Stakes, and we think he’s more than capable of doing exactly that.

WATCH BELOW: Brave Smash runs second to Viddora in the 2018 AJ Moir Stakes

Who will win the 2018 Manikato Stakes?

Sunlight is our 2018 Manikato Stakes selection.

We’re finding it hard to mount a case as to why Sunlight cannot win this one.

The horse has yet to miss a placing from ten starts, draws well at the Valley and takes in a rock-bottom weight against the more mature runners.

We’ve long been admirers of Sunlight and we think she adds another Group 1 title to her resume on Friday night.