Tony Gollan believes his sprinter Jonker is “spot on” ahead of Friday night’s Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley.
The Queensland-trained sprinter has had two runs this campaign, both of which came interstate at Flemington and Randwick, where he finished seventh and sixth respectively.
Although a seven and a six don’t look all that flash in the form guide, the son of Spirit Of Boom was luckless last time out in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes at Randwick, where he was beaten just over three lengths by Masked Crusader, who subsequently was a narrow runner-up in The Everest.
The six-year-old was a narrow runner-up to stablemate Vega One in the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup over the Brisbane Winter Carnival, while he also placed third behind Eduardo in the Group 1 The Galaxy in March, which is good enough form to win this year’s Manikato Stakes over 1200m.
“I think it was clear the horse should have finished top three (in the Premiere Stakes),” Gollan said on The Final Gallop.
“He was right there and he’s had all his momentum stopped; his effort was good, I think he was still beaten just on three lengths in that race.
“With clear running, he probably (would have) run second to Masked Crusader and that’s really good form.”
While it is easy to say in hindsight, the trainer said with tongue-in-cheek that that run would have put his horse in front of Lost And Running in The Everest, where he finished fourth.
“That’s pretty good form I’d reckon for the Manikato,” Gollan said.
“Peter and Paul Snowden have done a great job with the horse in the last seven weeks when we have been unable to see the horse.
“They’re very confident with him.
“He had a good look around The Valley on Saturday; Daniel (Moor) rode him and he got around the track really, really well, so all the signs lead to a really good run.”
Having now had a chance to ride the multiple Group 1-placed entire, Daniel Moor will know what to expect on Friday night.
Set to jump from barrier four, it is expected that Jonker will lead the field of 12.
“He looks the out-and-out leader in the race if he steps away and we can show that sort of gusto,” Gollan said.
“He was in a race the other day in Sydney where there was plenty of tempo drawn wide, so we were able to take a sit on him, but we’ll be far more positive and aggressive in a race like this and put him right up there.”
Jonker is currently an $8.50 chance to win his maiden Group 1, while the race favourite, Savatoxl ($4.50), will need to turn around one length margin from when the pair met in the Kingsford-Smith Cup.