Manuel has always been a horse who promised to deliver, but never quite did – until now.
Calvin McEvoy, the son of the trainer – who like so many of his colleagues was in Sydney inspecting yearlings at the forthcoming sales – explained that in his younger days the now five-year-old had been regarded as the best two-year-old in the stable: that was some praise given the McEvoy yard’s record in producing speedy high-class youngsters.
But things never really worked out for him and it wasn’t until he was gelded relatively recently that Manuel started to produce results in line with the promise with which he had been initially regarded.
But this still seemed, on all known evidence, to be a bit of a stretch: his previous best win had come in the listed Kilmore Cup, a handicap on the country circuit, which explained why he went off as a $21 chance.
Still, there were some who thought he could step up, as he was backed in from an opening quote of $31, and there were much bigger prices available earlier in the week.
«He’s a horse we have always had so much time for, he’s always been doing a few things wrong, but in his last prep he just ran so consistently, he had a lot of seconds and firsts,» McEvoy jnr explained.
«He came here today, we were the outsider, but what a ride by Luke – he just got to the front, didn’t have to do too much to get there, he controlled the race, he was so strong through the line.
«He seems to like to roll along a little bit. He’s quite a strong horse, and if he gets back and gets covered up he doesn’t seem to put the same performances in. He’s got the talent and he’s repaid them today.»
Now the stable will try to get him into the $5 million All Star Mile, a task that would have seemed improbable before this run in the Orr.
«He is the one we really wanted to get in there from the beginning. He only got gelded not that long ago and that was the making of this horse,» McEvoy jnr said.
«He was amazing when he won here at Caulfield and beat Fifty Stars on the same track and distance. He beat some really quality horses today, but we always thought there was the ability there.»
Currie said things had worked in Manuel’s favour on the day.
«I suppose at level weights and group 1 (things might be hard in group 1 class.). I thought maybe in a handicap down in the weights. He’s a tough bugger, the track is probably racing to suit him, it’s been hard to get out wide and make a lot of ground.
«Cornering I thought, ‘Gee, he’s come back to me down the side’, and I thought I would give him a bit of a click up and he came straight up into my hands and I knew how tough he was and would keep going.»