Racing: Weight worries Manning

By James Graham

Kaye Manning leads  Bruce Almighty and jockey Paul Taylor back after their win. Photo / APN
Kaye Manning leads Bruce Almighty and jockey Paul Taylor back after their win. Photo / APN

One kilogram may not seem like a lot, but it's stopping Stuart Manning dusting off another spot on a shelf bulging with trophies.

The Tauranga trainer and co-owner fears his cup sensation Bruce Almighty - he's won five already in a fairytale streak - might be weighted out of the season-ending silverware at Te Rapa tomorrow.

With 58.5kg in a race stacked with early speed, Manning's gallant 6-year-old grey faces his toughest test yet in the listed $80,000 Taumarunui Gold Cup (2100m).

"If he had 57.5kg I would have given him a royal show, but once you get over 58kg it really makes you wonder," said Manning.

"What racing should have is more weight-for-age races to put horses in like that. In the old days, they had weight-for-age races all over the place, so you always had somewhere to go.

"You break their heart when you ask them to carry that kind of weight - and he's not very big."

The other concern for Manning is that his dual group three winner is not overly taxed in an early-race speed duel with pacesetting stablemate Diamondsareforever.

He prefers to avoid them clashing wherever possible, though is fairly certain Bruce Almighty will put the older grey in his place if tested leaving the straight the first time.

Manning says Bruce Almighty is in season-best shape for his return to middle-distance racing. He resumed from a virus-enforced break with a sensational fifth in the Opunake Cup (1400m) under 57.5kg on July 24.

"Look, if he can carry the weight at Te Rapa against those other horses carrying so little below him, he's in with a great show," said Manning.

"I wouldn't start him otherwise - he's right in the zone at the moment."

The track, which was reading a slow (9) yesterday, should also suit Bruce Almighty, while inconveniencing several others.

Both his group three scalps this season - the Taranaki and Canterbury Gold Cups - were recorded on good surfaces.

The Jakki Good-trained Amirar looks the biggest obstacle for the Manning pair. With 4.5kg less than Bruce Almighty, most punters will be expecting Amirar and rider Andrew Calder to slingshot the pacemakers early in the run home.

Good has worked wonders with Amirar on the beach this season, drawing out the promise the 4-year-old showed early on with a hat-trick of recent wins.

The 2009/10 strike-rate queen says the Ekraar mare has been a different horse since her graduation to middle-distance ranks.

She opened the streak without fanfare, scraping home by a short head in R80 company at Ruakaka.

Amirar then sealed favouritism for tomorrow with two outstanding performances: a 16-length win on this course last month and an effortless victory over Strapped for Cash in the Governor's General Cup.

Even allowing for the 1kg weight swing in Strapped For Cash's favour tomorrow, it's hard to see the last-start Parliamentary Handicap winner turning the tables, particularly on a slow surface.

Cambridge co-trainer Bjorn Baker rates Grand National-bound hurdler Harvest The Gold an upset chance for a stable double in the race.

Stablemate Mountain Gold won last year's event over Kiri and Strapped For Cash at good odds.

"He's not without a chance," said Baker of the proven course performer.

"He's been working really well and we're really happy with him."

- NZ Herald

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