In terms of historical record tomorrow's $200,000 Manco Easter Stakes at Ellerslie has been a race for tough, experienced horses.

Chocante and Let Me Roar have had a mere 17 starts between them, but don't be surprised if they share a major part of the group two spoils on offer.

The mighty Grey Way was having his 96th start when he won the 1977 version of the Easter beating, among others, winning machines Vice Regal, Kiwi Can and Tudor Light. If you saw it you were not paying attention if that is not in the top half dozen races you've seen.

Remarkably, Grey Way had a further 66 starts to end his astounding career with 51 wins, 27 seconds and 21 thirds. We will indeed be fortunate if we again see his like.


If Let Me Roar gets the chocolates this will go down as a remarkable achievement by trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and that's a bold statement given their results of the last 18 months.

To go from maidens unbeaten in seven starts to win at group two level is practically unheard of. But Let Me Roar is displaying talent right out of the ordinary. Yes, her winning margin at Te Rapa last start was narrow, but although she did not look inconvenienced, things did not entirely go her way and she was exposed when left in front a fair way from the finish in the home straight.

Even from the minimum 53kg again, this would be a seasonal highlight if she manages to take it.

"This is by far the best field she's met," says Murray Baker. "I think she'll handle the trip (1600m), but how she will manage if it's a genuine slow, I'm not so sure.

"She's pretty genuine though."

Stayers often run a bold 1400m fresh from a break so it was no surprise Chocante put in to be a close third to Let Me Roar at Te Rapa. That type of stayer often does not run quite the same race second up, but Chocante has a touch more of the precocious about him and Stephen Marsh is clever enough to have kept him in the zone.

This Ellerslie track is likely to be quite holding, therefore testing, and Chocante's stamina might be a valuable asset in the closing 250m. The combination of 56kg and a wide barrier is not attractive, but he is strong enough to overcome them.

Auckland Racing Club executive Craig Baker says be believes the track will be lucky to come back better than: "Somewhere between a 7 and an 8." On a genuine slow surface Our King Sway has to be a chance, despite his wide gate. He is somewhat underrated and is very determined in a tough finish, something required in an Easter.

Scapolo drops to a very dangerous 56kg. His second to All Roads at Tauranga two back was extremely stylish. All Roads will suffer on a 7 or 8 track, particularly under 57kg, but has the class to be thereabouts.

Last year's winner Sound Proposition and Battle Time are other chances in a wide open field. Don't forget the first eight or nine finished within one and a half lengths a year ago.

Camino Rocoso has some talented sorts to overcome in the $100,000 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes, but is one of the most progressive horses around. Qiji Phoenix will attempt to remain unbeaten in the Champagne Stakes.

Weekend watch

• Class:

Qiji Phoenix, R5, Ellerslie. Effortless in winning his only two starts to date. No reason why the step to 1600m will change much.

• Up to the right distance: Sacred Shot, R5, Ellerslie. Good runs at 1600m and will appreciate the middle distance this time.

• Will love the 2100m: Camino Rocoso, R8, Ellerslie. Beaten at 1600m last time, but the slow pace was to blame. No such problem here at 2100m.