It was Cambridge trainer Craig Thornton's idea to leave Manolo Blahniq, winner of yesterday's $70,000 Barneswood Farm Eclipse Stakes, a colt.

He's not regretting it but: "Now I'm paying for it."

Manolo Blahniq is a gorgeous colt by Jimmy Choux who is now more than well fancied to take the Karaka Million.

He is more than a little hyper active. "It's his nervous energy, it's what a makes him so good," said Thornton after the runaway, all-the-way victory.


It was a decent bet Manolo Blahniq was going to lead yesterday. He'd won his barrier trials in front and probably learned little about racing in a field.

Matt Cameron dragged him into a trailing position on debut at Avondale and the colt did not appreciate it.

"Opie [Bosson] stacked them up that day and Manolo Blahniq lost his rhythm. He's got such a high cruising speed and he couldn't handle having his rhythm dictated to."

The answer was to lead yesterday and it worked brilliantly.

Cameron was impressed. "He had a nice bit of work going to the start to take the edge off him. When he got around to the start he went to sleep. He was in the barriers quite a long time, but he handled it well.

"The wet track wasn't to his liking because it's testing and hard work, but he was simply too good for them." The 1.11.91 time for the 1200m was excellent given the conditions.

Manolo Blahniq was a $115,000 Karaka purchase for Thornton's good friend Tony Noonan and the youngster will transfer to the Victorian trainer's stable after the country's richest race on January 24.

"Tony and I have been mates for a long time, I met him in America about 15 years ago and have done some pre-training for him before now," said Thornton, referring to the successful period he spent riding over fences in the United States.

The wet track wasn't to his liking because it's testing and hard work, but he was simply too good for them.


Manolo Blahniq, who currently races in the colours of his breeder and co-owner Nearco Stud, bounded straight to the lead for Cameron and he turned the race into a procession in the run home.

"I told Matt to be aggressive as I expected Tennessee to go forward, but she missed the jump," Thornton said.

Manolo Blahniq coasted home by three and a half lengths from the Awapuni visitor Showmeyamoneyhoney and Glass Slipper.

- Additional reporting NZ Racing Desk