Manikato Champion Racehorse
Manikato Was An Australian Sprinter That Dominated His Specialty In The Late 70's & Early 80's.
He also holds the distinction of being the second Australian horse to exceed 1$ million in earnings, being credited with $1,154,210.
While he certainly had the benefits of the increasing stakes that his predecessors lacked, he did produce 29 wins, 9 seconds and 4 thirds, finishing in the top three 42 times from his 47 starts. That is legitimate performance in any era.
Horse Of The Year
He also was recognised with Australian Horse of the Year honours for the 1978-79 season to further solidify his claim to greatness.
Foaled in 1975, he was the product of Australian sire Manihi, who although lightly raced managed to produce victories in the VRC Newmarket Handicap and the SAJC Breeders Stakes. His dam was also a native product, Markato, that produced fair to middling results as a racer. The line does further trace back to Heroic, Ajax and Gainsborough.
Manikato was purchased by Mal Seccull in what turned out to be an incredible bargain when he gained rights to the horse for only $3,500.
His first start came in 1978 as a two-year-old.
His initial tries and those immediately following when he raced as a three-year-old included four Group 1 victories: the Blue Diamond Stakes, the Invitation Stakes, the Caulfield Guineas and the Golden Slipper Stakes. He also in 1978 added the Ascot Vale Stakes to his tally.
Manikato Winning Group 1 Races
1979 was also kind to Manikato. He won three Group 2 races that have since achieved Group 1 status: the C.F. Orr Stakes, the Freeway Stakes and the William Reid Stakes. Bona Fide Group 1 wins in the Futurity Stakes and the Rothmans 100,000 further added to his growing reputation for being the dominant sprinter of the time.
In 1980, Manikato added consecutive William Reid Stakes and C.F. Orr Stakes to his resume’, still Group 2 races, with Group 1 wins in the George Ryder Stakes and a second Futurity Stakes.
He took the William Reid Stakes again in 1981, serving notice to all that 1200 metres was a distance best left to him. The month of February featured another C.F. Orr and another Futurity Stakes.
He then underwent a 28 week spell that was necessitated by his somewhat weak build, some issues with his legs and some other health concerns. When he returned the following September to participate in the Spring Racing Carnival, he and jockey Roy Higgins partnered to win the Queen Elizabeth Cup, in so doing establishing a course record.
Manikato Not Short On Speed
Speed was never in doubt or in short supply when he set additional track records via the Doomben 10,000 and the George Ryder Stakes.
Gary Willetts had the honour of steering Manikato for the eight starts he made in 1982. This resulted in, amongst other things, in his unprecedented fourth consecutive William Reid Stakes, another win in the Memsie Stakes and victories in the A.J Moir Stakes, Canterbury and Freeway Stakes.
His connections spelled him again for just over three months, bringing him up to 1983 and his final four tries. That produced the fifth William Reid Stakes and a fourth Futurity Stakes that marked the conclusion of the racing career of one of the greatest sprinters that ever took the Australian turf.
The final ledger shows that Manikato won over half of his starts. He was unplaced on only five occasions. His 29 wins puts him four ahead of Black Caviar, a horse that inevitably draws comparisons.
That champion retired undefeated, but ran just over half as many times as Manikato.
Manikato experienced severe misfortune soon upon retiring.
He died in 1984 from a form of aluminum poisoning and was buried near the finish line of the Moonee Valley racecourse, the site of many of his spectacular achievements.
That venue annually runs the Group 1 Manikato Stakes in his honour. He also has a grandstand restaurant bearing his name at the Caulfield Racecourse.