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Commanding Hope Aims At Manikato

An overdue win by Commanding Hope has put him on track for a tilt at the Group One Manikato Stakes.

Trainer Chris Hyland will nominate Commanding Hope for Saturday’s Group Three Bletchingly Stakes – a race he won last year – but favours waiting an extra two weeks to run him at Caulfield on August 15.

Until Saturday at Moonee Valley, the rising five-year-old had not won in seven starts since taking out the Bletchingly although he indicated he was still more than capable with solid second placings behind Cocinero and Lucky Secret over 1200m at Moonee Valley in March.

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And three starts back he was an excellent third behind Takeover Target and I Am Invincible in Group One Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 2.

“I’ll have to have a chat to the owners. We’ll probably nominate him (for the Bletchingly), but there’s a nice 1200 at Caulfield in a couple of weeks,” Hyland said.

“And if he could win that we might go to the Manikato. I’d love to win a Group One. Most people would I suppose. I think he might be the horse.”

The gelding completed a running double for champion jockey Damien Oliver when he came from ninth of the 10 runners at the 400m in the Dominant Hcp (1200m) to score by a half-neck from the honest topweight In The Shadows with race leader Signor Sox a half length away third.

“He tries hard. I love him when he gets back, because he puts his head out and really has a crack,” Hyland said.

“That was similar to his Bletchingly run. He’s out the back and you think, he’s in trouble, but when he chases one down he keeps fighting.”

“When he’s close he can look a bit average in the run and not finish off.”

“Behind the scenes you think he’s just an average little horse, but he comes on the day and he really has a crack.”

“You’ve really got to love him.”

The $500,000 Manikato (1200m) at the Moonee Valley night meeting on September 25 is appealing to Hyland because it is run on the forgiving StrathAyr surface.

“Damien said he hasn’t got a fantastic action but on the Valley he feels pretty good,” Hyland said.

“So that we get a bit of longevity out of him my aim is to run him on tracks with a bit of cushion in them.”

Oliver was impressed with the way the gelding finished off his race.

“He’s got a great turn of foot when he’s held up this horse,” he said.

“Coming to the turn I probably could have gone a bit earlier, but I thought he might be a bit suspect if I went that far from home.”

“But when he did get out he really flew.”

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