Loving Gaby wins the Manikato Stakes (Image: Racing Photos)

Loving Gaby winning the Manikato Stakes in 2019 (Image: Racing Photos)

Fillies to fire in Manikato?

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace know what it takes to break tradition and win the Manikato Stakes and they hope they have found the proven formula.

The training duo broke close to half a century of history in the $1 million sprint in 2019 when Loving Gaby became just the second filly to win the race since its inception in 1968.

No filly since Dual Choice in just the fourth running of the race in 1970 had saluted, and she came back and also won the following year.

On Friday night, the powerhouse stable will saddle up four runners in the Manikato Stakes - two of them fillies.

Sneaky Five and Crystal Bound will carry just 51 kilograms each under Dean Yendall and Damien Thornton respectively in the Manikato Stakes and Maher sees no reason why lightning can't strike twice.

The unbeaten Sneaky Five comes through the same fillies' lead-up race at Caulfield 13 days earlier that was contested by Loving Gaby, the Thoroughbred Club Stakes, but unlike Loving Gaby, who finished second in that race, boasts winning form heading into the Group 1.

"The way Sneaky Five has come back and come through that run, the fillies, as we seen with 'Gaby', get in with a really nice weight," Maher said of the Rosemont Stud-owned Sneaky Five.

"She hasn't done anything wrong so far so hopefully she can keep it going."

Sneaky Five returned from 11 months away from the racetrack to win the Thoroughbred Club Stakes and keep her unbeaten record intact from three outings.

"She caught me a little bit by surprise," Maher admits. "She's been working well but nothing to suggest she was going to go and blow them away.

"She's a very exciting horse and has been around at The Valley and won the Inglis Banner."

Finishing less than a length away third in the Thoroughbred Club Stakes was Crystal Bound, which followed her first-up win in the Cap D'Antibes Stakes.

Like Sneaky Five, Crystal Bound was also a debut winner around The Valley circuit.

"Crystal Bound, we saw what she did here first start, she scooted around the rail and I think she won her first start by about six lengths," Maher recalled.

"She went to her first start off a light prep, just one trial and she was able to get that done.

"Solid effort the other day and 1200 metres will be no trouble.

"Three-year-old filly who gets in with a really nice weight, knows her way around The Valley and is in good form."

The stable's other two Manikato Stakes hopefuls are both mares, who have been more successful winning the sprint on 10 occasions, most recently with Sea Siren in 2012.

Gold Edition, Miss Andretti, Spinning Hill, Sunline and Dane Ripper are others who added their name to the honour roll.

Bella Nipotina and Away Game, however, bring contrasting lead-up form.

"I think she's absolutely thriving," Maher said of Bella Nipotina.

"Can't fault her, her runs have been super and I think her sectionals, her last furlong was one of the quickest of the day last start.

"She loves getting her toe into the ground and loves a bit of rain.

"She can race forward, back, anywhere.

"I think she's a mare that is in the form of her career."

Away Game is looking to bounce back to form after finishing last in the Gilgai Stakes, with Linda Meech having to navigate her path from the outsider barrier.

"Away Game is coming off an uncustomary run that wasn't to form," said Maher.

"We've freshened her up and her work was good here on Saturday.

"Not the ideal lead in but she's a high-quality mare."

Sportsbet has marked Sneaky Five the shortest of the stable's hopefuls at $8.50, with fellow filly Crystal Bound and Bella Nipotina each at $12 and Away Game at $27.