Jamie KahThe Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes is a Weight-for-Age race for horses aged three years and above, run over 1200 metres with a total prizemoney pool of $2 million.

The Manikato Stakes was named after Champion Australian thoroughbred Manikato who won five William Reid Stakes, two Freeway Stakes (now Manikato Stakes) and one Moir Stakes at The Valley.

In 2024, the Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes returns to its position earlier in the spring, featuring on the AFL Grand Final Eve card, having previously been held during the Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival.

The Group 1 sprint was taken out by Imperatriz in 2023, with the star New Zealand mare leading all the way to win by 3 1/4 lengths.

Insert Image HereNamed in honour of the Australian Hall of Fame sprinter, Manikato was renowned for his deeds at The Valley in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Costing just $3,500, the son of Manihi became just the second horse in Australian history to earn over $1 million ($1,154,210) from his twenty career victories – two of which came in the race named in his honour today.

Manikato is buried in TOTE Park at The Valley Racecourse, the scene where he famously took out the William Reid Stakes on five consecutive occasions (1979-83). The top-heavy chestnut gelding would also achieve the rare feat of taking out the classic juvenile double in the Blue Diamond Stakes and the Golden Slipper and raced on to his six-year-old year with 47 starts of which he was triumphant on 29 occasions.

The $1M Group 1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes is run over 1200 metres on day one of the Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival (formerly known as the Freeway Stakes between 1968-1983).

Insert Image HereRun at weight-for-age conditions, the event is held under the famous lights at The Valley and despite the remarkable difference in distance – four horses in Strawberry Road (1983), Rubiton (1987), Dane Ripper (1997) and Sunline (2000) – have been able to complete the Manikato Stakes-Cox Plate double when the Manikato Stakes was run in early September.

There have been many mouth-watering clashes as Australia’s best sprinters have gone head-to-head around The Valley’s tight circumference to do battle. 2021 marks the 54th edition of the Manikato Stakes.

Manikato himself first took out the event 12 years after the race’s inception – 11 years after the mighty Vain won the race in 1969. You can’t look too far down the honour roll without being struck by stardom from champion stallion Redoute’s Choice to international superstar Miss Andretti. In recent times Black Caviar’s nemesis Hay List, dominant colt Sepoy, Queensland’s warrior Buffering and two of the most dominant sprinters of the modern era, Lankan Rupee and Chautauqua, have raised the trophy, and in 2020, Hey Doc won his second Manikato and set a new 1200m track record running 1:08.76.

RACE FIRST RUN: Saturday, August 31, 1968
(Known as the Freeway Stakes originally)

$61 (Rebel Dane-2016); $21 (Piavonic- 2001)

$1.50 (Hay List- 2010); $1.80 (Sepoy- 2011)

Bart Cummings, Bob Hoysted (4 wins)

Frank Reys (4 wins), Gary Willetts (3 wins)