Caulfield's Manfred Stakes might only be a listed contest over 1200 metres staged early in the autumn. But its list of recent winners includes a number of three year olds who have gone on to take high order amongst their own generation or become group one gallopers in succeeding years.
Names like Denman, Mosheen, Nicconi, Turffonein, Haradasun and Niconero have all triumphed in the race since 2005. Whether Peter Moody's lightly-raced gelding Royal Haunt can aspire to such exalted status remains to be seen, but the manner in which the $3.90 chance saw off his seven rivals suggests that he has plenty of upside.
The son of Hard Spun made every post a winning one to see off $31 chance Force Command by four-and-a quarter lengths, with the strongly fancied Hosting ($3.60) half-a-length back in third place. The favourite Albrecht, who came within a head of winning the Group One Golden Rose in the spring, was further back in sixth place.
Royal Haunt made it three wins from three starts with this victory. He has come a long way in a short time, having only made his racecourse debut on New Years Eve at Echuca before following up 17 days later in mid-January with a win at Sale. While he could ultimately target a race like the Australian Guineas, Moody was playing things down.
"He continues to surprise me. He came to us with a bit of a boom unraced and I said to David (owner David Moodie) and the team that he's only just making into a horse. But he's continued to develop.
"Linda (Meech) rode him on his first start at Echuca and he struggled to get home there. We suggested the blinkers and he hasn't looked back and touch wood his barrier manners have held, which was his problem as a young horse. He still uses up a bit of nervous energy. He was a fair bit (more) in front of them at the line than he was at the 600. You would think he would run a nice seven furlongs (1400m) if not a mile (1600m)."
Earlier the Darley camp added to its large number of Blue Diamond contenders when Sheik Mohammed's Street Cry filly Metastasio led throughout in the 1100 metre Chairman's Stakes to land the short odds of $1.45. The Kerrin McEvoy partnered youngster won by two and three quarter lengths despite, as her trainer, Peter Snowden pointed out, ''doing a few things wrong'', with the Moody stable's Kona Breeze ($9) second and $8.50 shot Shamus Award third.
''She's very talented. She is doing things we didn't really expect her to do. She did a few things wrong today, which I was a bit disappointed in, but she won very well. The A-grade comes in three or four weeks time, and she can't afford to make a mistake getting roind the corner. But she will get a lot of benefit from a look at the track today,'' Snowden said.
Darley has to decide whether to pay up the $55,000 late entrance fee to run Metastasio in the Diamond.