Manaal delivers another major for the fillies in ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes

Fillies have continued their dominance of the country’s Group One two-year-old races with Manaal nailing Godolphin’s Traffic Warden in the final bounds to capture the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick.

The filly started at $5.50 with betting apps and atoned for a luckless run from a wide draw in the Golden Slipper, although with Saturday’s winning margin only a half-head, trainer Michael Freedman admitted it was a nervous watch late.

“I actually watched it with Hussain Lootah, the owner, and we both were a bit unsure on the line,” Freedman said.

“She’s such a good filly. We went home a little bit dejected after the Slipper, just the circumstances as they were.

“But after her work on Tuesday I said to Hussain, ‘I really think it will take a good one to beat her’.

“I’m really excited by what she might be able to do coming back as a three-year-old too.”

The colts and geldings are yet to win a juvenile major this season with Hayasugi taking out the Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) in Melbourne, Lady Of Camelot the Golden Slipper (1200m) and now Manaal the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).

Her victory gave Freedman a black-type double after he earlier claimed the Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) with Ducasse and the Randwick trainer said it was heartening for the stable to be getting big race results on the major carnival days.

“It’s a huge thrill. These big days are what we all do it for,” Freedman said.

“I remember she came into work around this time last year for her first preparation, so it’s a long haul to get these horses here and it takes the good ones to still be here and fighting in these Group One races.”

Freedman wasn’t sure if Manaal would press on to the Champagne Stakes (1600m) in two weeks or be spelled, while James Cummings was keen to give Traffic Warden ($7.50) another Group 1 chance after his narrow defeat.

“He’s run a terrific race and the colt just keeps improving, so you’ve got to be impressed with that effort and you’ve got to keep all options open because he’s got a big one in him,” Cummings said.

Golden Slipper runner-up Coleman ($8) was another length away in third after doing his best work late, but trainer Matt Laurie said he wouldn’t proceed to the final leg of the juvenile triple crown.

“He can go home. He’s done a great job for us and we think he’s going to be one to really follow next spring,” Laurie said.

The $2.05 favourite Storm Boy was the disappointment of the race, tracking wide and briefly issuing a challenge in the straight before fading to finish fourth, three lengths behind the winner.

Connections confirmed he had come to the end of his campaign and would be spelled.

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