Mankayan scores first-up win at Caulfield

Irish-bred import Mankayan has made a winning return at his second Australian campaign with a stylish victory at Caulfield.

Having his first start since finishing fourth in the Listed Pakenham Cup (2500m) last December, the only time he was unplaced in seven starts at his first Australian campaign, Mankayan took out the Take It To The Neds Level Handicap (1600m) on Saturday.

Mankayan settled on the fence in a midfield position under apprentice Matthew Cartwright and gained a split in the straight to hit the front inside the final 100m and then hold off the late charging pack.

A $14 chance in betting, Mankayan defeated Beltoro ($9) by a short-neck with the early leader Imperial Lad ($9) a nose away third.

Mankayan has shown versatility in his Australian starts to date, performing well first-up when second over 1600m at Flemington last August before going on to win over 2550m at Cranbourne before his Pakenham Cup performance.

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained galloper will be given the opportunity to race in similar company through the coming months with a view to getting into a better race during the spring.

“He clearly goes very well fresh,” Eustace said.

“He has got a nice rating, just to allow him to get a couple of more runs in open handicap company while keeping him fresh and at slightly shorter trips might suit him better.

“Ultimately we’d like to get him into a nice race in the spring and he’s in for a nice long campaign.”

After a winning double at Sandown last week, Cartwright had a quiet week bypassing the Warrnambool Carnival, saying Mankayan was in for a good preparation.

He said he was lucky he could build momentum and had the space to do that through the race.

“It was a monster run today,” Cartwright said.

“I stayed to the fence because the leader was always going to give a good kick, but we got a good run through, and he stuck his head out where it counts.”

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