Chester Manifold Stakes: Michael Walker’s change of tactics pays off for Never Again

Asking the question is good.

But knowing what to do with the answer makes all the difference.

Just ask Michael Walker.

The top jockey walked into the barriers on Never Again with a plan for the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m) at Flemington and jumped out of the gates seconds later with an entirely different set of tactics.

Why? A simple question to Craig Newitt, the rider of Coming Around, drawn to the outside of Walker.

“I wanted to be one out, out back,” Walker said.

“But I spoke to Craig Newitt in the gates and he said he’s ‘definitely’ going forward.

“When Froggy’s going forward, he’s leading and leading with tempo, so I changed my mind to ride three back.”

Walker’s adjustment made all the difference when Never Again surged to an impressive victory in the $140,000 summer feature.

Flemington 1400m specialist Vassilator stormed into second, while Brave Song, who almost looked a winner at the clock tower, rounded out the top three.

Michael Walker returns to the mounting yard aboard Never Again after winning the Chester Manifold Stakes Picture: Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Odds-on pop Riding The Wave and Blazejowski chased the speed set by Coming Around, with the trio puncturing in the straight after being kept out of their comfort zones.

It played out perfectly for Never Again, who delivered Walker his 2000th career win.

“I suppose if people were on him 700m out, you’re screwing your tickets up, but he gradually builds, builds, builds and picks up,” Walker said. “At the end he was actually running away from them.”

Trainer Clinton McDonald credited Walker for the winning performance.

“He (Never Again) hits a flat spot and Michael knew about that. He got him through that and, once he got him out in the clear, I knew he’d be hard to beat,” McDonald said. “When he’s (Walker) on, he’s on. One of those riders that can go missing a bit, but when he comes back and he’s on, there’s no one better.”

Never Again, who won smartly at Caulfield on Boxing Day at odds, will return to the Heath for the John Dillon Stakes (1400m) in two weeks.

Lindsey Smith offered up no excuses for Riding The Wave, conceding his decision to extend the gelding to 1400m backfired.

Boss defeat turns to Joy

– Brad Waters

Disappointment turned to excitement in the space of 40 minutes for trainers ­Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra at Saturday’s Flemington meeting.

The pair’s exciting three-year-old Zac De Boss was beaten for the first time as a $2.45 favourite in The Mumm Royale (1400m) before Island Joy ($18) scooted along the­ ­inside to score a dominant win in the Furphy Handicap (1600m).

Zahra said immaturity brought undone Zac De Boss, who finished a well held third to Milton Park ($13) after getting back in the field for jockey Damien Thornton.

“He didn’t jump away as well as last week and he just wasn’t as sharp,” Zahra said. “He got lost in the straight.

“I know it was hot but he got himself a bit uptight in the yard and wasn’t quite switched on.”

Island Joy, ridden by Damien Thornton, dashes away from her rivals. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Zahra said a race at The Valley last month showed connections Island Joy was capable of making the grade over 1600m or further as she matures.

“We were keeping her to sprints and we saw at The ­Valley that she couldn’t really go with them early but she hit the line really hard so there were glimpses of something,” Zahra said.

“She’s a typical New Zealand sort of horse that will keep getting better. It was a shock the way she won but she’s always had the ability.”



If good things really do come in small packages the Kennewell camp could be in for an exciting time with impressive debut winner ABSEILER.

The Extreme Choice gelding continued jockey Craig Newitt‘s hot start to 2021 too, winning Summer Twilight Series Plate (1000m) 2YO Handicap at Flemington on Saturday.

“He’s definitely inherited his (Extreme Choice‘s) size,” Newitt said.

“He’s not real big. He’s got a big ticker.

“It’s been a long, long time since I’ve ridden a two-year-old (that is) so professional.

“He cantered down to the gates like he’s been here a hundred times.

“He just travelled so professionally the whole way (down the straight) and was going to win a long way out.”

Newitt won the Group 1 Blue Diamond and Moir Stakes, both in 2016, aboard Extreme Choice.

Two-year-old Abseiler won the first race at Flemington. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Gun apprentice Campbell Rawiller weighed in a winner at Flemington on Saturday just minutes after his father Nash muscled ANIMATE to victory in the Magic Millions Country Cup at Gold Coast.

Despite being caught wide on the fancied Archie Alexander-trained SACCHARO, young Rawiller got a lovely cart into the race to complete the twin-state family double barely eight minutes apart.

“I just had to cop it (three wide no cover) I didn‘t want to drag the horse around too much,” Rawiller said.

“He probably got to the front too early and did a tough job to keep the margin, he‘ll take a lot more improvement out of today.”


Damian Lane has picked up where he left off last month, returning to Flemington a winner.

Lane, who dominated December, riding trebles in the city and country before taking a short break to return home to Western Australia, cruised to an impressive victory aboard ZESTY BELLE.

“Managed to get back to see the family, not for too long,” Lane said.

“We got sent home by the government unfortunately, but we ended up with some nice time off, I‘m glad I got back to see the family when I could.“

Lane rode 14 metro winners last month to move into third in the Melbourne riding premiership.

Zesty Belle continued the run of winner for Damian Lane. Picture: Racing Photos via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


A trip to South Australia produced a memorable result for Victorian apprentice Alana Kelly at Murray Bridge on Saturday.

Kelly landed her first metropolitan win aboard the Andrew Noblet-trained Can’tforgetyou.

Kelly’s 3kg claim left Can’tforgetyou with only 51kg on her back before she scored at $13 over the $2.15 favourite Sizzlefly in a Benchmark 82 race.

The young rider finished second on the Ryan Balfour-trained Viduka in the previous race before going one better on Can’tforgetyou.


DEFIBRILLATE showed the last start Lord Stakes win, as a $31 outsider, was no fluke, coming out to Flemington and walloping his opposition.

The son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking exploded at the 200m to put the field away in a matter of strides, with stablemate DOUBLE YOU TEE running into second to give Payne a training quinella.

INFLUENTIAL GIRL, who rounded the bend near last and strung up in traffic, made up enormous ground to grab third from the tiring and well-backed STARS OF CARRUM.

Easing favourite MOSH MUSIC failed despite appearing to get every chance in transit.

Originally published asWalker never in doubt with tactics change

Source: Read Full Article