After a multiple Group 1-winning juvenile career, Shane Fraser did wonder if his star Manila Playboy would be able to aim up against the seasoned older horses in elite company.
History is littered with outstanding youngsters that battled to continue racing at a high level once they were out of their two and three-year-old campaigns.
“You always do not know if they will take that next step,” Fraser said of his two-time Group 1 champion Manila Playboy.
“He was a really good juvenile and we gave him time, as he had a few problems with sickness through his younger years.
“We have finally got that under control, we believe.
“It remains to be seen if he will get to that top level but to make it open class, he will be a competitive horse at that level, and we will see where he goes over the next few weeks.”
If the bay gelding’s performance in the 2023 Listed Flashing Red Handicap is any indication, Manila Playboy should have no issues against the ‘big guns’.
In his first Listed feature event in open class, Manila Playboy ran an excellent race, coming from well back in the field to go within a neck of upsetting Hot And Treacherous in the finish.
The Sleepy Hollow-based horseman had some reservations around how his stable star would go against the top liners such as Turn It Up, Hot And Treacherous and Colt Thirty One, among others.
But, he was smiling post-race with the barnstorming run down the centre of the Albion Park track.
“I was a little bit surprised, he went above expectations on that night,” Fraser said.
“We put a lot into his preparation so I was not that overly surprised.
“It was good to see him put in that kind of finish as we drove him quiet, he came from back off the speed and he rattled home.
“We were really happy with the performance and his good last sectional.”
Fraser and Manila Playboy now head towards the Redcliffe Gold Cup for 2023 on Saturday evening, in a campaign that the trainer hopes will end in a Blacks A Fake appearance later in the carnival.
After superstar Leap To Fame sizzled the track at Redcliffe last week, another strong field has assembled for the Gold Cup, which will be contested at Group 2 level on this occasion.
Redcliffe Peninsula Harness Racing and Sporting Club president Bernie Ring is proud to see such a strong contingent of standardbreds at his club for the $106,070 feature.
“It is great to see these horses turn up to Redcliffe on The Triangle,” Ring said.
“We are absolutely ecstatic about the field.”