Innovation shines for Manning

Cambridge trainer Ralph Manning was as much relieved as pleased when Innovation slipped in just under 12 months when returning to top form at Wanganui yesterday.

Innovation had been off the winner’s list since taking the Listed Team Wealleans Tauranga Classic at Tauranga on June 23 last year. That weight-for-age fillies and mares win was the end of a four-win sequence which began two months earlier and included a win over 1600 metres at Wanganui.

Having just her second start on the Wanganui track, Innovation did look a top prospect leading into the Listed $50,000 Ag Challenge Stakes, especially after a couple of leadup thirds, but earlier in the week Manning had expressed his concern with the pending heavy10 track.

“Sure she’s won in heavy ground, but that day at Tauranga Jason (Collett) just about took her into the carpark to get better footing,” said Manning. “She’s also had three mile races in a row and dropping back to 1400, she was the fittest on the day.

“She does need rain, but she’s not really a heavy tracker like everyone thinks. She’s got a huge turn of foot. If the track improved a fraction, it would be her go.”

But as history shows, the Wanganui track remained heavy and Innovation showed her class when getting through the testing ground to register her second stakes win in six victories.

What did help Innovation was some rain on the day which loosened up the track and Innovation was ridden confidently by last season’s Premiership-winning jockey Lisa Allpress.

After being back in the field, Innovation was brought wide by Allpress nearing the home turn and she kicked on strongly to draw ahead and beat Dubai Belle by two and a quarter lengths.

“She travelled up very well and it was as easy as it looked,” said Allpress. “She just needed that little bit of rain to loosen the ground up.”

Last season Manning targeted the Gr.3 Estaronline Winter Cup at Riccarton with Innovation and the result was a close second to Art Beat. That 1600-metre feature is again on the programme this campaign for The Oaks Stud-bred and raced mare.