Manuel So Gallant in Orr Stakes
Mark Smith - Saturday February 9

The Tony McEvoy-trained Manuel had one stakes win, the Listed Kilmore Cup, to his name so it looked like connections were having a throw at the stumps when they entered the five-year-old Commands gelding against a field of seasoned Group 1 performers in Saturday's C F Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

But if he was expected to just make up the numbers, no-one told rifer Luke Currie or the horse himself who turned back every challenge to record a half-length win over the dead-heaters Kementari (Lonhro) and Land Of Plenty (Stratum). (images Grant Courtney)


From the penultimate crop of Commands, Manuel advances his record to 8 wins 5 seconds and 2 thirds from 23 starts with earnings of $752,050.

Tony McEvoy's son Calvin McEvoy said his dad would be disappointed that he was not there for Manuel's finest hour.

"He's the one who has had all the time and patience in this horse and had so much faith in him," Calvin McEvoy told AAP.

"He will be over the moon.

"I remember we ran him in the Maribyrnong Trial as a two-year-old and we were so confident he would win that race.

"We just thought he was the stand-out two-year-old we had and he actually pulled a muscle in that race and still ran fourth.

"His form last preparation was so consistent.

"It's a surprise today because he beat some really quality horses but we kind of always thought there was a glimpse of it there."

A half-brother to Group III GCTC Ken Russell Memorial Classic winner Taking Aim (Choisir) and the Group III-placed Witherspoon (Exceed And Excel), Manuel was a $240,000 purchase by his trainer out of the Segenhoe Stud draft at the 2015 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.

He is the first foal of the stakes-winning Hussonet (USA) mare Girl Hussler who is the dam of the $800,000 Easter graduate Sun Patch (Exceed And Excel) who was an impressive winner on debut on the Kensington track at Randwick last Wednesday.

Girl Hussler obviously throws very attractive foals as her four yearlings sold have averaged $515,000. With three stakes horses from her first three foals there is plenty to look forward to with a yearling Fastnet Rock filly and a Snitzel colt foal to come.

Unfortunately, she missed to I Am Invincible last spring.