Makanani faces tough test
Takaoka's mare is not 100 per cent fit for her defence in tomorrow's $400,000 Group 1 Raffles Cup
Trainer Hideyuki Takaoka can only hope for luck to win back-to-back Raffles Cup with Makanani tomorrow.
After all, his charge has not been the same since winning the Group 1 feature over 1,600m in September last year.
Worse, Makanani has drawn the widest barrier in the 15-horse field.
The six-year-old Japanese-bred, the only mare in tomorrow's line-up, has raced six times after her surprise Raffles Cup victory but failed to finish in the frame.
She was 12th to Mr Clint in the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup in November.
Takaoka reckoned Makanani is only about 80 to 90 per cent of the form that saw her tough it out for a narrow win over Mr Clint last year.
"She has not been in the same form. After the Gold Cup, she had chips in both knees and had surgery a few days later," he said.
"She did show something, she showed more of a fight at her last run when she came up along the rails. But she was one-paced in the end. I would say she has improved from that run."
Takaoka gave Makanani an easy nice gallop with Marc Lerner astride on Tuesday morning.
"I'm happy with her fitness. But, compared to last year, she's still around 80 to 90 per cent of her best form."
He said he had yet to discuss tactics with Lerner, who won his first career Group 1 race with Makanani in the the Raffles Cup.
"To me, she can stay. But she doesn't have the same quick finish like before," said the master trainer of stayers, who include triple Singapore Gold Cup winner El Dorado.
"From the wide barrier, I think she should try and go forward. With some luck, she can find cover somewhere.
"She should be ridden positive, as I don't think she can sprint home if she drops back at the rear from that barrier."
His job done, luck - and plenty of it - is just what Takaoka needs tomorrow.