Despite sharing his name with a Spanish high-end shoe designer, Manolo Blahniq hasn't taken a fashionable path to the San Domenico Stakes.
The colt by Jimmy Choux is set to have his first Australian start in the 1100m-Group Two race at Rosehill on Saturday.
Trainer Tony Noonan paid $115,000 for Manolo Blahniq at a New Zealand yearling sale before sending him to Craig Thornton's Cambridge stable.
While there, he easily won a Group Three race in New Zealand on New Year's Day.
He was then favourite for the Karaka Million but weakened to finish 10th and pulled up with shin soreness.
After spelling in New Zealand, Manolo Blahniq's journey continued to Gold Coast trainer Kelly Purdy for most of the winter - a tried Noonan training method.
"There'll be plenty that disagree (with the method) but you'll see this horse on Saturday. He'll have a really good coat on him," Noonan said.
"He's really healthy and well and I think a lot of that is due to the fact that he spelled up there."
And the fact that a Queensland winter gave rise to the winning streak of Australia's best horse isn't lost on Noonan.
"Winx did pretty well out of it," he said.
Since leaving Queensland, Manolo Blahniq has been with Warwick Farm trainer Todd Rawiller, who like Purdy used to work for Noonan.
"It was the first time I watched him gallop on Tuesday so it is an unusual path but it's probably the sign of the times," Noonan said.
Noonan concedes odds-on favourite Capitalist is likely to be too good for Manolo Blahniq ($17) on Saturday.
"He hasn't had the screws tightened on him yet and this is not his grand final," Noonan said.
"I would be pleasantly surprised if he won but I'm just looking for him to run well."
After Saturday, Manolo Blahniq is set to race in the Group Two Run To The Rose a fortnight later.
That race will determine whether Noonan elects to race Manolo Blahniq in the Group One Golden Rose (1400m) or finally takes him to his stable in Victoria.
"I'm not sure whether he's a 1400-metre horse at the moment," Noonan said.
"He's got good natural speed and he has a tendency to over-race a little bit so whether he'll stretch to that distance I'm not sure."
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