Trainer Tony Noonan is confident sprinter-miler Manolo Blahniq will only improve after scoring his first Australian stakes victory earlier this month.
Noonan is hoping the recent Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m) winner gets enough votes to earn a spot in the A$5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Flemington in March, but before that is another Listed race assignment in Saturday's John Dillon Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Manolo Blahniq won a Group Three race in New Zealand at his second career start three years ago before notching his second stakes win with a determined display in the Chester Manifold at Flemington two weeks ago.
Noonan believes that victory was a reward for the gelding's consistency in the past 12 months and he thinks the best is still to come.
"He has been racing consistently for a while now and he's a good honest horse," Noonan said.
"His form in three starts during the winter in Sydney was really good. He wintered in Queensland and did well and he's come back a bit stronger, a bit more mature and with a bit more confidence.
"I would have been disappointed given that if he had not performed well this preparation.
"I think on his work and the way he is that he has improved again since last start."
Manolo Blahniq was the $4.60 favourite for the John Dillon on race eve and he has drawn to get a more economical run from barrier two than in the Chester Manifold when he raced three wide from a deep draw.
"His past eight runs or so have been very consistent and you gain a lot of confidence when your horse is racing genuinely every time," Noonan said.
"I think he should be very hard to beat again on Saturday."
Bred by Nearco Stud, Manolo Blahniq was purchased out of Curraghmore's 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock draft for $115,000. -AAP