By Tony McMahon
While Mackay trainers landed the card of winners at Middlemount’s 30th anniversary races last Saturday, one of their ilk came within centimetres of achieving that rare feat himself.
Before a crowd of 1500 (well up on recent years) racegoers at Rosewood Park racecourse, John Manzelmann trained the last five race winners and only missed the first race when his pair of runners were beaten a long neck and a nose by fellow Mackay mentor Fred Featherstone’s Mishani La Scala.
More on Manzelmann soon but let’s share Featherstone’s understandable exuberation on achieving a rather unique feat himself.
Some 30 years prior at the Middlemount Race Club’s first Cup meeting, Featherstone won the opening race at the track and now down the track three decades later he did likewise with Mishani La Scala in the first race on anniversary day.
Ridden capably by Rockhampton apprentice Nicole Seymour, Mishani La Scala fought back too gamely for Manzelmann’s favourite Rockethead (Thomas Doyle, $1.60) and Mrs Dash (Adin Thompson, $2.50) to win in a thrilling photo finish.
Photo finishes were the order of all six races, with long standing club official Bill Gray saying - “I can’t recall closer finishes or more exciting racing in all the years I’ve been here”.
Featherstone was delighted as he reminisced to 1988 saying - “it’s amazing really. A lot has changed since that day and the track and atmosphere here today is wonderful”.
Indeed, it was as the spacious Rosewood Park soil track favoured all runners be they leaders, backmarkers, rails runners or those galloping out wide.
John Manzelmann said those very words in his many trophy presentation acceptances speeches while adding – “I can’t work out why so few trainers came here today. The Middlemount club has it all – a fair track, generous co-operation and the marquees provided five-star restaurant service. I watched the races on the fence and the horses were making no loud noises on the track so it wasn’t hard”.
Manzelmann, 47 has 24 horses in training in West Mackay near the beach and his whole team raced last Saturday – 18 at Middlemount and six at Bowen where he landed two placegetters.
At Middlemount he shared three winners with Rocky apprentice Thomas Doyle who brought his winning tally since debut race riding just last February to 23.
“He is a nice lad. Level headed, a good listener and horses run for him. I’ll be pleased to say when he makes it to the top in a few years’ time that he carried my colours to victory on some winners”, Manzelmann, who rarely makes such lavish praise said.
Doyle, indentured to Callaghan Park trainer Peter Fleming carried Manzelmann’s multi coloured blue silks with a white cap to victory at Middlemount on Samuel James ($1.60); Charlie Rockt ($3.40) and Bawaardi Rocket ($2.70).
In the $10,000 Anglo American Middlemount Cup (1475m) Doyle’s mount for Manzelmann in Far North ($2.70) finished a nose and neck back third behind the trainer’s Hot Tempo, Nicole Seymour) the $10.00 outsider of the field.
Seymour’s double brought-up her ninth race success while Clermont apprentice Emma Bell’s short neck win on Manzelmann’s Gorgeous Girl ($5.00) in the Class B (1200m) was the lass’s 38 success.
Naturally, Manzelmann and Doyle both won prizes for the leading trainer and jockey of the day – a gesture appreciated by both with Manzelmann needing assistance to carry his swag of individual race trophies.
John Manzelmann’s success at Middlemount was well deserved as while other trainers inexplicably stayed away from the meeting which offered better prize money than most of its country club rivals, he ensured a magnificent day of memorable racing came about.
Just for the record, Manzelmann’s 18 horse team at Middlemount won $36,625 prize money with John owning 16 of them outright his share amounted to just over $32,000.
For somebody who is prepared to stake so much money into racing by buying and training horses, John Manzelmann, who treks myriad kilometres down the highways and bush roads each season, deserves each and every dollar his horses win for him.
Without fear of contradiction, John Manzelmann is a shining light for country racing in Queensland as his achievements don’t come about without the hard yards of tireless work, long hours and sleepless nights.
His selfless ethics by making the effort in supporting country racing rather than leaving his horses home in the boxes where they can’t earn prize money, is something numerous rival trainers should adopt.