By Duane Ranger
The schools hours have shifted, the pipe bands aren’t playing and Douglas Manger’s multi-million dollar kilt business is grinding to a holt, but the 56-year-old still has harness racing.
The happy-go-lucky Nigerian-born Queenslander was associated with two winners at the Marburg Showgrounds on Sunday, a club where he was once President.
“If I could race there every week I would, I absolutely love that track,” Manger said.
Manger trained his recent Kiwi purchase, Ideal Tiger, to win the second race at Marburg thanks to a lovely Clint Sneddon drive.
The American Ideal - Tigers Delight gelding was having his third start for his new owner, and the five-year-old got the decision by a neck.
Then three races later, the Manger-bred Jewel Of Peak (Hurrikane Kingcole - Riverboat Diamond), got the chocolates for trainer Mark Rees and driver Narissa McMullen.
“I bought Ideal Tiger in February from Stephen Doody, who raced him at Manawatu (Palmerston North, New Zealand),” Manger said.
“He’s such a lovely horse, an absolute gentleman - too kind in fact.
“He just wants to stand beside you everywhere you go.”
Manger and his Scottish-born wife, Karen, bought a home and property at Wanora last year, and run a Scottish kilt business from Booval, attracting clients across the world.
“Up until COVID-19 hit us, the business was going okay but the reason we bought in Wanora was so I could train standardbreds,” Manger said.
“Our son Geoffrey is now old enough to start taking over the business.
“All kilts are hand-made and take 10 hours to complete, and they also comprise eight metres of wool and fabric.”
Douglas has known his wife since their primary school days, not long after emigrating to Australia from England when he was five and it was through his wife and her family that the kilt-making seed was planted.
“Karen’s mum taught her to make kilts, It’s a bit of an art and now we supply a lot of kilts and pipe band related goods to private schools and their pipe bands,” Manger said.
He said he had always had an interest in harness racing, in fact he bought his first horse in 1989 and then Bill Dixon went on to train him (Granted a Chance) to win four races between November 1989 and March 1992.
“I took six years out recently to really give our business its best shot, and have only really started training at Wanora in the last six months,” Manger said.
“I’m even happier now because of my horses, I’ve only ever trained a handful or so of winners but the horses make Karen and I so happy each day.
“They are never boxed or put in a barn, they all live in their own three acre paddock.”
Ideal Tiger is the one that has caught Manger’s eye, and what he loves most is simply how easy he is to train.
“I wasn’t looking for speed when I purchased him, in fact the shipping here cost more than what he did, but he is exactly what Stephen said he would be – easy to train – and that suits this novice down to the ground,” Manger said.
“He’s in again at Albion Park on Saturday night and he has drawn in behind a fast one (Sir Bulski) but he’s a lovely horse and back-to-back wins would not surprise me.”