Civics Rock scrapes home in close call

Cambridge trainer Ralph Manning breathed a sigh of relief after a lengthy wait for the judge’s call following the Listed Hallmark Stud Newmarket Handicap at Ellerslie yesterday.

In a desperate finish and defying the odds, the Manning-trained and part-owned Civics Rock carried his topweight of 59kg to a nose win over Statham in the feature sprint, while third-placegetter Albany Reunion was a mere half-head away.

Civics Rock had to be good to win after starting from a wide draw and settling well back. He was still third-last on the fence turning for home but rider Michael Walker weaved a passage between runners and Civics Rock nabbed Statham right on the line.

“It was close, but I was hoping he had put his head down at the right time,” said Manning and Walker felt much the same way: “I thought I got my head down on the line but it was close.”

Civics Rock has been regarded as a wet-weather performer with seven of his 10 wins coming on slow or heavy tracks, but on yesterday’s dead surface he ran the 1200 metres in 1:10.30.

“Funnily enough as he has gotten older he’s gone from being an out-and-out mudder to preferring a drier track,” said Manning.

A five-year-old son of Civics, Civics Rock is raced by Manning in partnership with Tony Coombe and has now won 10 races and over $160,000 in prizemoney. Three of his wins have been at Ellerslie.