Manning proves a top judge

Civics Rock again proved the astute judgement of Cambridge trainer Ralph Manning when charging to a strong win in the Barfoot and Thompson Ellerslie Jockey Of The Year 1200 at Ellerslie yesterday.

In a bid to replenish his team after the retirement of great mare Seachange, Manning bought nine weanlings three years ago and one of those was Civics Rock, a son of little-known sire Civics, who stands at Ada Parnwell’s Cambridge Thoroughbred Lodge.

“I had to back myself so I went out and bought the weanlings, all cheapies, and the other young one I had in the stable was one I bred,” said Manning. “Six of them have won and three others have all earned prizemoney. Two of them have been stakes performers. The only one who didn’t do anything was the one I bred. That went in the wind.”

Of the bought weanlings, Snow Excuse has been a stakeswinner, having taken the Listed Ryder Stakes at Otaki last July after being stakes-placed when third in the Listed Castletown Stakes.

River Nymph picked up a win and was twice stakes-placed in four starts before chipping a knee. “She is likely to be sold as a broodmare prospect,” said Manning. “She was very promising and could have done well.”

Wanabefamous has won twice from eight starts and Miss Construe has a win and a second from three outings, while Black Attack, a last-start winner, is another of the group of weanling purchases.

The placed members of the group are Slumdog Millionaire, who has had two seconds, two fourths and two fifths from seven starts and Ocean Bound (five seconds). The other prizemoney earner is Pump Up The Volume, who was fifth on debut at Te Awamutu.

Despite the promise shown by the others, it is Civics Rock who has won the most races of the group. He posted his fifth win from 14 starts when taking the open handicap yesterday.

“He’s a little tiny fellow, but he’s got a huge acceleration,” said Manning. “Jason (Collett) said he was travelling well the whole way yesterday and he was impressed by the way he quickened.”

Despite enjoying so many highlights with Seachange, Manning knows the downs as well as the ups in racing and he was fully aware it would take a lot to fill in the void made by the retirement of the multiple Group One winner.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’m happy with the way the season has gone,” said Manning. “I have about 25 in work and I’ve had 31 winners so it’s been good. Mind you I’d be in trouble if I had a bad season as I’d say there’d be more than 50 percent of the team I own myself or have a half share in.”

Manning owns 75 percent of Civics Rock with the other 25 percent owned by his accountant Tony Coombe.

Manning is unsure where to go next with Civics Rock. “I’ve kept him to 1200 metres while he’s going so well, but I’ve no worries about him getting a bit further. He was beaten a head in his one start at 1400.”