The success of Victorian bred horses over the jumps continued at Bendigo’s feature Mosstrooper Day on Sunday with Mannertone (Manner Hill) scoring for his trainer and breeder Anne McGrath.
Based at the family home of Orford (between Warrnambool and Hamilton), Anne McGrath and her much-loved jumper Mannertone epitomise the toughness of Western District breeding and racing.
She saddled up her home-bred nine-year-old jumper to win the Benchmark 120 Steeplechase over 3600m at Bendigo, his eighth win over the sticks and ninth in total. His prizemoney has leapt to $316,000 following Sunday’s win.
Having been foaled, raised and trained all his life at McGrath’s Orford farm, Mannertone has become a family pet of sorts.
He won his maiden on the flat at Mount Gambier in May 2013. Almost two years later, he would get his second win which was over the hurdles at Bendigo. Since then he has become a mainstay of western Victoria jumps racing affectionately known as ‘Jaffa’ by connections (and racecaller Rick McIntosh).
Amazingly, his 89 start career includes 20 fourth places!
“He has been a cunning old horse, dumping a jockey, shying at the barriers – he has a decent bag of tricks up his sleeve. In the early days I even had to shoe him myself, by putting him in the round yard and tying up a leg,” McGrath said.
“But despite all that, he is a handy jumper, a tough bugger, and a favourite around the place. He has mellowed with maturity. I have been very proud of how he has been going, and although he is not a champion, he is wiser with age and always there to annoy them.”
Mannertone is a son of Manner Hill from the Scenic mare Hampton, Manner Hill was the foundation stallion at Lancefield’s former Cherokee Rose Stud and is a Group winning son of champion mare Mannerism.
“I stuck my neck out to buy his mother for $15,000, and she showed enough promise that I had her entered for the Oaks, but disappointingly she did a sesamoid in training and went to stud early,” McGrath said.
“After foaling a couple of slow ones after Mannertone, we went back to Manner Hill with Hampton, and his (four-year-old) brother Hammer‘n’Tone is shaping up very nicely. In his last prep he had real style. He may have a better natural jump than Mannertone, so fingers crossed.”
As a breeder and owner, McGrath tasted success at the highest level when Tears I Cry won the 2007 Emirates Stakes at the odds of 100-1.
“I had lost my mare that was due to go to Lacryma Cristi, so dad lent me a mare to use – and as luck would have it, we foaled Tears I Cry,” McGrath said.
“As a young horse, his legs were everywhere, so initially I thought he may not make it as a racehorse, better off showjumping, but when he first came into work he started to show ability very early.”
After scoring success with trainer Ciaron Maher (his first Group 1 win), he would return to McGrath’s stables before retirement which included life as a clerk of the course horse at Warrnambool.
Sadly, ‘Skeeta’ as he was known around the stables, passed away earlier this year.
“We only lost him three months ago and he is sorely missed,” McGrath said.
Being diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2012, McGrath underwent chemotherapy and operations, crediting her positive attitude to her family and her horses.
“I found the horses kept my feet on the ground and so did my family after I was diagnosed. I used to get out there and ride both Mannertone and Tears I Cry through the bush after treatment as a release.”
“They both helped me through it, horses have a way of doing that.”
Mannertone’s jumps win comes off the back of other Victorian bred jumpers scoring this season including Self Sense (breeder David Brideoake), Kothu Rotti (Earl Eddings) and Don’t Be Shy (North Star Park) among others.