With a career that started in the Northern Territory on cattle stations and mixed farms, James Manning, Stud Manager of Godolphin’s Northwood Park Farm in Seymour, always knew the rural life was his calling.
“When I was a kid I always liked the idea of being a stockman and riding horses. After being in the Northern Territory on the cattle stations, I really fell in love with the horse side of it.’” James remarked.
James had little involvement with the thoroughbred industry growing up, except for the fact that his mum was partial to listening to the races on the radio and was known to have the occasional punt! Like most, it was the love of horses that brought James into the industry.
James reminisced to one of his fondest early memories of racing, “Listening to Lonhro in the Australian Cup on the radio sent shivers down my spine. It still sends shivers down my spine when I watch that race today.”
Following that, James then had a light bulb moment that this is the industry he wanted to work in. Fast forward a few years and James is stud manager for Godolphin’s Northwood Park.
James started his thoroughbred career at the Bob and Jack Ingham owned Woodlands Stud in the Hunter Valley under the management of Peter Flynn. Although James had a brief spell back at the cattle stations, he soon returned to the Hunter Valley and started working at Vinery Stud. After spending time at a number of other studs near Sydney, including Reavill Farm and Newhaven Park, an opportunity arose at Woodlands Stud now in the hands of Godolphin, as assistant stud manager to John Sunderland. James headed back to where his career in the breeding industry started and hasn’t look backed since.
“Woodlands is a beautiful property and the opportunity to get back there on such a prestigious breeding property was an awesome opportunity.” Exclaimed James.
After three years working for Godolphin in the Hunter Valley, Victoria was calling, and James took over the running of Northwood Park in Seymour. A property that the drive-way alone is breath-taking, let alone some of the horses that he would be working with.
“When I first started with Godolphin, I wasn’t aware how good the quality of the stock was. The consistency of quality is even better now than what it was five years ago.”
James has done it all when it comes to the different types and sizes of farms and now works for arguably one of the largest organisations in the thoroughbred world!
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin as a company are fantastic to work for, they look after you so much. You get to work with the best bloodstock in the country and working with the best facilities. You’ve got to pinch yourself sometimes as you walk into a paddock and you have multiple Group 1 winners.” Laughed James.
Godolphin puts great emphasis on having consistency within their farms and this is certainly something that James felt strongly about when taking over the running of Northwood Park. After working with John Sunderland at Woodlands, James was keen to ensure the processes adopted were similar to those implemented throughout the Godolphin empire. This process is aided by Jason Walsh, the national bloodstock manager for Godolphin, who spends time on both farms and ensures an effective sharing of knowledge.
James has worked with many renowned horses, such as Brazen Beau and Frosted who are currently standing at Northwood Park, but it is Impending who holds a special place in James’s heart.
“He has let down into a magnificent looking horse. Everyone has commented on how well he is looking. That is one thing I haven’t been able to do before, is follow a horse all the way through and back into the stallion barn. It is very special.”
The role of mentors in this industry is paramount and James stresses the importance of them.
“You’ve got to have someone that you know, like and can trust. Having that sounding board and being able to bounce ideas off is a huge thing. They will give you an honest answer tell you if they think you are doing something wrong which you can take it or leave it.”
James used to work for Danny Swain, who is now owner and operator at Glenelg Park in Victoria and Danny has become not only a close friend but also a great sounding board. This role often comes from within an organisation, and James fondly talks of one of his previous managers, Peter Flynn, who James described as ‘one of the best practical stud managers he has ever met’. More recently, John Sunderland, has shared a great amount of knowledge and expertise with James helping ensure the continuity between the farms that Godolphin strive for.
It might not surprise you that if James was not working in the breeding industry you may well find him in the depths of the Northern Territory on a cattle station or cattle property somewhere across the country. For now, he will stay with the horses, as with most in the industry ‘once it gets its teeth into you, you just get sucked in’.
James clearly has a great passion for the industry and would strongly advise anyone wanting to enter into the breeding world to ‘Go for it, there are great opportunities if you put your head down, work hard and listen to advice from your mentors. For a rural industry it is one of the best.’