‘Country Galloping King’ – John Manzelmann, racks up another harness win

By Duane Ranger (courtesy of Redcliffe Paceway)

He’s the galloping ‘King of the Country’ with a love of harness racing that will always be there.

In Queensland provincial galloping circles there’s no better trainer than John Manzelmann, but the former trotting man often wonders how his life would have turned had Racing Queensland not shut down all of its northern trotting tracks 20-plus years ago.

“I’m 95 per cent galloping now, and five per cent trotting. You will never take harness racing out of me, but I was never leaving Mackay, and when all the trotting tracks closed down here I switched codes. On hindsight it was a good decision, but you never say never – who knows what the future holds one day,” Manzelmann said.

“Now my son has done the same and he’s loving his new life here. He said it was hard making a dollar in trotting,” said Manzelmann who spoke to Redcliffe Paceway, while driving the 732km from Mackay to the Cairns races on Monday (April 22).

The Jack Butler trained and Nathan Rothwell driven, Ollie Ollie, provides Mackay owner/breeder, John Manzelmann, with yet another harness racing victory at Redcliffe Paceway last Wednesday (April 17). DAN COSTELLO PHOTO

Manzelmann’s son Lachie, a Group One winning reinsman, joined forces with his father in the middle of last year after being one of Queensland’s best in the bike. He now trains and track-rides a team of six thoroughbreds compared to his father’s 45-strong stable.

“Lachie actually trained a winner last weekend and has trained about 20 winners all-up. He’s going well, but I still take a big interest in the harness racing, even though he’s is no longer driving. I’ve got two horses in work and am breeding from two broodmares at Burwood Stud,” the Cups’ King said.

One of his two pacers won at Redcliffe Paceway last Wednesday (April 17) when the Manzelmann bred and owned Ollie Ollie notched up his third win in 12 starts in race three – the Garrards NR50-53 Pace.

The Jack Butler trained and Nathan Rothwell driven 4-year-old drew seven and sat in the trail before zooming up the passing lane to win by 1.8 metres with a 1:59 mile-rate. The Changeover gelding was the $10 fifth-favourite in the eight horse field. It was his first win in five starts this season.

Mackay horseman and ‘Country Cups King’, John Manzelmann with his partner, Jade Doolan.

“I keep a close eye on the trots all right. I still love them. Dad (‘Ginger’) was a trotting man and I grew up with standardbreds. I trained just over 1,000 harness racing winners and now more than 1,000 galloping (1,196).

“That was a nice drive by Nathan and an equally proficient training performance by Jack. He has done a wonderful job with the gelding. I like to watch all of my horses closely. I’m grateful for the job that Jack does down there. Burwood Stud also, for the way they care for both of my broodmares,” Manzelmann said.

Ollie Ollie is the only foal out of the 2009 maiden New Zealand-bred mare, Its Oprah. She left just two foals for Manzelmann – an unraced 2017 un-named Lanercost colt, and Ollie Ollie, who was born in November 2019.

Manzelmann, who is 52, also co-owns the Butler trained, Little Surfer Girl, with his friend Rodney Hay. She’s a 2-year-old Downbytheseaside filly, who has had three starts for two fifths and a sixth, since early March.

The secret behind Lachie Manzelmann's rise – DUANE RANGER ...
Group One winning reinsman, Lachie Manzelmann, now trains his own galloping team of six alongside his father, John, at Mackay.

“My two broodmares with Noel and Christine Denning (Burwood Stud), are the 2011 Santanna Blue Chip 17-win ($177,946) mare, Bridget Blue Chip (1:51.4); and the 7-year-old Bettor’s Delight seven-win mare, Charm Offensive (1:53.7).

“Bridget Blue Chip has left a 2022 Capt Midnight yearling filly which was fetched $46,000 at the APG Gold Coast Sale. She was bought by Norm Jenkins. She also left a Changeover weanling filly which was born in October.

She is currently in foal Catch The Fire, while Charm Offensive is yet to leave any progeny but is in foal to A Rocknroll Dance.

“Bridget’s Blue Chip is the best standardbred I have been associated with. She raced in the Ladyship Stakes and also placed in a Group Three. All-up she won 17 races and more than $170,000 ($177,946). Come Cullect won a Group Three and more than $200,000; and Ollie Ollie also won a Triad Consolation last August.

Escape from Death on Steam

But Manzelmann has no right to be training at all – horses, dogs, pigeons, anything!

The Mackay legend was so sick with terminal leukemia in 2006, he was paid out his life insurance policy when he was told he had just three months to live.

“I learnt a great deal from that, and have had a greater appreciation for life since. In fact, life has been good to me. The galloping code has worked for me. It was a case of one door closing and the other opening,” he said.

Manzelmann has won the Queensland Trainers’ Premiership twice, and is currently third. He has won the McKay premiership several times and has an unassailable lead in the Country Trainers Championship.

“It’s just so nice to have Lachie working with me, and he’s going real well which is pleasing. We are now galloping people, but will always appreciate the toughness of the standardbred.”

Lachie Manzelmann aboard the best standardbred his father John has been involved in – the 2011 Santanna Blue Chip 17-win ($177,946) mare, Bridget Blue Chip (1:51.4).

After getting his galloping licence in the middle of 2022 Manzelmann Junior trained his first winner at Beaudesert on New Year’s Eve that year when Lets Torque A Deal won a Benchmark race.

“That was a memorable day. Maybe we will return to trotting one day? You can never say never. I considered it when they closed all the trotting tracks here, but like I said it’s 95 per cent galloping now. We travel to three and four galloping meetings a week, which makes it more viable than trotting,” Manzelmann said.

Footnote: Manzelmann trained the quinella of race one at Cairns yesterday (Monday April 22) when Cyber Jam (4) and Snuggle Bang Yahoo (7) combined to pay $13. Then on his huge nine-hour journey home he had the courtesy to phone back and say thanks for the story. What a gentleman! Can see why John is a total success in life. Thank God he beat terminal cancer in 2006. #Inspired.

Photo Finish
Passing lane – thanks for coming,’ says driver Nathan Rothwell. That’s win number three from start number 12 for the John Manzelmann owned and bred Ollie Ollie (7).

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