One fine Saturday arvo 35 years ago a plodder from Victoria with no form at all named Mannasong sent shivers down the spines of the bookies in the ring was sensationally backed in from 50-1 to 7/2 in a novice handicap at Doomben.
It was a plunge of epic proportions, a good old fashioned go, but like many a well-planned sting the architects forgot to tighten the axle nuts and the wheels fell off.
Mannasong jumped like Leroy Loggins, went like a scalded cat, and showed its mangy opponents in the weak field a clean pair of heels, leading from barrier to box. Unfortunately for the plunge merchants the box old Mannasong led to was the stewards tower at the 600m mark rather than its stall on the other side of the winning post, and from about that point on the only direction it was running was backwards, and the punters did their money cold.
For a few brief moments even the most taciturn of bookies were doing cartwheels, but when the satchel-swingers felt their hearts start beating harder they suddenly realised to their disgust that they had one, and to a man they began thinking of the calamity that might ensue if the punters tipped to it, so the euphoria quickly subsided and the questions about why there was so much money for this camel Mannasong began.
It didn’t take long for them to get an answer, for a rapidly-convened stewards inquiry quickly discovered that the horse that ran at Doomben wasn’t actually Mannasong at all, it was a much better performed horse called Apparent Heir.
Although its run under in the novice under the Mannasong alias was clear proof that the Heir had seen better days, it’s not quite cricket under any circumstances for a trainer to enter a high-grade horse in a low-rent race and back it off the map, and substitutions of such nature are so poorly regarded by racegoers that they are given their own very special name, and it’s one guaranteed to make every punter and bookie from Birdsville to Broome stand and shout every time they hear it.
Fast forward three and bit decades and a rank outsider is backed late for plenty by those in the know – loose lips sink ships so we won’t name names, but Rob Pyne in Parliament might – and it wins the Cut up the Turf and Lay Down a Go Kart Track Stakes at Eagle Farm in a canter.
The outsider is another camel from Victoria named Evergreen, and its ridden to victory by a Business Development Manager listed in the form book as P. (for Peter) Manning. The nag’s got worse form Chopper Read, and the one-time Assistant Green Keeper at a country golf club on board hasn’t got a great deal more.
Manning and Mannasong it seems have a bit in common in the Mexicans with no form flitting up to Queensland department, don’t you worry about that, but as we’re about to exclusively reveal to you dear turf-loving reader, they share something more.
They’re both bloody ring-in’s!
That’s right punters, the bloke in the big office of the company that carved up the Eagle Farm track and killed it is a ringer!
In his publicly published curriculum vitae the Evergreen man Peter Manning, just like Willie Nelson, proudly boasts about what he seemingly believes is an outstanding career of excellence on the grass, although I have to confess Manning’s short 6 month stint allegedly in charge of the track at Pakenham, and the seven year spell between his last run there in 2003 and his next start at Evergreen in 2010 causes me concerns about his race fitness, and I certainly wouldn’t be backing him in anything.
The Evergreen executive’s career on the track, as limited as it may be, isn’t the issue though.
His claimed academic qualifications are.
Manning tells the world that he holds a Diploma in Turf Management, Turf and Turfgrass Management that he earned from the University of Melbourne.
Apparent Heir’s trainer told the world that his horse was Mannasong.
They were both lying through their bloody teeth.
The University of Melbourne doesn’t offer Diploma courses in turf, turfgrass or the management of either or both, and it never has.
In fact Melbourne University only offers one diploma course, and it’s my melancholy duty to inform you that it ain’t any of those listed on Peter Manning’s CV.
You actually study the management of green grass at TAFE, but it doesn’t look as good on your resume as getting your qualification from a flash university.
So pay your money and take your chance and lie on your resume about your qualifications, and because no one looks too hard or is clued up well-enough on the form to ask the right questions you get away with it for years.
But then one day along comes Archie Butterfly with his encyclopedic knowledge of crooked-legged nags, and he takes one look at you in the mounting yard and screams ‘RING IN!’, and all of a sudden you’re f*cked.
Whether your name’s Mannasong or Peter Manning doesn’t matter: there are two rules of racing that apply to us all.
Though shalt not lie.
And never try to pull a ring in while Archie’s watching.
Good luck punters, and have a winning day.