Saturday, March 29, 2014

Early morning on Manton Downs

The new issue of European Trainer is online, featuring among other things my cover profile on Brian Meehan. You can access the magazine directly here, or if you don’t mind filling out a 30-second survey (which would be appreciated by my publisher), here.

Among many top horses Brian has conditioned in his 20-plus years as a trainer are two Breeders’ Cup Turf winners (Red Rocks and Dangerous Midge); David Junior (a four-time Group 1 winner); and Donna Blini, the Group 1-winning filly who broke one of Meehan’s fingers and went on to produce Japanese Filly Triple Crown winner Gentildonna (by Deep Impact), who runs in today’s Dubai Sheema Classic in the U.A.E.

The white stones in the distance are glacial deposits.

Brian has been based at the Sangster familys fantastic Manton House Estate in Wiltshire, U.K., since 2006. Of Manton, he says, It’s a great place. The trouble is you never want to leave it. After the morning I spent there last month, I’m going to have to agree with Brian on that.

Manton has a long, storied past that includes many, many, many Classic winners since the 1870s and the murder of an apprentice by Tom Taylor, the son and brother of Manton trainers. Tony Lindsell writes about the training facility in our article The History of Manton. The opening spread is of Sir Alfred Munnings’ Early Morning on Manton Downs, a beautiful painting by one of the greatest equine artists of all time.

Old Yard, the original training barn at Manton.
Old Yard.
This excerpt from Lindsell’s feature is on George Todd, who was master of Manton from 1947 to 1967:

Todd put up with owners as a necessary evil and told them as little as possible. He preferred the letter to the telephone and would rarely even tell them whether a horse was running, let alone trying. Lord Howard de Walden described Oncidium as his horse behind the Iron Curtain.

One of Todds apprentices described his instructions. Most of the time they were “Drop it out, he said. “I stopped horses for as long as two years. I stopped Tarquinian so many times I wondered, 'What day is this horse ever going to try?

In addition to these two features, the magazine has veterinary and nutrition articles, and plenty of other interesting stuff to read.

These photos from my Manton visit do not even begin to do it justice:

Astor Yard.

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