- 25 September 2017
BY ADAM HAMILTON
Loyalty means everything to champion trainer-driver Kerryn Manning.
That’s why she won’t be at Melton when she has two runners in the rescheduled $200,000 Group One Victoria Cup (2240m) at Melton on October 14.
Many months back – long before Harness Racing Victoria shifted the Victoria Cup to its new timeslot – Manning gleefully accepted the Maid of Honour role at the wedding of harness identities Vic Frost and Gail Geeson.
And nothing will change that.
Manning expects to have her two stable stars, Mr Mojito and Ameretto, in the Victoria Cup.
“Obviously the timing isn’t great where they moved the Victoria Cup to, but I’m comitted to the wedding and Vic and Gail are great people. That’s where I’ll be,” Manning said.
Manning spoke with Ameretto’s former trainer-driver and part-owner Ashlee Grives about partnering the mare in the Victoria Cup.
“Ash didn’t say no, but didn’t confirm it either. I’d love her to drive her mare, she knows her better than anyone does,” she said.
Grives confirmed vis social media last Saturday night that she would take the drive.
Ameretto looked fantastic winning her sixth race on end in a scorching 1.51.5 mile rate for 1720m in the Group Three Tailamade Lombo at Melton last Friday night.
“She did it pretty comfortably,” Manning said. “She did so much work early, I didn’t want to go for home too early. She’s going so well she deserves a go at a race like the Victoria Cup.”
The key was Ameretto’s win against “the boys” in the Group Two Breeders Crown Graduate free-for-all in late August.
Manning is uncertain whether she will run the mare again before the Victoria Cup.
“The only option is the Smoken Up Sprint in two weeks, but that means running against the likes of Lennytheshark, My Field Marshal and others,” she said. “She’s really fit and might not need another run. I’ll wait and see.”
It’s a similar situation with Mr Mojito, who also ran blistering time winning his third race on end in the free-for-all last Friday night. His mile rate was 1.52.0 for 1720m.
“He’s improving with every run, but he is still green. He’s an M5 now and has only raced 20 times. I’m not sure he’ll ever grow out of some of quirks,” Manning said.
“He’s such a bad steering horse at times. And one day he works really well in training, but the next he feels like an average maiden.
“But he’s putting it together consistently at the races and should get a start in the Victoria Cup on what he’s done in his past few runs.
“I might take him straight into the Cup now. But the option of the Smoken Up Sprint is there for him as well.”
Manning’s husband and co-trainer Grant Campbell has first dibs on the Mr Mojito drive in the Victoria Cup, but no final decision has been made.
Beyond the Victoria Cup, both Mr Mojito and Ameretto could head to Perth.
“Ameretto will go for the mares’ races over there. I’m also taking Motu Meteor for the four-year-old races,” Manning said.
“Mr Mojito is not certain because he’s still raw and the (tight) track must be some query, but if we take Ameretto and Meteor, then we will probably take Mr Mojito across as well.
“Let’s see how he goes against the really good ones in the Victoria Cup and then make a decision.”