New territory for Mana Park at Karaka 2018

George and Maryanne Simon and handler Tim Welch with the yearling full sister to Turn Me Loose (Lot 272 – Iffraaj x Indomitable filly) - Joshua Smith
George and Maryanne Simon and handler Tim Welch with the yearling full sister to Turn Me Loose (Lot 272 – Iffraaj x Indomitable filly)

Joshua Smith

Well known racing commentator George Simon admits that he and wife Maryanne have been thrown in at the deep end a little as they prepare to submit their first draft to the annual NZB National Yearling Sale at Karaka.

The popular Cambridge couple have prepared eight yearlings under their Mana Park banner which is more commonly associated with excellence at the annual NZ Ready To Run Sale for two-year-olds. 

Mana Park presented their first Ready To Run draft in 2005 with triple Group One winner Turn Me Loose and exciting three-year-old Demonetization just two of the high-class individuals to have been sold by the Simons in the past decade.

However, since making the decision to make their Yearling Sale debut this year Simon admits he has found the requirements for the sale vastly different than what he has been used to in the past.

“It has been a real eye-opener for me as the two preparations are just so different,” he said.

“With this sale you do everything required from day one whereas with the Ready To Run you really only have the horses for a month after they have breezed up.

“We have had some good people helping us out but it’s Maryanne who has done most of the work.
“All I can really say is that I’m glad that one of us knows what she is doing!”

Simon is quick to pay tribute to his wife who he met in the late 1980’s when speaking at a function in Te Aroha. 

“Maryanne is a remarkable horsewoman who I think doesn’t get the credit she deserves when it comes to what she has achieved over the years,” he said.

“Of course, I may be a little biased but when you look at our results it is pretty much down to Maryanne.”

The Mana Park brand first began in 1999 when the couple bought the mostly bare block of land at Matangi that they now call home. Development of the property began in earnest when Simon returned home to New Zealand in 2001 after a stint commentating in Singapore.

“When we first bought the property it basically had an old shed and a cow-shed on it,” said Simon.

“We have built it up from scratch to the facility we now have which we’re very proud of.”

While Simon has been feeling a little out of his depth during the yearling preparation he finds it hard to hide his excitement with the sale less than a week away.

“I guess it’s about now that things start to really ramp up with the horses heading up to Karaka and the build-up in its final stages,” he said.

“We have been buoyed by the feedback we have received about our draft from the buyers who have been to see us at Mana Park already.

“From what we can gather they are all happy with the horses we have to sell but the proof will be in the pudding when the hammer falls.”

Amongst their eight-strong draft is the full sister to 2015-16 New Zealand Champion Sprinter and Middle-Distance horse, Turn Me Loose, with Simon hopeful the filly will sell well.

“I guess the fact that we own the sister to Turn Me Loose makes me lean towards her as one of our star lots but that is also based on the feedback we have had about her,” he said.

“She has a wonderful pedigree and is a superb individual who has really caught the eye when she has paraded at home.”

Yearlings by proven sires Iffraaj (5) and Tavistock (2) make up the majority of the eight-strong draft.
Of the five yearlings by Iffraaj, four are out of Danehill mares, with that cross producing five stakes winners to date including Group One winners Turn Me Loose and Chriselliam. 

“We also have a lovely Foxwedge colt who is another who has attracted plenty of attention,” said Simon.

“While we have our expectations, we are also very realistic about our draft and we will meet the market wherever we can, just as we do at the Ready To Run sale each year.

“The hardest part now is the wait for everything to get underway as I’m like a kid at Christmas, I just can’t wait.” – NZ Racing Desk


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