Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Charlie Mann: Reluctant Maestro

Charlie Mann
Born in Dumfries in 1958, Charlie Mann was a highly competent National Hunt jockey, riding 149 winners, mainly for Jenny Pitman Nicky Henderson, in a 15-year career, before forcibly retired through injury. He later admitted, “I never wanted to train horses and after breaking my neck in 1989, I tried various other things and discovered fairly quickly I was not qualified for any of them. For three or four years I tried to scratch a living via a trading company.”

Man subsequently spent a year as assistant trainer to Cath Walwyn, widow of the legendary Fulke Walwyn, before taking out a training licence in his own right in August 1993. Mann famously trained, and rode, It’s a Snip, the winner of the Velka Pardubicka – the famous cross-country steeplechase – at Pardubice in the Czech Republic in October 1995. Less than a week later, he saddled his first high-profile winner on home soil, General Rusty, ridden by Richard Dunwoody in the Charisma Gold Cup at Kempton.

In 1998, Mann bought Whitcoombe Stables, situated at the foot of the Mandown Gallops in Upper Lambourn, near Hungerford, Berkshire. The following year, he saddled his first Grade 1 winner, Celibate, in the BMW Chase at Punchestown.

In 2000/01, Mann enjoyed success in several major televised races, including victories for Moral Support in the Tote John Hughes Chase at Chepstow and Regal Holly in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Ascot, to name but two. In the season as a whole, he saddled 43 winners, making it his second most successful ever, numerically.

His best seasonal tally, numerically, came in 2008/09, the year in which he saddled his second Grade 1 winner, Air Force One, in the Ellier Developments Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown. Other highlights included a notable double for Katies Tuitor in the totescoop6 Summer Hurdle Handicap and 32Red Online Casino Handicap Hurdle, both at Market Rasen, and the victory of Gauvain in the Kilbrittain Castle Novices’ Chase at Sandown. All in all, that season Mann saddled 63 winners and earned just under £641,000 in total prize money.

In 2012, after 14 years at Whitcoombe House Stables, Mann sold the establishment to fellow trainer Jonathan Portman and relocated to a new, purpose-built yard at Neardown Stables, less than a mile away across Upper Lambourn. At that point, he pruned the deadwood from his string and although he has found winners harder to come by in recent years his career total still stands at over 800.

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