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Puerto Manzano adds a Gr 2 to his two Gr 1s and three Gr 3s achieved on Turffontein Standside

A sixth Graded win on Turffontein Standside for the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Laurence Wernars-owned six-year-old Argentinian-bred gelding 

The Argentian-bred Seek Again gelding Puerto Manzano, trained by Johan Janse van Vuuren and owned by Laurence Wernars, has won six Graded races in his career and all six of them have been at Turffontein Standside.
On Saturday in the Gr 2 Allied Steelrode On A Mission Charity Mile even being caught wide without cover in the first half of the race and having to carry 60.5kg did not stop him from producing his now familiar sustained finish from off the pace. He runs in blinkers and takes a while to wind up into top gear, but once he does he maintains it and his huge stride does the rest. He came from midfield on Saturday after jumping from draw 15 of 16. He was caught wide from the off until about the 800m mark and was left without cover again at about the 500m mark as the horse he was following, Winchester Mansion, switched inward for a run. However, the secret to this horse if watching the replay carefully is he responds precisely to the jockey’s instructions. Gavin Lerena relaxed him jumping out the stalls and then asked him to get around a wide horse into a possible covered position. However, when he did not get the cover he was seeking Lerena just asked him to relax again. And despite being without cover he did relax. He then asked him to get going shortly after entering the straight just by niggling at him. The big horse began winding up and started creeping forward. Lerena gave him a backhander at the 200m mark and from top gear Puerto Manzano managed to produce a late surge. His long neck and heartwarming resolve is the image that remains imprinted on the mind as he sauntered past the other protagonists to win by 0,70 lengths.
Cousin Casey started favourite and ran a cracker in his first start for Sean Tarry by finishing second and stablemate Bless My Stars carried on from where she had left off last season by finishing third. The Hollywoodbets Durban July winner Winchester Mansion battled on well for fourth, while the winner of the previous two renewals of the Charity Mile, Bingwa, was a touch unlucky not to make te frame as he appeared to become cramped for room in the final stages.
Puerto Manzano has never been far away from the headlines, even causing a rumpus on debut.
He was actually bought as an extra in Argentina to fill up the shipping pallet after the first-choice horse had been secured.
Bloodstock agent Justin Vermaak explained in the post race interview of last season’s Betway Summer Cup, “We bought Kay Tee Perry’s full brother and needed an extra horse to fill up the shipping pallet. I was dead keen on Puerto Manzano, from Haras Carampanque. He was by Seek Again (Gone West), a stallion who had disappointed and wasn’t in favour, but from a mare by Orpen – and he was an absolutely magnificent specimen we could buy for the equivalent of about R550,000. Laurence agreed, and the smashing Puerto Manzano took their breath away when he stepped off the float in South Africa.”
Vermaak said there is great value still, at the top end of bloodstock auctions in Argentina. He explained: “In South Africa, the major buyers go up to between R2-million and R4-million, even higher, to secure the top colts. It’s hard to compete here. Puerto Manzano would have been in the same high bracket if he was sold in SA at the time, but in Argentina we picked him up as a relatively speaking ‘cheapie.’”
On debut Puerto Manzano’s huge stride carried him to a dead-heat finish at odds of 18/1 with his hotpot 7/20 favourite stablemate Thumbs Up over the too sharp 1200m, but jockey Chase Maujean was handed a R60,000 fine, of which R30,000 was suspended for 12 months, for having been deemed by the stipes to have not ridden with necessary vigour.
When an appeal fee paid for on behalf of Maujean by Wernars was deemed to have been paid “out of time” by the NHA and thus not accepted, it led to Wernars resigning from the NHA board and threatening to “quit” racing.
However, he changed his mind after Maujean was subsequently exonerated by an appeal board and the penalties set aside.
Laurence has had many great days at the racecourse since, including on Saturday. He and Janse van Vuuren not only won the Charity Mile together, but also the first race over 1160m with three-year-old Querari gelding San Simon and the last race over 1600m with four-year-old Royal Mo gelding Mo The Man. All three winners were ridden by Lerena.
Puerto Manzano has had his best season to date according to the respected racing analyst Karel Miedema, so is only getting better as a six-year-old.
Miedema awarded him a 110 ability rating (AR) for the win, which was the equivalent of the rating he awarded him for his win in the Gr 3 Jubilee Stakes in June this year and his narrow second in the Gr 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m in April last year, which were his two highest AR’s before this season.
His best ever ability rating according to Miedema’s Raceform was in his reappearance this season, his penultimate start, when finishing second in a Pinnacle Plate race over 2000m. He gave all of the field 12kg except for one horse whom he gave 10kg and Miedema awarded him a 113 AR.
He was ignored by pundits and punters on Saturday and started at 20/1.
However, he has shortened into 4/1 favourite with the sponsor for the Betway Summer Cup over 2000m , where he will attempt to defend his crown on November 25 at his favourite stamping ground.