An era ended in Ballybrit this afternoon when the quiet legend of the Irish Flat weighroom, Kevin Manning, called time on his illustrious glory-laden career in the saddle. Fittingly going out on a winner prepared by his father-in-law and boss, Jim Bolger. Vocal Studies carrying the colours of Jim’s wife Jackie, as so many of Kevin’s 1,700 career successes did.
Among the incredible haul were eight Classic victories and 36 Group One wins in total, spanning a fair portion of the world. He partnered winners for leading GAA personalities Colm O’Rourke and Cyril Farrell as well as former newsreader Grainne Seoige.
Personally, the horses that will stand out most from Kevin’s lengthy stint in the saddle will be Finsceal Beo, New Approach, Dawn Approach, Trading Leather and the unfortunately injury-blighted Teofilo and Dame Dandy.
Speaking after the announcement by her 55-year-old husband, Una Manning said “He was trying to make his mind up, he loves a bit of a game shooting with his gun dogs”. On that score, it was the perfect ending for the father of the Irish weighroom, going out on a winner today with Shooting season starting tomorrow.
For the superstitious among us, there will be nervous peering over shoulders fearful that JSB himself might follow his son-in-law into retirement. Or, to look at these most recent developments from another angle, there will, presuming the octogenarian trainer does keep going, be a vacancy for stable jockey in Coolcullen.
So one of the longest and most successful partnerships in Irish sport has come to an end. It will be intriguing to see what lies ahead for both parties, but in the meantime Kevin, enjoy the pheasants!