CLASSIC CONNECTIONS

Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms have become synonomous with group success in Europe and North America in the past 25 years. Its stallion operation is based at Banstead Manor Stud on the outskirts of the village of Cheveley, some four miles out of Newmarket.

The name ‘Banstead’ has been associated with the area since 1506. In 1587, the last Thomas Banstead sold the Manor and all of his land to Sir John Cotton. In 1895 it passed to Harry McCalmont, then owner of the Cheveley estate, and in 1925 to associates of Henry Ernest Morriss. As Banstead Manor Stud Ltd., the estate was owned by members of the Morriss family until 1987, when it was purchased by Juddmonte Farms.

The house called Banstead Manor occupies a former moated site of medieval origin. The original house was demolished in 1926 and replaced in 1927 with a larger Lutyens-influenced house based on plans originally drawn up for a residence in Shanghai. It has sweeping roofs, prominent chimney stacks, and mullioned windows. It is also set in reverse, with the ‘front’ of the house facing away from the drive.

Abdullah's racing operation began modestly enough with four yearling purchases in 1977. His first win came two years later, and in 1980, his Known Fact was awarded the 2,000 Guineas on the disqualification of Nureyev. Since then, Juddmonte has produced more than 50 Group or Grade I winners and in many instances, trace back to some of the first mares purchased by the operation.

Banstead Manor stud covers 373 acres of land, of which 50 are set aside for the stallion unit. The Stud operates on the successful ‘walking-in’ system for visiting mares. In a throwback to the Chinese connections of the Morriss era, a Chinese fertility symbol still remains at the stallion unit, which is approached via na avenue of Gingko trees, another Chinese fertility omen.

Rainbow Quest was one of the first major winners to campaign in the pink, green and white colours. His victories included the Coronation Cup and in shades of Known Fact, he was awarded the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after a bumping duel in the straight with Sagace. At stud, he got the Derby winner Quest For Fame in his first crop and since then has been a constant source of classic middle-distance winners.

Now 25, Rainbow Quest is a member of the elite club of stallions to have sired a Derby winner as well as the broodmare sire of a Derby winner following the wins of Kris Kin and North Light. Rainbow Quest’s influence as a broodmare sire also extends through the unbeaten 2000 Guineas Footstepsinthesands and the Group 1 winner Rakti, this quartet all at stud. Quest For Fame came close to siring a Derby winner when his son De Beers finished second in the Australian Derby at Easter and his 2000 Guineas winning son Spectrum, now at stud in South Africa, sired the 2004 Australian Oaks heroine, Wild Iris.

MANNA - BANSTEAD MANOR'S FIRST DERBY WINNER

In the Summer of 1923, Harry Morriss sent instructions from Shanghai to trainer Fred Darling, ordering him to buy the colt he liked best at Doncaster Sales. Darling decided upon the colt by Phalaris out of Waffles -  and he was not alone in this choice.

Geroge Lambton, bidding for the Aga Khan, cried enough at 6,300 guineas. The colt was not the biggest in the sale - indeed, critics thought him too small -  but Darling remarked " I do not mind a yearling being on the small side, so long as he is as beautifully balanced as this one."

Darling's judgement was to prove spot-on and the colt, the most expensive yearling colt of 1923, was named Manna and went on to win the 2,000 Guineas and Derby.

Manna was not the first Classic winner bred by James Maher at his Confey Stud near Dublin. He was also repsonsible for the St Leger winner Caligua and Irish Oaks winner Snow Maiden, as well as the 1913 Grand National winner Covertcoat.

Manna suffered a surprise defaet on his debut at Sandown, but made amends with an impressive victory in the Richmond St next time out at Goodwood. He finished second to Picaroon in the Imperial Produce St at Kempton next time out and was third to Picaroon and Solario in the Middle Park St.

Harry Morriss was in England to see Manna run in the 2,000 Guineas where he was ridden by Steve Donoghue and started 100/8 behind the 5/4 favourite Zionist. Manna was always travelling well and he struck the front some three furlongs out before goin on to defeat St Becan by two lengths with Oojah a further 4 lengths away in third place. He went straight on to Epsom without a trial. Always handy, Manna turned for home first and went clear, scoring by eight lengths from Zionist with the Sirdar taking third ahead of Solario. This was the second Derby victory for Fred Darling after Captain Cuttle and the fourth win in 5 years for the redoubtable Donoghue.

Sadly, this was to be the last win for Manna, who suffered an injury to his off-fore knee when attempting to land the Triple Crown in the St Leger and he was duly retired. At the time, Morriss was busy with building work at Banstead Manor Stud, so Manna covered his first season at stud in 1926 at Charles Howard's Coombe Park in Whitchurch, Oxfordshire, where he was fully subscribed at a fee of 400 guineas.

At stud he sired several good winners, most notably the 2,000 Guineas hero Colombo, part of his first crop. Manna also sired the 1936 Derby Italiano winner Archidamia, as well as the Coventry Stakes winner Manitoba, who was twice Champion sire in Australia.

Manna died of a burst blood vessel in October 1939 and is buried at Banstead Manor. The stallion man's cottage, which is still in place, is known 'Manna Cottage.'

Date: 08 May 2006