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That special memory is Manson’s colours – the initials BV emblazoned on black, red and white.
BV stands for Blair Vining, who became a national identity as he battled terminal bowel cancer, presenting a 140,000-strong petition to Parliament with his wife Melissa, three months before he died in October 2019.
The black, red and white are the colours of Vining’s beloved rugby club Midland in Winton.
A lock, who played about 400 senior matches, Vining was renowned for his toughness.
“He was a strong man; my horses have to be tough like he was,” Manson said.
On Sunday, the colours were to the fore when veteran and tough-as-teak pacer Copperfield Rose finished third at the Motukarara trots.
“They are very proud moments,” said Manson, who trains a small team at Lincoln.
“Blair’s mentioned every time. I love it ... the awareness of cancer, the hospital,” Manson said of the Southland Charity Hospital Trust, established in 2019 following Vining’s highly-publicised battle providing free services to those in the southern half of New Zealand who are unable to access care through the public or private health systems.
While Copperhead Rose is probably in the twilight of his career, another Manson pacer Franco Marek could carry the colours to the top.
“Copperhead Rose has raced for six years. He’s such a tough animal. A bit of that is rubbing off on Frankie,” he said of Franco Marek.
Franco Marek won over Christmas New Year at Motukarara, his fifth win from just seven starts.
“He is still just a boy, but he is a smart horse. We have been patient with him and tried to give him time to mature. He has got a wee way to go, but he knows what it is about,” Manson said.
“He is getting more professional every day. The plan is to go all of the way with him.”
The Mansons and Vinings and a handful of other families would go to Twizel on holiday each year.
“We still do that with Blair’s family,” Manson said.
Vining was not a horse racing person as such. But when Manson decided to get back into training after an absence from the game he suggested to Vining that he wanted to change his original colours to the BV on black, red and white. Vining agreed.
Vining’s family now take a big interest in the horses which carry their colours, keeping up with how they are going and “putting a dollar each way on them.”