Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - BEN DOR­RIES

HE is the cham­pion Queens­land race­horse trainer who came back from the dead.

John Manzel­mann was given three months to live and was so sick with life- threat­en­ing leukaemia his life in­sur­ance pol­icy was paid out.

Eight years on, the Mackay trainer has capped an amaz­ing sur­vival story by train­ing more win­ners than any­one else in Queens­land and be­ing Aus­tralia’s lead­ing pro­vin­cial trainer.

Manzel­mann’s ef­fort sim­ply to be alive – let alone train 106 win­ners and have his horses snare more than $ 1 mil­lion in prize­money – is ex­tra­or­di­nary.

And he is in the clear from the ill­ness which should have killed him.

“I went to hos­pi­tal with a sore back,” Manzel­mann said.

“They told me I had leukaemia and had three months to live. They said if the first round of treat­ment didn’t work, I might not even last that long. I was told I was ter­mi­nally ill and there was prob­a­bly no com­ing back. The in­sur­ance com­pany even paid my life in­sur­ance out be­cause I was ter­mi­nally ill. The good news is, I haven’t had to pay it back.’’

In some ways, the dark­est days of Manzel­mann’s life proved to be a bless­ing in dis­guise. Af­ter mak­ing a mirac­u­lous re­cov­ery, af­ter a long stay in hos­pi­tal and re­peated bouts of chemo­ther­apy, he had enough money from the life in­sur­ance cheque to pay off his mort­gage and plough some cash into set­ting up a thor­ough­bred sta­ble.

Manzel­mann had been a lead­ing har­ness rac­ing trainer and driver in Mackay but needed a new job when trot­ting tracks in cen­tral and north Queens­land were closed down.

“When I started to get bet­ter, it was ei­ther the case of mov­ing to Bris­bane in the har­ness game or start­ing to train thor­ough­breds in Mackay,’’ Manzel­mann says.

“I started off by build­ing a cou­ple of sta­bles at home in Mackay and I de­cided I was only ever go­ing to have eight sta­bles. That turned into a dozen, which turned into 20.’’

Manzel­mann, with 45 horses in his sta­ble, has had an in­cred­i­ble 802 horses go to the bar­ri­ers in the cur­rent rac­ing sea­son. He lives by the motto “have sad­dle will travel”.

He will take a horse wher­ever he thinks it can win a race, no mat­ter how far- flung the lo­ca­tion.

“I have been to some amaz­ing places with my horses, like Ei­nasleigh and other places in the Gulf Coun­try,’’ Manzel­mann says.

“You wouldn’t be­lieve how pretty some of those bush tracks are. De­spite the drought and all the other hard­ship in the coun­try, they look im­mac­u­late on race day and there are flow­ers ev­ery­where.

“I will take my horses wher­ever I think they can win.

“I’d pre­fer them to win a lower- grade race rather than them run fourth or fifth at a bet­ter meet­ing.’’

SEC­OND CHANCE: John Manzel­mann with one of his horses on the beach at Mackay.

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