SUCCESS IS BRED FROM SURVIVAL
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.