SHELBOURNE hobby trainer Tim Mannix readily admits it's not every day he gets to win a race at Victorian harness racing headquarters - or as he likes to refer to it as 'the big house'.
Mind you, with only a small team of horses at his and father John Mannix's disposal, rarely do they get the chance.
The conspicuous grey three-year-old gelding has struck a definite purple patch since making his way to the Mannixes with four wins from six starts - including three straight - for his new stable, after going without a win in seven previous attempts.
"He was just a maiden three-year-old, who'd had one run back from a spell, when we picked him up, but he's improved every run we've had him," Mannix said.
"He's progressed from day one; he's only a little fellow, but he's a put a bit more weight on and every run we have given him, the better he's got.
"It's not too often we win a race at the big house on a Saturday night, we don't get down there too often. Dad and I do the training, one or two horses at a time, so the opportunities are few and far between.
"But it was great to get a winner on the night."
All Whitey Then is the only horse currently in work for Mannix, who also has a couple of rising two-year-olds undergoing pre-training.
The part-time trainer said a second at Bendigo on May 12, prior to All Whitey Then being purchased, had he and his father convinced they had a reasonable pacer on their hands.
"We picked him up about two days later and has seemed to put it all together since we have had him," he said.
"He is a really good leader - we've placed him to draw well and taken advantage of it.
"It's always a good help to get to the front on a good leading horse, which (reinsman) Alex (Ashwood) was able to do on Saturday.
"Greg Sugars had to jump off him to drive one of his own, but we won't hold that against him. Alex drove him perfectly and looked after him to the line.
"He won pretty comfortably, even it was only a few metres."
It was Ashwood's second drive aboard All Whitey Then for Mannix, who trains at the Shelbourne facility owned by Ashwood and partner Kate Hargreaves.
The former Tasmania reinsman was convinced the in-form grey could continue his rise through the grades.
"He still had plenty in the kicker and he's still learning his caper ... Timmy's done a wonderful job since he's got the horse," he told Trots Vision's Paul Campbell on Saturday night.
"It's a credit to Tim to turn the horse around - he's going places."
Mannix, who works full-time as the store manager at Strath Village IGA, indicated All Whitey Then would likely have one more this run this campaign, potentially at Bendigo this Friday.
"He's getting up in grade and getting a bit harder to place a three-year-old with the new rating system." he said.
"We are either going to have to start racing against higher class horses, or put him out for a bit and look after him and worry about another preparation.
"You are in it to win races and it's a thrill to win, but it does get hard when you've won four of seven to place him.
"He'll just have to pick up his game again to be as competitive, but the way he's going I'm confident he'll handle it. He's only a small, light horse, with a few months off I feel he can come back even better again."
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