Manna (1922–1939) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a career which lasted from summer 1924 until September 1925, Manna ran eight times, winning four races. As a three-year-old in 1925 he won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and The Derby by a record margin of eight lengths. Manna was retired after breaking down in his bid to win the Triple Crown in the St. Leger at Doncaster. He later had a successful career at stud.

Manna in 1925
Foaled1922 (1922)
Died1939 (aged 16–17)
BreederJames J. Maher
OwnerHenry E. Morriss
TrainerFred Darling
Record8: 4-1-2
Earnings£23,354 (win prize only)
Major wins
Richmond Stakes (1924)
2000 Guineas Stakes (1925)
Epsom Derby (1925)



Manna, described by the Breeders’ Review as "a superb creature" with whom it was "impossible to find fault",[1] was a bay horse bred in Ireland by James J. Maher at his Confey Stud in County Kildare. As a yearling he was sent to the sales at Doncaster, where he was sold for 6,300 gns to the trainer Fred Darling acting on behalf of the Shanghai-based bullion broker Henry E. Morriss. Darling had been instructed by a telegram from Morriss to buy the best yearling in the sale.[2] Manna was trained by Darling at his stable at Beckhampton in Wiltshire[3] where he proved to be a lively and high-spirited individual.[4]

Manna was from the third crop of foals sired by Phalaris an outstanding sprinter who went on to become the most influential stallion of the 20th century.[5] Manna's dam, the unraced mare Waffles, went on to produce the St. Leger winner Sandwich.

Morriss later explained the colt's name by saying "I always felt that he was a Heaven-sent gift... and Waffles, his dam is the name of a food."[6]

Racing career


1924: two-year-old season


Manna made his debut in one of the season's most important races for two-year-olds, the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes at Sandown for which, on the basis of his home reputation, he started odds-on favourite.[7] He failed to win but showed himself to be a promising colt by finishing third to Garden of Allah. This promise was confirmed when he won the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood on his next start in July.

At Kempton he finished second in the Imperial Produce Stakes to Picaroon, the year's champion two-year-old colt.[8] He faced Picaroon again in the Middle Park Stakes. Manna took the lead in the final furlong but was outpaced in the last stages of the race and finished third behind Picaroon and Solario[9] On his final start of the year, Manna beat Cross Bow to win the Moulton Stakes at Newmarket.

1925: three-year-old season


The spring of 1925 was unusually wet, leading to heavy ground on which it was difficult to prepare horses.[4] Manna was not, therefore, believed to be in peak condition for the 2000 Guineas, and started at odds of 100/8 in a field of thirteen. Ridden by Steve Donoghue, Manna led from the start and won easily, beating St. Becan by two lengths.[10]

Manna was then aimed at the Derby although there were doubts about whether, as the son of a sprinter, he would have the stamina to be effective over one and a half miles on heavy ground.[4] He started at odds of 9/1, with Cross Bow, who had won the Newmarket Stakes starting the 9/2 favourite. The race was run in "cold, driving rain" in front of a large crowd which included the King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family.[7] Ridden confidently by Donoghue, Manna tracked the early leader, Dalmagarry, before moving to the front soon after half way. In the straight he pulled steadily further away from his rivals to win by eight lengths. The winning margin was the largest ever recorded in the race, and remained so until Shergar won by ten lengths in 1981. Although Manna had not been favourite, the win was reported to be enthusiastically received, largely because of the popularity of Donoghue, who was winning the race for the sixth time. After the race he explained that Manna had "shot to the front without any bidding from me" and that he had "never shown him the whip".[6]

Manna failed to reproduce his Derby winning form at Royal Ascot. In the King Edward VII Stakes he finished a close third when attempting to give ten pounds[11] to Solario a colt who had finished fourth at Epsom. The result caused debate concerning the relative merits of Manna and Solario, with some correspondents expressing the view that Solario had been beaten in the Derby only through a lack of fitness.[12]

On his final start, Manna attempted to win the Triple Crown in the St. Leger for which he was made 7/2 joint-favourite with Solario. His task appeared to have been made much easier by the late withdrawal of the undefeated filly Saucy Sue who had won the 1000 Guineas and The Oaks.[13] Manna looked "splendid" before the race and started strongly, leading the field in the early stages, but he was headed after a mile and dropped quickly out of contention.[14] He finished tenth[15] of the fifteen runners behind Solario, "limping", according to the Daily Telegraph, "like a tired old hound with thorns in his pads."[1] It was subsequently revealed that Manna had sustained an injury to his right foreleg which proved severe enough to end his racing career.[14]



In their book A Century of Champions, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Manna an "average" Derby winner and the one hundred and fifteenth best British racehorse of the 20th century.[16]

Stud career


For his stud career, Manna was syndicated ("turned into limited liablility company") by his owner, with the intention that his future should be managed on "efficient business lines". It was reported that his stud fee was likely to be 400 gns.[17] Standing at the Banstead Manor Stud, at Cheveley, near Newmarket, Manna was a reasonably successful stallion with the best of his progeny being the 2000 Guineas winner Colombo and the undefeated Mannamead. His son Manitoba was one of leading British two-year-old of 1932 who went on to become an important stallion in Australia. He died after breaking a blood vessel in October 1939.[18] He was buried at the Banstead Manor Stud, where the stallion man's cottage is still known as "Manna Cottage."[19]


Pedigree of Manna (IRE), bay stallion, 1922
Phalaris (GB)
Cyllene Bona Vista
Maid Marian Hampton
Sainfoin Springfield
Cheery St. Simon*
Waffles (IRE)
Martagon Bend Or
Tiger Lily
Sesame St. Simon*
Lady Mischief
St. Simon* Galopin
St Angela
Vain Duchess Isinglass
Sweet Duchess (Family: 22-d)
  • Manna was inbred 3x4x4 to St. Simon. This means that the stallion appears once in the third, and twice in the fourth generation of his pedigree.


  1. ^ a b "J. J. Maher". Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  2. ^ "RACING FIXTURES". 26 September 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  3. ^ "Frederick Darling". Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  5. ^ "Phalaris". Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  6. ^ a b "DERBY". 14 July 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  7. ^ a b "SPORTING". 28 May 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  8. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions(Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
  9. ^ "ENGLISH TWO-YEAR-OLDS". 29 November 1924. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  10. ^ "NEWMARKET FIRST SPRING". 30 April 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  11. ^ "RACING FIXTURES". 25 July 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  12. ^ "TIME THEORY". 16 September 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Saucy Sue won't run in St Leger". Morning Leader. 17 October 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  14. ^ a b "THE ST. LEGER". 17 October 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  15. ^ "RACING IN ENGLAND". 11 September 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  16. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 1-901570-15-0.
  17. ^ "SHARES IN MANNA". 22 December 1925. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  18. ^ "Manna Is Dead". Newspapers. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Juddmonte Europe | News | A history of Banstead Manor Stud |". 8 May 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2011.