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    When a quiet Victorian country girl took Europe by storm When a quiet Victorian country girl took Europe by storm

    KNIGHT PISTOL and Kerryn Manning in Norway

    AS ANOTHER Aussie prepares to take on the world it’s a prime time for a trip down memory lane to when a quiet country... When a quiet Victorian country girl took Europe by storm

    AS ANOTHER Aussie prepares to take on the world it’s a prime time for a trip down memory lane to when a quiet country girl and a pacing-bred trotter took Europe by storm.

    It was 1997 when a fresh-faced Kerryn Manning left the comfort of her small community in Great Western to become an international icon as she accompanied Knight Pistol on a groundbreaking European campaign.

    Although excited by the opportunity, Manning was unaware of the type of journey she was about to embark.

    In fact, Manning’s mother Barbara believes it was a turning point for her daughter.

    “That trip to Europe, I believe, is Kerryn’s biggest achievement,” Barbara said. “Not just the win in Norway, the whole trip.

    “To go over there and become caretaker trainer of Knight Pistol as a young 20-year-old was a very big effort and really made her as a horsewoman.

    “She wasn’t on the phone constantly asking her Dad what to do…she just made the decisions and got it done.

    “She did a tremendous job handling the trip, the publicity and scrutiny.”

    Such was the publicity surrounding Manning, she was constantly being hounded by press for interviews and publicity shots as well as fans seeking autographs.

    “The whole trip is my most special moment,” Manning said. “It made me realise there was a big wide world away from Great Western, and as you get older, you appreciate it more.

    “I did a lot of strange things for media photos over there. It was overwhelming at the time and certainly a lot different from here.

    “To think it has been 26 years does make me a little nostalgic.”

    Although the trip was ultimately a success with Manning reining Knight Pistol to glory in the Harley Davidson Trot, the campaign began on a disastrous note.

    Forced to endure a horrid flight, Knight Pistol became seriously ill after arriving in Europe to the point his life was on the line.

    “It was supposed to be a straight forward flight which turned into a 56-hour trip non stop, without getting his feet on the ground or his head to his feet and it took it’s toll,” Manning recalled.

    “He seemed well when he arrived but then he tied up in the muscles and was in a bad way for a little while there.

    “He got so dehydrated at one stage it wasn’t looking good and was at risk of being put down.

    “To his credit, he came through it remarkably well which is testimony to his constitution…he certainly did a great job to get back to his best.”

    Manning and Knight Pistol created history on August 30 when they became the first southern hemisphere duo to win a European Group One.

    After enjoying the run of the race behind the front runner, Knight Pistol grabbed the lead in the last stride to score in 1:56.

    “The Harley Davidson Trot is still my biggest win,” Manning said. “We weren’t expecting much, especially with the world champion Gentle Star in the field…we were hoping to keep up more than anything.

    “He managed to settle handy on the leader’s back and got the right splits at the right time before he came with one run in the straight and managed to just pip them on the line.”

    Racing for another two years after returning to Australia – where he had 43 starts for 22 wins and 14 placings – Knight Pistol was retired after finishing third at Moonee Valley behind Lady Truscott and National Interest on December 11, 1998.

    The gelding’s record stood at 55 victories and 39 placings from 181 outings for earnings of $612,203.

    “He still comes up in conversation every now and then,” Manning said. “I have fond memories of him for sure.”

    As for the newest Australian ‘globe trotter’, Just Believe is poised to contest tomorrow’s famed Elitloppet at the Solvalla Racetrack in Stockholm,.

    Trained by Jess Tubbs and to be driven by her husband, Greg Sugars, Just Believe has drawn barrier seven in the opening heat.

    The son of Orlando Vici has to finish in the top four to earn a berth in the Final.

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    Paul Courts

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