Mane aims for Off To Moe's

5 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Mane Lodge may have sold six horses at the 2018 Inglis Classic Sale, but it is the one they couldn’t sell which is driving high hopes for Neil Osborne.

Osborne is one of a relatively rare band of trainers who also operate their own breeding interests, with he and his wife Denise overseeing Mane Lodge' racing, breeding and agistment operations.

The ones he trains are generally the ones that don’t reach their expected price in the sales ring and that was the situation which led to him putting Off To Moe's (Uncle Mo {USA}) into work for him and a bunch of friends that had enjoyed racing his dam, To Dubawi Go (Dubawi {Ire}).

"I couldn’t sell him. He was passed in." - Neil Osborne

"I couldn’t sell him. He was passed in. I only race the ones I can't sell, which is usually three or four a year," Osborne told TDN AusNZ.

Off To Moe's as a yearling

While he didn’t receive the reception Osborne would have hoped in the sales ring, when he was put into work, Off To Moe's showed enough to suggest he would be good enough to compete as a 2-year-old.

Off the back of a decent trial at Canberra, Osborne threw him in the deep end on debut in the $500,000 Inglis Nursery in December.

Things never really went to plan there and he was tailed off 10 lengths astern of the field before running home well to finish ninth, eight lengths adrift of the winner Accession (Brazen Beau).

Buoyed by the improvement the gelding has made in the six weeks since, Osborne has accepted with Off To Moe for Saturday's G3 Canonbury S. at Rosehill, with an eye to earning enough prizemoney to get a spot in the $2m Inglis Millennium at Warwick Farm the following week.

Neil Osborne

"He's been going really well. He has been a forward type of horse," Osborne said. "I reckon he improved. He gave them 20 lengths start that time. He won’t be doing that his time. If he can be ten lengths closer, he'll give them a shake."

If he can be ten lengths closer, he'll give them a shake." - Neil Osborne

Off To Moe's has also accepted for a more modest $20,000 maiden at Canberra on Friday, which Osborne knows even if he were to win would not likely be enough to get him into the Millennium.

"It annoys me that they scrapped a race at Canterbury. I needed to go there to win and get into that $2m Inglis Race, but I'm left with a bit of a challenge now," he said.

"I have to win enough prizemoney. He's only got $5000, the race at Canberra won’t give him enough and he has to run second in that race at Rosehill to get him in."

Bright future awaits

If the Millennium plan doesn’t come off, Osborne feels Off To Moe's is a horse that can do what his dam didn’t and win a race in town in the future.

"I think he's a horse who will get to a 1400m race and be very competitive. He’ll be competitive in whatever he goes in, he's a tough horse," he said.

"I think he's a horse who will get to a 1400m race and be very competitive." - Neil Osborne

Osborne said To Dubawi Go, who he bought at the 2009 Scone Yearling Sale, was not blessed with a lot of luck during a 59-start career which yielded eight wins.

"She finished second in Sydney about five times, and was beaten a lip a couple of times. She just couldn’t get that win," he said.

Dozen set for Classic Sale

The well-named Off To Moe's is her first foal, while her second, a filly by Foxwedge, is one of 12 yearlings Mane Lodge will offer at the upcoming Inglis Classic Sale.

"She's a lovely filly. She's probably a bit of a different type to him, a more petite thing, a typical filly," Osborne said of Lot 774.

Seven of the Mane Lodge's dozen are part of Book 1 of the sale, with Osborne highlighting Lot 109, the I Am Invincible filly out of Snippety Day (Snippets).

She's a full sister to Osborne's ill-fated I Am Snippetty, who won the Wellington Boot before suffering a fatal injury when well-fancied in the 2014 G3 Kindergarten S.

Osborne described Lot 381 as a magnificent No Nay Never (USA) colt, with some strong recent form in the pedigree.

"This guy's half-brother (Royal Racer) (Dreamscape) ran second in Hong Kong earlier this month at just his third race start," Osborne said.

He trained and raced the dam, Ice Cold Crownie (Beautiful Crown {USA}) for three wins from 14 starts.

"She's a mare that doesn't have a really deep pedigree but they are all good winners."

A busy January

Sales season is always a busy time for any breeding operation, even more so for Osborne will his small team of horses in work as well.

Having sold two yearlings at the recent Magic Millions sale, Neil and Denise present their Classic Sale draft for inspection to prospective buyers on Thursday.

Osborne said with the help of his wife Denise and his sons Peter and Stuart, they’ll get the job done.

"You have to be on the ball all the time. The family is all involved and that makes it easier," he said. "Denise is the mainstay, and the boys are involved as well. Stuart looks after the racehorses and Peter does the farm stuff."

"It’s good to get the job done together."