Owners over the moon with Manhattan

A property transaction almost a decade ago established a partnership that’s looking forward to a big week at Flemington with Moonee Valley Vase winner and Victoria Derby contender Moonovermanhattan, and a possible Melbourne Cup runner, Unchain My Heart.

Ken Biddick bought a building from Peter Anastasiou about eight years ago and, in the process, the pair discovered they shared an interest in horse-racing. Soon they were doing equine, rather than real estate business and they now own around 20 horses together.

Ken explains how it works, “When we buy or breed we often do it together, usually fifty-fifty, then we sell down after that. Peter is right into genetics and the sales and he bought Moonovermanhattan because he liked him on type and conformation.”

The Manhattan Rain colt was knocked down to agent Dermot Farrington for $100,000 at the 2013 Inglis Easter Sale where he was offered by Arrowfield Stud which bred him with John Leaver and Alan Jones.

Ken and Peter’s racing team also includes Group-placed city winner Decircles, multiple city winner Jessy Belle and Geelong winner Last Sight, but for Ken there’s no doubt about his biggest thrill in racing so far.

“I’ve had lots of winners, including an Adelaide Group win with Toast of the Coast, but the Moonee Valley Vase is my biggest win. I’m just hoping now for a Group One!

“The Vase was a great win, Moonovermanhattan was very strong at the end of it. He’s sensible, and a really nice horse with no quirks and a nice bit of acceleration.”

Ken has owned and managed a sporting goods company since 1982, selling Converse footwear and apparel throughout Australia and New Zealand, but racing was part of his life long before that.

“I’ve always been around racing, I used to have a penny each way when I was 12 and later I worked at the races as a tic-tac man, backing the shorteners.”

Ken’s thoroughbred interests have progressed a long way from those beginnings. The first horse he ever bred, an Encosta de Lago filly, made $510,000 at the 2005 Inglis Easter Sale, and Ken has recently returned from England where he and Peter sold a Sea The Stars colt for 400,000 guineas at the Tattersalls October Sale.

Peter, who operates as Grandlodge Racing, and Ken work with several trainers. “I started with Tony Vasil, and our horses are now with Peter Moody, Mathew Ellerton, David Hayes, Stephen Brown and Chris Wood in New Zealand as well as Mick Price. They all have different strengths and suit different horses.

“Mick is a great trainer, he’s very knowledgeable and very communicative.”

Ken hasn’t missed a Derby Day at Flemington in the past 30 years, and this one is set to be special, whatever happens in the big race. Ken and his wife Catherine will be hosting around fifty friends and family members in a marquee in The Birdcage.

As Ken says, “It could be a hell of a party!”

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