Last Friday (28th June) night, the home of Harness Racing in the North, Alexandra Park, saw a great training feat achieved when the Smith & Partners 2019 Winter Cup was taken out by The Devils Own (4g Art Major / Bishops Blessing by Live Or Die), trained by Pukekohe-based trainer Brent Mangos.

The Devils Own is owned and raced by the Breckon Racing Syndicate, together with Philip and Glenys Kennard, Jim and Ann Gibbs and Gary and Kerry Woodham.

He was bred by Tony and Anne Parker and is closely related to Auckland Reactor (1:51.4, 32 wins, $1,837,043) and Devil Dodger (1:50.8, 38 wins, $724,666), so certainly has some pedigree.

The Devils Own has been off the scene for over 16 months, having last started in Australia as a 3-year-old, on the 24th February 2018.

He was previously trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, when he proved to be a very good 2-year-old, finishing second in the time-honoured Group 3 Alabar NZ Kindergarten Stakes at his first start and going on to take out the Listed PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Open Final in a very slick 1:52.4 Mile Rate for the 1950m distance, in the process setting a NZ Record and beating Alta Maestro and Spankem.

He also finished third (to Spankem) in the Group 1 NZ Sires Stakes Final and second (to Ashley Locaz) in the Group 1 Harness Jewels 2YO Emerald, ending his 2-year-old season with good statistics of 9 starts, for 3 wins, 3 seconds, 1 third and $155,896 in stakes.

As a 3-year-old he returned to have a string of 2nd placings, before venturing over to Australia where he had three 3rd placings, including one in the Group 1 Victoria Derby Final, before failing in the NSW Derby and then returning back to New Zealand to undergo some serious veterinary work at a Matamata clinic.

He had to have a hock operation and while this was being done it was discovered that he also needed a suspensory operation on the same leg. The vets spent a lot of time with him while he underwent his recuperation and before returning to training he was to spend a month on a treadmill.

It has certainly seen a lot of dedicated attention and been a long time to get The Devils Own back to the races, but his new trainer Brent Mangos thinks it could have been a blessing in disguise. The family is not renowned for early racehorses, so his juvenile year was probably a bonus and he is a big horse, so this extra time has allowed him to grow and develop into a very nice strong horse.

From the time that he entered Brent’s stable, he has spent four months in work, slowly building up, until making it back to the races last Friday. This entailed a lot of ground work, slow walking on the walker machine every day and an initial swimming regime that has been stopped with the onset of winter.

Brent said, “He’s a lovely horse to do anything with and he’s one of those horses that doesn’t knock himself around, he’s very laid back, so that helps him as well.”

He added, “It could have been a blessing with giving him a bit of extra time, having most of his 3-year-old season missing, he’s certainly come back good and he feels like a good horse when you work him and I’m sure with another two or three months down the track, he should be a little bit better as well.”

Prior to making his return to racing, The Devils Own was to have three quiet runs at the workouts, running close-up 5th and 4th placings at Pukekohe, then working with a galloping pacemaker in a heat at Cambridge, after which Brent decided he was ready to return to the racetrack.

He drew Barrier No.4 on the Front Line of the Handicap Pace, in a field that was reduced to only six runners, after there had been three scratchings. He made a good beginning at his first attempt from a standing start and settled 3-back in the running, before pulling out with 2150m to run and going forward to take the lead. He was challenged for the lead at the 1200m point, but held the top to go on for a good win.

Brent said after the race, “He went great for his first run and it was an ideal run to start off with, as he’s been off the scene for almost 18 months. He’s going to have an easy couple of weeks now, walk on the walker one day and jog the next.”


The long-term target for The Devils Own is the NZ Trotting Cup in November and if he shapes up there, then the Inter Dominions to be staged in Auckland could be next.

Brent said, “They’re big steps, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he copes with them. He may not be beating them in that grade, but he will be very competitive I’m sure.” He added, “The horse will tell us as we go along, where his destiny will be, but I would say he’ll measure up to the good horses, I think. As long as he stays sound, I’m sure he’ll always be thereabouts in those type of races I think.”

So far, he has had no further leg issues at this stage, but it is a situation that has to be monitored closely as he progresses in this campaign, with some serious targets being aimed for.

The Devils Own now has lifetime statistics to date of 21 starts, 4 wins, 7 seconds, 4 thirds, for $225,964 in stakes; not a bad effort for a horse that has been over two years out of the Winners Circle.

Brent also drove The Devils Own to victory on Friday night, taking his New Zealand tally of wins to 1,492, so there is a driving milestone looming for Brent, as he is closing in on the 1500 mark. Brent doesn’t travel and drive as much as he used to, but his milestone will surely not be far away.

Another memorable achievement was accomplished at Alexandra Park last Friday night, when the very successful young driver Zachary Butcher (702 wins) became a winning trainer, as he trained and drove his charge Zeuss Bromac to win the first race on the card. Zachary has only had three starts as a trainer, all with Zeuss Bromac, who he also part-owns with his father David, Bromac Lodge Limited and Slingsby Holdings Pty Ltd and has been in the money every time, having a 1st, 2nd and 3rd (in the Group 1 Harness Jewels Emerald) so far. Zeuss Bromac will have one more start in New Zealand, before he travels to Australia to fulfil another dream of Zachary’s, to train a horse to compete in the Australasian Breeders Crown.

We wish both The Devils Own and Zeuss Bromac every success in their future racing.

Rob Carr