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Hanover still hip to be Square

Tue 21 May 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

Leonard Mawn likens his old stable war horse Hanover Square to a veteran footballer playing in the local competition.

At 10 years of age, the galloper is getting on. 

But, he just appreciates fronting up and going to training, playing on the weekend and being around his mates.

Retirement is edging closer with every start, but he is still loving being a part of it all.

He is just like a bloke in his mid-30s that is still running around in the local footy comp with a dodgy hamstring.

About to tick over to 11 years of age later in 2024, Hanover Square has put in two of his better runs over the last 12 months in his last two starts.

The 2019 Battle Of The Bush champion is still relishing every aspect of being a racehorse.

“He thinks he is a two-year-old – he just loves being a racehorse,” Mawn said at track work recently.

“If you put him in the paddock, he gets poor and doesn’t enjoy being in the paddock. He just loves being in the stable and being a racehorse.

“He is like an old footballer really – they just love playing.”

Hanover Square has not won a race since May of last year when he got the cash at Morven against open class gallopers.

He has 10 victories and 27 minor placings on his resume from a career 89 starts that span back to early 2016 when he had his maiden trial as a racehorse at Randwick under the banner of the famous Snowden clan.

In more recent times, he has dropped back to Benchmark level events and is no longer tackling the open class horses.

Like Mawn says, Hanover Square is a bit like an old footballer – he isn’t playing in the top league anymore, but he is happy to be going around in the lesser company and acquitting himself well.

Apprentice hoop Savannah McCann is getting on nicely with the veteran galloper after partnering him to two second-placed finishes in a row.

They were at Cunnamulla and Charleville. 

Senior jockey Brendon Newport rides the majority of the Manhattan Rain gelding’s track work and they get on like a house on fire.

“He is my favourite horse,” Newport said.

“He is feeling very fine and is getting ready for his races.”

Bush racing stalwart Hanover Square has been a star of regional racing in Queensland over his career, winning the 2019 edition of the Battle Of The Bush as well as being beaten in a photo-finish for the 2019 Cleveland Bay Handicap at Cluden Park.

Hanover Square has gone through a number of trainers over the journey, but he is content in Chinchilla with Mawn these days.

Hanover Square wrote his name into the record books back in 2019, claiming the BOTB Final at Eagle Farm at big odds under hoop Michael Cahill.

Trainer Bevan Johnson - now based at Barcaldine - had Hanover Square in his care for just a few weeks, winning a BOTB qualifier at Barcaldine with the gelding before getting the prize in town.

He also won a race in Brisbane with Rockhampton trainer John Wigginton in late 2019.

Mawn trained the old stager before and after the BOTB Final, with the gelding going to Johnson for that period with Mawn busy with work commitments.

Alongside his partner Jo Rayner, Mawn says there are special memories of that famous day at Eagle Farm.

Cahill was well back in the field with 400 metres left to travel but finished over the top of the quality field of bush gallopers.

“It was a huge thrill with old Hanover,” the Chinchilla conditioner said.

“It was fantastic and I would love to win another one. We actually thought he would win on that day even though he was big odds on the day – we were quietly confident.

“I said that post-race in an interview as well that I thought we could win before the race.

“It is a fantastic series. It is great for country racing and everyone tries to win one and loves to get there.

“Even just to make it to Brisbane is a feat in itself.”

Rayner is also the president of the Chinchilla Race Club.

The Mawn and Rayner team have scaled back their number of gallopers in their stable in recent times with work commitments taking over.

They have three in work at the moment: Moraby Girl, Hanover Square and Heat.

They have 10 boxes at their property and will potentially build back up their numbers in work in the future.

“We have invested a lot of money between swims, walkers, treadmills and things like that,” Mawn said.

The 31-year-old Newport has struck up a close bond with the stable since relocating to the area.

“He is a great bloke and I have had a lot of support from him since I have moved from Ipswich to Miles,” the jockey said.

“He has been pretty supportive of me.”