West Australian jockey, Angus Armanasco, was also well known as a trainer who spent more than three decades training the top two-year-olds that blazed the racetracks across the country.
Armanasco rode in West Australia between the two World Wars and then went on to Melbourne in the 1950s to become one of the country’s most distinguished trainers. Bagging 7 Victorian trainers’ premierships is no mean feat which is why owner Stanley Wootton had full faith in Armanasco’s abilities to turn out champion horses from the Star Kingdom line on a regular basis. Star Kingdom was a successful Australian thoroughbred racehorse purchased by Stanley Wootton for duties as a sire at Baramul Stud.
Armanasco was leading jockey for the last ten years of his riding career. A problem with maintaining his weight forced him to hang up his saddle but marked the beginning of a glorious career as a trainer. After a brief stint with a stable in Mentone, Armanasco caught up with breeder Stanley Wootton who spent most of his time in England training for the royal family. The untimely death of Theo Lewis, Wootton’s trainer in Melbourne, promoted Wootton to offer Armanasco a job as caretaker trainer.
Grey Ghost was Armanasco’s first taste of success as a trainer which was enough to instill confidence in Wootton who in turn rewarded him with a choice of horses. Star Kingdom was one of the stallions to reshape the breeding industry in Australia, and played a major role in Armanasco’s success. Among the horses from Star Kingdom’s line to bring success to the trainer were The Judge, Biscay, True Version, Bletchingly, Full On Aces (winner of a Golden Slipper Stakes), and Zeditave, a winner of five Group 1 races. Tolerance, winner of three Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield was trained by Armanasco. Forina was next in line in 1974, while Zeditave brought his tally of Blue Diamond Stakes wins to six.
Armanasco’s strategies as a trainer were different. According to former stable jockey Roy Higgins, the trainer never overworked or over-raced any of the horses. Neither did he believe in medications. Most of the brilliant sprinters from Wootton’s stable never let him down, which is one of the main reasons why Armanasco finished his career as a trainer with 7 Victorian trainers’ premiership titles to his credit.
His faith in the horses allegedly made him well known in the gambling circuit where he was known to bet significantly on his own horses.
Angus Armanasco retired from training in 1998. His achievements on the racetrack brought him the highest honor in racing as an inductee into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.
The Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes is held each year at Caulfield during the Autumn Carnival, in honor of the great trainer who passed away in 2005.