Manaya in last-to-first Woodlands victory

Four years ago, young trainer Michael Costa and his wife Mel had to sleep in their car at their Warwick Farm stables because they could not afford to rent.

At Scone on Saturday, Costa trained his first black-type winner when Manaya produced an electrifying burst from near last to win the Listed Woodlands Stakes.

And she did it on debut.

“We kept one another warm during that winter in the car,” Costa said.

“I had one horse and we had to make sure it was fed before we ate.

“It is not something I could go through again but having Mel there to support me helped me through it and the experience has helped develop my business model.”

Manaya was the emergency for the race and only gained a start when there was a scratching.

Costa then had to find a jockey and he settled on Lester Grace.

“I found out this morning I was riding her although I had been chasing the ride since early Friday morning,” Grace said.

The win in race record time confirmed the promise that Manaya has shown in two barrier trials, winning both by a combined total of more than 15 lengths.

She is the first of eight yearlings Costa bought last year to reach the track and part of his team of 22 he has at Warwick Farm.

Costa said the filly, a half-sister to Group One-winning mare Hot Danish by Hinchinbrook, would go straight to the spelling paddock.

“She has so much raw ability but so much growing and strengthening up to do,” he said.

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