TIM Martin chases a sixth Armidale Cup today when the former Tamworth and Scone trainer, who hails from Walcha, runs Brave Ali in the $35,000 Tooheys New Armidale Cup (1900m).
Martin’s successes began in 1998 when Captain Starlight beat the marvellous Merv Corliss-trained Akwazoff.
The duo returned to run one-two again in 1999 and then Martin made it three in a row in 2000 when Asante scored a one and three quarter length victory for a local syndicate formed by breeder Matt Macarthur Onslaw and including his parents Rick and Chris, Peter Barton and Imperial Hotel licensee Col “Legless” Mack.
He then had to wait a half dozen years before Patrick Murphy and Rock Cafe saluted in 2006 and then Murphy returned the next year to win Martin’s fifth on In Rehearsal.
A sixth win could be deafening as Brave Ali is raced by a large group of owners syndicated by St Kilda publican Harley Payne.
Those syndicate members include Armidale and HNWRA chairman Rodd Watt, AJC secretary Jim Dedes clerk of the course David Knight and former Guyra rugby league captain-coach Craig Waters, who finished third with Dusty’s Felt last year.
Brave Ali burst into Armidale Cup contention last month when he was an unlucky second to the Kris Lees-trained Pitt Street in the Walcha Cup.
Since then he was unplaced at Canterbury but Martin said “he needed a good blow out”.
He’s better suited to 1900m, while his last start in Sydney should have him fit for today.
“He’s been set for the Armidale Cup and he’s the right type of horse for the race, Martin said.
“It would be good to see all the Armidale blokes get a win in their hometown cup.”
The five-time Cup winner said he had no secrets to his success.
“I think I’ve just been a little bit lucky,” he said.
“I’ve never won a Walcha or a Tamworth Cup before, but I’ve won five Armidale Cups, so go figure.”
Armidale Jockey Club secretary Jim Dedes, who finished second in the Cup with He’s Full Of It to the Keith Hiscox-trained Derivative Receipt in 2009, said this year’s race had a real “Armidale feel” to it.
“In the past there have been a lot of out-of-town owned and trained horses in the Cup, but this year there are a lot of horses with a connection to Armidale,” he said.
“That’s a good thing and I think we’ll have a really good crowd out there today.”
After the last two Armidale race meetings were washed out, Dedes said he expected the track to be “cherry ripe” for Cup day.
“At this stage it’s likely to be a dead four or a good three surface.”
Brave Ali was posted a 9-2 third favourite behind Falklands and Clever Hans over the weekend.