Mullet Man eyes Armidale Cup

MULLET Man could return to Armidale for next year’s Armidale Cup after his surging win in yesterday’s XXXX Gold Benchmark 60 Handicap (1900m) at Armidale.

The four-year-old chestnut gelding finished powerfully to haul in Tara Brave for a three- length victory, with La Luna another three quarters of a length away third.

it was the four-year-old gelding’s fourth race win and his first look at a tight and tricky track.

Melissa Brown did well to keep the son of Dane Fever balanced around the two tightish turns.

He had been a little unlucky at Gunnedah when he copped a check at the post the first time of a 2050m distance event there.

He had finished fourth to Tara Brave but suffered no such problems yesterday, with Brown taking care to ensure the big-striding gelding negotiated the first turn and then surged down, around and up the final turn.

“She did well,” trainer Ruth Cooper said of  Brown.

“She didn’t panic and kept him balanced.

“I was a little bit concerned about him and was thinking about giving him a spell. 

“He had suffered from a bad virus and pulled up real crook after Moree,” Cooper said.

Mullet Man’s poor barrier didn’t inject  Cooper with great confidence either.

However, after he ran down his opponents with relish and ease,  Cooper was thinking maybe an Armidale Cup start wasn’t a fanciful idea.

“We ran second here with Circle Of Fame in the Cup last year,”  she said.

“And he’s a much better horse. 

“When is the Armidale Cup Jim,” she asked AJC secretary Jim Dedes.

“March 17,” was his reply.

o New Player handed Alan Martin his first winner as a licensed trainer when the daughter of Shaft exploded down the outside to win yesterday’s Armidale Jockey Club’s Function Centre Maiden Handicap (1100m).

The four-year-old bay mare was having her 11th start for her owner-trainer and scored a decisive length and a half win.

Martin and wife Heather prepare New Player and also race her with their daughters Alana, who lives and works in New Zealand, and Tara.

“It’s our first win,” Alan Martin said.

“We’ve run seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths.”

The Martins bought her mother, Lavender Road, for just $300. 

A daughter of Spectrum, they bought her as a broodmare and a stock horse for their daughters to show.

New Player is a nice type and until yesterday had been plagued by a series of 

problems.

“She was injured for three of her nine runs and last start she missed the jump,” Martin said.

“She started favourite at Tamworth on Melbourne Cup day but was sore. 

“We gave her a break and brought her back at Quirindi but Leanne (Henry) said she felt sore again so we gave her another week off.”

That time off was just what the “cranky” New Player, a notoriously bad traveller, needed.

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