BRAVE Ali is fresh and ready to win Tamworth trainer Craig Martin his first $35,000 Tooheys New Armidale Cup (1900m) today.
The seven-year-old gelding, winner of eight of his 32 starts, finished fourth to Falklands last year when he had the 54kg minimum.
Today he has top weight of 59kg and while he carried 58kg to win the 1600m Quirindi Cup at his last start, Martin will be instructing jockey Kody Nestor to save the gelding for one run and use the sped he has tried to retain in his horse’s legs to best advantage.
Nestor gave everyone the best Cup tip in years before the Quirindi Cup.
He had also ridden Quirindi Cup favourite Lancelot to victory before the Quirindi Cup but opted to jump off the Max Crockett gelding to ride Brave Ali.
His decision proved correct and he produced a cracker of a ride as well.
“He’s done well since the Quirindi Cup win,” Martin said.
“I haven’t done much with him – just kept him ticking over. He’s got a bit of weight so I’ve just tried to keep him fresh.”
A bit of rain won’t hurt either, Martin said.
Winning an Armidale Cup would be another first for the Tamworth trainer.
“I think I’ve only had the one starter before – old San Carlos,” he said.
“It was a pretty good field that year.”
He also trains Brave Ali for a diverse Armidale syndicate, that includes Armidale Jockey Club secretary Jim Dedes.
AJC and HNWRA chairman Rodd Watt is also involved and Watt is hoping to celebrate a second Armidale Cup win to go with the 1993 delight that Parademansia gave him.
Then there’s St Kilda Hotel publican Harley Payne, his son Thomas and brother-in-law Nick Dooner and harness racing trainer/driver Bernard Shortis.
AJC clerk of the course, David Knight, is another and local McDonald’s restaurant owner Benita Johnson another.
There are a few more too with the likes of Craig Waters also having two cup chances.
Waters, well known for his captain-coaching exploits with Guyra in rugby league, is also a syndicate member in cup runner Dusty’s Felt!
For Martin though Brave Ali can add another cup to what is a growing trophy cabinet.
Martin won the Walcha Cup with Jefferson Park last month, a race in which Brave Ali was trapped wide all the way.
Martin also won the Grazier’s Cup at Walcha and with Brave Ali has won the Guyra Cup (last November), Black Nugget Cup (at Mudgee), ran second in the Mudgee Cup and won the Quirindi Cup at his last start.
“Winning the Guyra Cup for all the boys was good,” Martin said.
“But this is a bit different.”