Mafioso ready to hit Walcha

MAFIOSO will head to a Walcha Cup after a valiant victory in Monday’s $15,000 Chandler Macleod Open Handicap (1400m) at Tamworth.

The Craig Martin-trained gelding hung on for his fourth race win at his 20th start for his Tamworth trainer and a syndicate of owners including Walcha Jockey Club president Jim Nivison, former Country rugby star Hamish McLaren and Westpac Rescue Helicopter’s Barry Walton.

Martin didn’t see the win as he was busy with another horse in his stable.

However he was delighted with a horse who has overcome injury to start to live up to his early promise.

“I freshened him up,” Martin said.

“He’s bounced back well. I’ll look at a Walcha Cup now with him.”

He also offered  Walton and his family all the best in a trying Christmas and hoped Monday’s win helped raise the family’s stocks.

Barry Walton was in Newcastle on Monday where his grand-daughter, Kiralee Walton, is in John Hunter Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

“She had a viral inflammation with fluid on her lungs and her throat as well,” Walton said on Christmas Eve.

“She’s been here since Thursday but in intensive  care for two days. 

“She’s been holding her own. She’s a little fighter and getting better.” 

He said Mafioso’s win couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Spriggsy rode him well,” he said of jockey Dale Spriggs.

“He poked his nose in front of Kris Lees’ horse (My Man Of War) and then the others started to swamp him but he held on. 

“It was a great Christmas present for us all.”

It was also the second leg of a running double for Martin as well after Devilgate Road had won the previous race.

“He’s going for a spell,” Martin said of the four-year-old Benicio gelding.

“He’s done well this prep. Seven starts for three wins and two thirds.

“Finishing with a double at Christmas Eve is pretty good.”

It could have been better.

Maximian was scratched at the barrier in the sixth race and then Belaroc was run down by the Paul Berrigan-trained Miss Teejays in the final race.

“She’s a nice horse,” Martin said of Belaroc.

“She got stuck three wide and was a sitting duck at the death.”

Tamworth trainer Sue Grills and Scone’s Greg Bennett also finished with quinellas. 

Bennett’s pair Limitation and Bellanoro finished one-two in the second race while Grills’s Monashee Woods and Miss Alignment quinellaed the sixth race.

Tamworth Jockey Club president Tim Coates was beaming after the last race.

“It’s been a good day for us,” he said.

“We had a good little crowd, a lot of families here and a lot of people home for Christmas all enjoying it in the festive spirit.

“Our turnover was very good too. Up against Orange on our first ever Christmas eve meeting we had very good turnover.

“We held well over a million so it was a good day for the public and the punter.”