Mallia Dreaming Big On Australian Cup Night

VICTORIAN trainer Michelle Mallia is dreaming of a home-bred Group 1 double at The Meadows on Australian Cup night.

MICHELLE MALLIA is dreaming of a fairy tale double Group 1 celebration at The Meadows on Saturday night.

While Mallia only has 20 race dogs in work, she boasts live chances in both the G1 Sportsbet Australian Cup (525m) in Fernando Phil and G1 Sportsbet Rookie Rebel (600m) with Stomping.

Both home-bred youngsters are especially close to Mallia's heart and emotions will be running high, with Fernando Phil named after Michelle's late father-in-law, Phil Magri.

"I whelped Stomping's mother (Stepping) and whelped Stomping and whelped Fernando Phil," Michelle explained.

"We bought Fernando Phil's mother (Zoom Out) at 12 weeks and reared her, so we've done all the ground work ourselves.

"Fernando Phil is owned by my two brothers-in-law, Kevin and Ronnie Magri, and is named after their father, Phil. 

"Phil was a beautiful man but unfortunately he passed away before Fernando Phil started racing.

"I've had a great partnership with Brad Debono for 13 years now. We pick the sires and do the whelping and rearing. Brad is like a second son to me.

"I also have great staff; Jack Osborne, Emma Fleming and Glenda Cole. Jack calls us the A Team!"

Fernando Phil, as his name suggests, a son of Fernando Bale, was the surprise packet of the Australian Cup semi-finals, leading all-the way in a blistering 29.64sec, the second quickest qualifying performance behind Morton's 29.53sec.

Fernando Phil went around at $14, with the dominated by $1.70 hot-pot Explicit.

Michelle Mallia gives Fernando Phil a congratulatory kiss Pictures: Clint Anderson

Fernando Phil threw an immediate spanner in the works when beating the odds-on favourite out with a sizzling 5.00sec first split.

He then skipped clear when Explicit appeared to go amiss and romped to a five-length victory over Launch Code, his eighth win from 22 starts and fourth from 11 at The Meadows.

"I didn't really give him much of a chance, when you're against the favourite to win the whole series," Mallia admitted.

"I thought if he could get second and make the final I'll be happy.

"But when he got to the front and I saw something go wrong with Explicit – I hope for his connections he's okay  – I was comfortable he could win the race.

"Then when the time came up, I went whoa!"

Mallia is hoping it will be a case of third time lucky for Fernando Mick in a Meadows feature final after running fifth in the G1 Silver Chief and fourth in the G3 Great Chase.

Fernando Mick is on the fourth line of Cup betting at $7.50, with Mallia conceding box eight is less than ideal.

"The box draw hasn't done us any favours," she said.

"I think I've had eight box eights in my last nine Group races.

"Matt's Hope drew box eight in three country cup finals and the Pink Diamond final, Stomping had box eight in the Sale Cup, Fernando Phil had the pink in the Great Chase.

"It's probably not the worst draw, but being a bit closer to the rails would've been nice."

Stomping also has to contend with an outside alley in the Rookie Rebel, with the son of Aussie Infrared to exit seven, after having eight when fifth in last weekend's Rookie Rebel Prelude.

"Stomping has drawn seven or eight in eight of his last ten starts, so at least he knows how to handle himself out there," Mallia said.

"If Fernando Phil can repeat last week's run, he's a massive chance, but I'm going to be cheeky and give both of them a good chance!

"It's very exciting. Group 1 races are why we do what we do seven days a week, but the Australian Cup is next level!"

Latest News Articles