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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SATURDAY: April 13, 2024: THE agony and the ecstasy!

As one Hawkesbury trainer was understandably upset when the Sydney Cup “curse” struck again, another was thrilled to be back in the winning list with a horse having her first start for him.

Marc Chevalier was downcast on race morning when RacingNSW stewards ordered the withdrawal of his stayer Torrens from Saturday’s $2m Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick.

Chevalier’s Hawkesbury counterpart Fabio Martino was at the other end of the scale, celebrating a debut success with former Victorian filly Tokyo Star, an impressive Wellington winner yesterday.

It was third year in a row Torrens missed the Cup – and his trainer was dumbfounded.

“Torrens was inspected on Thursday by a RacingNSW vet in line with all horses prior to Group 1s,” Chevalier said.

“My horse had finished his final piece of work earlier in the morning and was a bit scratchy when examined.

“He is a rising eight-year-old stallion and that’s understandable.

“Our stable vet who has looked after the horse for a long time requested x-rays be taken, and they were clear.

“He knows the horse as well as I do, and both of us considered Torrens was fit to race, but he was withdrawn by stewards.

“I haven’t run him in the Sydney Cup the last two years because he had a suspensory problem in 2022 and then pulled a muscle last year in the Chairman’s Quality a week beforehand.

“There’s no way I would run the horse if he wasn’t fit to race, and my vet was adamant he was ready to go.

“It’s very disappointing indeed, and of course Torrens’ Singapore owner is pretty upset.”

As Chevalier still headed to Randwick to run his form filly Everyone’s A Star in the last of 10 races on the program, Martino related the story of how Wellington winner Tokyo Star came to join his team.

Tokyo Star ($3.40), having her sixth career start and first for her new trainer, led throughout for an easy victory in the Maiden Plate (1100m) against her own sex.

The three-year-old had raced on five occasions – including a fourth in the Group 3 Sires (1400m) in Adelaide last May and second in a Bairnsdale Maiden (1200m) in September – for Cranbourne trainer Alex Rae.

“Tony Muollo, one of my good supporters, has been trying to help me by giving me some horses to train,” Martino said.

“You can’t win races without good horses.

“This filly was bred by Tony’s family in New Zealand, and her sire Staphanos is an up and coming stallion.”

Martino gave Tokyo Star one 800m trial at home when a close fourth on March 11, and was confident she was ready to run well first-up for him.

“It was a month after her trial, but with the crazy weather about lately, I didn’t want to resume her on a heavy track,” he said.

Tokyo Star was Martino’s third winner of the season – and first since Eliseo scored at the Bong Bong picnic meeting last November.

“It’s been a long time between drinks; I hope I don’t get so thirsty again,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

. HOOFNOTE: Staphanos, a son of the now deceased champion Japanese sire Deep Impact and the highest stakes earner standing at stud in New Zealand, also sired last season’s Victoria Derby runner Tokyo Run (part-owned by Tony Muollo), who won the following race at Wellington.

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