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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SATURDAY: November 26, 2022: FABIO Martino joked he might have been an “April Fool” when he launched his training career on April 1 this year.

But there was nothing silly about his breakthrough victory at Canberra yesterday.

“I’m over the moon,” 29-year-old Martino said today in the wake of Eliseo’s win in the Benchmark 60 Handicap (1000m).

Given a cosy run behind the pace by James Innes Jnr, Eliseo ($11) finished best to defeat Onya Lional ($9) and another Hawkesbury representative, Mike Van Gestel’s Titan Star ($20).

Martino emigrated to Australia eight years ago from his native Italy with the distinct aim of becoming a trainer.

“Horses were always been my passion and hobby at home,” he explained.

“With encouragement from family and friends, I came out here when I discovered you get paid for working in the stables.

“If you want to be one of the best, you have to learn from the best, so I worked for a number of successful trainers.

“I started out with David Payne at Rosehill, and then Gary Moore, Paul Messara, Michael Freedman and Chris Waller before taking out my own licence earlier this year.”

Eliseo, a $14,000 Inglis Classic yearling sale purchase in 2019, had a number of trainers before joining Martino’s stable.

This was his third win, having scored earlier in his career for Natasha Hall-Antonio at Canberra in February, 2020, and James Ponsonby at Hawkesbury in June last year.

“Eliseo was passed in at the Ready2Race sale later in the year after being bought at the Classic sale, and I liked the horse when I saw him,” Martino said.

“I really wanted him, and I got my father Paolo to buy him.

“Dad is my biggest fan and also my bank.

“Whilst Dad is back home in Italy, he was able to watch the race and it was a great thrill for all of us to get that result.”

Martino wasn’t far off making a winning debut when Eliseo was his first starter and ran second at Dubbo in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1115m) on July 15.

The Your Song five-year-old also was second, at Bathurst on November 12, before shedding his maiden status yesterday.

The gelding’s three wins have all been at 1000m.

Martino had another runner later at the Canberra meeting, and finished third with Mr Pampera ($8.50) in the Maiden Handicap (1300m).

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