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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


SATURDAY: November 25, 2023: FABIO Martino had never been to Bong Bong races, nor had a runner at the annual picnic meeting.

But he achieved both yesterday – and even better, returned home a winner.

And there was extra special meaning to his maiden Bong Bong victory with Eliseo as it was almost 12 months to the day that the same horse provided him with his first winner as a trainer.

Ridden by Leandro Ribeiro, Eliseo ($4.60) won the Open Handicap (1200m) from $3.50 favorite Nosey and Red Impulse ($10).

“I had heard so much about Bong Bong races, and just to be there was amazing,” Martino said today.

“The crowd was fantastic, and it was such a thrill to win with my first starter there.

“Leandro gave Eliseo a brilliant ride.”

It was November 25 last year when the now six-year-old gelding Eliseo ($11) was Martino’s breakthrough winner in a Benchmark 60 Handicap (1000m) at Canberra, with James Innes Jnr aboard.

He emigrated from his native Italy nine years ago with the distinct aim of becoming a trainer, and launched his career on April 1 last year.

Martino learnt the ropes from trainers such as David Payne, Gary Moore, Paul Messara, Michael Freedman and Chris Waller before taking the plunge 20 months ago.

Eliseo’s Bong Bong victory also meant an overdue return to the winning list for his trainer, who had finished second on three occasions with his previous seven starters.

One of those seconds was with Eliseo at Goulburn on November 11, and the other two with Stella Simone at Tamworth on October 13 and Tamworth 16 days later.

Martino says he would like to increase the number of horses in his stable, but not for the time being.

“It’s very hard to get staff, so for now I will stay with 10 horses in work,” he said.

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