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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


Image: Bradley Photos

THURSDAY: September 7, 2023: HE wasn’t flat-footed today, and gave his Hawkesbury trainer Fabio Martino an important provincial breakthrough on his home track.

Mr Papera, so named because he had flat feet when purchased as a yearling, and Papera is the Italian word for a duck, scored a “quacking” win in the Ontrak Group Provincial Maiden Handicap (1500m).

A $1.95 favorite and having his 10th start after placings at five of his previous six outings, Mr Papera (Alysha Collett) was taken on early but was still good enough to lead home a Hawkesbury trifecta, defeating Brad Widdup’s Daytona Gal ($6.50), who in fact stood flat-footed at the start and came from a clear last, and Marc Chevalier’s Criminal Art ($9.50).

Martino won his first race with Eliseo at Canberra last November, and has had to sweat it out since with Mr Papera’s string of minor placings.

He also accepted with the five-year-old, who didn’t start racing until the beginning of last season, in yesterday’s $100,000 Super Maiden Handicap (1550m) in town on the Kensington track, but opted for today’s assignment.

“Mr Papera drew near the outside yesterday, and I felt it was best to wait for our home race,” Martino said this afternoon.

“He was brave and it was great to win my first provincial race with him.”

Martino’s father Paolo purchased Mr Papera for his son at the 2020 Inglis Classic yearling sale.

“The horse was struck with colic at the sale, and we took a punt and bought him for $10,000,” he said.

“I didn’t want to race Mr Papera until I was sure he was ready, and that’s why he didn’t have his first start until just over 12 months ago.

“He is very genuine, and getting better all the time.

“Dad lives in Italy and is retired, and would have been asleep when today’s race was run.

“But I’m sure he would watch the replay when he wakes, and would be very pleased.”

Martino, who has 10 horses in work, at today’s meeting was stabled alongside fellow Hawkesbury trainer Claire Lever, who won the opening race with Big Boy George.

“It’s a great community here,” he said. “We all help one another.”

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