Michelle Mallia says exciting young sprinter Matt’s Hope will have a special weapon in his corner in Saturday night’s Shepparton Classic final (450m) in passionate part-owner Matt Field.
Michelle generously gifted Matt, who was born with spina bifida, a share in the aptly-named Matt’s Hope (March ’19 Cosmic Rumble x Hope’s Thunder), which she bred in partnership with Bradley Debono.
“Matty absolutely loves the dogs and he was dealt a tough hand in life,” Mallia explained.
“So when Matt’s Hope broke in so good, I gave Matt 25 per cent of the dog and that’s why I named him Matt’s Hope.
Michelle Mallia and Matt Field celebrate rising star Matt’s Hope’s win at Geelong on February 11.
“Matt’s always at the dogs at Geelong and a couple of weeks ago I decided to race Matt’s Hope there, so Matt could see him.
“I was thinking, ‘Gee, I hope he can win for Matt’. He jumped straight to the front and brained them, and Matt was over the moon!
“He’s really excited about having a dog in a final on Saturday.”
Avalon-based Mallia has a second string to her Classic bow, with Matt’s Hope, which has won eight of his 22 starts, joined by litter brother In A Blue, winner of seven from 26, including four of his last five.
It was one up and one down for Mallia’s duo in Monday night’s heats, where the siblings met with mixed fortunes in photo finishes.
In A Blue had some luck when winning a mix-up affair in 25.48sec, while Matt’s Hope was edged out by Brewski Bruce in a smart 25.09sec; however Mallia was by no means disappointed.
“Matt’s Hope ran the race of his life,” she said.
“He’d had a couple of weeks off after pulling up sore after his last run and had hardly done any work since, but I thought he only had to run top three to make the final.
WATCH: MATT’S HOPE (5) led until the shadows of the post, when edged out by BREWSKI BRUCE (4) in a slick 25.09sec in a Shepparton Classic heat on Monday night.
“He went in a little bit underdone, so to get run down on the line in such good time was really impressive. He’ll definitely be better on Saturday with that race in his legs.
“In A Blue was a bit of a ‘Steven Bradbury’ run, but he ran 25.23sec at Ballarat a couple of weeks ago, so he can run as well.
“He’s raced by a good syndicate, with a few first-timers, so it’s a big thrill for them too.”
Matt’s Hope (Box 6) and In A Blue (Box 7) have drawn alongside each other for the $10,000 to-the-winner final (Race 8 at 8.09pm), and Mallia didn’t hesitate to nominate the former as her best chance.
“For sure. Matt’s Hope is a very fast dog,” she said.
“Unfortunately, they’ve drawn hard against each other. I can’t believe my luck in finals!
“But I think they’re drawn okay. In A Blue will run a straight line and Matt’s Hope will head down to the fence but he won’t crash. If they were drawn the other way around it could’ve been a bit messy.
“Matt’s Hope will be handled by Brayden Klemke, who does a great job taking my dogs to the track every day, and In A Blue will be handled by his owner Billy McRae.
“There were six in the litter and we kept three and sold three. I also train Queen Amarok (four from 20). I scratched her from the heats of the Matchmakers at Shepparton on Monday because of a little injury, but in her last two wins at Bendigo she was explosive out of the boxes.
“They only turned two this week (Tuesday), so they’re still babies!”
Saturday evening’s Shepparton meeting will also feature the Matchmakers final (450m), Race 6 at 7.21pm, with the outstanding line-up of young female sprinters headlined by G1 winner Idolize.
There was an instant connection when Matt Field was introduced to namesake Matt’s Hope.