• Tuesday, 08 Mar, 2022,
  • by Peter Quilty

Field of Dreams

Life’s “emotional rollercoaster” took Avalon trainer Michelle Mallia and Corio owner Matthew “Matty” Field on a ‘wild ride’ at Shepparton on the weekend.

They were in a metaphoric ‘front carriage’ that took them to the pursuit of happiness when Matt’s Hope (Mar ’20 Cosmic Rumble x Hope’s Thunder) – named after Field who suffers from spina bifida – won the Shepparton Classic final (450m).

Matt’s Hope ($9.40) snared a $10,000 first prize defeating Mallia-trained litter brother In A Blue ($35.90) – owned by Billy McRae – by 1.2L, with Brewski Bruce ($2.70F) a further 7.3L away third in 25.09sec.

It was his ninth win from 23 starts, including four of his past six, with $28,020 in prizemoney.

“I had dad at home, and we watched the race together…
He was my best friend.”

In a generous gesture, Mallia gifted 25 per cent ownership of Matt’s Hope to Field, 35, who was dubbed the sport’s “No. 1 fan” after featuring in a heart-warming episode of GRV’s Thrill of the Chase. Field has overcome adversity with a smile on his face and an infectious love of life.

However, that proverbial “rollercoaster” came plummeting down as Mallia’s father, Charles Mallia, 81, passed away in the early hours following the Classic.

In fact, Michelle watched the Classic final at home with her beloved dad passing away by her side.

The popular greyhound identity, affectionately known as “Charlie”, was not only highly respected as a person but as a greyhound breeder and trainer.

He was associated with a multitude of stars including 1993 Victorian Greyhound of the Year, Pace Galore. And she was the catalyst for his ‘Galore’ breeding dynasty.

“Dad received her at 15 months of age to train and as a consequence also got to choose a female pup from her first litter,” Michelle said. “He simply selected the ‘biggest’.”

That ‘big girl’ turned out to be Chrishelle (by New Tears) which only won four races from 29 starts but became a prolific producer.

Subsequently, her maternal pre-potence resulted in progeny the ilk of 2006 G2 Zoom Top winner Slick Galore (also 2nd – 2006 G1 Super Stayers & nine-time Group race finalist), Mighty Galore (2nd – 2002 G1 Sandown Cup & 2002 G2 Gold Collar), Boss Galore, Model Galore and many more.

Co-owner Matty Field with his pride and joy and namesake, Matt’s Hope.

Michelle said her father had been in perfect health but suddenly fell ill a couple of weeks ago. “He underwent scans detecting he was riddled with cancer,” she emotionally added.

“It (the Classic final) was a ‘different night’. I had dad at home, and we watched the race together… He was my best friend.

“But it will be one of my most treasured memories in the sport – seeing the last moments with my father.

“I wouldn’t be who and where I am only for the knowledge dad gave me in life and greyhound racing. He was a true gentleman of the sport, and everyone loved him.”

WATCH: Matt’s Hope (6) defeats litter brother In A Blue (7) in an emotional Shepparton Classic.

In reflecting on the win of Matt’s Hope, Michelle said, “we couldn’t believe the odds we got for him”. “I gave him a huge chance and was just hoping In A Blue could run a place.

“He was a tad underdone in last week’s heats and improved out of sight in the final… He chased his heart out and I reckon dad was riding him home.”

Michelle also gave the highest praise to Field, who she said, “was dealt a tough hand in life”. “He also lost his brother, Justin, in a car accident.”

Handler Brayden Klemke (Matt’s Hope) and owner Billy McRae (In A Blue) after a Classic quinella.

“I sat Matty on a chair in a yard and let in Matt’s Hope, which was only 12 months old, and told him he had 25 per cent part-ownership.

“He (Matt’s Hope) gives 100 per cent, just like Matty does in life.”

Pawnote: On a brighter note for the Mallia family, Michelle’s son, Ben Magri, prepared two Grade 5 heat (595m) heat winners at Sandown Park on Sunday. Golden Quest ($1.10F) posted a massive 9.2L victory in a smart 34.11sec (Best), while Aston Velvet ($2.60) clocked 34.63sec.

WATCH: Victorian greyhound racing’s biggest fan, Matthew Field, reveals his passion for the sport on Thrill of the Chase.

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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