If ever a trainer and greyhound deserve to celebrate a feature race success, it’s surely Michelle Mallia and in-form speedster Matt’s Hope in Friday night’s $74,335 Group 2 Viatek Warragul Cup Final (460m).
After Matt’s Hope broke in impressively, Avalon-based Mallia generously gifted a 25 per cent share to Matt Field, a passionate greyhound racing fan from Corio, who has spina bifida.
Field – and Mallia – have enjoyed a dream ride with the aptly-named Matt’s Hope, which has won 28 of his 59 starts, to date earning $98,638 prizemoney, and the best may yet be to come.
A son of Cosmic Rumble and Hope’s Thunder that turns three on March 1, Matt’s Hope will make his first appearance in a Group final on Friday riding the crest of a six-race unbeaten streak, while he’s scorched to nine wins from his last ten starts.
“His last ten runs have been off the charts!”
“He’s airborne at the moment,” said Mallia.
“He’s really going great guns.
“He’s always had a lot of talent but he’s more experienced now and with maturity he’s got a little bit stronger, which means he’s going to the line a bit harder, and his times are better.
“His last ten runs have been off the charts! He’s been blowing the clock up and running near records at nearly every country track in Victoria.”
In last Friday night’s Cup heats, Matt’s Hope ($2.50) clashed with another sprinter boasting a picket fence form-line in Cybertruck ($2.20F), which had won his previous six starts.
After an early duel, Matt’s Hope cleared Cybertruck and drove through to lead Aston Lira ($9.50), which he held out to continue on his winning way, scoring by half a length in 25.62sec.
WATCH: MATT’S HOPE (B2) extended his winning streak to six when winning his G2 Warragul Cup heat, holding ASTON LIRA (B6) at bay in 25.62sec.
Mallia was delighted when Matt’s Hope drew box eight for the Cup Final, having won his last five appearances from ‘the pink’, with an impressive eight from 12 overall record.
“He’s drawn well; he seems to begin better from ‘the pink’,” Mallia said.
“I wouldn’t say I’m confident. There’s some very fast dogs in the race, but I’m comfortable with his draw and how he performed to get there.
“I wouldn’t swap the dog or the box!
“He went 6.47sec early in his heat, but I think he would’ve run mid to low 6.30s if ‘the red’ (Cybertruck) hadn’t been hampering him. It wanted off and they were bumping for the first 100 metres. Otherwise, I honestly think he would’ve run 25.40sec.
“I was just stoked to see him show the guts he did to win.”
Matt’s Hope sits on the third line of Sportsbet’s market at $4, behind Landyn Bale (box 1), Mark Delbridge’s G1 Silver Chief placegetter, at $3.30, and fastest heat winner Mobile Legend (box 3), trained by Daryl Brennan, at $3.60.
Click HERE for Sportsbet’s Warragul Cup market
Matt Field’s share of Friday night’s $47,000 winner’s purse would amount to just under $6000 and the 36-year-old isn’t the only beneficiary of Michelle’s huge heart and generous spirit.
“Matt is off his tree!” Michelle laughed.
“He’s absolutely stoked. He’s coming to Warragul with us on Friday night and I’m sure he’ll really enjoy the moment if we’re lucky enough to win.
“Matt’s a good kid and he was given a raw deal in life, so it’s great for him to have an interest like greyhound racing.
“I’ve also given Matt and a beautiful seven-year-old boy called Lachie 25 per cent each in a 13-month-old Aussie Infrared x Stepping (half-sister to Matt’s Hope) pup.
“If he makes the grade, his racing name will be ‘Matlock’!
“Lachie is wheelchair-bound and can’t talk, but when I gave him the share, he pushed his communication button to say, ‘Thank you’. It brought tears to my eyes.”
The safest wager of all on Friday night would be that more tears will be shed should Matt’s Hope prevail.
In what looms as a memorable night for the multiple Group 1-winning trainer, Mallia’s G1 Hume Cup heroine Aston Velvet will line up in the Distance Cup (680m).
She’s also extremely bullish about the prospects of Aston Honey, a daughter of Aston Kimetto that’s won three of her seven starts for Michelle’s son Ben Magri, in the $5450 Mixed 6/7 Final (400m).
“She’s a very classy animal,” Mallia said.
“I think she could be as good as Aston Gwen (2020 G2 Laurels winner). She’s going better at the same age.”
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