Ben Magri with 2020 Laurels Classic winner, Aston Gwen 📷 Clint Anderson

  • Wednesday, 06 Dec, 2023,
  • by Peter Quilty

Laurels love!

Avalon-based mother-and-son team Michelle Mallia and Ben Magri won’t be ‘resting on their laurels’ at Sandown Park on Thursday night.

Quite aptly, they’ll be contesting heats of the Group 2 Laurels Classic (515m).

Magri won the 2020 Laurels with Aston Gwen, while Mallia was runner-up with Zoom Out in 2017.

Four Laurels heats will be conducted on Thursday night, with the ‘first two home’ in each progressing to the $55,000 to-the-winner final on December 14.

Mallia has Quest For Dreams, which has won three races from 11 starts, in Heat 1 (Race 1, 6.54pm).

WATCH: ONE OF ONE (B1) wins her one and only race thus far – albeit by 6.8L in 22.04sec – at Warrnambool on September 14.

Surprisingly, Quest For Dreams (Box 4) is $27 on Sportsbet’s heats market considering she’s won two sprint races at The Meadows and a middle distance event at Sandown. She’s $201 to take out the final.

Things get interesting in Heat 2 (Race 2, 7.13pm) where Magri and Mallia clash for ‘bragging rights’.

Magri has One Of One (Box 2), which has only one win from 14 starts, and Mallia has Urana Zoom (Box 8) which has won six from 14 and is unbeaten in two starts at Sandown with a 29.84sec PB. She’s also won three of her past four outings.

One Of One and Urana Zoom are $31 and $13 respectively in their heat and $251 and $67 on the ‘All In’ market.

Heat favourites are: Heat 1 – Isle Of Rose ($1.50); Heat 2 – Here Comes Milli ($2.00); Heat 3 (Race 3, 7.37pm) – I’m A Mustang ($1.85); Heat 4 (Race 4, 7.55pm) – Meatball Molly ($2.30).

“We didn’t even think Aston Gwen could win the Laurels… She was my baby girl.”

Isle Of Rose ($4.40) heads ‘All In’ betting from Here Comes Milli and I’m A Mustang (both at $6.00), Meatball Molly ($6.50), Common Step ($7.00) and Aunt Virginia ($8.50).

“We’ve been pitted against each other a few times but never in a Group series,” Magri said of his family friendly rivalry.

“Mum takes the honours most of the time. But occasionally when I do, I give her a bit of slack about it. However, normally she finishes on top.”

Magri, who works full-time for Primal resurfacing roads says, “mum does most of the training these days”.

“My late grandfather Charlie, who is mum’s dad, taught her everything she knows in the sport and that’s been passed on to me.

Michelle Mallia with Laurels Classic hopeful Urana Zoom 📷 Jason Mckeown

“We didn’t even think Aston Gwen could win the Laurels… She was my baby girl.”

Magri says if One Of One gets a clear run, “anything could happen”.

“She’s got more ability than her race record shows. But Urana Zoom is a little pocket rocket. If either win their heat, I’d be stoked.

“However, with a clear run. Urana Zoom would be the best chance for the family. Mind you, Quest For Dreams also has her fair share of talent.”

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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