A G2 Sportsbet Horsham Cup kiss from MICHELLE MALLIA for FERNANDO PHIL on International Women’s Day. 📷 Clint Anderson

  • Saturday, 09 Mar, 2024,
  • by Peter Quilty

Fabulous ‘Phil’ too powerful in Horsham Cup

Avalon-based Michelle Mallia was the only female trainer in the $83,000 Group 2 Sportsbet Horsham Cup (485m) on Friday night.

The $55,000 to-the-winner final just happened to be staged on International Women’s Day. Talk about the stars aligning!

And it was symbolic of Helen Reddy’s female anthem ‘I Am Woman’ when Mallia’s highly underrated sprint sensation Fernando Phil – who came into the race as a reserve – secured his first ‘black type’ win.

Ironically, Fernando Phil ($8.60) was ‘strong’ and ‘invincible’ leading from go to whoa in defeating Explicit ($2.40F) by one and a half lengths, with Nature Strip ($3.40) a further half-length away third in a slick 26.95sec.

Bred by Mallia, Fernando Phil (Jan ’22 Fernando Bale x Zoom Out) notched his ninth win (with six seconds and three thirds) from 25 starts and his stakes spiralled to $130,120.

“I said to mum this morning, ‘it’s International Women’s Day and I’m the only woman in the Horsham Cup’. It must have been an omen.”

Fernando Phil has also finished sixth in the G1 Australian Cup after winning a semi-final in 29.64sec – only Morton (29.53sec) went quicker. He was also a finalist (5th) in the G1 Silver Chief. And he’s reached finals of a G3 Great Chase (4th) and Warrnambool Derby (5th).

Mallia issued some prophetic words leading into the final: “It (a heat) was his first look at Horsham, but he still stopped the clock at 27.19sec.

“He’ll be much better from the look at the track last week. He’s a really fast dog; he’s shown he can put the times on the board.”

And she told GRV’s Jason Adams after the event that “when you breed them yourself it means so much”.

“Explicit has only been beaten four times in his career, and all four times it’s been dogs I bred that have beaten him.

WATCH: “But it’s all Fernando Phil.” FERNANDO PHIL (9) defeats a gallant EXPLICIT (8) in the Horsham Cup.

“Fernando Phil has beaten him twice, and Quest For Pace has beaten him twice.”

Fernando Phil and Quest For Pace were born on the same day. They’re from different litters… I whelped down two litters on the same day.

“I said to mum this morning, ‘it’s International Women’s Day and I’m the only woman in the Horsham Cup’. It must have been an omen.”

Fernando Phil is the most powerful dog I have had for some time.

“He is the most powerful dog I’ve put around The Meadows. He has won in the 29.60s there.

WATCH: Avalon breeder trainer Michelle Mallia caught up with GRV’s Jason Adams following FERNANDO PHIL’s sensational Group 2 Sportsbet Horsham Cup victory on Friday night.

“He’s still a baby. I’ll put him in the Shepparton Cup next.”

Fernando Phil’s victory also had a very emotional context.

He’s named in respect of Mallia’s late father-in-law, Phil Magri, who part-owned Fernando Phil before passing away when he was a nine-month-old pup.

Magri’s sons, Ronnie and Kevin, part-own Fernando Phil.

Pawnote: Prior to Mallia, the most recent female trainer to land a Horsham Cup is Andrea Dailly with Shima Shine in 2021. Ironically, Mallia and Dailly were high school classmates.

Meanwhile, Shima Current ($3.30) – prepared by Tom Dailly – set the track alight with a 26.75sec (Best) victory in the $14,575 Sportsbet Horsham Cup Consolation (485m). He snared a $10,000 first prize accounting for Crackerjack Aret ($3.10F) – trained by Jordan Cooper – by almost three lengths.

Shima Current, a recent Australian Cup Consolation finalist, registered his 10th win (with 11 seconds and three thirds) from 37 starts and $82,575 in prizemoney.

Other highlights on the night were the wins of Black Ombre ($3.70, 27.07sec) – trained by Jason Thompson – in the $7500 to-the-winner GRV VicBred Series (1-4 Wins) final (485m) and Wrong Bias ($1.60F, 23.07sec) – prepared by David Kerr – in the $7000 to-the-winner Sylvia Penny Memorial final (410m).

WATCH: “But Shima Current all the way.” SHIMA CURRENT (5) proves too fast and too strong in the Horsham Cup Consolation.

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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