Fiocchi chases Golden Triangle history after gutsy Mallawa Cup win

A spot in bush racing history journals beckons equine influencer Fiocchi after the popular grey gelding defied an apparent aversion for dirt tracks to narrowly win the 1400m B&W Rural Titan Ag Mallawa Cup on Saturday.

Moree, Mallawa and Talmoi make up bush racing’s Golden Triangle in north-western NSW, and just five horses have collected the cups at all three meetings in the same calendar year since Mallawa joined the history-laden circuit 93 years ago.

In late May, Fiocchi led throughout to win the 1400m Boolooroo Cup at Moree and will now attempt the third leg at Talmoi on June 24.

Ricky Blewitt brings Fiocchi back to scale after winning the 2023 Mallawa Cup (Image: Copyright).

Only five horses have collected the coveted triple crown – Mulgate (1961), Passing Trade (1970 and 1973), Yakinova (1976), Gefilte (1988) and Tapakeg (2014).

On Saturday, Fiocchi edged closer to joining that elite group of gallopers when Ricky Blewitt guided the Peter Sinclair-trained four-year-old to a popular win.

Fiocchi, a betting ring drifter from even-money to $2.80, sat outside race leader Thundozer ($13) to the home turn before hitting the front on straightening.

Thundozer and Fiocchi matched strides the entire length of the long Mallawa straight, with Fiocchi prevailing in a photo-finish.

Connie Greig’s Blackhill Kitty ($2.70fav) finished two-and-a-half lengths away third, with last year’s winner, Danspur, in fifth spot.

Strapper Keira McMahon brings Fiocchi and Ricky Blewitt back to scale after winning the 2023 Mallawa Cup (Image: Copyright).

Blewitt said Fiocchi shrugged off its apparent disdain for dirt tracks and won doggishly.

“He travelled really good on the dirt, and I think sitting just outside the leader, where he wasn’t getting any kick-back, helped a lot,” Blewitt said.

“We drew the outside barrier (8) and pinged the gates and started to cross them, so I gave him a bit of a squeeze and sat off the other grey (Thundozer). Once he got there, he relaxed beautifully and quickened up at about the 600m.

“When we got to the home turn, I thought I was going to go straight past Thundozer but to that horse’s credit, it kept fighting back.

“Fiocchi wasn’t going to lay down, though; he fought all the way,” Blewitt smiled.

Mallawa club officials presented the unique horseshoe-shaped track in perfect race-day order after 10mm of rain fell in the district Thursday morning.

“The track was nice and soft. They were sort of getting into it, but it wasn’t overly rain-affected,” Blewitt said.

“On that win, you’d think Fiocchi would be a chance at Talmoi, but I won’t say he’s a better horse if he leads. He’s better if there’s one in front of him – that makes him chase a lot harder.”

Fiocchi has built a big following on bush tracks across the north-west in recent years. The grey, owned by the Our Next New Horse syndicate in partnership with Moree Race Club president Rob Mather and trainer Peter Sinclair’s wife, Jenny, shares its own Facebook page with unraced gelding Cryptoshare, part-owned by similar connections, and keeps its growing band of followers regularly updated with racing schedules.

The Our Next New Horse syndicate was put together 10 years ago and has now won 20 races with six horses, including nine cups and two bracelets.

Fiocchi has to date won the past two Boolooroo Cups at Moree, this year’s Mallawa Cup and last year’s Talmoi Cup, when held at Moree.

The syndicate also won the Inverell Goodwood Cup, Moree Chopper Cup and Warialda Cup (Playa), Carinda Cup and Moree Bracelet (Cool Rules), Mallawa Bracelet (Long Lasting) and Inverell Bush Battlers’ Cup (Danigree).

(from left) trainer Peter Sinclair with part-owners Michelle Gobbert, Kerry Hine, Andrew uphill, Rob Mather, Bill Poulos, Gig Moses and Natalee Cook with the historic Mallawa Cup (Image: Copyright).

It’s been a hell of a ride for the syndicate.

There are 15 members and it’s been pretty much the same group from the beginning. The syndicate’s original plan was to get a horse good enough to win all three picnic cups on the Golden Triangle, and Fiocchi is now making that goal a very real possibility.

Ironically, the syndicate thought they had the perfect horse in Playa for such a target. In 2014, the three races were won by the same horse – but it wasn’t Playa.

Instead, stablemate Tapakeg collected the triple crown, with Playa in the minor money in all three races.

Fiocchi’s narrow Mallawa Cup win was Peter Sinclair’s sixth in the time-honoured race, first held in 1930.

Sinclair has also won with General Relativity (2011), Saint Lenny (2013), Dungiven (2015), Track Flash (2018) and Oh Why (2019).

“I’m really happy with Fiocchi and I think the horse went better on the dirt this time because he went to the front, where he wasn’t getting any dust or kick-back from other runners,” Sinclair said.

“It’s good for the Mallawa club to be able to have their meeting after that little bit of rain during the week. The track was in good order, as usual – it’s a credit to them.”

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