Walker edges closer to magical mark

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  • July 18, 2023
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A brave performance by Millefiori to take out the final race on the card at Ruakaka on Saturday, the ITM/GIB Winter Sprinters’ Championship Final (1400m) has edged trainer Mark Walker even closer to the magical 200-win mark for the 2022/23 racing season.

Walker is now just a tantalising four victories away from achieving the milestone and become the first New Zealand trainer to do so although he is philosophical about reaching the target with just two weeks left in the season.

“We are getting very close and the team is still racing well which is very heartening,” Walker said.

“While it would be special to reach the mark, if we don’t we have still had a phenomenal season.

“The pursuit of the goal has been great for all the staff at home, as it can tend to be a bit tough at this time of the year with the wet tracks and cold mornings, so to have something to collectively work towards has been good for everyone.”

Walker was delighted to see Millefiori back to her best after she had a very disappointing three-year-old campaign last year.

“She is a handy mare who was really down on confidence after her last campaign where she tended to be a little disappointing at times,” he said.

“I’m a firm believer that one of the best ways to turn their form around is to try and get them a win that can boost their confidence and you can see that has worked well for this mare.

“She won nicely at Tauranga back in March and then again at Awapuni two starts back so she has really lifted and is starting to show what we think she is capable of.

“With a touch more maturity on her, I think she is definitely capable of winning at stakes level so that will be our target next season.

“I also thought Jess Allen rode her beautifully today.

“The winning of the race was in the first 200m as she bounced her away and got into a lovely position where the mare could hold off the challenges in the run home.”

Walker is uncertain of the next start for the daughter of Iffraaj as he contemplates a trip to New Plymouth next Saturday for the Listed Sinclair Electrical and Refrigeration Opunake Cup (1400m)

“We will see how she pulls up, but the Opunake Cup holds some appeal next Saturday,” he said.

“She doesn’t want it bottomless though and because she goes so well at Tauranga we may skip that and take her to that meeting on the same day.”

Purchased for $65,000 by Te Akau Racing boss David Ellis out of the Archer Park draft during the Book 2 National Yearling Sale at Karaka in 2020, Millefiori has now won seven of her 23 starts and nearly $150,000 for owners, the Te Akau Millefiori Racing Partnership

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