Stewart Campbell eyes back-to-back Murwillumbah Cups with Macchina Volante

Ben Looker and Macchina Volante were comfortable winners in last year’s Murwillumbah Cup. Photo: Trackside Photography.

Stewart Campbell is a Victorian at heart, and while from Geelong and an avid Cats fan, he’s happy to admit that Murwillumbah is now his ‘adopted hometown’.

In 2021, Campbell won his hometown cup, with Macchina Volante wearing his beloved Geelong Cats colours when winning the local feature in comfortable fashion

On Friday, connections will be hoping the now six-year-old can go back-to-back, with Campbell setting his galloper for the $70,000 race and Big Dance qualifier. 

“It would be good. It’s our adopted hometown cup, and we want to win it again,” Campbell said. 

“It would mean a lot for us, but more for the owners, and the chance to run in the Big Dance would be really amazing for everyone involved.” 

Macchina Volante is a country cup specialist, having won the Lismore Cup Prelude and Lismore Cup before taking out the Murwillumbah Cup in 2021.

After a 31-week spell, Macchina Volante returned to racing, finishing 10th at the Sunshine Coast over 1200m before running a good second in the 1500m Wauchope Cup.

Most recently he finished fourth when hitting the line hard in the 1200m Daniel Baker Sprint at Coffs Harbour, and Campbell believes his Hinchinbrook gelding is going as good as last preparation. 

“I reckon he is going as good. He has been trained a bit different this time in,” Campbell said. 

“I put the blinkers on him in that race at Port Macquarie, purely to see if he would relax a bit because he can be a bull at the gate in the yard, but he was really, really good.

“We had him ready to go for the South Grafton cup, but it didn’t work out, and the only reason we took him to Port Macquarie for the Wauchope Cup was that we thought the travel would be as good as a run for him.

“Since then, he has picked right up, and he ran a good race at Coffs Harbour and now we will see what happens on Friday.”

The blinkers will stay on Macchina Volante when he contests the 1550m feature event on Friday, and with Ben Looker in the saddle, Campbell believes he will be hard to beat if he gets some clear running.

“I reckon where he has drawn, the blinkers will help again if he stays focused,” Campbell said. 

“If he is in clear air before the corner, and just based on his work, he won’t disappoint us, and he will take some beating.” 

Stewart Campbell and Ben Looker after winning the 2021 Murwillumbah Cup with Macchina Volante. Photo: Trackside Photography.

Macchina Volante will go to the races with stablemate Pride of Pyingerra at Murwillumbah on Friday, with the latter of the two being ridden by apprentice Courtney Bellamy in the $40,000 Tweed Newmarket.

The fact that both are alive, let alone are racing on Friday is nothing short of a miracle according to Campbell. 

Five months ago, 777mm of rain pummelled the region and the Tweed River rose over six and a half metres, meaning most of the area went underwater, with Campbell describing his stable’s situation earlier this year.

“We got the floods, and our two horses were up to their bellies in water. We lost our cars, and all that,” Campbell said.

“We only had the three horses at the time, and we lost one because of the floods and with the other two, we thought we had lost them, because my wife was home here by herself, and it’s about 97 yards back to the stables and she couldn’t get out there. 

“Him (Macchina Volante) and Pride of Pyingerra survived and we are blessed that they are still here.”

At first, Campbell wasn’t able to get onto his property during the floods, but he thanked everyone for their help during what was a trying time for their family and the entire region.

“I was stuck in Tweed on a jet ski and I met Fran down at the stables and we didn’t expect them to be there, and we were so relieved,” Campbell said.

“We have got to thank Racing NSW and Peter V’landys for what they did for us up here during the floods and afterwards.

“A couple of the country clubs helped too. They sent food, and the fact they did reach out and offer help was really good. 

“Everyone was fantastic. Darren Graham helped us to get them to the track. Dave and Jude McColm; they were in strife as well, but they got their car and helped us get them out, and our vet Greg Baldwin was fantastic, and not for just being a good vet, but he lent us a car for a bit, and he got the horses right.

“My wife was here by herself with no power, no phones, no nothing, and she did a huge job and we are just so thankful for all the support.” 

Campbell and connections will be hoping for a change of luck following the floods and the Murwillumbah trainer is working hard to get Macchina Volante into the $2 million Big Dance.

“If he happened to win or qualify on Friday, I will probably tip him out and get him ready for the Big Dance, but if he didn’t win, we will go back to Lismore for their cup and go from there,” Campbell said. 

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