Stewart Campbell trained his second Murwillumbah Cup winner on Friday at only his second attempt, with Macchina Volante powering down the outside to win comfortably under the guidance of Ben Looker.
Campbell’s first success in the feature race came back in 2015 when Bernie of Babylon was ridden by Jason Taylor to victory.
“It’s actually the second one; I won it with Bernie of Babylon a few years back and I’m two for two, I’ve only had two starters for two winners now,” Campbell laughed.
The Murwillumbah trainer announced his intention to race in the $50,000 event when chatting with NSW Country and Picnic Racing prior to the Casino Cup, and he explained that the 1550m feature race was always on the radar this preparation.
“To be honest, I told the boys when he started this time in, maybe three or four starts ago, that this was our aim and it worked out well,” Campbell said.
A change in tactic made all the difference according to Campbell, with the five-year-old ridden quietly at the rear of the field while Northern Knight ran them along at a good tempo.
Macchina Volante was still last at the 500m marker, but after entering the final turn, Looker steered the Hinchinbrook gelding wide, holding a sustained run as he powered over his opposition to win, defeating race favourites Ready to Humble and Willo Titto – the pair finishing second and third respectively.
“I think Benny, after riding him at Casino, had his plan and we had ours and it worked out well,” Campbell said.
“I think one of the big differences was that he (Looker) started with the whip in the right hand. At Casino, he started with it in the left hand, and he hung in a bit, and he can do that sometimes, so it helped a lot on the day that he had it in the right hand.”
After the race, the former Victorian trainer said it was a thrill to win his adopted hometown cup, praising the Tweed River Jockey Club for hosting a good day at the races despite their being no crowd.
“It’s always good to win, I’m from Geelong, so it’s only my adopted hometown but it’s still a race I want to win,” Campbell said.
“It was still a good day, if they could have got a crowd, it would have been unbelievable as the weather was perfect, and the owners would have loved it, but they were still rapt with the win.”
Now, Campbell is eyeing the $75,000 Lismore Cup on September 23 as his next target for Macchina Volante.
“We are probably heading towards the Lismore Cup but it’s a bit hard to try and find races in between,” Campbell said.
“We will have to step him up to 2000m for the Prelude and see how he goes.”