Many Tumbarumba racing fans would have watched the 1600m Maiden Plate at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Friday with vested interest, with two Tumbarumba owned horses turning out as the two favourites in the mile event.
Toretto, who is owned by Steve Morrison, Rikki-Lee Rial, and Warren and Dusty Hulm, started the $1.28 favourite for Canberra trainer Matthew Dale, and they took on the Rodger Waters trained and locally owned Lumber Dream, who started as a clear $4.60 second favourite.
In a rousing battle right to the end, Toretto got home for favourite punters, winning by 0.21 of a length in a thrilling finish.
“It was a good run for both of them; that second horse will be one to follow,” Morrison said.
Toretto has been a labour of love for connections, with the talented three-year-old breaking through for a well-deserved maiden victory at start number five.
“He raced as a two-year-old and when he came back, you wouldn’t believe it, he was a roarer,” Morrison explained.
“So, he needed a throat operation, and he had that and came through fantastic and now he is breathing fine.”
The Press Statement gelding that is out of the aptly named Airways, is still learning the rigours of racing, and according to Morrison, he will only get better with time.
“He has a massive stride on him and he is pretty green; he doesn’t know what the caper is about just yet,” Morrison said.
“It was evident on Friday – Jeff Penza said he wasn’t difficult to ride, but hasn’t quite got his mind on the job.
“He thinks he will get out to a further trip, but for the time being, he said to keep him to the mile, with gear on.
“I imagine we will have blinkers or winkers on him in the near future.”
Morrison was impressed by Toretto’s ability to make up ground on the early leaders, with the galloper some eight lengths off the lamplighter at the 600m mark, before sitting third and just off the leader’s hips with only 400m to go.
“It was a very good effort; he didn’t come into the race until the 650m and 700m and then got to them in five or so strides,” Morrison said.
The short quote baffled Morrison, who admitted that he couldn’t back the winner.
“I couldn’t work it out, but the bookmakers obviously got it right, but it was very short price, very short for me,” Morrison laughed.
While it seems onwards and upwards for the Dale runner, his owners were just happy to get that first, elusive win.
“It was good to get the monkey off the back,” Morison said.
“Hopefully we are off to bigger and better things once the penny drops. He doesn’t know what it’s about and he’s just a gentle horse, and temperament-wise, he’s a star.”
Morrison, who races a handful of gallopers at any one time, explained that Toretto was purchased as a weanling, with connections taking a punt on Press Statement, who was an unproven sire at the time.
“I went down there two days before the sale, and I ended up buying three, and he was the one I wanted to buy and being by Press Statement, who was a first season sire at the time, so I didn’t know what he would sell for.”
The Matthew Dale runner, who is affectionally known as Flash, has a good story behind his purchase and his lucky stable name.
“On the day we bought him, it was the worst storm to hit Melbourne for a long time, and there was no phone or internet service, so you had to be in the auditorium to bid,” Morrison said.
“We were standing in there and just before he came out, there was this massive clash of lightning and the boom straight away, and 20 minutes later, he came into the sale ring and we bought him.
“I went out to the stable to see him and spoke to them, and they asked ‘do you know where the horse was standing when the lightning stuck?’, and it was on the roof just above him, and there was a hole there from the lightning.
“He was always a pretty nice-looking horse, and from that day on his stable name has been Flash; he didn’t take a backwards step; he took it all in his stride.”