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FABIO Martino at Gosford tomorrow is chasing back- to-back victories with Mr Papera - but without the gelding’s recent regular rider.

Alysha Collett has partnered Mr Papera at all four starts this campaign – including a breakthrough victory at home on September 7 – for the four-year-old’s Hawkesbury trainer.

But she will be in the opposite corner in the Midway Class 1 Handicap (1600m), riding another Hawkesbury representative, Wayne Austin’s Dancemania.

However, it was accidental and certainly not a case of Collett preferring one over the other.

“I am loyal to my jockeys, and intended to have Alysha ride Mr Papera again,” Martino explained.

“I always book them at least a week in advance of a race.

“However, on this occasion I was late ringing Alysha’s manager, and he had already taken the mount on Wayne’s horse.”

With Collett unavailable, expat Italian Martino has called on another expat, South African Brandon Lerena, for the Gosford assignment.

“We’re both foreigners trying to get our own piece of territory in Australian racing,” Martino said.

“I have known Brandon for a few years since we were both at Warwick Farm. He was with trainer Bjorn Baker, and I was working for Chris Waller.

“Brandon rides well, and won on Let’s Try (for Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou) at Wyong last Thursday.”

Martino also has opted for a gear change on Mr Papera, so named because he had flat feet when purchased for $10,000 as a yearling (and Papera is the Italian word for a duck).

Instead of winkers, the gelding will race in a cross-over nose band.

“I feel he will respond better to the nose band, and it’s time for the change anyway as I would like to try stepping him up in distance,” Martino said.

Mr Papera, a son of Winning Rupert, is the first foal of the Sir Percy mare Mae West, who won five races in New Zealand and was placed at both Listed and Group 3 level.

His 1500m Maiden Handicap success at Hawkesbury a month ago followed placings at Newcastle (twice) and Wyong at his first three starts this preparation.

Collett also partnered Dancemania in his Gosford breakthrough in July in a 2 & 3YO Maiden Plate (1600m).

That was the only occasion she has ridden him in his six starts. market assessors have listed Mr Papera as a $2.40 favorite in early markets, with Dancemania at $19.

Of the eight runners in the Midway Class 1, six of them are from provincial stables.

James Ponsonby’s Sonny Fella (Andrew Gibbons) is the third Hawkesbury representative, Newcastle’s Paul Perry has third favorite Majestic Style (Tom Sherry), and Wyong trainers Wayne Seelin and Ben Hill have Every Effort (apprentice Anna Roper) and Allthehills (Serg Lisnyy) respectively.

Newcastle trainer Jason Deamer also has the pre-post favorite Rapt (Tim Clark) resuming in the Provincial Maiden Plate (1100m).

The Dynamic Syndications three-year-old filly is raced by a ladies’ syndicate and was placed twice from only three starts at her initial campaign earlier in the year.

She was a debut second to The Escape in a Newcastle Maiden (900m) on a heavy track on March 30, then was narrowly beaten in another 2YO Maiden (1200m) at Warwick Farm on April 13.

On both occasions, Rapt started from the outside barrier.

Deamer sent her for a spell after she stepped up to Listed company and was beaten only three lengths in the Listed Woodlands Stakes (1100m) at the Scone carnival in May.

Rapt has been placed at both recent barrier trials – both over 1000m – on the Beaumont track on September 4 and at Wyong a fortnight later, and has drawn an inside barrier in a near capacity field.

. The rail is 3m out for the entire circumference, and a “Good 4” rating has been posted by course manager Steve Scollard.

A total of 22mm of irrigation has been put on the track in the past week and, similarly, 8mm of rain has been received.

*Words John Curtis, October 4, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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