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Cluden Park
Punters Pin-Up Paniagua Back in Business

Punters Pin-Up Paniagua Back in Business

21st March 2022 | By Tony Wode

Cult horse Paniagua wrote a new chapter in one of northern racing’s great stories with a thumping return from injury at Cluden Park yesterday.

Racing for the first time since June last year, Paniagua had his army of owners rejoicing as he stormed to a brilliant first-up win in the Open Handicap (1400m).

Bought unraced by his Mareeba trainer Alex Malliff for just $600, Paniagua took his record to nine wins from 17 starts and $270,000 in prizemoney.

“I was really impressed. He’s come back super,” Malliff said.

“He’s a five-year-old now and we were hoping for some improvement, but you never know do you. He didn’t let us down.

“Last year he suffered a lateral ligament tear in his off-side fore. It was never a big problem just a time thing.

“We decided to take our time, and he had missed out on last year’s carnivals anyway.

“We don’t gallop him at home, just a lot of slow work. We’ve probably had him in the box for almost four months.

“You hope you’re doing everything right and it turned out today we did.”

Ridden a treat by 3kg claiming apprentice Rachel Shred, lumped 59.5kg to 1 1/4 length win from the brave Bullion Wolf (60.5kg) with Bernie’s Tiger a head away third.

The gutsy galloper, who won eight straight including the Cairns Cup and Country Cup Challenge at Doomben in 2020, came back to a rousing reception from his big syndicate of owners.

But the Paniagua squad may soon have to go south to watch their horse race trackside.

Malliff said big weights would likely force his hand to take the gelding south.

“Weight is going to get the better of him so we’ll have to make some hard decisions,” Malliff said.

“I think he might be one of the most popular horses racing.

“It was a really popular win today. So many people have followed the story right the way through – when he had the good run and since he had the injury.

“People message me all the time to see how he’s going and when he’ll be back.

“He’s a really good story for racing.”

While Paniagua was again on his winning way, trainers’ premiership leader Sharlee Hoffman landed a race to race double on the 10-event card.

The stable’s under-rated three-year-old Eagle Eye Star, ridden by apprentice Sheriden Tomlinson, upset hotpot Palencia to win the TAB 3YO Hcp (1200m).

Hoffman was straight back in the winner’s stall in the next when Narda Shar claimed the W&F Constructions Cl6 Hcp (1300m).

Cairns apprentice Krysten Swaffer was in fine touch with two winners and a second from six rides.

She won on Kittykittybangbang in the Brothers Brother Mdn (1200m) for trainer Matthew McGuire, and Lily Of The Glen for Rodney Miller in the W&F Constructions Cl4 Hcp (1000m).

Rockhampton apprentice Tahlia Fenlon turned in one of the rides of the day to win on Golden Athena for trainer John Manzelmann in C.U.B. QTIS 3YO Mdn (1200m).

Pictured: KBAM! Paniagua returns in style with a brilliant;liant win at Cluden on Friday after a gun ride by apprentice Rachel Shred.

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