Blacktown trainer Troy Vella stepped out in his maiden Group race last Saturday night with the well supporter Belfast Johnny who exited from box two.
Whata Good Size and Royal Sprite were labeled the early favourites with Belfast Johnny starting at $3.80. As the lids flew, the son of Cosmic Rumble and Wongawillisue shot away to lead the speedy Whata Good Size at the first turn and sprint away by 6.25 lengths in a race record time of 29.63.
As expected, trainer Vella was elated with the result and is now a Group One winning trainer.
‘To win the first ever Group race I’ve had a runner in is amazing. I was over the moon when I drew box two and I thought he had a good chance, but I didn’t expect him to lead all the way’
‘I was a bit worried when Whata Good Size was sitting right behind him but he showed how strong he was and to win by that margin was wonderful’
Belfast Johnny began his Vic Peters campaign with a solid second performance behind the talented Gimme Fuel in 29.90. Johnny’s semi-final performance made him a genuine contender to take out the series after a sensational victory from box five, recording a sizzling 29.67, giving Vella plenty of hope for last night’s final.
‘He had to do a lot of work last week from box five and I thought after that he had a good chance of winning’.
‘I couldn’t even sit down and eat before the race. An hour or so before the race, it started to sink in how big the occasion was but once I got him out of the kennels I was ok’
Vella trains out of his backyard in Western Sydney with the help of his wife and 16-year-old daughter whilst he juggles a full time occupation.
‘I am looking into getting a bigger place so we can rear and stuff like that but at the moment we are happy how things are going. My wife baths them, takes them to the vets for me when I’m not at home and my daughter helps out a lot too when I’m not there.’
‘It really is a team effort and I couldn’t do it without them’.
Vella has just two greyhounds in work including Belfast Johnny’s sister, Belfast Kaiser, a winner of three races at Maitland including a fast personal best of 25.46 over 450m.
Belfast Johnny’s next target is the Brisbane Cup, providing all things go to plan, Vella could be notching up his second Group One in a matter of weeks.
‘He pulled up well this morning and we are looking at the Brisbane Cup but nothings confirmed yet.’
‘It was just an absolute dream come true winning last night and it still hasn’t sunk in yet I won a Group One race. I’m really happy for the owners and hope he can continue to improve from here’.
Troy Vella’s outstanding training performance last night showed that any type of trainer, no matter how big or small their property, can fulfill their dream. Last night we as we all witnessed something very special, the emergence of Belfast Johnny.