SATURDAY: January 4, 2020: HAWKESBURY horseman Matt Vella has formed a “special” association with wealthy New Zealand businessman and philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn.
And he’s hoping his Muswellbrook success with costly yearling purchase Special Date (Mitchell Bell) last Friday is a sign of even better things to come this year.
Having only her third career start and her first for Vella, the Snitzel filly blitzed her rivals in the Maiden Handicap (900m), scoring by more than six lengths.
Special Date is the second foal of the lightly-raced Bernadini mare Racing Nadine, and fetched $500,000 at the 2018 Magic Millions Yearling Sale.
“We liked her and so did fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup,” Vella explained.
“At the time I was breaking-in Sir Owen’s horses and we arranged for Brad to train her.
“She ran seventh after leading when on debut on the Kensington track in March last year, and was a bit weak.
“Special Date had a break and came back and ran third in a Gosford 2YO Maiden (1100m) in July.
“Again she was a bit weak, so we gave her more time to strengthen.
“Sir Owen purchased the magnificent facility adjoining the Hawkesbury racecourse (previously occupied by trainer Tony McEvoy when he had a NSW satellite stable), and employed me to run the business.
“I still break-in and pre-train horses for a number of good Sydney clients, and now train six or seven horses for Sir Owen, including Special Date.
“Brad did a good job with her, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to now train the filly.
“I noticed one morning that she was making a noise when galloping, and Peter Snowden (who trains Sir Owen’s inaugural $1m Golden Gift winner Dame Giselle) recommended putting a tongue tie and cross-over nose band on her to help her breathing.
“Special Date was in work for 10 weeks and I didn’t gallop her a lot and gave her two quiet trials (including a Randwick 1080m win on December 13).
“She is a fast filly and I was quite confident taking her to Muswellbrook first-up.”
Vella will now look for either a suitable Benchmark 64 or Class 1 Handicap for Special Date, and is keen to eventually take her to Moonee Valley for 950m races.
“Being such a quick filly, I’m sure those races would suit her ideally,” he said.
Special Date was Vella’s second winner this season; his first being Pacific Legend at Hawkesbury on September 12.
. Sir Owen Glenn’s Hawkesbury property is named Glenn Haven Horse Farm, and races his horses under the Go Bloodstock Australia banner.
He races ruling Golden Slipper favorite Dame Giselle (by I Am Invincible) in partnership with China Horse Club, and also owns outright Golden Gift third placegetter Blaze A Trail (sired by his former star Criterion).