By Brad Gray
Cautious optimism might best describe trainer Matthew Vella’s feeling towards new star recruit Blaze A Trail’s first run for the stable.
His short price at Hawkesbury on Sunday suggests he’ll win and you get the impression that if the one time Golden Slipper fancy didn’t have the convictions of the past and the threat of gelding hanging over his head, Vella would be declaring him near unbeatable.
“If you hadn’t seen the horse’s previous runs you’d be thinking he is a superstar the way he trials and works but he has a few little tricks. Having his manhood still intact could be a big part of that,” conceded Vella.
The Hawkesbury-based horseman, who heads up prominent owner Sir Own Glenn’s training operation, takes over from Peter and Paul Snowden in a last ditch attempt to get the colt’s mind on the job.
“Being one of the only sons of Criterion and showing the ability he has, Sir Owen just wants to give him another chance” said Vella.
“He has been frustrating. I would love to see him still with Peter and Paul running around in town but we’ll bring him back in grade.”
Having run third in the $1m Golden Gift on debut, it was all systems go towards the Golden Slipper but two poor showings on wet tracks behind Farnan saw that plan aborted. That is part the reason why Vella has been so particular about dodging wet tracks for Blaze A Trail’s first up assignment.
“I don’t want to risk it, it’s not that he is never going to run on a wet track again but I want to get it right first up with him,” said Vella.
“I think he wants a mile plus so the 1300m is perfect. He is very fit, looks great and isn’t carrying as much condition as he usually would.”
Jockey Chad Lever has ridden Blaze A Trail in both impressive trial wins and will be instructed to let him find his feet and hit the line.
“Chad loves him. If he doesn’t run well he will probably be the most disappointed out of anyone,” said Vella.
“The horse is just running on natural ability, I’ve taken the blinkers off him and he has been settling well in his trials and quickening beautifully.”
As for what’s after Sunday if Blaze A Trail happens to get the maiden monkey off his back, Vella doesn’t want to let himself think that far ahead.
“I’m just going to take it one race at a time because you could have planned to have him in the G1 JJ Atkins but we need to see him do it first,” said Vella.