Hawkesbury horseman Matthew Vella justifiably took great pride in talented youngster Blaze A Trail’s breakthrough victory on his home track on Sunday.
Vella broke in the now two-year-old and prepared the colt to score at his first start since joining his stable, providing multiple Group 1 winner Criterion with his initial winner as a stallion.
Unfortunately, Criterion sired only a number of foals before being declared infertile and was retired from stud duty.
Vella scratched Blaze A Trail from Newcastle (Sat) and Warwick Farm (Mon) to start on his home course on Sunday, opting to dodge the colt’s own age in the Robert Oatley Wines 2YO Maiden Plate (1400m) to take on a field comprising mostly three-year-olds in the Bottler Provincial & Country Maiden Handicap (1300m) – and came up trumps.
Jockey Chad Lever gave Blaze A Trail a perfect run in transit and he held out another two-year-old, blueblood Sammy ($3.60), and another Hawkesbury representative, Noel Mayfield-Smith’s Invictus Felix ($10), to ring up his initial win at only his fourth start.
Vella prepares the colt for owner Sir Owen Glenn’s Go Bloodstock Australia, and manages the superb Glenn Haven Horse Farm adjoining Hawkesbury racecourse for him.
“I’m privileged to be given this horse to train, and it was a great thrill to win first-up with him and give Criterion his first winner,” Vella said. “Sir Owen was naturally delighted. He was on the phone from Melbourne to me straight after the race.”
Blaze A Trail had his first three starts for Randwick father and son Peter and Paul Snowden – finishing third on debut in the inaugural $1m Golden Gift at Rosehill Gardens last November and then twice sixth in Group races in the early part of the autumn at the same track.
“Sir Owen decided to give him to me to train as he wasn’t quite up to the elite city level,” Vella explained. “Blaze A Trail is very much a work in progress.
“He has plenty of ability but also a few tricks up his sleeve. He would have won by four or five lengths if he hadn’t waited for his opposition once he hit the front.
“There is definitely further improvement in him as he matures. He carried topweight (59kg) because of his previous city form and I’ll have to see what Benchmark rating is now given to him.
“Hopefully we can take him through his grades. I’m sure he’ll be better once he gets to 1600m and even beyond.”
Vella, who breaks in and pre-trains horses under the Glenn Haven banner as well as training in his own right, has seven horses in work for Sir Owen Glenn.
His win with Blaze A Trail was his fifth this season, only one shy of his benchmark six last season.