* Photo; Aston Peregrine winning at The Meadows in March this year. Photo credits: Jason McKeown Photography.
Chasing a breakthrough feature race victory, Paul Abela wouldn’t swap lightly-raced excitement machine Aston Peregrine for anything else in Saturday night’s Ladbrokes Peter Mosman Opal Final (520m) at Wentworth Park.
Abela, who’s based at Parwan, threw Aston Peregrine into a Group 1 cauldron at just her tenth start in last weekend’s Mosman heats and she vindicated his judgement with an ultra-impressive interstate debut.
Aston Peregrine, a well-bred daughter of Kinloch Brae and Group 1 winner Oakvale Destiny, raced by prominent owner Ray Borda, won her heat in a fast 29.77s.
It was the sixth win of her brief career and the second fastest qualifying performance, behind local Miley Nismo’s 29.67s.
“She’s as quick as I’ve put a lead on,” Paul Abela said.
“She’s a quality bitch and I’m pretty excited about her.
“She’s run 29.33s at Sandown, 29.89s at The Meadows and now 29.77s at Wentworth Park. How many dogs have done that?
WATCH: Aston Peregrine win her Peter Mosman Opal heat at Wentworth Park from box two.
“She missed about three months of racing after she hurt herself at Sandown. She had five chips in her knee cap and after the operation we weren’t sure if she would come back as good but she’s come back enormous.
“To be honest, the Peter Mosman wasn’t really a plan because I didn’t think she’d come to hand as quickly as she has. But she went that good at her first two starts back at Warragul.”
After drawing box five for Saturday’s $75,000 to-the-winner final, Aston Peregrine is the $4.20 second elect behind $2.40 favourite Miley Nismo, which has drawn box one.
There’s another Victorian at the pointy end of the market in Keith Hellmuth’s Start A Riot, recent winner of Cranbourne’s Winter Cup, at $6.
“I reckon she’s as quick as anything in the race, one out,” Abela offered.
“I think she can potentially get down to 29.40s or 29.50s at Wentworth Park on a good track.
“She does lack that little yard early but she can come out – when she ran 29.33s at Sandown she went 5.08s early – and from box five on Saturday night she’ll have to.
“She ran 5.55s early last week and if she can get down to 5.50s this week she could be second or third going around the first corner and then get to the outside. This will be her third time out of the boxes at Wentworth Park so hopefully she gets it right.
“I think the red (Miley Nismo) is the one to beat. If she does everything right she will probably win but it’s a dog race and I wouldn’t be swapping Aston Peregrine for anything else.”
Success at Group level has thus far proven frustratingly elusive for Abela in his relatively short training career but he feels Aston Peregrine is his best chance yet.
“I’ve only been training for five or six years and I’ve been pretty lucky so far, but I haven’t run a place in a Group race yet,” Abela said.
“The best I’ve done is fourth in the Hobart Thousand (Huxley), fourth in the Mount Gambier Cup (Aston It Is) and fifth in the Maturity (Cavatron). Running fourth has become a bit of a joke with my mates!
“But I haven’t had the quality of this bitch in a Group race before.
“I’ve got some great owners and Ray Borda is my biggest supporter. It’s more than an owner/trainer relationship with Ray. We’re good friends and he’s a champion bloke.
“Ray wants me to succeed and I’m doing everything I can to repay his faith.”