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Condon eyes “special” Healesville success

Healesville’s number one trainer Dave Condon says winning Sunday afternoon’s Puppy Championship final (300m) with track specialist Aston Bel Air, winner of her last three starts up the straight, would be extra special.

“This one is really close to my heart because I trained her mother (Aston Lelani) for Ray Borda too,” Condon said.

“Ray said he would make sure I got a couple of her pups to train and I got to pre-train the whole litter. I’m really thankful for the opportunity because it keeps the generations going and keeps the relationship with Ray going.

“If Aston Bel Air can win on Sunday that’ll be four in a row and about $10,000 prizemoney in a month and she’s a very good chance. I’m confident!”

The return to Healesville in recent weeks has definitely sparked Aston Bel Air, with the daughter of 2017 Melbourne Cup winner Aston Dee Bee completing a hat-trick with her 16.69sec heat victory last weekend.

In fact, each of Aston Bel Air’s eight victories (from 22 starts) have come at Healesville, where she’s won from five from eight over 350m and three from seven over 300m.

“She was going fantastic up at Healesville early on and then we gave her a few starts around the circle and she got into trouble and lost a bit of confidence,” Condon explained.

“I spoke to Ray, and we decided to take her back to her home-track and get her confidence back up.

“It’s worked really well, and she’s drawn beautifully on Sunday (Box 3).

“I’ve had a close look at the race and I think it’s going to be a dead-set straight race. The dogs drawn on the inside won’t leave the fence and if my girl can lead I know she can run 16.50sec up there.

“I think the dog that ran second to Aston Bel Air last week (Giant’s Flash) finished enormous for its first run at Healesville and Slingshot Title, which is drawn directly underneath me, is very underrated.”

Aston Bel Air’s litter brother Aston Hadley, also trained by Condon, is first reserve for the $5250 to-the-winner final.

Condon and his mother Joyce, 83, are no strangers to straight track success, winning the Kings of Healesville feature event in January with Superior Wallis, which ran third in last year’s Puppy Championship.

“Mum was the leading trainer at Healesville last year and I’m in front this year with the lowest amount of runners we’ve had in five years,” said Condon, who added that he’s a huge advocate for training partnerships, now commonplace in the other racing codes, which would allow him and his mother to train together.

“We decided to reset our breeding program to improve the quality and we’ve got some great quality stock coming through. I’m really looking forward to 2022.

“We’ve also picked up a very nice dog from South Australia called Sierra Foxtrot. He’s a genuine city class 500m dog.

“I’ve also started sending a few dogs to Tasmania. I own a few racehorses down there and decided to have some greyhounds there too. The first one, Coughlin’s Law, won at Hobart and I sent another two down last weekend.

“It’s an opportunity to give them some confidence so we’ll just rotate them and bring them back in three or four months.”

WATCH: Aston Bel Air (7) clocks a slick 16.70sec Puppy Championship heat win at Healesville last week.

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About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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