• Thursday, 25 May, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Debattista’s fertile Shepparton ‘Oasis’

Aaron Debattista and Mission Oasis were the big winners at the 2022 Shepparton GRC awards function held last Saturday night.

Debattista was crowned Trainer of the Year, while his track specialist Mission Oasis was anointed Greyhound of the Year.

Debattista, who’s based at Toolleen, prepared 51 winners at Shepparton last year, along with 50 second placegetters and 33 thirds, to claim the award for the second time, having previously been successful in 2019, with the late Tony Duncan securing the 2020-21 titles.

“I had a good year at Shepp; I racked up over 50 winners and nearly as many seconds,” Debattista said.

“I was treating Shepparton like my wage! I was having a good run there, so I kept going back.”

“The dogs I had were well-suited at Shepparton – good, handy provincial dogs and they were well-educated at Shepparton. They know the place pretty well and it’s not too far away, so I was racing there regularly.

“I was treating Shepparton like my wage! I was having a good run there, so I kept going back.

“As far as the best wins, Extreme Force ran 24.80-odd, which was a really hot run on a Saturday morning, but it was more just a consistent year.

“The awards night is a really good night – Shepparton does a great job – and it was nice to win a couple of awards. It was good to see my old man (Alfred Debattista) win an award too.”

Mission Oasis, a son of Fernando Bale and Sarah Swift, also bred by Debattista, was victorious in six of his 33 appearances at Shepparton in 2022, also finishing runner-up on 12 occasions and third once.

While all of Mission Oasis’ wins came over 385m, he ran second to eventual winner Rejuvenate in a heat of the G3 Northern Districts Cup over 450m.

Underlining Mission Oasis’ affinity with Shepparton, eight of his ten career successes have come at the Kialla circuit.

Debattista and Mission Oasis punctuated the celebrations – fittingly on the trainer’s 43rd birthday – at Shepparton on Monday afternoon with a 21.75sec victory.

“Mission Oasis is no world beater and he probably overachieved,” Debattista said.

“He’s just come back from a bit of a break and has had four starts for two wins and two seconds, so he’s come back really well.

“His brother, Soul Taker, is leading this year’s Greyhound of the Year at the moment. There’s still a long way to go, but you never know.”

The other major training award saw Scott Stefanos recognised as Local Trainer of the Year.

Stefanos, who hails from Longwood, prepared 34 winners at Shepparton, along with 25 seconds and 19 thirds.

The Debattista theme continued in the acknowledgment of the fastest greyhounds over the three distances last year.

As Aaron eluded, his father Alfred was the recipient of the award for the quickest run over 385m, courtesy of Body Hack (21.38sec).

The standout performance over 450m was Rachael Busuttil’s freakishly talented Mr. Audacious’ then track record (24.655sec) in the 2022 G2 Shepparton Cup heats, while Flaming Rush, owned and trained by Shane Drummond, claimed the 650m award (37.08sec).

Club president Tracey Fothergill received Life Membership, as did Vic Dohnt, while Tom Stevens was awarded the President’s Trophy.

The large crowd were entertained by Geelong AFL great Steve Johnson as guest speaker and comedian Evan Hocking, while Simone Fisher hosted the function for the ninth successive year.

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

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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