Just in time for Entree

Gratz Vella had been a whisker away from offloading Entrée Time prior to his remarkable recent turnaround which has netted three-straight wins.

After being belted more than 10 lengths at Queanbeyan two months ago, extending his miserable record to one win from 23 starts, the affable Canberra trainer decided enough was enough.  “The jockey Richard Bensley came back and he said I couldn’t get him going he just wouldn’t go,” Vella said.  “Get rid of him he said, he’s only going to be trouble. I thought he’d win, and if he didn’t win he’d run second.”

Vella heeded the advice and contacted an interested party who said she’d happily take the horse off his hands.  But in what turned out to be a very fortunate twist of fate, the deal fell through at the last minute.  “I rang her up and she was going to come and get him but she wasn’t allowed to have the horse,” Vella said.  “They couldn’t afford it, her boyfriend gave her a choice, either the horse or him. He’s won three since.”

The first of those was at Gundagai last month, the scene of the horse’s sole win to that point which came by the barest of margins back in September.  Vella told the owners he was on his last chance, and instructed new jockey Brodie Loy to go straight to the front.

“I said no mercy with him, even if you want to give him a couple of backhanders to get him going, your message is to jump and go and lead and keep that head of his up,” Vella said.  “From then on that’s what we’ve done. That’s his pattern by the looks of it, he gets to the front.”  Entrée Time won by 4.5L that day at Gundagai before winning a Benchmark 53 Handicap at Bathurst. His hat-trick came in style last Sunday at Canberra over 2000m against Benchmark 64 opposition where he gamely held off the well-backed Kriegspiel.

“That day at Canberra was a real big effort,” Vella said.  “The favourite was just stalking him and I thought ‘How far is the favourite going to win by’, but when he let the brakes go and tried to go past him he just dug in.”

Vella is now plotting a fourth-straight win for Entrée Time, which he hopes to land in a Benchmark 55 Handicap over 2000m on Friday next week.

It’d prove a sweet late Christmas present, to go with the twenty-plus thousand dollars in prizemoney the reborn frontrunner has banked over the past month.