Aptly-named Vella’s Best can give local trainer Gratz Vella an overdue win in the $250,000 Black Opal Stakes (Gr.3, 1200m) on March 10 following a brilliant debut in Canberra on Friday.

Vella’s Best was easy to back at $31 in the Black Opal Preview (1000m) and it was an easy watch for his supporters at Thoroughbred Park.  The 2yo son of Vinery Stud sire Headwater enjoyed a trouble-free run in front for Damon Budler and won like a seasoned professional seeing off Sydney raider Amazing Eagle (Capitalist).

“He’s always shown us enough promise to win a good race and that was a tremendous win first-up,” Vella said.  “He’s done everything we’ve asked.  It’s 16 days to the Black Opal and Damon won’t be off his back between now and then.  Hopefully, he puts in a personal best.”

Vella claimed his first and only Black Opal in 2011 when You’re Canny (Canny Lad) scored a decisive victory over Magic Millions Classic (RL, 1200m) winner Karuta Queen (Not A Single Doubt).  The only other home-town trainers to have won the Black Opal twice have been John Morrissey (Pembleton, Speed Week) and Frank Cleary (Clan O’Sullivan, Catbird).

“He was all by himself and had all the favours in front,” Budler reported.  “He’s as quiet as the stable pony at home but puts his best foot forward at the races.  He will also strip fitter for the Black Opal.

Vella’s Best was sold by Vinery (as agent) for $40,000 at the 2023 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale.  His dam Here De Joy (Dehere) had been purchased by breeder Patrick Hodgens for $160,000 as a yearling in 2008.  She has already foaled winners by All Too Hard (2), Dane Shadow and Sebring and Hodgens sent her to Exceedance this season.

Headwater sired another new winner at Canberra on Friday when Taytay Bay saluted as a short-priced favourite in the TBC Distribution Maiden Hcp (1300m).  He’s bred to get over ground through his dam Noanoa (Reset) who is a three-quarter sister to Victoria Derby (Gr.1, 2500m) winner Rebel Raider and Werribee Cup (LR, 2600m) winner Cadillac Mountain.

Taytay Bay is trained by John Nisbet at Thoroughbred Park and his half-brother by Tassort has been catalogued by Motree Thoroughbreds (Lot 738) for the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale commencing on Sunday, March 3.

Vinery also sells a Headwater colt from Northern Meteor mare Tempting Delight (Lot 7) among its draft of 14 yearlings heading to Oaklands Junction.  He’s being sold (as agent) for a Rupert Legh partnership and is a half-brother to the Hong Kong winners Bulletproof (Dissident) and Forever Folks (Tavistock).