It takes a brave man, or in this case a good horse, to pack up and move from the Red Centre of Australia to Victoria in the winter. But that’s exactly what trainer Russell Bell has done since making the move from Alice Springs to Colac, the small regional country town of 12,000 people located 150 kilometres south-west of Melbourne.
Bell, 46, has Sirbible to thank for that. Not for the chilblains but the opportunity. His $6,000 yearling who he describes as having ‘serious attitude and a terrible windsucker’ was the horse to bring him home to Victoria and again take on the big players.
“Racing’s best of the best are down here and I thought I had a few of the right horses – certainly one anyway – that could make a presence”
“I trained in Seymour and took a few horses to Alice Springs from the carnival one year and it ended up being six years”
“You’ve got to try and better yourself and chase the glory and there’s nowhere to hide in Victoria”
Friday night was certainly a test versus the ‘big boys’ – Bell has trained 79 winners in his career – a number Darren Weir has almost double three months into the 2016/17 season. Five of his six rivals were trained by horseman inside the Top 25 on the metropolitan premiership and Bell admits to feeling like ‘a very small fish in a very big pond.’
“It’s hard to be confident when you’re taking on the likes of Darren Weir, plus the horse had never won over 955 metres - but I knew I had him flying”
Flying is the word. From Barrier 1, jockey Jye McNeil positioned the son of God’s Own one length in front and would only extend on that margin. The victory took his earnings beyond $268,000 and was his eleventh win overall, which includes three from four at The Valley.
“The Valley is one of the best tracks in Australia, it plays really even and growing up in Essendon it was always my favourite racetrack”.
“Sirbible has explosive speed around corners and rails well which is why it suits him – I knew on the bend they’d have a job catching him”.
While Sirbible was supported from $8 into $6, Bell insists he ‘didn’t want to mozz the horse’ and kept his money in his pocket. But there’s a much bigger prize on the line if Sirbible’s time of 54.84 over 955 metres remains in pole position. In the 106 Inglis 55 Second Challenge Heats before him, 54.84 is the second fastest time recorded in history (with the record being 54.69 run by Vatican) and with 11 Heats between Bell and a $50,000 cheque to the 2017 Inglis sales it could provide a few sleepless nights ahead.
“Not bad for my first ever runner in the series! But it’s a fantastic concept and great initiative and with an incentive like that I have no doubt trainers will be setting their horses for the other heats,” says Bell.
Sirbible will reacquaint himself with The Valley next Saturday when he tackles an Open Handicap over 1000 metres. Bell will be back without his stable star this Friday and even to defend his Inglis 55 Second Challenge title with Override.