Cup win caps stellar season for Donnelly
By Garrick Knight
Arna Donnelly capped off her career-best season with another double at Alexandra Park on Friday night.
The win of Bella Veloce in the night’s feature, the $25,000 Franklin Country Cups Final, ticked her stable’s seasonal earnings over $400,000 for the first time, eclipsing her previous best by nearly $200,000.
And the win of Bella Roza a couple of races later took her to 33 victories for the year, third amongst exclusively North Island trainers behind only Tony Herlihy and Barry Purdon.
Naturally she has been blown away by the results this term.
“It’s been an absolutely fantastic season – quite surreal, actually.
“Support from so many owners, all over the world, including America, has made this happen.
“I’m just so grateful to them and my loyal staff.”
Donnelly was sent Bella Veloce by her good friends, Terry and Glenys Chmiel, after the horse had won one race in Canterbury for them.
Three wins have followed for his owners, Glenys Chmiel and fellow Cantabrians, Barry Smith, Murray Keir, John Nish and Russell Crossen.
“He’s the perfect little tradesman – he’s got gate speed, he’s good from the stand and he relaxes well.
“I thought he was a top four chance tonight but when they started going at each other up front, I started to think we might have been half a chance of winning.”
In the hands of regular stable reinsman, Scott Phelan, Bella Veloce snuck up the passing lane to win in a competitive finish over veteran Imajollywally and the back-marker, Mogul.
A solid mid-race tempo, thanks to a duel between M T Pockets and Red Reactor, ensured those from off the speed would have the chance to get in to the race late, and so it proved.
Even so, Phelan needed plenty of luck to get the winning run – he was four back on the markers at the half-mile marker.
“You need a little bit of luck sometimes and ours came when the horse in front of us (All Yours) moved off the markers in to the one-one,” he said.
“We managed to track in to the passing lane at the top of the straight and the horse did the rest.”
Donnelly isn’t sure where she’ll go next with the former southerner, but expects it will get a lot harder for him now.
“Being a $25,000 race, they’ll probably whack him with 10 points so I’m not sure.
“We’ll just enjoy the win tonight and then sit down and reassess things.”
It was Phelan’s first win in a month – the last also coming on Bella Veloce – after he and good mate Jay Abernethy took a few weeks off to go on a cruise with their partners.
“Never again,” he joked.
“It was non-stop eating and drinking for two weeks. I put on six kilos.
“I’ll be going to the gym every day next week to make up for it.”