Gratz’s grey set for Albury Sprint Classic

The Gratz Vella trained ‘The Unknown Factor’ will have plenty of admirers at Albury on Friday, with the stunning grey, who has also proven to be a fast commodity, shaping as one of the favourites to win the inaugural Albury Sprint Class. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Gratz Vella will make the trip from Canberra to Albury tomorrow, with his stunning grey ‘The Unknown Factor’ set to contest the inaugural running of the Albury Sprint Classic

While punters will be spoilt for choice, with a cracking field of 13 sprinters taking on the $25,000 Open Handicap over the five furlongs, all eyes will be on the grey five-year-old, who is as gorgeous as he is fast. 

“He does get some attention,” Vella laughed. 

“He looks like he is between an Arab and a racehorse. He has that round build about him and a good head.”

Being by American bred side, The Factor, it is no wonder he has some good looks and can sprint, with his predecessor a winner six races, including a Group 1 and Group 2, and producing some scintillating early sectionals before being retired to stud. 

His dam, Mixed Up Mess, could get along over the shorts too, winning three races for Vella, including two over the 1080m and one over the 1000m at Canberra. 

The Unknown Factor has turned into a handy sprinter himself, winning five races and nearly $100,000 in prize money from 20 starts, which included a good stretch of three wins in June and July last year that saw him win twice over the 1000m at Canberra and once over the 1010m at Moruya. 

Most recently, the Canberra runner was a very good winner, again over the 1000m at Canberra, when forced to sit three and four wide before greeting the judge first in a tough little Benchmark 65 Handicap.

“He is going well – his first run was in the big sprint on Canberra cup day, and his second run was good, and then the other day, we ran three and four wide all the way and he still won the race,” Vella said. 

The Canberra trainer said the jump up to open class wouldn’t be an issue at Albury. 

“On his last few runs, he is a big chance,” Vella said.

“On form, I think everything goes his way tomorrow. He only has to carry 53kg, he has a good barrier, and it is the right distance.”

Apprentice hoop, Hannah Williams gets back in the saddle after guiding The Unknown Factor to victory last time out, and Vella praised the ride and explained it was hard to pass up the three-kilogram claim on offer.

“She really had no choice at Canberra, the horse had a wide barrier and we thought he could jump and sit behind them, and she had to change things up because the pace wasn’t going that fast,” Vella said.

“She did the right thing by holding him together and she didn’t panic, and she let him run his own race.”

In what continues a busy period for the Southern Districts, the Albury Sprint Classic will headline a strong eight-race-card on the border, with the first race jumping at 12.05pm.