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Stella turns reject into straight track star

By Isaac Murphy

It’s been 106 days since Ando’s Reject’s last start, but luckily trainer Greg Stella is known for his meticulous timing, and had the four-start dog ready to go for Sunday’s Queensland Straight Track heats at Capalaba.

The lightly raced commodity put finalists on notice with a 19.47 effort, the quickest run up the straight this year.

“It was a big decision putting him in open class with just four starts and over 100 days since he last raced, but he’s always shown us that ability up the straight and it was a big relief to see him do it against that field and come through healthy,” Stella said.

“He’s always shown us the ability to run time (19.47) it’s just been a matter of getting him to the track, even when he won his maiden he ran best of the day (19.76) on a track that probably wasn’t conducive to fast times that day.

“It was a mix of satisfaction and relief once he came through Sunday and pulled up sound, there’s always question marks when they’re coming off a break - I threw him in the deep end, and he responded.”

Ando’s Reject won his first three starts in fine fashion before injury hit, and as a result Stella and long-time owner Donna Darcy are more than happy with the weekend’s outcome.

“We would have been rapt just to see him qualify for the final and get through the run with no issues so to come out and do what he did was above and beyond,” Stella said.

“It’s another step up in the final, he’ll get a tougher run from box two with Mob Deep and Columbian King the other heat winners drawn in the middle of the track, but we’re excited to have the opportunity to win a big race with him so early on.”

Capalaba

Queensland Straight Track Championship H 366m

Ando’s Reject will be competing with the best Capalaba dogs going around in Sunday’s final, but gets a welcome drop in grade next up.

“Because he’s so inexperienced he still gets in as a fifth grader and we’ve got our eye on the Michael Miller Series a fortnight from Sunday where he’ll get the chance to race dogs of the same grade,” Stella said.

“I’m hoping coming back from open class he can really take some benefit from racing against the top dogs up the straight and handle his business like a professional.”

The exciting prospect seemingly has it all at his feet if he can stay healthy, but it was almost over before it began with bad news coming through as a pup.

“We sent him to break in and a week later he was back with us, we were told he had what they called a dropped wrist and he would never cut it as a race dog,” Stella said.

“I have his sister Inspired Hope who I train for Donna Darcy; she owns both of them and I said to her let’s just roll on with him and see what happens.

“We broke him in at home and he started to run some really good time, where we had to give him a start.

“He’s never had an issue with it running at Capalaba, we put a support on it when he runs and touchwood if we can just continue to manage him and keep him at the straight he can carve out a career that looked unlikely.”

Ando's Reject Next Racing

Stella and Darcy found it easy naming the dog given his past, with the success story a lesson to never give up on a dog.

“That’s where the name came from because he was a reject and was expected to go in the Greyhound Adoption Program, so it was only fitting,” Stella said.

“He’s had his issues with injury during his career as well, he did a toe when he came out on his nose his last start over 100 days ago, there’s been hurdles but he’s always shown enough to persist.

“I never write a dog off until I see for myself racing’s not for them, he’s taken a bit more time this dog having to break him in at home and he’s a bit highly strung but we’ve found a track where he handles himself well and gave myself and the owner a real thrill on Sunday.”

Stella has history with straight track racing and is hoping to be involved when the South Australians and Victorians come to his home ground at Capalaba.

“Certification ran second in the final of this same race last year and went down to Healsville for the National Final where he ran second again to a dog that broke the track record,” he said.

“We came away with $10,000 for running second in that race with $40,000 going to the winner - there’s plenty of money in straight track racing.

“It would have been fantastic to have the Nationals at Capalaba this year as they were scheduled, but hopefully we get them re-scheduled for next year and this dog can be a part of it.”