Caption: The highly successful Brad Belford kennels had plenty to celebrate after rugging up the winning quinella in last month’s $16,800 North Queensland Cup (498m) at Townsville. Pictured (from left) Mark Partland, Belford with runner-up Major Gibson, Sarah and Jackie Belford, Gavin McDougall with winner Cult Hero and Doug Warrington, proud owner of the winner. (Photo: Louise Partland)
By MIKE HILL
OWNER Doug Warrington was full of praise for leading trainer Brad Belford after his talented sprinter Cult Hero impressively won the $16,800 North Queensland Cup (498m) at Townsville in December.
Cult Hero, a $6 chance, beat his more fancied kennelmate Major Gibson ($3.20) by six lengths with the Darren Taylor-trained Over Time ($9.50) just edging out Belford’s other runner and last year’s winner Murphy Rumble ($3.60) for third.
“I am a very happy man,” said Warrington, who has been associated with the sport for almost three decades. “This is my first big win as a solo owner.”
“I didn’t expect Cult Hero to win from his bad box (six). I thought Major Gibson would win again. He’d beaten him twice before.”
Warrington, who has poured money into the industry over the years, is also a member of the successful The Camel Domain syndicate that has several talent sprinters, including Major Gibson, in Belford’s Gumlow kennels.
A few years back he had up to 30 dogs racing in various states and across the Tasman.
“I had trainers in Melbourne, Adelaide and New Zealand preparing my dogs, but I cut back numbers drastically after I got sick,” he said.
Warrington, who trained a small team in the early 90s, said Belford used to ‘come over and check my dogs’.
“Although I had good success, I only ever had a few dogs in work at any one time,” he said.
“When Brad got back into training he took one of my dogs and our association has just grown from there. It’s a privilege to have him as my trainer.
“I feel very lucky. We have a fantastic relationship and I just leave everything to him.”
Warrington has six dogs of his own with Belford and another seven or eight through syndicates, while he has other dogs with top Townsville trainers Rhonda Essery and Paul Smith.
The Belford partnership is growing in strength and success, he said.
Warrington has been buying pups from the highly successful NSW breeding team of Tyrone Whittington and Greg Sprod for about five years with outstanding results.
Cult Hero (SH Avatar-Flash Glance), one of their products, has been a great money winner for his owner since hitting the tracks with Clifton trainer Gerard Bowe in the Brisbane region in mid-2019.
The brindle sprinter moved north in June this year and has been a model of consistency since joining Belford’s kennels.
Cult Hero has chalked up 11 wins and 10 placings from just 28 starts in the north and victory in the $11,200-to-the-winner Cup final lifted his career record to 23 wins and 25 placings from 73 starts and boosted his prizemoney to $62,380.
Warrington, who works for the Clive Palmer Group in Townsville, now has his sights set on bigger successes.
High on his wish list is victory in his home-town Cup. No locally trained dog has achieved the feat since the feature gained Group 3 status in 2009.
Coincidentally, Belford was the last Townsville trainer to win the Cup with Syanna in 2008 and Warrington is giving himself and his team a great chance of achieving success in coming years.
He has high hopes for a well-bred Fernando Bale-It’s A Wink pup, another Whittington-Sprod product.
“He’s 15 months old and should begin racing in the first half of the new year,” the proud owner said.
“Our syndicate should also have some nice litters on the ground in coming months.”