Otaki-based trainer Johno Benner, who trains in partnership with Hollie Wynyard, is looking forward to the return of racing at their home track on Sunday.
The Otaki Maori Racing Club’s track has been out of commission since February while extensive drainage work from the 800m to the 1500m mark has been completed.
“We’ve been using the course proper quite a bit lately and getting our horses across it to make sure everything is in order. The track staff are doing a great job and it’s come up really well,” Benner said.
“It’s a beautiful fair racing track, especially when the rail is in the true position and the track has just got the rest it’s needed and you can really see the difference in how it rides. It’s a beautiful surface now so there should be no problems on Sunday.”
Benner and Wynyard prepare four runners at the re-opening meeting and last start winner Grand Mayson looks the best of the capable quartet.
“Grand Mayson is very talented, he’s drawn a good gate with a gun rider and I think he will be very hard to beat again. He’s probably our best for the day on paper.
The Power gelding will continue his association with jockey Jason Waddell in the Vets on Riverbank 1200. Waddell has been on-board for his last three starts which have resulted in two seconds and a win.
Stablemate Divine Love is also in the race and Benner hopes she can redeem herself following her disappointing run on a firm track last start at Hawke’s Bay.
The stables’ other representatives are staying filly Cead Mile Failte in the NZB Pearl Insurance Pearl Series Race (1600m) and Miss Valencia who has drawn 14 in the Gardner Homes 1400.
“Cead Mile Failte has been off the scene for a while and her trials have only been fair,” Benner said.
“The 1200m trials are just too short for her so she’s running over 1600m first up. She’s nice and fit and we think she will run a nice race and then get straight to 2100m and that’s when I think she will be at her best.
“Miss Valencia is a very promising filly that we think can get into the better fillies’ races after Christmas. She’s nice and forward for Sunday, she’s had a couple of good trials and she won a jump out last week impressively, the draw is a concern for her but she’s a good filly going forward so we expect her to run really well.”
Meanwhile, Benner is yet to confirm a plan for stable star Scott Base who finished the Bostock Spring Racing Carnival in Hawke’s Bay with a fourth placing in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m).
“I was ultimately happy with his run, the Hawke’s Bay carnival is very compressed, there’s a fair bit of travel and the tight turning track probably didn’t suit him, but when you’ve got a highly-rated gelding like him you’ve got to try in these races,” he said.
“We haven’t seen the best of him yet so we’re just working out what we do next with him but he is a Group One horse in the making, we haven’t lost any faith and we’ll just chip away and see where we get to.”
Another horse he has Group One aspirations for is Wyndspelle who has recovered from the cold that led to his scratching from the Livamol Classic.
“He’ll go to the Thompson Handicap next Saturday and then he will have a freshen up for the Captain Cook at the start of December,” Benner said.
“We want to win a Group One race in New Zealand with him as he’s an entire.
“He’s a grouse horse to have around, he’s just a gentleman and every time he goes to the races he gives you 110 percent he deserves to win a decent race.” – NZ Racing Desk