There looks to be a serious sense of timing around Benaud ahead of his tilt at the G3 Kingston Stakes at Randwick.
The John O’Shea-trained son of Westbury Stud resident Reliable Man has produced a pair of encouraging runs to open his spring campaign and the step up to 2000 metres now looks perfect for equal favourite.
The talented grey currently also heads the market for his grand final in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap on October 1 and another bold showing will see his army of admirers swell even further.
Last season’s G1 Australian Derby runner-up opened his current campaign when sixth in the G1 Winx Stakes and showed subsequent improvement to finish fourth in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes under William Pike, who retains the ride.
Benaud will relish the step up to a middle distance on Saturday and expect the four-year-old to be finding the line strongly once again.
Reliable Man will also be represented in the fillies’ feature, the G2 Tea Rose Stakes, which marks the return of his promising daughter Renaissance Woman. Rachel King will continue her association with the filly.
She impressed during a light two-year-old campaign and was a winner at Scone before she was put aside after making late ground for fourth at Rosehill in mid-July. She certainly looks a filly to follow as trainer Bjorn Baker gets her out over more ground this preparation.
Renaissance Woman was bred by Gerry Harvey and was knocked down at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale for $250,000 to Attunga Stud. She is out of the Fastnet Rock mare Mrs Kennedy, who is a half-sister to the G1 Oakleigh Plate winner Mrs Onassis.
Reliable Man’s associate sire Redwood has been to the fore in the past week with, at the time of writing, six winners, including the home-bred St Lawrence who remains unbeaten in two appearances.
He was successful on debut for trainer Andrew Forsman at Hastings, after which a syndicate including high-profile owner Ozzie Kheir purchased the four-year-old.
St Lawrence made his Australian debut at Geelong during the week for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace and, in an unsuitably slowly run race, was again too good.
“He’s still quite green and had a good look around. Once the horse on the outside came to us, he sprinted away so he’s going the right way,” rider Mark Zahra said.
At New Plymouth, Redwood’s in-form daughter Aricina appeals as a strong prospect in the Interprovincial Championship.
She is prepared for breeder Harvey by local trainer Allan Sharrock, who likes the prospects of the mare with the benefit of apprentice Amless Bohorun’s claim against Group 2-winning stablemate Justaskme.
“I don’t think Amless will get all 3kg right off, but he will be able to ride her at 52kg and there will be a 7kg gap between her and Justaskme,” Sharrock said.
“She worked just as well as him on Tuesday so I see her as a nice chance.”
Redwood mares Orla and Blackwood Star are also racing well and give the stallion a strong hand in the NZB Airfreight to Jericho over the extreme distance of 3210 metres.
Black type winner Ima Roca Bee also looks well placed to take advantage of a drop back in class when the El Roca four-year-old steps out in the NZB Ready to Run Trainers’ Series Dash.
The lightly raced mare was successful in the Listed Ryder Stakes at two and a last-start fourth in the Listed Tauranga Classic strongly suggested she is close to a return to her best.
Meanwhile at Flemington on Sunday, the talented Tarzino filly Born Hustler comes back from a short break in the TCL TV Handicap over 1420 metres for trainer Jason Warren.
Bred and raced by Rosemont Stud, she bolted in at Sandown in her last appearance in late August in the hands of Jamie Kah and, in a positive sign, she takes the reins again.