John O’Shea is on a scouting mission on Saturday with his richly talented four-year-old Benaud, who makes the first Victorian appearance of his career in the G1 Might And Power Stakes.
The Randwick trainer will wait and see how the grey son of Westbury Stud’s Reliable Man handles the Caulfield layout before he settles on remaining spring targets.
“His capacity to get around Caulfield first would determine what his path is, plus how competitive he is against the opposition. We'll wait and see what he produces,” O’Shea told Racing.com.
Benaud was sent to Melbourne after he was forced to bypass the G1 The Metropolitan due to a treatment error with his medication.
Both the G1 Caulfield Cup and the G1 Cox Plate are possible targets, but O’Shea is taking it one step at a time.
Runner-up in last season’s G1 Australian Derby behind the outstanding Hitotsu, Benaud will meet a small but select line-up in the Might And Power, including Anamoe, Alligator Blood and Zaaki.
However, he has already performed creditably at weight-for-age when a resuming sixth and less than 3l off the winner Anamoe in the G1 Winx Stakes and closed late for fourth in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes.
At his most recent appearance, Benaud came from last near the turn to run third in the G3 Kingston Town Stakes.
At Randwick, the Team Rogerson-trained Sharp ‘N’ Smart will step out in the G3 Gloaming Stakes with Ben Melham booked to ride the son of Redwood.
Bred by Gerry Harvey who remains in the ownership group, he recently made a winning seasonal return at Ruakaka where he accounted for the subsequent Inglewood Stud Guineas Trial winner Cognito, also bred by Harvey.
“I am fairly certain he will run in the G1 Spring Champion Stakes after this,” Graeme Rogerson said.
“He is very unlikely to run in the G1 Cox Plate, but he may run in the G1 VRC Derby and then I will put him away until the autumn.
“He doesn’t knock himself around, that’s for sure. I’d say he will stay the (Derby) trip all right as he doesn’t overly exert himself. I have put blinkers on him just to make him focus a little bit.”
On the domestic front, Westbury stallion Telperion will be represented in the rescheduled G2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas at Matamata by the promising Accidental Tourist while El Roca’s in-form sons Chevron and White Noise take on the Listed Matamata Cup.
Mark Walker’s Accidental Tourist impressed when a resuming winner and followed up with a solid effort for third in the Listed Wanganui Guineas.
The reliable Chevron has been freshened by Chris Gibbs for the mile since his middle-distance victory last month while Andrew Forsman’s multiple stakes winner White Noise successfully opened his four-year-old campaign at Te Rapa.
At the Hawera meeting, Swiss Ace’s daughter Jodelyn Gal and El Roca four-year-old Ima Roca Bee will bid to further their black type records when they contest the G3 Taranaki Breeders’ Stakes.
The Carl Henderson-trained Jodelyn Gal was a respectable last-start sixth in the G1 Tarzino Trophy and placed during the winter in the Listed Tauranga Classic.
Karyn McQuade’s Ima Roca Bee claimed the Listed Ryder Stakes at two and returned to her best with a most recent victory at New Plymouth.