It is shaping-up as a huge year for Benjamin...
Ballarat trainer Darren Weir believes this Saturday will finally be the time for his smart four-year-old mare Royal Bender to shine when she looks to break her stakes maiden status in the Bletchingly Stakes 2012 at Caulfield Racecourse.
The daughter of Refuse To Bend has been in top form this winter running top three in her past three appearances.
After a good two and a half length victory over 1000m at Sandown in May, Royal Bender went on to record two second place finishes firstly to Griffon in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1000m) at Eagle Farm on June 9.
Then last start she came within a nose of her first black type success when runner-up to her in-form stablemate Platelet in the Listed Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) in the mud at Caulfield on July 14.
“I thought her run (in the Monash) was terrific,” Weir said.
“It looked like she was going to get the stablemate, but I think her last three runs have been terrific.”
Saturday sees her shoot the $125,000 Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) win back at Caulfield, Royal Bender drawn on the rails with barrier one, her Monash Stakes jockey Dean Yendall retaining the ride.
“She’s running very honest and has drawn to get a good run,” Weir said.
“Hopefully she can run in the placings.
“She’s very fit and well.
“She’s in the same order (as the Monash).
“It’s a good enough race on Saturday and she’ll have to be well on top of her game to be running a place.”
Win or lose on Saturday, this season has been Weir’s best with the horseman posting 173 wins around the country so far trailing only Peter Moody (204) and Peter Snowden (180) in the national trainers’ premiership for the 2011-12 season.
“It’s been a great season,” Weir, who has also enjoyed 25 metro wins in Melbourne for the season to date, said.
“Mid-season we weren’t going that well in town so we started to focus a bit on it and made sure we were bringing the right horses to town and things started to turn around.
“The last half of the season has been great.”
The Bletchingly Stakes field is down to 13 hopefuls following the early scratching of the Mick Price-trained duo of Tariana and dual Group 1 winner Heart Of Dreams.
Prior to the scratchings Royal Bender was rated a $12 chance in the Bletchingly Stakes odds at bookmaker.com.au which are firmly led by market mover Green Birdie ($3.60) who Weir rates as the horse to beat along with Moody’s last-start Flemington winner Ready To Rip ($5).
Updated Bletchingly Stakes betting markets following this morning’s scratchings are due out shortly.
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