Bennett’s colt a Force in the Geelong Diamond

Bennett Racing had to pay a record amount for Stay Focused, but the Victorian syndication company’s investment is looking a shrewd one after Saturday’s debut performance.

The Phillip Stokes-trained colt raced his way into next month’s $2 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes with a strong win in the inaugural edition of the $150,000 Geelong Diamond, which carries a Blue Diamond ballot exemption.

The $250,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale buy was the most expensive first-crop member of Newgate Farm stallion Cosmic Force and Nathan Bennett said he had impressed him as much after the sale and he did this time last year.

“From the day we bought him we loved him – he was the highest-priced Cosmic Force colt for the season – and we’ve gone hard on him,” Bennett said.

“We’ve actually put a few mares to Cosmic Force because we love this horse so much and the way he did that was exciting.”

Stay Focused justified good market support when he overcame a slightly tardy getaway in the 1100-metre Geelong Diamond to score a commanding win.

Daniel Stackhouse was able to use the inside barrier aboard the $3.10 favourite with betting apps and work through to follow Trunk ($3.60), challenged that $1.3 million Snitzel colt midway down the straight and pulled away late to score by two lengths.

Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained Snitzel debutant Markdel ($5.50) was 2-3/4 lengths away third.

“Our plan was actually to lead and use our barrier, but he didn’t step all the greatest and that probably worked in our favour when the pressure went on and he probably learnt a little bit in behind them,” Stackhouse said.

“He raced really well, I had a lot of horse underneath me, we improved into the corner, I gave him a little shake up and he actually kicked off the corner really nicely, went through his gears good and was very soft on the line.”

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