Spring Champion Stakes a pivotal race for Benaud

The Spring Champion Stakes is shaping as a pivotal race for beautifully bred colt Benaud, who trainer John O’Shea regards as a superior talent to stablemate Lion’s Roar at the same stage of his career.

Lion’s Roar was edged out by Montefilia in the corresponding race 12 months ago and the well-named Benaud, by Reliable Man out of Baggy Green, will be bidding to give O’Shea his first Spring Champion crown.

O’Shea has a big opinion of the three-year-old, who is grey like his sire, and the trainer was succinct when comparing him to last year’s runner-up.

“The grey is a better horse,” O’Shea said.

Beanud, a half-brother to top mare Tofane and talented stayer No Compromise, holds a nomination for the Victoria Derby.

But if he can claim a Group 1 win on Saturday, the classic will be almost certainly off the table.

“Saturday is going to be a defining moment for him,” O’Shea said.

“If he wins, he’s a colt, he’s got a massive pedigree. That would probably rule out the Victoria Derby to be honest.

“If he got beaten then we’d reassess after that.”

Like Lion’s Roar, who won his debut at Wagga, Benaud kicked off his career in the country with a victory at Nowra.

O’Shea stepped him straight up to black-type grade in the Gloaming Stakes (1800m) and he performed admirably from a wide draw, closing late for third, albeit four lengths behind Head Of State and Profondo, who fought out the finish.

He again takes on that pair at Randwick and O’Shea admits he would have liked some rain to help Benaud turn the tables.

But he regards the barrier draw as significant with Benaud coming up with gate seven, while Head Of State (9) and Profondo (10) are to his outside.

“I would have thought we probably needed a bit of rain to turn the tables,” O’Shea said.

“But if we are going to turn the tables, the configuration of the barriers will help us.

“Lion’s Roar drew seven last year and he settled four pairs back, one off and I think this horse we be somewhere similar.”

Profondo was a $3.10 favourite with TAB fixed odds on Saturday in the Spring Champion Stakes, with Head Of State at $4.60 and Benaud among the top five horses in betting at $11.

About RS NewsWire

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