Country goal rests with power of three

Chasing glory: Trainer Greg Bennett has three hopes in Friday's Country Championship Preview at Scone. Photo: Katrina Partridge Photography.
Chasing glory: Trainer Greg Bennett has three hopes in Friday's Country Championship Preview at Scone. Photo: Katrina Partridge Photography.

GREG Bennett sends three of his talented team – Sassaby, All Summer Long and Invienna – around in Friday’s $20,000 Country Championships Preview Class 4 Handicap (1300m) at Scone.

Not because he originally wanted to, but because he has to if they are to make the March 5 $150,000 Country Championship Qualifier (1400m) at Scone.

The lure of the rich $400,000 Country Championship Final (1400m) on April 1 at Randwick is massive, but also the chance to celebrate wins on the final two meetings he has left at Scone.

Bennett will hand in his trainer’s licence the day after the Country Championship Final at Randwick to take up a position as farm manager at Aquis Farm in South-East Queensland.

In the meantime he is hoping to end his training career on a winning note, not just at the final two Scone meetings, but in the HNWRA and hopefully with a second Country Championship crown.

Bennett won last year’s CC Final with Clearly Innocent and believes his three runners in the CC Preview are all good chances of winning on the day as well as winning next month’s Qualifier.

That are all running together comes down to circumstances and not something he’d planned on doing.

“I don’t have a choice,” Bennett said.

“I’ve got to run all three.”

If he had one to pick as favourite he’d name Sassaby, which drew well in barrier eight, has 58kg and leading jockey Rachael Murray aboard.

That stablemates All Summer Long (62kg) and Invienna (61kg) have to give him weight irks Bennett but they have both drawn well.

All Summer Long in barrier two and Invienna jumping from barrier three.

“All three will run well,” Bennett added.

“I did have Invienna in at Newcastle but she got 64.5kg.

“The weights for the Country Championship should be capped. Ridiculous they aren’t capped.

“I’m not a fan of these country class races having such big weights. It’s hard on the horses, in the end they stop trying.

“But all three will be competitive and will all go on from there to Scone. This is their big lead-up race.

“Hopefully they all come through it well and pull up well.

“All Summer Long’s run at Randwick (last start) was a bit disappointing but they ran quicker time in that than they did in the Listed race and he did have a large weight down there as well.

“He is a tough bugger and won’t let anyone past him.

“If Invienna can reproduce her last run here (track record) she’ll be hard to beat.

“Sassaby is a young horse on the way up. He will be very hard to beat getting weight off the other two.”

It’s a busy day for Bennett too with nine runners.

He believes Lusitania might be a good chance too in the three-year-old maiden with stable mate Cool Baby.

“She’s a beautiful filly, a half-sister to Alinghi,” Bennett said of Lusitania.

While a busy day it is a simple equation for Bennett.

“Hopefully we can get a winner here and on March 5. They are my last two meetings at home, obviously I’m keen to go out a winner.”