New Muswellbrook trainer tastes success on home-town track

GREAT EFFORT: Rachael Murray leads Art D’Amour to victory in the Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup (1450m) at Muswellbrook on Sunday. Pic: KATRINA PARTRIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY
GREAT EFFORT: Rachael Murray leads Art D’Amour to victory in the Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup (1450m) at Muswellbrook on Sunday. Pic: KATRINA PARTRIDGE PHOTOGRAPHY

TWO months ago, Alecia Bennett moved her training base to Muswellbrook from Cessnock and celebrated the move by winning Sunday’s Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup (1450m) with Art D’Amour, owned by her parents Phil and Leanne Moore.  

Now the she plans to aim the horse at the $100,000 MRS Services Muswellbrook Cup (1500m) on Friday, December 8. 

“This is so exciting, ours is a real family operation and that is my first winner since making the move,” Bennett said.

“The Muswellbrook Cup has been our goal for some time and this race was the test to see if we continued on that path.

“This is the first time he has gone over this distance and that was my one concern, but he handled it easily.

“I don’t think the extra 50m of the Muswellbrook Cup will be any problem with the way he finished this race off.

“The horse is very fit and I don’t know if he will need another run before the cup.

“I will wait and see how he pulls up and progresses before I make any decision.

“I have my own track on our property outside Singleton and bring my horses to Muswellbrook for fast work.

“The facilities are so good here and everyone has gone out of their way to help.  

“It’s been a great move.”

Art D’Amour, ridden by Rachael Murray, sat just off the pace then finished hard to win by a length from the Paul Perry-trained Gadfly with Annandale Lass a further length away third.

“Rachael rode him exactly to instructions, but she knows the horse well,” Bennett said.

“She comes down from Scone and rides my horses, including this one, in work then goes back to Scone and rides work.

“She will have the cup ride.” 

Art D’Amour has been a model of consistency with six wins from his only 11 starts and despite a 10th in a Benchmark 80 at Randwick at his previous start was sent out the favourite in this race.

“He got too far back at Randwick and you can’t win against those sorts of horses under those circumstances,” Bennett said.

The trainer came close to an even bigger day when Tayrose, also owned by her parents, finished second in the Power FM Three-Year-Old Maiden after trying to lead all the way. 


THE Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Californiasurprise faced a tough fight to the line and ran a race record in winning the Greg Cribb Memorial Red Crown Two-Year-Old (900m).

The stable is now likely to send the daughter of I Am Invincible back to the spelling paddock.

“We have an opinion of her, we think she could be pretty good,” foreman, Jackson Biers, said.

“She has scored this win after only a limited preparation and one trial after a bit of a set back at the breakers.

“She is still pretty green, but it was impressive the way she fought back near the line.”

Biers was representing the stable with Peter and Paul Snowden both needed in Melbourne to supervise their horses there for the carnival. 

However, Lyn Snowden was at the meeting which honoured her late father Eric “Shorty” Cribb and her late brother Greg Cribb.

Winona Costin sent Californiasurprise, the odds-on favourite, straight to the lead and she stayed there.

However, in the straight the David Pfieffer-trained Don’t Doubt Arthur (Paul King) ranged up beside the filly and they settled down to a great battle over the last 200m.

Californiasurprise kept fighting back to win by a short half head in a slick 51.64 seconds, easily eclipsing the previous best for this race of 52.24 seconds run by Junglized last year.


THE Rod Northam-trained Born In Barcelona made an encouraging return to racing after a lengthy spell to win the Power FM Three Year Old Maiden (1000m).

That followed her second in the Inglis Challenge at Scone in May.

“The plan was the Challenge and she ran very well but she was immature and only small, so I turned her out for a long spell,” Northam said.

“She has come back a lot stronger and more mature, but I don’t think she grew very much.

“I think she has a future but eventually her lack of size might come against her.

“Tommy Berry rode her in the Challenge and suggested that she will be a 1200m or 1400m horse.”

Greg Ryan had Born in Barcelona racing in fourth place early, got a big split in the straight and under hard riding went to the line to win by two lengths from the early leader Tayrose.


FULL-time beef farmer and part-time Mudgee based trainer Derek Piper might be headed to a Highway Handicap at Rosehill shortly with Our Dasha after the pint-sized filly ran a smart time in winning the HIC Services Class One (1000m).

That followed her impressive maiden win on a heavy track at Narromine last month at her first run from a spell.

Our Dasha has only raced three times for a debut third at Cowra in March then these two wins.

“We were getting her ready for the Wellington Boot, but she had a bit or a set back after the Cowra run so I turned her out for a good break,” Piper said.

“I have always thought she had her fair share of ability and after her Narromine win I looked for another suitable race and found this one.

“I have half a dozen horses at home and combine training them with full time farming.”

Our Dasha, ridden by Eleanor Webster-Hawes, hit the line hard to win by a length from Rather Sweet in a smart 57.12 seconds.


A QUIET conversation in the parade yard between trainer Jeff Englebrecht and jockey Grant Buckley helped lead to the win by We’re Smokin in the Saunders Motor Group Class Three (1500m).

“I asked Grant if any of the riders had used the cutaway in previous races and he said no so I told him I would leave it up to him,” Englebrecht said.

Buckley took the hint and steered We’re Smokin towards the centre of the track at the top of the straight.

The mare finished hard wide out to gather in Lady Evelyn and the pair hitting the line locked together with We’re Smokin winning by a short half head.

“She has been racing really well this preparation,” Englebrecht said.

“It was a really good run at Taree at her previous run when she got home well to run fourth.

“One of her owners, John Jennings, lives in China, another of her owners is in Melbourne and my accountant and some of his mates make up the rest of the syndicate.”


IT is some time since Greg Ryan has ridden for Allan Denham but when the pair has combined it has usually been successful.

That success continued when the Denham-trained Commandatore came from a seemingly impossible position on the turn to win the Wallerawang Engineering Benchmark 55 (1280m).

“Greg hasn’t ridden that many times for me but when he has we have enjoyed plenty of success,” Denham said.

However, the success almost did not continue in this race with Ryan mid field on the turn and behind a wall of horses with nowhere to go.

He defied the pattern of earlier races by switching to the inside after passing the cutaway and overhauling the favourite Roy’s Command late to grab the lead near the line.

“I was worried on the turn,” Ryan told Denham.

“Never mind, you got to the front when it mattered,” Denham said.