Bargain $2000 purchase sets tongues a-wagging on eve of Kosciuszko draw

Sue Grills with Kosciuszko hopeful My Benalla after his dominant Scone victory.

The Sue Grills prepared My Benalla caught the eye of punters and racing fans at Scone on Tuesday, boulting in for a strong victory in the 1000m Benchmark 66 Handicap. 

Rory Hutchings gave the lightly raced six-year-old a terrific ride, dropping back to the rear of the field in the early stages of the race before manoeuvring into a gap on the final turn and storming home to win in fine fashion over Dominant Lady and race-favourite Joey’s Chance. 

“It was a nice win,” Grills said.

“He has always shown plenty of ability and he got to the line very nicely.

“In his trials, he went forward and that’s why I put Rory on him, he is a big strong horse and I wanted him held back and I wanted him to hit the line like he did.”

Incredibly, My Benalla was returning from an 81-week spell when winning his fourth race from only five starts, after a tendon injury cruelled a terrific start to the gallopers career.

“He is a good horse, and he is so untapped and that’s the thing with him; he is just getting better and better,” Grills said. 

“He got through it well, his stride was nice and fluent, and he pricked his ears before the line and he didn’t blow too much and with the two trials and the 1000m under his belt, he will take great improvement out of that.”

The shrewd $2000 purchase could now be destined for much bigger things, with My Benalla’s name being thrown around as a possible candidate to contest the $1.3 million Kosciuszko.

“We would love to get him in the race. The 1200m at Randwick would suit him perfect; he will settle well and fly home and that is the beauty of him,” Grills said.

“Now he has had a couple of trials, he is only going to get better, and he has that good turn of foot you need to win a race like that.”

The Tamworth trainer has already set sights on a Midway at Rosehill over the 1300m on September 25, with Grills explaining that there was a method to her madness taking this path. 

“I would want to start him again (before The Kosciuszko). That is a high-quality race and a very tough race, and he needs one more run,” Grills said. 

“There is a Midway on the 25th of September over the 1300m at Rosehill. My grandfather always said the 1200m at Randwick was like a 1300m anywhere else, so we will give him the run and have him right.”

If My Benalla isn’t picked to contest the $1.3 million race scheduled for October 16, Grills said she would still have some fun with the gelding, with no real pressure to pick out upcoming races. 

“I am sure he is a city class horse. He is still learning and has only had five starts and three trials,” Grills said. 

“We will find some nice races for him and when he is your own horse, you can do what you want. There is no pressure.”

Grills did reiterate that all care would be taken to make sure her talented sprinter was sound before contesting any race, with the health of My Benalla the paramount concern of the stable.

“To come back from such a long layoff and win as impressively as he did was great and I was really happy with him,” Grills said.  

“We made sure he was 100%. After that second trial, we had him scanned to make sure he was right, and we will probably the do the same thing after this run and make sure he is all good.”

My Benalla’s Scone win does come at a good time for the stable, with The Kosciuszko ticket winners drawn tomorrow, and Grills will be hoping someone give’s the up-and-coming a chance to race against the best horses in country NSW.