‘Oh, Cecilia’ – Muswellbrook mare wins Queen of the North

The Aleacia Bennett-trained Cecilia, pictured here winning at Newcastle late last year, won Friday’s Queen of the Turf at Port Macquarie. Photo: Bradley Photos.

As the great Simon & Garfunkel sang, ‘Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart, you’re shaking my confidence’, and that was the case with Cecilia breaking her rival’s hearts to win the $65,000 Queen of the North at Port Macquarie on Friday. 

The Aleacia Bennett-trained five-year-old was taken forward from gate 10 in the 1200m feature event, before four-kilogram claiming apprentice Shayleigh Ingelse decided to take a sit in behind early leader, Gold Bracelet.

Despite working hard through the first four furlongs, Cecilia peeled off the leader’s back and took the lead on the home turn before pulling away for a comfortable 1.4 lengths victory from Chase My Crown for Joel and Wayne Wilkes and Tawfiq Lass for Kris Lees.

“It was a good win,” Bennett said. 

“She just tries. She is tough and she wants to win and wants to do her best and we saw that yesterday.

“She is the easiest horse to have around. She has no issues or anything and she just tries her hardest every time we go around.”

The five-year-old started $9.50 and was on the fifth line of betting, and despite her mark position, Bennett was always confident of a forward showing. 

“I think everyone was a bit harsh on her,” Bennett said. 

“Her run at Gosford wasn’t bad, but when she finally got going, everything closed up.”

The Muswellbrook trainer explained that setting Cecilia for the Queen of the North was only a recent decision. 

“To be honest, it was two runs ago I saw the race there and decided to set her for it,” Bennett said.

“We have been trying to space her runs out and keep her to that 1200m as it suits her better and it worked out nicely.”

While Bennett was pleased with her mare’s win, she was just as happy for Ingelse, who won the biggest race of her blossoming career, which doubled as only her second career victory and tripled as her eighth race ride.

“She is a really good kid; she rang me on the way home to thank me,” Bennett said. 

“She was gutsy. She didn’t panic and got her in that spot and let her relax and that made all the difference.

“Some apprentices that don’t have many rides would have kept her charging along, but she nailed it and deserved the win.”

Cecilia and Bennett have a good team behind them, and Bennett was also grateful for their support. 

“I have to thank the connections; they have stuck by her and my little team; it’s my name but they make all this happen day in, day out,” Bennett said. 

As far as what race is next for Cecilia, Bennett said she would start looking but she expected it would involve a rise in class.

“I’m not sure where you go next with her,” Bennett said.

“Once you get into those high 70s and low 80s (Benchmark), it can be impossible to find races when they are not quite city class horses but are handy in the country.

 “Either way, she has plenty more left in her. It’s just about finding the right race.” 

It was another big day of racing for Port Macquarie and readers can click here for full results.