A very patient Sue Grills will just be happy to see My Benalla get through his race safely when the six-year-old returns from injury in the 1000m Benchmark 66 Handicap at Scone on Tuesday.
The well-bred son by Animal Kingdom and out of Esprit Hi is a winner of three races from four starts, showing all sorts of ability before a tendon issue delayed his burgeoning career, leading to an 81-week spell.
“He had tendon issues, but he seems over it now. You never know but he seems fine, and we will give him a start and see how he goes,” Grills said.
“We just hope he gets around safely.”
My Benalla commenced his career in June 2019, winning his maiden at Tamworth over 1200m before greeting the judge first in a 1300m Class One Handicap at Coonamble in July.
Upon returning from a 23-week spell, the Tamworth galloper finished second in a Class Three Handicap over the 1200m at Tamworth in December of 2019 before a very impressive four-length victory in a 1280m Class Two Handicap at Muswellbrook in January 2020.
Since then, It has been a long road back to the races for My Benalla and Grills explained just why he had been rested for such a long period.
“He has always shown a fair bit of ability. He is a pretty well-bred horse, but I bought him for $2000 because he had bad x-rays,” Grills said.
“He did his tendon when in work but because we own him, we could take our time and we didn’t have to push him.
“He would have come back earlier, but unfortunately his tendon blew up and we got him right, but he reared up and put his foot over the stable and bruised it all again but hopefully it stays good now.”
Grills said her galloper wasn’t usually getting himself into trouble, explaining trouble only found him when he was starting to ‘feel good’.
“He is not flighty, but he just does stupid things sometimes,” Grills laughed.
“He is a quiet horse, but he has his moments. The worst part is, when he gets fit, he starts to feel good and does those silly things.”
As far as a return to the track goes, My Benalla has eased from $2.90 to hold favouritism at $3.40 in the five-furlong sprint, and punters will likely keep a good eye on the market.
Rory Hutchings will take the ride and with 60.5kg and gate seven it will be a tough task for connections, but the Grills runner does look to be in good order though after coming off a nice trial victory at Tamworth over the 1000m late last month, where he beat Mr Hussill – the same Mr Hussill that finished second in the 1200m Class Three TAB Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
“The horse is going well, and he has good ability but, in a trial, no one is really trying, and race pressure is different, but I do expect him to run a really good race tomorrow,” Grills said.
“We just hope he stays sound, and if he does, I will just race him sparingly and pick the right races for him.”
If My Benalla does emerge victorious in what looks a very tough race at Scone, The Kosciuszko could be on the cards, and Grills believed, if selected, he would run well as he hadn’t lost any ability during his time off
“He is a big strong horse now, he is a really big horse, and I don’t think he has lost anything at all,” Grills said.
The 1000m Benchmark 66 Handicap will be the final race on a seven-race-card at Scone that kicks off at 1.20pm.
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