By Mark Brassel
Muswellbrook trainer Aleacia Bennett is the first to admit she was going to ‘sack’ Buddy Honest even before he had set foot on a racetrack.
“When I first got him, I was going to sack him. Really, I could run faster than he could,” Aleacia recalled. “He was a big lump of a three-year-old and had no interest in racing at all. But my, how things can change!
“I entered him for a Cessnock barrier trial and he won it and it was though he just lit up. It was like Jekyll and Hyde.
“I was stunned by how much he improved so we took him to Wellington for his debut and he powered home to win. He just blossomed.”
Buddy Honest will be having his second run back from a long spell in this Friday’s $22,000 The Mikki Isle @ Arrowfield Benchmark 66 Handicap (1100m) at Scone.
“I’m sure he thinks he’s a Shetland pony – he has no idea how big he is,” Aleacia said. “I’ve lost count of how many times he’s accidentally swung around and hit me in the head.
“But I just love him, he’s a big boy but a real character.”
Buddy Honest eventually made it to the city last winter and at his ninth start, led and kicked strongly when fourth (under a length) behind Nic’s Vendetta and The Kosciuszko runner-up, Suncraze at Warwick Farm last July.
“We thought he would fade but he kept fighting to the post in a pretty hot race. He pulled up so well we decided to back him up the following Saturday and he won a TAB Highway at Rosehill.
“He’d done such a good job we immediately spelled him and brought him back last summer, but he had just the two runs and we aborted the campaign.
“He just didn’t seem himself – maybe it was the heat – but we weren’t happy with him so we turned him out again.”
Buddy Honest had his first race start for 10 months on 12 October, finishing an excellent fourth (beaten less than two lengths) at Cessnock (900m) after racing three-deep throughout.
“We were over the moon with the run as he was entitled to drop right out,” Aleacia said. “He’s so tough and just loves to run.
“He’s no superstar but just tries his heart out; it’s hard not to adore him.”
Rachael Murray has ridden Buddy Honest in his last five race starts and is expected to again partner Buddy Honest on Friday.