By Julieanne Horsman
Aleacia Bennett has never had a runner in the Muswellbrook Cup before but is a real chance of taking out her home track feature on Friday. Her lightly-raced gelding, Art D’Amour, is among the favourites and with good reason.
At his last start in the Aberdeen Cup (1450m) at Muswellbrook on 5th November he surged home, fending off challenges from Gadfly and Annandale Lass who will both line up in the Muswellbrook Cup as well.
I was really happy with the way he won,” Bennett said, “I was almost as if he was lost when he got to the front but he was really strong to the line.”
According to Bennett, Art D’Amour pulled up well and has come on since, but the time between runs is the query.
“I had a pretty good feeling he was going to run a ripper of a race last time,” she said. “He was so well in himself. It will be a touch over a month since his last race but he is jumping out of skin and is looking even better now.”
Art D’Amour has drawn ideally in barrier one and Bennett hopes the race will unfold as it did in the Aberdeen Cup. Jockey Ben Looker has the ride.
“I’d like to see him one two behind the leader,” she said. “That said, we wouldn’t give up a soft lead if it was there. I just hope it doesn’t rain. If the track gets into the heavy range he won’t be racing.”
Art D’Amour is owned by Bennett’s parents Phil and Leanne Moore and her mother-in-law, aunty and husband James all help out around the stable.
“My whole team is family and I feel so lucky to have that support,” she said. “It makes every achievement more special. If we win there will be tears. I’d have to take everyone out to dinner then you probably won’t see me for a week!”
Bennett has only been training since March 2014 but has always been an accomplished horsewoman. She competed in equestrian and polocrosse both in Australia and overseas and has also tried her hand at camp drafting. She has five horses in work at her property at Singelton and brings them to Muswellbrook to gallop twice a week.
“I was inspired to become a trainer by my husband’s late grandfather, Kevin Hewitt,” she said. “When he became ill we helped him out with his horses and when he passed away we wanted to keep it going.”
Impressively, Bennett juggles her training operation with a full-time job as an account and responsibilities of being a mother and wife.
“It keeps me on my toes but I wouldn’t want it any other way,” she said.
The Muswellbrook Cup has always been the main goal for Art D’Amour this preparation and a decision on where to go next will be made after the race.
Pat Farrell’s Alliterate is the other local hope in the Muswellbrook Cup but the mare will have to improve on her Prelude run. She was beaten by Annandale Lass and Gadfly who were both carrying more weight.