By Tony Megahey
Greg Bennett, the 2016 Country Championship winner with Clearly Innocent, is on a new career path but will leave a lasting impression on the booming TAB Highway series.
The Scone ace’s latest prospect, Mister Marmalade, contests a 1600m TAB Highway Plate at Royal Randwick on Saturday, on the strength of a highly impressive 1400m win on his home track two weeks ago.
The four-year-old gelding carried 59kg to lead and win by a widening 3.3 lengths in smart time, giving Bennett conviction he can progress with stable-mates to the Country Championships qualifiers.
“We’ve always had a big opinion of him. We’ve got All Summer Long and In Vienna in the Scone qualifier in two weeks. Maybe this horse will measure up as well,” Bennett offered, but with reservations.
“The owner was mad keen to compete in the Highway series but my concern is if we back him up to Scone after the Highway, it would mean three tough runs in as many weeks when he’s still immature.
“He’s certainly got the potential though, he’s a really progressive horse. We’ve accepted for Randwick, booked Tommy Berry, and up to the mile is no issue.
"He races on pace, can quicken and has shown the ability to be a realistic winning chance.”
A typically in depth Highway episode again sees multiple series winners Matthew Dunn, Terry Robinson and Norm Gardner with strong chances.
Last season saw Bennett’s Clearly Innocent, All Summer Long and In Vienna as emerging stars from the Highway series.
Clearly Innocent followed up the 2016 Country Championship success at headquarters with a spectacular win in the Listed Luskin Star at Scone, beating Group winner Music Magnate.
Bennett has earned high regard in the industry with a long career in pre-training, where he broke in three time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva, and numerous other Group winners including Typhoon Tracy.
His achievements have seen him appointed Director of Racing and Development for the massive Queensland enterprise of Aquis Farm on the Sunshine Coast.
Bennett will relocate after the Championships in April.
Albury’s Brett Cavanough will take over the Scone stables.
“It’s exciting, it’s an extensive and impressive set-up, the international owners have expanded into racing from property development and Casinos. I’ll still be heavily involved in the racing industry, like I have been for forty years. Educating horses to the race track was my career long before I went into fulltime training.”