Trainer Greg Bennett gets last shot at home for Country Championships finale

The weather aligned, now it’s just up to the starsfor Greg Bennett as he chases a fitting finale on his home trackon Sunday.


LATE PUSH: Popular Scone horseman Greg Bennett will take up the position of Aquis Farm’s director of racehorse development after day one of The Championships at Randwick April 1. Picture: Jenny Evans

Bennett, best-known for breaking in three-time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva, has three runners in the Country Championships wild card qualifier, which was moved, with the rest of Muswellbrook’s program, to Scone on Friday because of the rain-affected track.It is the last chance to secure a place in the $400,000 Country Championshipsfinal at Randwick on April 1, the final day of Bennett’s training career before he moves to Aquis Farm in Queensland.

Bennett thought he had his last home meeting as a trainer last Tuesday.

“It’s good for everyone and it’s great for me because, like I just said to my wife and daughter, it’s gives me another meeting at Scone,” Bennett said.

Bennett,whowon the final last year with Clearly Innocent,has All Summer Long, Sassaby and Invienna in the qualifier, where the top two progress.He admitted to having a soft spot for race favourite All Summer Long, which was scratched from the 2016final because of injury and was a close thirdin the Scone qualifier this year.

“He’s probably the top one I’d like to get through, because of what happened last year,” he said. “Getting so close and missing out, but they all have reasons for me wanting them to be there.”

“I’ve got a great group of owners with him and a great but different crew with Invienna, who are all great people and friends.

“Sassaby, the owners and breeders are theHewitts fromDenman, and it would give me alot of pleasure knowing I’ve got him into the final for them if that happens.

“But it’s not going to be easy with Alliterate there and Cliffy Bashford’s [Ever So Natural]going well, and Rod Northam’s [After All That] closed out well in our race, so there’s a very good string of horses in it.”

Bennett said Scone had copped lessrain than Muswellbrook and the switch of track would help all horses produce their best.

“The good thing is I’d say [Scone track manager] Bernie [Evans] would have the track up to a soft 7 now,” he said.

“Any rain between now and Sunday will make it heavy, but a Scone heavy is a lot better than a Muswellbrook heavy.

“And the bigger track will suit more horses, particularly any that have drawn wide. That 1280m start at Muswellbrook can be tricky if you draw wide, whereas at Scone, with the longer run into the turn and the big, sweeping track, it’s not as much a disadvantage.

“All three of mine will go forward, althoughSassaby and Invienna will probably be closer to the leader than All Summer Long.”

He said he had no regrets about his decision to take up the director of racehourse development at Aquis as his training career came to a close.

He said he going back to where it all began for him, in horse breaking and pre-training, and he was genuinely looking forward to working with thegreat crew and roster of horse flesh at Aquis.