Kelly Doughty looking to Benfica Princess to replace stable star

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The Kelly Doughty-trained Benfica Princess returns to Doomben to race over 1600 metres.

Gold Coast trainer Kelly Doughty has retired giant galloper Arki but hopes mare Benfica Princess is ready to fill the void as a stable star.

Arki, who stands nearly 18hh, came back from a tendon injury to win all five of his starts early last year progressing to open company.

But the tendon problems flared again and Doughty and her husband Gary sent Arki to Victoria for some specialist treatment.

He recovered well enough to return to Doughty’s stable last month with another race preparation in mind.

But it became apparent Arki would not stand up to another campaign and the decision was made on Wednesday to retire him permanently.

“It is a pity because he had tremendous ability and he is a stable favourite. But you have to put the horses first,” Doughty said.

Arki will end his career with a record of 14 starts for seven wins and a second

Benfica Princess has also been a work in progress and will run in the Girls Day Out Handicap (1630m) at Doomben on Saturday.

She won her last start over the Doomben 1600m in midweek class but Doughty is confident she will race well against the better horses in Saturday company.

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Benfica Princess was considered a Queensland Oaks hopeful last season but wanted to over-race in some of her starts and plans for the Group One race were scrapped when she was unplaced in the Doomben Roses.

She showed her class when third in a 1600m-Listed race at Doomben during the carnival.

Doughty said Benfica Princess had developed a habit of being light-mouthed after being ridden for the lead in a race at Doomben.

“She didn’t appear to want to settle in her races after that. So we had to go back to square one with her,” Doughty said.

“She does seem to be best around the 1600 metre mark and she has won three times at the trip. She is down in the weights and there looks to be some pace in the race.”

Doughty said she had virtually been forced into running Benfica Princess at Doomben on Saturday.

“I would have liked to have taken her to the bigger track at Caloundra on Saturday week but there is nothing for her around the 1600 metres,” she said.

“There are a couple of other races late next month which should suit her.”

Doughty hopes Benfica Princess can measure up to some of the fillies and mares Listed races during the winter.