Clearly Innocent heads towards Epsom Hcp

width="800" Trainer Greg Bennett says Clearly Innocent is returning to his stable for a Group One preparation.

Clearly Innocent has kicked off his bid to graduate from outstanding country horse to Group One contender.

The Greg Bennett-trained Country Championship winner looks destined to target the Group One Epsom Handicap in spring as he returns to work at his Scone stable.

“He’ll come back in to my stables on Thursday afternoon,” Bennett said.

“He’s had six weeks on the treadmill and the water walker at Beaudesert at Washpool Lodge.

“He looks fantastic.”

Bennett said he would meet with Clearly Innocent’s owners to determine the path for the horse, but he favoured the Epsom at Randwick on October 1.

“My preference before talking to the owners is the Epsom third-up but we’ve got to sit down with them next week,” he said.

Despite a concern over a slight hoof injury, Clearly Innocent defied a betting drift to comfortably win the $500,000 Country Championship final at Randwick on the first day of The Championships in April.

He was then given a let-up before returning to win the Listed Luskin Star Handicap on his home track at Scone on May 14, taking his winning record to seven from nine starts.

Bennett had more Sydney success on Wednesday, training Mercurian to win a 1250m benchmark race at Canterbury.

“He’s always been a very good, solid little galloper and the way the tempo of the race panned out today played into his hands,” he said.

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