IN two consecutive years the Country Championships winner has taken out the $150,000 Listed Luskin Star Stakes, and this year the victory belonged to home-town hero Clearly Innocent.
Trained at Scone by Greg Bennett, the gelding was shooting for five consecutive wins and was also looking to remain unbeaten on its home track. The four-year-old was cheered home by the roaring crowd as it stayed a perfect five-from-five at Scone by beating the game Music Magnate.
The son of Not A Single Doubt is showing the strength of The Championships at Randwick, even at country level, but many believe this talented sprinter could become a group one winner.
“I’ve heard people say he could win a group one,” Bennett said. “Well he’s a listed horse now so that’s great.”
Bennett admitted to carrying a lot of pressure on his shoulders, knowing that plenty of punters had put their hard-earned on the gelding.
“I’m relieved,” he said.
“I think they backed him into favouritism late so good on them, they all get the money.”
Clearly Innocent, Music Magnate and Federal were engaged in a betting battle all week, but the punters chose correctly, backing Clearly Innocent into $2.90 at Crownbet.com.au. The impressive type won’t be running at the Brisbane winter carnival, but bigger targets are on the horizon.
“Maybe he is a group one horse,” Bennett said. “We’ll go to the spring and we’ll look at next autumn.
“We’re out of the Brisbane winter and I just said the Bjorn [Baker] ‘I hope he goes off a wins the Stradbroke’ [with Music Magnate].”
The win gave apprentice Samantha Clenton another quality win and the ride was 10/10 in our books. Bennett paid credit to the much-improved jockey.
“She moved him at the right time, he’s just a good horse. It was a great ride by Sammy and good on her, she deserves everything she gets,” he said.
Music Magnate was no disappointment in second place. The Bjorn Baker-trained gelding was second up and it didn’t look to settle out in front after getting taken on by Decision Time. To its credit it fought well and punters won’t be put off by that run.
Music Magnate is currently priced at $11 with Sportsbet for the 2016 Stradbroke Handicap at Doomben on June 11. With that run under its belt and Baker’s hot run of form, we wouldn’t rule it out.
Adding to the success of The Championships, Provincial Championships winner Danish Twist won 40 minutes later in the Dark Jewel Stakes. The Kris Lees-trained mare scored its third consecutive win and will now be targeted towards the Brisbane winter carnival.
“She’s done a really good job,” Lees said. “I think you have to look at a winter stakes – when in form, gotta do something with her.”
Lees trained the quinella with Onemorezeta ($4.40) finishing second and Press Report ran on well into third.