Victorem seeking stakes spoils

Victorem (Inside) will contest the Listed Property Brokers Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Hastings on Thursday. Photo: Race Images

Johno Benner is happy to see some easing in the track at Hastings for his underrated mare Victorem for the Listed Property Brokers Wairarapa Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) on Thursday.

Victorem last won at Woodville last October but hasn’t been further back than fourth in five starts since then – and the fourth was arguably her best run, coming in the Group 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes (1600m) at Te Rapa behind Concert Hall and Showoroses.

Benner, who trains Victorem at Otaki along with Hollie Wynyard, is expecting another solid run, especially with the ground being slow as of Wednesday morning.

“She’s drawn nicely, and it looks like a nice opportunity for her to get some black type,” Benner said.

“She’s ultra-consistent but has just been hanging out for a bit of moisture in the ground and she will get that in this race.”

The four-year-old does have some black type, having finished second in the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) last year, but she has yet to win at that level.

She faces a good field at Hastings but there aren’t any horses with Concert Hall’s credentials in the field and Benner said she was in great order.

“It’s a nice option for her so fingers crossed she should be competitive.”

Victorem is part of a three-pronged attack for Benner and Wynyard at Hastings, along with the maiden three-year-olds Titled and Esme.

Titled, who races in a maiden 1600m event, had two starts in Australia in spring before returning to Benner and Wynyard, and he has finished second in both starts since his return.

The Exceed and Excel colt holds nominations for the Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) on March 5 and the Group 1 Wellington Seamarket Levin Classic (1600m) on March 19 but Benner said those races would probably come too soon for him.

“He’s doing very well, but it would be nice to get him out of maidens for a start,” Benner said.

“I think he’s going to be a nice horse over 2000m, but we’ll head towards the autumn. It’s getting a bit tight to get to the Derby so something like the Manawatu Classic (Group 3, 2000m) could be good for him.”

Esme, who holds a nomination for the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 19, will be making her raceday debut in a maiden 2100m event at Hastings.

“She’s a dead-set staying horse,” Benner said. “She has very good aerobic capacity but if she goes a good race we’ll be happy and then build from there.”

Meanwhile, Benner and Wynyard’s good mare Gold Bracelet is set to race at Awapuni on Friday in the Carters Ashhurst Pohangina Cup (1400m), her first New Zealand run since beating Levante in the Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) in March 2020.

A share in the Pins mare was sold to Australian syndicator Roll the Dice Racing after that victory and she raced in Australia as a four-year-old, registering one placing in five starts, before her other part- owner Jen Campin bought Roll the Dice Racing’s share back.

“She’s trialled up really well and will appreciate the moisture. She has a nice light weight (54kg) and I expect her to go a big race, though she will improve with it and there are some nice races for her in the autumn,” Benner said.

“We’re hoping to pick up a little more black type for her but ultimately she’ll be a very nice broodmare.”

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