Prominent NSW owner and breeder George Altomonte and his Corumbene Stud enjoyed deserved success at Rosehill on Saturday, not only taking the quinella in the $175,000, Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) with Bennetta and Ichihara, but also the listed Widden Stakes with new Golden Slipper favourite Overreach.
James McDonald urges Bennetta to victory in the Light Fingers Stakes, picture sportpix.com.au
Bennetta, trained by Grahame Begg, has been the most progressive three-year-old filly of the season from the moment she started her winning sequence on December 29th at Canterbury over 1250m.
A win followed in the Magic Millions Fillies & Mares Quality over 1300m at the Gold Coast on January and on Saturday she completed the climb to black type with ease.
Altomonte also bred and races Ichihara, trained by Allan Denham at Wyong, and she had already reached black type in the spring in the listed Heritage Stakes over 1100m at Randwick.
On Saturday the fillies, both by General Nediym, took different passages in the race with Hugh Bowman taking Ichihara to the front from barrier nine, while James McDonald settled in seventh on Bennetta.
Bowman took Ichihara to the middle of the track as they straightened for the run home as had been the pattern of the day. They were clear leaders over the rest of the field who had followed them to the centre.
McDonald peeled wide for clear running room for Bennetta before the 400m and set off after the leader. It was not an easy task with Ichihara not stopping in front, and with 200m to run Bennetta was still a half-length off Ichihara.
Then McDonald let Bennetta go, and with a turn of foot befitting her sprint breeding, she swept past Ichihara and then away for a dominant win by 1 3/4L.
Ichihara was a 1/2L ahead of Dear Demi (Dehere) and Jim Cassidy who also came home well from the rear having been in eighth at the top of the straight behind the winner. Driefontein was fourth.
The time was 1.10.16 on the Dead 5 with the final 600m in 34.60. Bennetta paid $3.80 on NSW TAB.
“She is going in the right direction. He rode her beautifully and got a gun run. The way the race panned out it was just a matter of pushing the buttons,” said Begg.
“I think she can run a good 1500m, a mile (1600m) might stretch her, but she is so relaxed I would not say she will not.
“It is good to tick that box because the races before they would not have been able to get her into the better class races if we were thinking about getting into the Coolmore with the Magic Millions being a restricted race.
“So it was very important to win a Group race today and onwards and upwards for her.
“He (Altomonte) puts a lot into racing and it is good to see him getting something back,” he said.
“She has to improve more against the better fillies in the autumn and I hope she does,” said McDonald.
“At the Gold Coast she really let down on a hard track and today she had to do it the tough way and show her fighting qualities,” he added.
The Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) is at Rosehill on March 9th.
Bennetta is out of the Redoute’s Choice mare Diva’s Magic and with her three wins and a second place from just six starts she has earned stakes of $306,100 for Altomonte and co-owners Ms LN Smith and G Severino.
Photofinish picture ATC