A drop in grade should see John O’Shea’s Group 1 placed Benaud return to the winner’s circle at Wyong on Tuesday.
O’Shea has opted to return Benaud to Provincial grade in an effort to build up his confidence.
The Reliable Man gelding was touted as a champion stayer in the making following his narrow defeat in the G1 ATC Derby (2400m) at Randwick in April last year and subsequent second in the G3 Kings Town (2000m) on the same track in September.
He was spelled after an unsuccessful Caulfield Cup appearance in the spring and was unplaced in all five starts in black type races last preparation before resuming in the 2000m Listed McKell Cup on June 17 where he finished well back in the field.
O’Shea has now opted for the 2100m Class 1 and Maiden at Wyong in an attempt to return the four-year-old to winning form.
“I was disappointed with him in the autumn, “O’Shea said. “I thought we should drop him back in grade and try to build up his confidence.
“Winning is a habit and we can get the horse back winning then we can revisit what we can do with him later in the year.”
Tyler Schiller will partner Benaud along with O’Shea’s second runner Infinite Rose.
The Astern filly debuts in the 1000m 2YO Fillies Maiden, coming off two recent metropolitan trials.
She impressed with her latest outing, narrowly beaten at Canterbury over 900m on June 26, coming off a third at a 740m Randwick trial two week earlier.
Success by O’Shea on Tuesday could help him secure his second Wyong Trainers Premiership.
With only two meetings remaining he currently leads the way with nine winners on the track, two head of two ahead of father and son combo Peter and Paul Snowden, with Mark Newnham, who recently relocated to Hong Kong, and Brad Widdup on six.
O’Shea last claimed the Wyong title in the 2015/2016 season when he was at the helm of the Godolphin stable.
Kristen Buchanan leads the way for the locals with five winners on her home track, one ahead of Kim Waugh, both saddling up runners at the meeting.
Things are equally as tight in the jockeys ranks with Josh Parr and Jay Ford both riding seven winners to date, one ahead of trio Tim Clark, Koby Jennings and Tom Sherry.
Ford has a good opportunity to break clear with five rides, while Tyler Schiller, who has a narrow grasp on the Apprentices title with six wins, has a full book.
The first of eight races gets underway at 12.10pm.
Race 1 – 12.10pm: DE BORTOLI 3YO MAIDEN (1600m): 1 KINGSTON CHARM, 2 Rabairneach, 3 Dancemania, 4 Discover.
Race 2 – 12.45PM: BECOME A WYONG RACE CLUB MEMBER FOR JUST $55 MAIDEN (1350m): 1 DOUBLE SCOOP, 2 Frank Express, 3 Burns To Embrace, 4 Lord Bob.
Race 3 – 1.20pm: MAGIC MILLIONS – CLUB SPONSOR 2002-2027 2YO FILLIES MAIDEN (1000m): 1 SHAKEN, 2 Lover And Light, 3 Infinite Rose, 4 Wezza.
Race 4 – 1.55pm: LADIES DAY AUGUST 27 IN SUPPORT OF THE IRIS FOUNDATION MIDWAY MAIDEN (1100m): 1 EXSENSIBLE, 2 Amberina, 3 Soobooco, 4 Parmenio.
Race 5 – 2.35pm: HAPPY RETIREMENT ISORICH CLASS 1 & MAIDEN (2100m): 1 BENAUD, 2 Got An Inspiration, 3 Fleet Commander, 4 Sky Out.
Race 6 – 3.10pm: CONSIDER RACE SPONSORSHIP AT WYONG PROVINCIAL CLASS 1 (1600m): 1 ALWAYS IN, 2 Queen Astrid, 3 Monte Outlander, 4 Oakfield Redgum.
Race 7 – 3.45pm: CARLTON WYONG GOLD CUP FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 1 BM64 (1100m): 1 ORLABENT, 2 Captain Bond, 3 Silvanito, 4 Meod.
Race 8 – 4.25pm: WYONG’S NEXT RACE MEETING SATURDAY JULY 15 CLASS 1 (1350m): 1 SKYLIGHT SON, 2 Modern Millie, 3 Lease, 4 Lysander.