Darley’s grip on the two-year-old season was lessened slightly by Hot Snitzel in the Sires Produce Stakes last weekend however they can still grab a clean sweep of the Group 1 juvenile series in the TJ Smith this Saturday.
It all rests on the shoulders of Benfica which went into the Sires Produce Stakes as a favourite but never looked like heading Hot Snitzel and finished sixth.
He didn’t have the best of runs though after stablemate Free Wheeling reared in the stalls and caused him to miss the start and have to settle back in the pack.
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy has rode all four Group 1 wins for Darley this season so his judgment of two-year-olds ifs certainly well justified.
He’s confident Benfica can once again show his best at Eagle Farm this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to him stepping up to the mile (1600m),” McEvoy said.
“We just had the little hiccup at the barriers the other day. If we can begin well we’ll go forward and put him into a forward spot on Saturday.”
Benfica was last out of the barriers after the other Darley owned favourite Free Wheeling reared just before the gates opened.
Not only did the accident cause him to be trapped under the barriers and miss the race, there’s no doubt it also affected Benfica.
“It was just a stuff up once we missed the start,” McEvoy said.
“It was always going to be hard for him from there given the way the race was run. He’s going to improve out of that and stepping up to the mile I’m sure he’s going to enjoy that as well.”
Darley has been unbeatable in the juvenile Group 1’s this season with Sepoy winning the Blue Diamond and the Golden Slipper and Helmet winning the Sire’s Produce Stakes in Sydney and the Champagne Stakes.
McEvoy is well aware of the rare opportunity he has this weekend and says he’ll be giving Darley every possible chance.
“It definitely would be a nice milestone to take home the whole sweep of the two-year-old Group Ones,” he said.
“We’ll be out trying to do our best on Saturday to achieve it.”
Hot Snitzel is the current favourite for the TK Smith at just over $2 however he has drawn gate 10 of 11.
Fontelina is the second favourite from barrier eight while Benfica is the punters third pick but he has the better of the barriers drawing in six.