A small field devoid of genuine star stayers has convinced Scone horseman Greg Bennett to “have a go” at the Winter Cup over the mile and a half with his soon-to-retire mare First Bloom on Saturday.
Bennett has two mares heading to the breeding barn in the spring chasing a Rosehill Gardens win on the weekend with Piamimi lining up in the $85,000 Schweppes Handicap (1990m) and First Bloom up in distance for the $100,000 Listed ATC Winter Cup (2400m).
“I had First Bloom in the 1900 metre race as well but decided to give her a chance at the 2400,” Bennett told Racenet.
“Both she and Piamimi are coming to the ends of their careers and it would be nice to get Black-Type.”
One of two Black-Types on the card along with the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m), the Winter Cup field attracted just seven runners this Sydney Winter Racing Carnival.
The diminutive number of acceptors has boosted Bennett’s hopes that his Dylan Thomas six-year-old First Bloom can be a competitive force in her first look at the 2400m.
“When I saw there was a small field for the Winter Cup, I decided to run First Bloom there because she seems to me to be the type who can get the distance and can maybe get into a place,” he said.
“Had there been a big field of legitimate strong stayers I would not have run her but we’ll stick our toe in the water and have a go.
“It’s taken a while for me to work her out but her runs for me have been pleasing.
“I don’t think the trip will be a problem.”
To date she has won five of her 37 career starts for $232,800 in prize money and he hopes she can add to that and her value at stud with an upset this weekend.
First Bloom’s biggest runs came during the summer of 2013 in Tasmania when she placed second in both the Listed Strutt Stakes (2100m) at Hobart and the Listed Tasmanian Oaks (2100m) at Launceston as a three-year-old prepared by Darren Weir.
She hasn’t posted a win since saluting over 2040m at Moonee Valley last November, but wasn’t far beaten last time out at Rosehill on June 18.
First Bloom lined up in a Benchmark 84 over 1800m and finished two lengths off the winner Vassal as a $31 outsider in betting.
In the Winter Cup she is an outside hope again currently paying $21 through Ladbrokes.com.au while five of her six rivals are under $10 for the win.
Markets are dominated by the flying Team Hawkes-trained Tucanchoo ($2.30) who won back-to-back races at Sandown and Randwick before a close second to Index Linked at Eagle Farm in last Saturday’s Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup (2200m).
Despite the bookies’ prediction, Bennett is optimistic heading into the winter staying showdown and said both of his stud-bound mares could potentially back-up in the $160,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 14.
“It’s nearly the end for First Bloom and Piamimi but if they go well we would think about the Grafton Cup in a couple of weeks for both of them,” he said.