Peter Snowden has completed a historic sweep of Australia’s Group One two year races, after Benfica took out the TJ Smith at Eagle Farm.
Race favourite Hot Snitzel led the field coming into the home straight, but Kerrin McEvoy produced an excellent rails ride on Benfica who proved too strong in the final hundred meters.
An emotional Snowden thanked the entire Darley team for the history making effort.
“This is just a super effort by all the staff. We were confident that we had some nice two year olds this season, but I never planned anything like this,” Snowden said.
“It’s nearly impossible. I’m not sure if it’s a fluke, a miracle or good judgement.”
Snowden also said that the he always planned to bring Benfica to the Brisbane winter carnival, with The TJ Smith in mind.
“After he won his first start at Rosehill we recognised him as a late bloomer and decided on a Brisbane Campaign,” said Snowden.
The winter carnival looked like it may unravel for Snowden after Free Wheeling had a mishap in the barrier in the BRC Sires Produce, that also affected the run of Benfica.
“Everything fell apart last weekend, and in the back of your mind you just can’t help but feel it might happen again.”
Snowden’s sweep of the Group One two year old races comes after Sepoy took out the Blue Diamond and the Golden Slipper, and Helmet won the AJC Sires Produce and Champaign Stakes. Jockey Kerrin McEvoy also completed the sweep by being aboard all the Snowden runners.
McEvoy said that he had to use the horse up in the early stages of the race to get to the fence, but once their he produced a patient ride and went along the rails to defeat Hot Snitzel.
McEvoy also said that he thought Benfica had a future as a 2000m horse because of the way he settles in his races.
The win in the TJ caps off a turbulent period for McEvoy who has had two serious race falls in the last 12 months.
“It has been hard because the older you get the harder it is to get back to full fitness. But it’s great to be back winning Group Ones.” McEvoy said.
Hot Snitzel jumped as a $2.30 favourite but was pressured too much in the early stages of the race to produce a powerful finish. Playtime finished off the race nicely to finish third while Kiwi filly Dowager Queen finished fourth.