IN Racing
Couple “won’t die wondering” with Group One fillies
Otaki trainers Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard will tackle feature races with a high-quality trio at Trentham on Saturday.
NZ Racing Desk | March 16, 2023
Flamenco (centre) will contest the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks Photo: Race Images

Otaki trainers Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard will tackle feature races with a high-quality trio at Trentham on Saturday.

The couple will produce Colorado Silver in the Gr.1 Gee & Hickton Funeral Directors Levin Classic (1600m), Flamenco in the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) and Hold The Press in the Listed Jennian Homes Wellington Lightning Handicap (1200m).

"All three of our horses are as good as we can have them. We know it's never easy to win races of this calibre on these days and on paper none of them are standouts, but we're happy with them," Benner said.

"They're all pretty open races so we'd be silly not to be there having a go. They are all fillies so if they were to pick up any black-type, that's going to be valuable to them. They are all as good as they can be so we won't die wondering."

Puissance De Lune filly Colorado Silver tackles the Levin Classic at just her fifth start but Benner always believed she would get to this level.

She followed an authoritative maiden win at Tauherenikau last month with a fourth placing at Hastings, a defeat the trainer was willing to forgive her for.

"She possibly had a touch of that second-up syndrome the other day. It was a slowly run race and that track was very firm and I just felt she might have just not let go on that track," he said.

"There's a bit of rain around on Friday and Saturday down there and that brings her right into it. Whatever she does on Saturday, it's only the beginning for her. You'll see her racing at the top level as a four- and five-year-old. But she's worth the roll of the dice for this one.

"We think she's really good. She's always shown us plenty and even in her work on Tuesday, she's showing just how exciting she is but it's just whether the best of her is next time around. But they're only three once and she deserves her chance now."

Benner and Wynyard have tweaked Colorado Silver's gear, removing the shadow roll that had become unnecessary as she gained experience but adding the blinkers to aid her concentration. 

"She's still pretty new and a little green around other horses,” he said. “Her work in the blinkers on Tuesday was exceptional. It's just a little tweak because we didn't want to leave anything behind for a Group One."

Benner expects Colorado Silver to settle worse than midfield for jockey Ryan Elliot from barrier 12 before flashing home late.

"She's a really good place hope, at least," he said.

Flamenco represents the stable in the Oaks, the Tavistock filly sweeping home nicely late for fourth in the Gr.2 Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Awapuni to seal her spot in the race.

"We still had a bit up our sleeve with the Lowland being her first run up over ground, whereas some of those others had already had a run over ground. These fillies can sometimes take one," Benner said.

"She was given a beautiful ride and ran a really good race. I just liked her worked through the line and after the race. Her pedigree suggests the extra ground is no issue. 

"We've drawn poorly (17) but again she'll sit back anyway and any rain won't worry her either. We're expecting her to be strong late."

Benner will keep Oaks targets in Australia alive for Flamenco should she run well but he wants to assess her performance before considering a trip to either Sydney or Brisbane.

"There are also some 2000m races in New Zealand she could go to as well. We'll just be guided by her," Benner said.

Five-year-old Press Statement mare Hold The Press missed a run at Otaki last month when a nick to her tongue resulted in the racecourse veterinarian late-scratching her with blood around her mouth.

"We were frustrated with the outcome that day and we had to take her back to the trials but she trialled superbly," Benner said.

"She gets up in the weights a wee bit but justifiably. She's going great and I'd say 1200m in a slightly fresh state, she should run really well. She's going superbly." 

Awapuni Colorado Silver Flamenco Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks Gr.2 Lowland Stakes Hollie Wynyard Johno Benner Levin Classic Listed Jennian Homes Wellington Lightning Handicap Puissance De Lune Ryan Elliot Tauherenikau the Oaks Trentham