Amusez Moi made an immediate impact from his new quarters and will bid to remain unbeaten for Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard when he fronts up for the sternest test of his career at Awapuni on Sunday.
The well-travelled five-year-old son of Dalghar has settled well into life at his Otaki base and will make his first black type appearance in the Listed Manawatu ITM Anzac Mile (1550m).
Benner and Wynyard will also be chasing stakes success in the north this weekend with Titled to step out in Saturday’s Gr.2 Trelawney Stud Champion Stakes (2100m) at Pukekohe.
Ironically, Amusez Moi began his career there with Nigel Tiley and broke his maiden on his then Pukekohe home track before relocating to Archie Alexander’s Victorian operation and posted a further three wins for the Ballarat trainer.
“We have a couple or three horses in the stable for the owners and when he came back from Australia and was offered to us, we were more than happy to give him a go,” Benner said.
Amusez Moi is raced by John and Di Bowbyes who purchased him out of Regal Farm’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale draft at Karaka for $60,000.
“He is very capable with a winning strike rate of five wins from 19 starts, that’s not bad and he should be able to go on into the early part of the winter,” Benner said.
The gelding was a trial winner at the beginning of last month and then justified his odds-on favouritism at Otaki where he was untroubled to score over 1400m.
“He is in really good order and we’re happy with him. This is a big step-up from his last run, but at the same time it is quite a moderate race for what it usually is and he’s a good hope,” Benner said.
“He has had a few weeks between runs and that suits him. He had a jump-out the other day and went very well and any rain will help him.
“He might get out of his ground a bit and I expect him to be pretty good late.”
While Benner is expecting a bold showing from Amusez Moi on Sunday, his hand has been forced to some degree to race him out of his class.
“With our current rating system in New Zealand it is hard because there is a big gap from Rating 74 to the open grade,” he said.
“With a horse like him Rated 75, he is carrying too much weight in 74 company and we’re forced to run in an open race,” he said.
“It is very hard and in my opinion I think there is a definite place in this country for Rating 80 or 82 races, it would give the middle of the road horses more opportunities.”
Meanwhile, Titled has yet to open his winning account but the son of Exceed And Excel showed age group company held no fears when he finished strongly for third last time out in the Gr.3 Manawatu Classic (2000m) at Awapuni.
He had previously placed in six of his previous 10 appearances, including a frustrating five runner-up finishes.
“He’s primed for Saturday and we’ve got the gun jockey (Opie Bosson) and a good draw and we expect him to go another really good race,” Benner said.
“He’s been a big, dumb colt who has been looking for a mile and 2000m. He’s got a fair bit of upside and is a beautiful animal and we think he will get better and better.”
Aside from a handful of older, multiple winners in the yard, the stable has been through a rebuilding phase with an accent on youth.
“We’ve had a decent overhaul and a lot of horses moved on. We’ve now got a beautiful team of yearlings going on two-year-olds and two-year-olds going on three-year-olds so hopefully we can have a nice time next season,” Benner said.
“We sell a lot of the better ones and that is something we have always done and that’s the way things are, you have to sell to survive.
“If stake money starts to improve and with the new schemes like they are doing at Auckland, owners might be tempted to keep the better ones.”