Beneteau’s hold on the 2014/15 Australian First Season Sires’ title has not been seriously challenged since he claimed the top spot last November, but the race is not over yet.
The son of Redoute’s Choice, who died in January 2013, added a ninth winner to his record when David Hayes and Tom Dabernig produced Del Grappa for a half-head debut victory at Pakenham on Thursday.
Del Grappa is raced by his breeders Ken Boyd and David Trevethan who purchased his dam, the stakes-winning Kaapstad mare Full Noise, for $102,500 at the 2008 New Zealand Broodmare Sale.
Beneteau’s season earnings now stand at $699,485, with his nearest rival Hinchinbrook (a half-brother to Snitzel by Fastnet Rock) on $531,470, and Star Witness (by Starcraft) third with $511,320.
After Saturday’s $600,000 BRC J.J. Atkins S. G1 there are only three Listed 2YO races left this season, at the Gold Coast on 20 June, Flemington on 11 July and Morphettville on 25 July, as well as the $100,000 Inglis VOBIS Gold Plate at Cranbourne on 21 June.
Hinchinbrook’s son Press Statement is the Atkins favourite, but four other horses at single-figure odds will make it an interesting contest and, as it happens, one of them is by Beneteau’s sire Redoute’s Choice.
That’s Counterattack, also trained by Chris Waller and raced by his breeders Geoff & Mary Grimish, who enjoyed so much success with his marvellous half-sister Red Tracer.
Counterattack has won or placed in four of his six starts this season and goes into Saturday’s race after running fourth in the Group 2 lead-up events won by Blueberry Hill and Look To The Stars, also favoured by punters tomorrow.
The fifth horse in the mix is Qatar Bloodstock’s gelding Bassett, produced by Peter Moody to win first-up at Caulfield on 16 May.
Whatever the result at Doomben, Beneteau has done exceptionally well to turn out nine winners, including stakeswinners Prompt Return and Lady Jivago, from 22 runners and head the Freshman Sires’ list by winners and prizemoney for more than half the season.
The fact that his first season strike rate is better than was achieved by Redoute’s Choice (in 2003/04), Snitzel (2009/10) or Not A Single Doubt (2008/09) only increases the dynasty’s loss of what would surely have become its next bright star.