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Productive season for Otaki conditioners

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Otaki trainers Johno Benner and Hollie Wynyard are pleased with the success of their boutique stable this season and are looking forward to a nice team of younger horses returning to work once New Zealand comes out of Covid-19 lockdown.

With 18 wins on the board and a further 30 placings from just 89 runners this season, the Benner-Wynyard team have a competitive strike-rate.

The undoubted highlight of the season for the duo was the Group One triumph of recently retired stable star Wyndspelle in the Captain Cook Stakes (1600m), while progressive filly Gold Bracelet made it three wins in succession when landing the Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m).

"We were pretty happy with how it has been going," Benner said. "We always look at our strike-rate and base it on that. Obviously it is a bit different to some of the bigger stables.

"We have upped our numbers a bit but capped it at 20. To have 18 winners to the middle of March is good. It is a shame the season looks to be pretty much over but we have a lot to look forward to, we have a fair few nice horses around us.

"It is what it is and you just have to enjoy the down time and hope it all keeps on track."

Benner said there were horses that would benefit from the month off or extended breaks and he highlighted Gold Bracelet as a three-year-old filly that would relish the break.

"We have nothing set in concrete for her," he said. "She is probably going to benefit from a break. She is still an immature filly. We will look at the spring and all those fillies and mares races will be right up her alley.

"She has got some serious ability, it takes a good filly to win three in a row and the Wellington Guineas has proved to be a good horse’s race and a strong race and the field the other day was no exception.

"Once we get to a mile and further she will go to another level. She is a lovely relaxed filly."

With New Zealand’s strict Covid-19 protocols looking to have the desired effect, a return to training could be just a matter of weeks away.

"We will probably fill up straight away once the lockdown is lifted," Benner said.

"There were quite a few getting ready to trial and a few ready to go and they have had a little freshen-up and they will come back and hopefully won’t take too long to be up to having a trial.

"There are a few there that don’t mind a bit of rain too, so we should hopefully get on the board pretty quickly."

With the majority of horses spelling locally, Benner said it will be nice to return to training after a mental freshen-up themselves.

The Otaki horseman admitted trading horses had been a key part of sustaining the training business and that is likely to continue into the future.

"We have been very lucky and have been able to sell a few and that is definitely where the cream is in this day and age in New Zealand.

"If you didn’t sell them it would be very hard to sustain so we always have a few we are looking to move on."

Benner anticipated that less trade would be done from early trials and jumpouts as trainers use them purely as a fitness aid, but he suggested once spring came around there would be more horses looking to be moved on.

"There are a lot of nice horses through the stable, we have got seven yearlings from Karaka and they are all broken in to a point and going," he said. "That is nice to look forward to and we have a lot of progressive two-year-olds that are rising three.

"It is hard to single one out but there is definitely some nice ones in there and then you have some of the older ones like Grand Mayson and Cead Mile Failte that raced to a good Saturday grade and should win mores races too."

Benner said it was a strange feeling not being surrounded by horses at the stable each day but he was using his new found time to do a few jobs on their lifestyle block.

"There is not much you can do, especially with the golf courses closed," he said.

"Hollie has still been able to ride her dressage horse and we have done a bit on our six acres chipping away at things. We are looking forward to getting back to it in a couple of weeks." 

- NZ Racing Desk

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