A slashing late finish by lightly raced three-year-old Montre Moi at Ellerslie on Saturday evening has co-trainer Johno Benner excited for his Group 1 prospects at the same venue in March. The Showcasing gelding put up one of the performances of the night when he came from near last on the home corner to get within half of length of the star pair of Aegon and Amarelinha in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).
Benner had been expecting a good run from his charge, who he prepares with partner Hollie Wynyard, but was left shaking his head after going so close to causing a major upset. “It was a great effort and it took two exceptional young horses to head him home,” he said. “I think he’s run the quickest last 600m and it was just 0.7 lengths between third and first.
“At the 200m I started to get a little excited and was thinking here we go again, but he couldn’t quite get there.”
Benner and Wynyard are no strangers to success on Karaka Million night having captured the 2014 Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) with Vespa before Scott Base upset predictions to take out the 2018 edition of the three-year-old Classic. “It’s the best day’s racing in the country and those $1m races are the ones you want to win,” Benner said.
“They are something to aim for every year, so that’s what we do. “We knew we had a serious chance but, in all honesty, we were probably running for third. “That’s how it panned out, but we thought he would go big and that’s what he did.”
Benner will now take the horse back to Otaki as he plots his way to the Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 6. “We will take him home and find a race to plug the gap between now and the Derby,” he said.
“He has been around Ellerslie twice now, so he doesn’t need to go back there for more experience. “You can only travel them to Ellerslie so many times and I’d like to think he is in the Derby field now. “He can have a run around at home somewhere and he should be spot on after that. “The form lines around him now are very good and although there is a lot of water to go under the bridge, we are happy with where we are at.”
Benner and Bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo purchased Montre Moi for $67,500 from the Brighthill Farm draft during the Book 1 sale at Karaka in 2019.
Bookmakers have Montre Moi at a +1300 quote for the New Zealand Derby behind Aegon, Brando and Rocket Spade who are all at +700, however both Aegon and Brando are not certain starters in the race.