The Pioneer Tavern Wollongbar Benchmark 65 Handicap (1900m) in Casino.
The Pioneer Tavern Wollongbar Benchmark 65 Handicap (1900m) in Casino. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Shabana leads way

GRAFTON trainer Mark Lynch should have been tearing strips off jockey Matt Bennett at the Casino race track yesterday but instead he was all smiles.

The Lynch-trained five-year-old mare Shabana had just won the Pioneer Tavern Wollongbar Benchmark 65 Handicap (1900m) after leading for most of the race.

Lynch had given Bennett instructions to let his mount "flop out of the gates, follow them around ... if you are six or seven lengths at the corner she'll get to the line".

But Shabana had other ideas and forged to the front as the pack passed the finish post for the first time on the slow-7 rated track.

"Obviously Matty Bennett knew what he was doing," Lynch said.

"That was a real surprise today, she's never done anything like that before.

"I've got no problems with jockeys making their own decisions."

Bennett was hopeful that Shabana would relax after the jump but said "she over-raced all the way".

"She didn't let up at all," Bennett said.

Second place-getter Kings Danseur, with Terry Treichel in the irons, loomed up at the turn and put a length on Shabana.

"As soon as she got balanced up, she (Shabana) won it pretty easy," Bennett said.

"She had enough (petrol in the tank) on the line but it was hard going out there today."

Ballina trainer Andrew Pilling was over the moon the race meeting, moved from Ballina last week and then postponed on Friday and rescheduled for yesterday, was actually run.

His mare Telena, who he intends to run at Lismore on Monday, needed the gallop.

"I haven't been able to gallop her so I was thankful they raced here today," he said.

Casino ground staff will be hoping for plenty of dry weather between now and the Beef Week Cup on Friday, May 25.



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