WEIGHED DOWN: Grafton trainer Alan Ryan with Redwolf. Redwolf will carry 64kg in today’s Slipway Hotel Benchmark 65 Handicap (1250m).
WEIGHED DOWN: Grafton trainer Alan Ryan with Redwolf. Redwolf will carry 64kg in today’s Slipway Hotel Benchmark 65 Handicap (1250m). Bill North

New Benchmark system adds more weight to race horses

WEIGHT is playing on the mind of Grafton trainer Alan Ryan with Redwolf at the Ballina Jockey Club TAB meeting today.

The talented five-year-old Testa Rossa gelding has been burdened with 64kg in the Slipway Hotel Benchmark 65 Handicap over 1250m.

Ryan will have an extra 3kg and has claimed apprentice Jesse Graham to help reduce the impost but it still amounts to a lot of weight to carry, especially when you include the 1kg extra for the rider's safety vest and gear.

Under the new Benchmark system which allows a bigger spread of weights, those at the top of the weights generally are carrying 2kg more than previously experienced.

As they say in the old racing adage "weight stops trains".

"He's a big strong horse but big weights affect them all," Ryan said.

"It doesn't make it any easier. Under the new system he goes up a lot in weight, especially down in grade.

"He's a big horse and if anyone horse can do it, he will."

Redwolf showed his undeniable talent when he swept to victory last campaign in the Country Championship qualifying heat (1400m) at Grafton.

It then finished down the track behind Artlee in the Championship Final at Royal Randwick in early April.

Ryan spelled the gelding immediately after when he had 140 days off at owners Terry and Faye Kelly's Eatonsville property.

After impressively winning a trial at Casino on August 15, the gelding led throughout under 58.5kg to win a Benchmark 65 handicap at Lismore on August 24.

Then, following a 33-day break, Redwolf endured a torrid run when last of 13, beaten 7.3 lengths to Frilly Curtain at Doomben on September 26.

"He drew out and was trapped wide throughout," Ryan said. "He just never had any luck.

"Under the circumstances I wasn't disappointed in the run. He had enough speed but just couldn't cross them."

Ryan admitted it took a couple of days for Redwolf to fully recover.

"With the trip away and a hard run you'd expect that," he said.

"He pulled up good and his work has been good since.

"He has drawn well (barrier three), which will help him. He'll roll forward from the start and hopefully the kid can put him where he's comfortable.

"If he runs well tomorrow, which I expect, we'll probably have another crack at Brisbane - that is, provided he draws a decent alley."

Long term Ryan is eyeing next year's South Grafton Cup with Redwolf.



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