Gary Harley – Herald – 16.12.23

In form Warwick Farm stayer Brynner can overcome an adverse barrier and win an open Berry Park Village Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap (2010m) at the Newcastle Jockey Clubs race meeting on the Beaumont track on Saturday. The Kiwi bred five-year-old has won three of twenty-seven starts with eight placings, and his recent form is difficult to ignore in this class of race. He has been slowly away in recent starts, and in his past four he has settled in the last three. Brynner is a tough stayer and is always strong late.

Last start in a Benchmark 72 1800m he hit the line hard to finish third, 1.23 lengths from the winner. Two starts back on November 17 Brynner stormed down the outside to win a 1900m Benchmark 64 at Canterbury.  The gelding has been placed twice over this trip and the long straight will allow him to unwind.

The Hawkes family trained four-year-old Botanica only has to repeat his recent fist up performance to prove hard to beat in the Metric Power Super Maiden Plate (1350m). The son of Written Tycoon resumed from a nine-month spell when beaten 1.29 lengths by the smart Tannenberg at the Canterbury night meeting on November 24. He raced in third place on the rail behind the leader but was held up in the straight for a short time. Botanica will be fitter this time and one of the best jockeys on the provincial circuit Mitchell Bell has been booked.

Annabel Neasham’s Chartwell indicated in a recent trial that he is ready to win first up when he travels to Newcastle to run in the QMF Construction Christmas Plate Maiden Handicap (1200m). The four-year-old has only had three starts in two preparations and he was in good form early in the year when runner up in both starts at Wyong and on the Kensington track. In both those starts Chartwell has been worse than midfield and charged home. Chad Schofield rode him in a recent trial, and he cruised up front to win unextended. He has the perfect barrier and Heavelon Van Der Hoven who is attached to the Neasham stable has the mount.

The final event, the Lone Market Direct Benchmark 64 Handicap (1250m) is arguably the best race of the day with many chances. Brad Widdup has a good strike rate on the Newcastle tracks, and he sends the consistent Skylight Song up the M1, and this is a winnable race for the gelding. He is first up after a nice trial at Kembla and Skylight Song was placed in his four starts before a spell. The four-year-old led when run down late, beaten less than a length at Kembla in July. He was runner up twice at Wyong less than a length from the winner in the same month. Skylight Song has won first up previously and has an ideal barrier.

Kris Lees’ filly Chilli Filly is an interesting runner, and the rails barrier is gold as she is very quick. Part owned by Billy Slater she bolted in on debut at Tuncurry in September and was placed in her only other run at Wyong on November 29. If Mark Minervini’s King’s Duty finds his best form first up he will run well, and Sydney Bowler was an impressive winner on debut on the Newcastle Course Proper on December 2. Yendy has had three starts in the country for two wins and a second.