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By Graham Potter | Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The five-year-old Hinchinbrook mare So Bene made a winning debut for the David Vandyke stable, taking out a Fillies and Mares Class 1 Handicap over 1350m on July 12, when resuming at Doomben after six-and-a-half month break from race action.

The general perception of So Bene’s prospects going into this race arguable hinged on the believe that she would probably need both the run (in terms of race fitness) and a longer trip (she had placed twice in her last three starts for her previous trainer Andrew Clarken over 2250m and 2500m) … but, under Vandyke’s astute management, So Bene cast aside those doubts in emphatic terms to score well under the steadying burden of 59kg.

Emphatic, because So Bene was given no favours in the race and had to put in an enormous shift to get the job done. Had there been any chink in her armour, So Bene would not have been able to achieve this result in the circumstances she found himself in … but the benefit of the two trials that Vandyke had given her to bring her along leading into the race had obviously worked a treat.

Settled bang in midfield in seventh place early by Justin Huxtable, So Bene held that position along the rail until the home turn.

Saving ground was a plus … being caught up behind other runners was a negative and twice … not once but twice … Huxtable had to execute a deft change of direction to enable So Bene to build momentum and come into the race.

The first of those moves came 250m out when Huxtable switched So Bene around heels and into a gap in-between runners, which she forged through to move inti third place.

That still left So Bene a little under three lengths off the lead though … with time running out … but the Vandyke runner now had the smell of victory in her nostrils.

She ran right up to the back of the $2.50 favourite Shapin Power, who led the charge with 150m left to run, and she had to once again switch out around the heels of that runner, before Huxtable drove So Bene strongly to the line to ward off the fast finishing Red Star Rubi ($8) by 0.25 lengths.

So Bene carried 2.5kg more than the runner-up, a fact which again emphasizes the strong nature of the win.
In essence, … the way the race unfolded … it would arguably have been a satisfactory result had So Bene run a nice placing, but she was too good for that and her win rubber-stamped a performance that was as courageous as it was impressive, ability-wise.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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