Harlech (NZ) (Darci Brahma) helped trainer Mike Moroney make it back-to-back Benalla Cups, returning to form to take out the 2020 edition of the $125,000 country cup on Friday.
Moroney trained last year’s Benalla Cup winner Hang Man, however it was an unusual back-to-back victory with the 2019 edition of the race run over 2046m, compared to the 1406m this year.
A Group Two winner in New Zealand, Harlech jumped as $2.90 favourite and swooped late under jockey Daniel Stackhouse for a half-length win over the George Osborne-trained veteran Reine Happy.
The win was a return to form for Harlech, who laboured in both the Gr.1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) and the Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) earlier this preparation.
“For Mike, the team and the connections, it was just good to see him get back to winning form and race properly,” stable foreman Jack Turnbull said.
“They ran along at a good clip and he was able to get into a nice rhythm. It looked like he travelled kindly for Daniel Stackhouse throughout and then late in the piece he really stretched out.”
“I think mile-plus when he does come back to us will be his go and it was just good to see him put them away today.”
The win leaves connections optimistic the four-year-old can build up some form in Melbourne through the rest of the spring.
“There are nice options in the coming weeks,” Turnbull said. “We’ll go back and see how he comes through it.”
Harlech was bred by The Oaks Stud and is from their Group Two winner Obsession. He was purchased by Paul Moroney Bloodstock for $100,000 from the Karaka 2018 Book 1 Sale.