Shakespeare to Test Derby Credentials
Media Release - Monday September 23

Johno Benner and Holly Wynyard will get a better line on three-year-old staying prospect Shakespeare when he contests Wednesday's Victoria Derby Trial (1800m) at Flemington.

ShakespeareThe Otaki trainers are aiming high with the last-start maiden winner, with the Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on November 2 the ultimate goal.

Shakespeare will be ridden by Damian Lane on Wednesday and has drawn well in barrier three in a field of 13.

"Holly took him over last Wednesday and he's settled in well," Benner said. "We've always thought he was a Derby style of horse and we've backed ourselves and are having a go.

"We'll learn a lot from Wednesday's race, but I know the distance won't worry him.

"If he runs massive we'll press on towards the Derby. There are a few options as lead-ups after this one, races like the Vase (Gr.2, 2040m) at Moonee Valley, the Geelong Classic (Listed, 2200m) and the Caulfield Classic (Gr.3, 2000m)."

Shakespeare, a son of Poet's Voice, had three starts as a two-year-old and was placed against the older horses in a maiden 1400m at Otaki then put aside after finishing seventh in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie last April.

He has had two starts this campaign, finishing third at Woodville over 1300m then winning in good style over 1650m at Waverley late last month.

Shakespeare could be joined in Melbourne by stablemate Wyndspelle, who finished fourth behind Melody Belle in last Saturday's Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings.

"He probably should have run second," Benner said. "He was tardy away and got in a horror spot then never really got rolling until the last 100m. He ran through the line well, but was never going to beat the mare (Melody Belle)."

With Melody Belle now set to attempt to complete the Hawke's Bay Triple Crown in the Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) on October 5, Wyndspelle is more likely to try his luck in Australia.

"I've got to talk it over with the owners, but my thinking is he can't beat Melody Belle in the Livamol so we'd only be running for second," Benner said.

"We'd have to pay the late nomination for the Livamol and even if he did run second it wouldn't help his value as a stallion prospect any more. He'd be better off running second in one of the good ones in Melbourne."

The likely Melbourne targets for Wyndspelle are the Gr.1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 12 and Gr.1 Kennedy Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 2.

"If he goes over it would be just for the two races and he could then come back and have a break and get ready for races like the Thorndon Mile (Gr.1, 1600m) and the Otaki Group One WFA (Gr.1, 1600m)," Benner said. "We won't run into Melody Belle in those ones."

Benner and Wynyard have a team of 20 in work and a few of them will be starting at their local Otaki meeting on Thursday, including the two-year-old Piaggio, who is part-owned by Benner.

Piaggio is a son of the stable's 2014 Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) winner Vespa, who went on to win a total of eight races including the Gr.1 Diamond Stakes (1200m) and Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m).

Piaggio won at the Foxton trials last month and was third behind Cool Aza Beel over 800m on debut at Wanganui.

"He'd had a few issues going into Wanganui and is over those now," Benner said. "I expect him to be right in it on Thursday." - NZ Racing Desk

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