Muswellbrook Cup: Art D'Amour trainer Aleacia Bennett opts for home feature

Muswellbrook trainer Aleacia Bennett was set to bypass her home cup on Friday and instead send Art D'Amour to Rosehill on Saturday.

HOME AGAIN: Art D’Amour winning the Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup (1450m).

HOME AGAIN: Art D’Amour winning the Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup (1450m).

With the same prizemoney and a much lighter benchmark penalty on offer for a win in town, Bennett was leaning towards a trip down the highway with her last-start Muswellbrook winner.

But then she drew gate one for the Muswellbrook Cup (1500 metres), and 15 for the Rosehill race.

"I was going to Sydney because the way it's set up and the way it's weighted, if you did win [at Muswellbrook], you would get penalised to the hilt," Bennett said.

"But then I came up with barrier one, at your home track, you can't really say no. He loves it there, so you've got to give it a go."

Art D'Amour, a five-year-old gelding owned by Bennett's parents Phil and Leanne Moore, won the Shorty Cribb Aberdeen Cup (1450m) at Muswellbrook on November 5 to put himself in the frame for Friday's race. He will have Ben Looker aboard and was a $7 chance with TAB Fixed Odds on Thursday.

Bennett said Art D'Amour had worked on well since his last-start win four weeks ago.

"I try to space his runs out, he's much better fresher," Bennett said.

"He's not a very big horse and it takes a fair bit out of him, so he really thrives from having a good break between runs."

Bennett won a Highway Handicap at Rosehill with Buddy Honest in July but said the Cup was "probably the biggest race I've been in".

"It's a really good race and it's going to be tough. Whoever wins, I think it will be a close finish," she said.

"There's a few others in that same race in at Sydney as well, so it will be interesting to see who races where."

Bennett has been training for about four years and has a team of five. She has a track at her Singleton property but also gallops her team at the Muswellbrook racecourse twice a week.

"It's just a small, family team at the moment, you've got to start somewhere," she said.

Caerless Choice, for Scone trainer Paul Messara, was also set to race at Muswellbrook instead of Rosehill and was the $5 favourite on Thursday.

In the $50,000 Skellatar Sprint (1000m), Newcastle trainer Kris Lees’ listed winner Guard Of Honour will have his first start since being gelded.

The Heritage Stakes winner has taken out two trials in preparation for his return and was the $2.30 top pick on Thursday.

The four-year-old was battling another Newcastle-trained chance, Phillip Atkins’ Star Crossed, for favouritism. 

Veteran Muswellbrook trainer Pat Farrell’s Pel was on the next line of betting at $7.