O’Shea takes Sellwood option with Benaud

John O’Shea is looking for a confidence-boosting performance from Benaud.

After accepting for three races at two different venues, trainer John O'Shea has settled on the Neville Sellwood Stakes as the next autumn target for multiple black-type placegetter Benaud

The gelding has been scratched from the Listed Albury Gold Cup (2000m) on Friday after drawing wide and from the Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill, with O'Shea settling on the Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) as Benaud's best chance of breaking a 19-month drought from the winner's list. 

"I would have been happy to run him (in the Albury Cup) from a softer draw but it's a hard track to make up ground on," O'Shea said. 

"The Tancred was maybe just a bit strong for him at this stage, albeit I think he's much more effective at a mile-and-a-half. 

"I want to try to build some confidence and I thought there was a nice chance to do that in the Sellwood." 

Runner-up to Hitotsu in last year's ATC Australian Derby, Benaud ran some outstanding races against top company in the spring, following eye-catching performances behind Anamoe in the Winx Stakes (1400m) and Knight's Order in the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) with a narrow second to Alegron in the Kingston Town Stakes (2000m). 

His two runs from a spell have been even efforts, the four-year-old beaten just over five lengths by Anamoe in Group 1 company over a mile then performing similarly behind Protagonist over 1 1⁄4 m last start. 

Both runs were on good tracks and any rain would enhance his chances on Saturday. 

"He is crying out to get his toe in the ground," O'Shea said. 

Stablemate Athabascan will also contest the Neville Sellwood, earning his spot in the field with a last-start third to Arapaho in the Canberra Cup


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