No fear with Benny on board
BENCHMARK 55 HCP: THE run of bad luck with barrier draws for Ministry of Fear might be a thing of the past after Grafton-based trainer Jason Reilly secured his horse its third consecutive barrier three draw.
Ministry of Fear narrowly missed out on a placing in his last start at the Grafton track, pulling in fourth in a photo finish just 0.7 lengths behind winner Phast Lad in a benchmark 55 handicap.
Reilly said the three-year-old gelding has been running consistently of late and hopes to make the most of the good barrier draw with a win in today's Benchmark 55 Handicap.
"He had a clear run last start and probably should have won but if he runs well and has a clear run he should be very hard to beat," Reilly said.
"He's in the same race today and on paper it's probably a little easier than last start.
"He will be very hard to beat from barrier three."
Experienced campaigner Ben Looker will take the reins on Ministry of Fear for the fifth time and Reilly is hoping the combination again delivers.
Looker has guided Ministry of Fear to a first, two thirds and a fourth and Reilly said there is a noticeable difference with the jockey in the saddle.
"Ben's style really suits the horse," he said.
"Ben can certainly get the best out of (Ministry of Fear), there's a good combination between the two."
This will be Ministry of Fear's third start over 1400m and Reilly is confident the gelding is comfortable over the distance.
"The indication last start was that he is probably suited up to a mile so he likes this distance," he said.
"The 1400m to 1600m is probably where we see the best of him."
Ministry of Fear is likely to start favourite today but will have to deal with strong contenders Blinkin Rules, trained by Coffs Harbour's Ross Stitt, and Onslow out of Brad Munro's stable.
Blinkin Rules lined up against Ministry of Fear in the Benchmark 55 Handicap at the Blues, Brews and Barbecues day at the Clarence River Jockey Club, but a tough barrier draw outside eventual winner Phast Lad meant he trailed the pack home, running in seventh by almost four and a half lengths.
If Ministry of Fear can get the clear run to the post today it will the gelding's first win on its home track since Reilly moved his stable to Grafton.