Benji giving sire a big boost

By Peter Wharton

The three-year-old Benji is proving a splendid advertisement for the Bettor’s Delight horse Highview Tommy, a grand pacer himself and who first stood at Woodlands Stud and is now at Yanko Lodge in the New South Wales’ Riverina district.

Benji was a recent winner in smart company at Pinjarra (WA) and has won five of his nine starts to date on Australian soil, working his way back to a NR70 mark. He won at his first three attempts in his adopted country.

The black gelding was bred by Christchurch breeder-owner Hazel Van Opzeeland, who raced Highview Tommy during his decorated career with fellow Cantabrians Phil and Glenys Kennard.

He won 17 races – eight at Group level – on both sides of the Tasman – and a healthy $1,021,904 in stakes.

“I got Benji’s dam Lynne Falcon when she was advertised to give away” Hazel said“

“I was looking to get some mares to be breed to Highview Tommy.”

“Tombelina, a sister to Benji, was the first ever winner sired by Highview Tommy.”

Benji and Tombelina, who won three races, were two of only three registered foals that Hazel bred out of Lynne Falcon, however the Falcon Seelster mare had already made her mark in the broodmare barn before she came into her ownership.

Her first four offspring were bred by Ian Dobson (of Christian Cullen fame) and included Millwood Nebraska (1:56.6), a winner of 10 races including two at Melton, and Lynne’s Cullen, who won four.

Lynne Falcon’s next three foals were bred by Paul Yesberg including My Patronus, a Menangle winner in 1:54.1, and the Melton and Menangle victor Picobello (1:52.3), dam of the multiple Group winner Interest Free 1:54.4 ($170,250), one of the leading contenders for the Victoria Derby.

Hazel, who did a four-year stint at Woodlands Stud as a member of the admin staff and as a booking agent, is still heavily involved in breeding and racing.

“I currently own nine broodmares who are all based at Nevele R Stud,” she said.

Her racing team are prepared by Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen, Cran and Chrissie Dalgety, Ken Barron and Chris McDowell and include the Group 2 NZ Sapling Stakes winner Vinke B, whom she bred and part-owns, and talented three-year trotter Wy Fi.