BENTEKE will represent New South Wales in the Group 1 National Sprint Championship after scoring a determined victory in the NSW Sprint Final at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Trained by Ruth King, Benteke was sent to the boxes as the $4.20 second elect behind dual group winner Knight Sprite, with the black dog coming into the event following a second placing behind the favourite in his heat the week prior.
The move from box seven to box one for the final made a big difference to the 34.8 kilogram heavyweight who began safely from the inside and was able to push his way towards the front in the run to the line on the first occasion.
Around the first turn things got extremely tight, with Benteke, Knight Sprite (box two), Compare (box four), Ritza Lenny (box seven) and Dandy Jack (box eight) all challenging for the lead, however Benteke was able to barge through along the fence and roll to the front.
Also getting into a good spot around the turn was Dandy Jack who set off in pursuit of the leader, with Knight Sprite hot on his heels back in third. The rest of the field, headed by Bessy Boo who was searching to qualify for an unprecedented third National Sprint Championship, jammed up behind the leading trio.
Heading down the back and Benteke was able to pinch a break on his opposition, setting up five length margin on a gallant Dandy Jack who refused to give in. Swinging for home, however, and Benteke was in a race of his own, striding to the line to score by a widening nine and one quarter lengths over Dandy Jack, with Bessy Boo running on to pinch third.
Stopping the clock in a scintillating 29.67, it was a new personal best for the son of Collision and Pearl Napoleon who has now won six of his 11 starts with a further four minor placings.
The classy youngster, who only turned two years of age last week, has now won four of his six starts at headquarters, with his only unplaced run being in the final of the Group 3 Magic Maiden which was run and won on Golden Easter Egg night.
Benteke will now head to Adelaide to meet the representatives from other states around the country, with the $75,000 to the winner Group 1 National Sprint Championship to be run over 515m at Angle Park on Saturday August 27.
Benteke will be aiming to secure the title for NSW for the second time in the past three years, with former star sprinter Chica Destacada winning the 2014 edition at Cannington for Doreen Drynan.