APPRENTICE Courtney Van Der Werf has been given a great opportunity to further her winning spree this season by master, Greg Bennett at Mudgee today.
The 19-year-old New Zealand-raised lass has three mounts for Scone-based Bennett - Shocking Behaviour in the Wild Oats Class 2 Hcp; Wily Juanita in the XXXX Gold F & M Maiden and Mighty Bender in the Mudgee Guardian Benchmark 55 Hcp.
She has also picked up the mounts on Swindle (Glen Moore), a strong chance in the Radio 2MG Benchmark 70 Hcp and Theatre Cat for Bill Farrow in the Club Mudgee Class 1 & Maiden Plate.
Van Der Werf, who arrived from New Zealand last May, has ridden 29 winners this season and clearly leads the Hunter & North West apprentice premiership.
"A girl on the up," Bennett, the man who broke in turf immortal Makybe Diva said. "Trainers are starting to take notice of her and I'm hopeful of getting her more opportunities at the provincial and Sydney area in the near future."
Bennett is confident three-year-old Mighty Bender and the mare Shocking Behaviour are both "winning chances."
Mighty Bender, by Refuse To Bend, has recorded two wins and a second from five starts.
A win tomorrow will see the gelding progress to provincial class, Bennett added.
"He's a nice little horse, a horse with a future," Bennett said.
Mighty Bender, who scored a strong maiden win as a two-year-old at Tamworth on debut back in June last year, resumed from a 141-day spell to win a 1000m Class 1 Hcp at Muswellbrook on December 18 before his last start one-and-a-half lengths second to Zero Cash when jumping quickly in grade to a 1000m Class 3 Hcp at Tamworth on January 4.
"He won well first up then at Tamworth the winner got away and kept going," Bennett said.
"Mighty Bender took ground off him but they ran a very quick time that day (58.12sec) and he just couldn't haul the leader in.
"It was a brave second.
"He's been a very consistent horse and if he can win tomorrow he'll head to the provincials.
"Hopefully Courtney will be able to possie him a bit closer and he can get the cash.
"He's done very well since Tamworth."
Shocking Behaviour, a four-year-old mare by Strada, comes in as an impressive last-start winner over 1200m at Tamworth on January 4 when she steamed home late," Bennett said.
"She was back in the right grade at Tamworth and looks well placed at Mudgee. She'll get back but the bigger straight at Mudgee should allow her to wind up in time."