Small team, big day for quiet achiever Jason Warren

7 min read
It was a big day for a small team, the Mornington based trainer Jason Warren enjoying one of his best afternoons at the track when saddling up the G1 Goodwood winner Benedetta (Hellbent) and the G3 David Coles AM S. winner Flyer (Exceedance) at Morphettville last Saturday.

Cover image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

With around 35 horses on the books - between ten and 15 in work at any time - Jason Warren doesn't have the numbers of the big stables but the quiet achiever has always had a handy horse or two and as he approaches the end of his training career he is delighted to have again enjoyed Group 1 success.

That coming in the shape of the terrific mare Benedetta (Hellbent), the lightly raced and consistent 4-year-old who on the back of her good finish in the G1 Robert Sangster S. was third favourite in last weekend's G1 Goodwood.

Donning blinkers for the first time, the bay had the services of Jamie Kah who was determined to secure her first win in her home state's biggest race and Benedetta travelled well for her.

Benedetta | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

Taking a sit a bit better than mid-field, Benedetta straightened three lengths off the leaders and put in her trademark big finish, claiming the lead near the 50m and holding off a late run by fellow Victorian Stretan Angel (Harry Angel {Ire}).

“This one is pretty good”

Bred by the Parker family, Benedetta caught the eye of Laurence Eales at the 2021 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale where she was secured from the Mill Park draft for $75,000.

The third Group 1 winner puchased by Eales who enjoyed G1 Melbourne Cup and G1 Australian Cup glory with Shocking and another two big wins with Whobegotyou (Street Cry {Ire}), Benedetta impressed her trainer from the early days.

“Jason Maskiell was riding her in her early jump-outs and before we'd even let her off the bridle he was saying ‘I think this one is pretty good.’”

“Jason Maskiell was riding her in her early jump-outs and before we'd even let her off the bridle he was saying ‘I think this one is pretty good.’” - Jason Warren

Finishing off strongly at her Moe debut in late 2022, Benedetta won her next four with her debut campaign culminating with a stakes placing.

Last winter/spring saw her win her first two back including the G3 Cockram S. and she continued to race well into her current preparation which saw her on the heels of the placegetters in two of Melbourne's biggest sprinting contests - the G1 Oakleigh Plate and the G1 Newmarket.

An Adelaide campaign beckoned and she won the G3 RN Irwin S. before her Sangster third and her much deserved big win last Saturday.

“She has never run a bad race,” Warren noted, “never been out of the first four.”

“She tries her heart out every time she steps out,” he said, noting that she has a lovely “daisy-cutter action.

“She floats across the ground,” said Warren, also impressed by her recuperative powers - “she has never had much of a blow after her gallops.”

Bel sprinter another Group 1 star

Her Group 1 success brings back memories of Warren's other elite level speedster, the 2013 Galaxy winner Bel Sprinter (Bel Esprit) who he still rates very highly.

“Whilst Benedetta is a great push-button horse, Bel Sprinter had problems he had to deal with.

“At his best he was explosive and he did a great job winning a Group 1 race after his first wind operation and a Group 2 (the 2014 Caulfield Sprint) after his second - he is a great advertisement for throat surgery at Ballarat!”

Bel Sprinter | Image courtesy of Sportpix

Bel Sprinter took his trainer on an overseas adventure as well - running a game second to Lucky Nine (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the first of that horse's two G1 Singapore International Sprints.

Warren also trained Bel Sprinter's city placed winning dam Gavroche (Snippets) and having spent time at Eliza Park he was able to organise her first mating to Bel Esprit.

“He looked that classic sprinting type from day dot,” he said, recalling that he gave the horse time to mature - not pushing him at three, as has also been the case with Benedetta.

“He (Bel Sprinter) looked that classic sprinting type from day dot.” - Jason Warren

“She was very immature as a yearling which I think is why she was purchased so cheapy considering her breeding - she just needed a bit of time.”

Flyer in flying form

Warren's other big moment on Saturday came with the Rosemont home-bred 2-year-old Flyer (Exceedance) proved too strong for her rivals, securing valuable Group 3 black-type.

“I bought her dam Miss Toorak Flyer (Toorak Toff) at the Magic Millions when (Rosemont's) Nigel Austin said they'd stay in for half. She was a very handy mare.”

After good form in Melbourne, showing enough to take her place in the G1 Blue Diamond S., Flyer had the opportunity to either head to the paddock or head to Adelaide and Warren is pleased the decision was made to press on.

Flyer | Image courtesy of Vinery

“We put this plan together and it was very pleasing how it turned out. I was very proud to train another nice winner for Rosemont.”

Warren also trained for that team the popular Brooklyn Hustle (Starspangledbanner), the very pretty chestnut who won four races including the G2 Dane Ripper S. and the G3 Proud Miss S.

“She was one of my favourites,” Warren said, “and I was disappointed not to win a Group 1 with her. She was unlucky on a number of occasions but she was a great mare for us.”

Brooklyn Hustle | Image courtesy of Racing Photos

Warren has lots of such memories to look back on and was happy to take us back to where it all started for him - a much enjoyed childhood being raised on a dairy farm.

“There were always horses and cattle about and it was a great place to grow up. My cousins all rode and we had a great time learning the basics - going to lots of shows and pony club events.”

The rat-bags!

Riding track work for pocket money after school, Warren was taught by his uncle how to break in horses and headed to Sydney to work in that sphere.

He sooned earned a reputation at being good with the problem horses - “I got all the rat-bags and the naughty ones!” he laughed.

It was that work that earned him respect in the racing world and after time spent as foreman at Shipton Lodge, he returned to Victoria where he spent time at Eliza Park. Subsequently setting up a property (Coral Park) with the help of Robert Roulston, he intended to pre-train and whilst doing that found himself with a few horses to train.

Jason Warren | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

In June 2001 cheering on his first winner Oro's Gift (Arctic Rhythm), Warren made the decision to further his racing education.

“I thought that if I was going to make a go of training I should get a bit more experience in a stable so I joined Lee & Anthony Freedman for a couple of years.”

It was during that time that the stable won some of Melbourne's biggest races - a couple of G1 Melbourne Cups with Makybe Diva (GB) (Desert King {Ire}), a G1 VRC Derby with Benicio and a G1 VRC Oaks with Serenade Rose (Stravinsky {USA}).

“It was a great time to be there.”

Over 500 winners

Training well over 500 winners since that time, Warren is now looking towards winding down, looking forward to training in partnership with his current assistant trainer Joe Herbert who boasts an impressive resume working with stables in the UK and the US.

Once Herbert is established in his role, Warren hopes to “take a back seat and just help Joe along.”

“I am happy to train for just another couple of years,” he said - “this is a very tough game, it is 24/7 and it takes its toll both physically and on the family.”

“I am happy to train for just another couple of years... This is a very tough game, it is 24/7 and it takes its toll both physically and on the family.” - Jason Warren

With four girls in the family - proud of the horse skills they are displaying (his oldest daughter Chloe strapping Benedetta when she won the RN Irwin S. whilst the 14-year-old Charlotte strapped for the first time at Cranbourne last week) - Warren is looking forward to spending more time with them and his fiance.

In the meantime he has plenty to look forward to with Benedetta pulling up well from her Goodwood success - the G1 Stradbroke her next big aim.

Jason Warren