03 Jan January 2017
A very Happy New Year to all our readers and everyone at Castle Hill Stables sends their good wishes for 2017.
As for ourselves we just wish for perhaps a kinder rub of the green in this new year than we sometimes experienced in 2016. For example, 2 Flat wins in no way reflected the many good performances of our runners, a fact that can be substantiated by pointing out that 34 of our other runners made the frame — in fact almost 36% of our runners on the Flat during 2016 finished in the first 4 in their race. That is a far truer reflection of our horses performances than the actual bare number of wins achieved. However it is wins that count and wins that we strive for and everyone at Castle Hill Stables will be doing their very best during 2017 to help achieve a greater number of wins and we are absolutely convinced that this coming year will be a substantially more successful year ! On the jumping front, of course, we are already having a good 2016-17 season with 5 wins ( just 2 short of Ben’s best ever total ) from 33 runners, a 15% win ratio, and with 4 months still to go Ben has won more prize money than in any jumps season since he started training in February 2010.
( Almost ) a Happy New Year as The Doorman puts in best performance for Ben with 2nd place at Ayr
2017 almost starts in sensational style as, after Hawkhurst finishes 4th of 6 runners in a Class 4 Novice Chase at Catterick on New Years Day, another of owner J P McManus’s horses, The Doorman, puts in his best performance since joining Ben just one day later, January 2nd. The race in question is a 2 and a half mile Class 4 handicap hurdle at Ayr. Richie McLernon is back in the saddle and he keeps the 8 year old towards the rear of the field for the first half of the race. After the 4th last Richie begins to make his move and entering the straight The Doorman goes into 5th place just 3 lengths behind the leader. The Doorman continues to make progress and after the 2nd last moves into second place but despite running on well cannot get to the leader, the favourite, who finishes 6 lengths in front of our runner. Nevertheless this 2nd place, of 12 runners, is certainly The Doorman’s best performance on just his 3rd run for our stable and gives genuine optimism that he may soon be able to add to his 1 career win achieved in 2014 when trained in Ireland.
Oh so close for The Doorman as he is denied victory in the final 100 yards at Catterick
10 days later, January 12th, and The Doorman is out again but this time making the short journey to our local track at Catterick. Ben ups The Doorman in distance to 3 miles 1 furlong for this Class 4 handicap hurdle and again Richie McLernon takes the ride. For the first circuit Richie keeps The Doorman at the rear of the 7 runners and giving the 8 year old a typically patient ride still has The Doorman in 6th place, but only around 3 lengths behind the leader, going down the back straight for the final time. Turning into the home straight The Doorman really makes his move and at the second last hurdle begins to challenge between the 2 leaders. Jumping the last The Doorman moves into the lead and running on well stays there for the next half furlong but in the final 100 yards is run out of it by 2 rivals and has to settle for 3rd place, beaten under a length. Having been given such a lovely ride The Doorman deserved better ! A first win whilst in Ben’s care really looked on the cards inside the final furlong but this was a fine run and The Doorman appeared to see the longer trip out well which should open up more opportunities for Ben in the future.
Improved run by Mr Mole and a third January place for The Doorman at Sedgefield’s Sunday meeting
Two J P McManus horses make the trip to Sedgefield for their Sunday meeting on January 29th. Mr Mole runs his best race to date for Ben in a Class 3 handicap chase over a little short of 2 and a half miles and leads throughout the race until after jumping the second last. Mr Mole then weakens and falls at the last fence but there is certainly hope for the future to be gained from this run.
Our other runner is, yet again, The Doorman, having his third race of the month in a 2 mile 5 furlong handicap hurdle under regular pilot Richie McLernon. Richie keeps The Doorman at the rear of the field though not far behind the leaders until making headway after the 3rd last. The Doorman travels so well that he quickly moves into second place of the 10 runners before the 2nd last, but as well as The Doorman runs on he cannot quite get to the leader who beats our consistent 8 year old by a length and a half at the line.
In The Doorman’s 3 runs this January he has finished 2nd, 3rd and now 2nd again, and hopefully this consistency will be rewarded with a deserved victory before the year is too much older !