04 Jun June 2017
Good first race on turf as Eponina finishes 4th at Doncaster at 25/1
Our first runner of the new month is Eponina who runs in a Class 5 handicap over 7 furlongs at Doncaster’s Friday evening meeting on 2nd June. After 4 races on the all-weather culminating in a 2nd place at Newcastle in early May this is the 3 year old filly’s first attempt on turf. Graham Lee takes the ride and has Eponina nicely positioned just behind the leaders and is close up at the 2 furlong pole. Eponina is then ridden over a furlong out but can only run on at one pace, ultimately finishing 4th of the 12 runners at odds of 25/1. This was a step up in grade from his previous race and a nice introduction to her turf career.
Bourbonisto makes the frame yet again with a 4th place at Leicester
On 5th June our 3 year old Bourbonisto makes his seasonal reappearance in a 6 furlong selling race at Leicester. Bourbonisto had a frustrating time last season when in the frame in 5 of his 6 races as a 2 year old, yet he remains a maiden ! Today, after being outpaced early in the race, Bourbonisto runs on well inside the final furlong to finish a never nearer 4th, and returns to Castle Hill Stables still seeking that first elusive victory.
Two 2nd places and an honourable retirement !
2 days later, 4 horses leave Castle Hill Stables in two entirely different directions, 2 heading north to Hamilton for a flat meeting and 2 south for a jumps meeting at Uttoxeter. First off at Hamilton is our 2 year old Time For Treacle, 3rd on her latest start at Leicester 2 weeks ago. Time For Treacle this time runs in a 6 furlong Novice Auction Stakes race with Barry McHugh in the saddle and whilst there are only 4 runners they include some very decent types. Our filly leads early but is headed over a furlong out and, although beaten decisively by the well-regarded winner, Time For Treacle runs on well enough to keep 2nd place, a fine performance.
Later on the Hamilton card our 9 year old Operateur finishes 5th of 6 in a 1 mile 5 furlong handicap. Hamilton has always been Operateur’s favourite course and he won 4 races there in June 2014 ( he won 6 races in total for Ben on the Flat and over hurdles ) but after this race it is decided time has finally caught up with him and the decision is taken to retire him. Operateur has been a grand servant to all at Castle Hill Stables and thoroughly deserves the loving retirement he can now look forward to !
Over at Uttoxeter however Dursey Sound takes in a 3 mile 2 furlong Class 4 handicap chase under regular partner Richie McLernon. Dursey Sound is held up early before making headway from before the 3rd last. Dursey Sound jumps the last still in third place but runs on well towards the line and eventually finishes 2nd, beaten just 3/4 length. This is a very good race from J P McManus ‘ chaser. Later on the card Call The Cops finishes last of 5 in a handicap hurdle.
Another 2nd place as Cup Final goes down by a nose in novice chase at Hexham
On Sat 17th June Cup Final goes to Hexham to contest his 3rd novice chase, this being over 2 and a half miles, partnered, as usual, by Richie McLernon. Cup Final tracks the leaders and travels well throughout the race, going second round the home turn. Jumping the last Cup Final leads briefly with the front two having a tremendous tussle, but despite running on in great style our boy is narrowly beaten in a bob of heads at the line, going down by just a nose.
This was another good run over fences by Cup Final, owned by J P McManus, and the 8 year old has now won once and finished second twice in his 3 chases to date, and in fact his career record shows Cup Final to have finished first or second in exactly half his 14 career starts. Clearly a very consistent horse who has only finished out of the frame on 3 occasions, and not having been over-raced for an 8 year old Cup Final may well have some exciting days ahead of him !
Elysee Star and Porrima both run tremendous races on their racecourse debuts to finish 2nd and 3rd at Thirsk
3 days later, June 20th, two of our unraced 2 year old’s both make their racecourse debuts in a 6 furlong Fillies’ Novices Stakes race at Thirsk. Although both have shown up well at home neither is fancied in the market, Elysee Star, owned by our own Go Alfresco Racing syndicate, starts at 66/1, whilst Porrima, carrying the colours of Daniel Shapiro, is just half those odds ! However the market doesn’t always know everything and both our youngsters run tremendous races. Neither horse is quickly away but Elysee Star, with Rob Fitzpatrick up, soon recovers to challenge on the outside, going second 2 furlongs out and running on well to finish in that position, beaten one and three quarter lengths. On the other hand Porrima, with Cam Hardie in the saddle, is covered up for longer and is only 7th entering the final furlong, but then runs on in fine style, passing 3 horses in the final 10 yards, to finish a very strong 3rd, beaten two and a half lengths.
So what tremendous performances from our 2 fillies on their racecourse debuts ! Both run well above expectations to finish 2nd and 3rd in a decent 11 runner field. Both horses were still running on well at the line and the style of their performances, not merely their finishing positions, can only auger well for the future.
Time For Treacle and Vaux both make the frame on Redcar card
On Friday 23rd two of our horses go over to Redcar for their afternoon meeting. In the opening race on the card Time For Treacle contests a 7 furlong selling race, again being upped in trip having finished third and then second in her 2 previous races over 5 and 6 furlongs. Ridden today by Cam Hardie Time For Treacle leads for the first half of the race before being headed but our 2 year old filly then regains the lead until inside the final furlong after which she can find no extra and finishes in 3rd place.
We then have to wait for the last race on the card for our second runner, the 3 year old Vaux, who runs today for the first time in the colours of his new owner Mrs Christine Barclay. This is a 5 furlong maiden handicap and jockey Andrew Mullen holds up Vaux in the early part of the race before making his move a furlong out. Vaux then runs on nicely without troubling the leaders and eventually finishes 4th of the 6 runners, beaten just over 3 lengths. So Vaux still has to lose his maiden tag, but it will surely come !
And another 3rd place for Hawkhurst at Hexham
2 days later, on Sun 25th June, Hawkhurst makes the trip to Hexham to run in a 2 and a half mile handicap hurdle under Richie McLernon. Hawkhurst, a 7 year old owned by J P McManus, is held up early but makes steady headway before 2 out. Hawkhurst however can only run on at one pace to finish 3rd of the 6 runners. Hawkhurst is also still a maiden under Rules but yet has finished in the frame in all but one of his ten completed starts.
Yet two more 3rd places for Bourbonisto and Epeius at Doncaster and Newcastle
On the final day of June Ben has Flat runners at both Doncaster’s afternoon meeting and Newcastle’s evening all-weather card.
First off at Doncaster is Bourbonisto who runs his best race for some time under Rob Fitzpatrick to finish 3rd of 13 runners in a 6 furlong handicap, another frustrating ” place ” for Daniel Shapiro’s 3 year old ! Half an hour later Eponina runs in the second division of the same race under Megan Nicholls. Eponina is forced to run on the outside of the 17 runners but begins to challenge the leaders 2 furlongs out. In the final furlong our filly can only run on at one pace and has to settle for 6th place at the line.
Over at Newcastle Epeius also contests a 6 furlong handicap. Jockey Paul Mulrennan switches his mount to the near side rails early in the race and Epeius runs on well in the final furlong to finish 3rd for his owners the Trojan Horse Partnership and Christine Aldridge.
What a frustrating month June has turned out to be for Castle Hill Stables. Our horses have been running so consistently well and no less than 12 have reached the frame, without any actually making the winners enclosure — surely the tide will turn soon !