16 May May 2017
Eponina confirms 2 year old promise with second place in Southwell handicap
After a quiet first week of May Castle Hill Stables burst into life as Eponina takes in a 7 furlong handicap at Southwell on the 8th of the month. The filly, owned by the Trojan Horse Partnership, looked like she would make into a nice 3 year old last year and for her second race of 2017 Cam Hardie takes the ride and holds his mount up early before making headway on the outside 2 furlongs out. Inside the final furlong Eponina challenges the leader but can find no extra in the run to the line and has to settle for 2nd place, beaten just 3/4 length, at the generous odds of 20/1. The run though confirms the promise shown by Eponina last year and hopefully she will be able to go one better in the near future.
First hurdles success for The Doorman who scores an easy 9 lengths win at Carlisle
3 days later The Doorman makes the journey over to Carlisle to contest a 2 mile 3 furlong novices’ hurdle. Owned by J P McManus The Doorman was placed in 3 hurdle races in January though well beaten last time out in April, but his only win to date was in a Beginners Chase in Ireland in November 2014, long before joining Ben last autumn.
Richie McLernon is in the saddle for this 4 runner race for which 3 of the runners, including The Doorman, are all closely fancied in the betting. Richie is happy to track the two leaders for much of the race but after 2 out goes into second place. Jumping the last The Doorman takes the lead and runs on well to score by an easy 9 lengths under a typically well-judged ride from Richie. The Doorman has worn cheek pieces for the first time tonight and this win will have helped build the confidence of the 8 year old who should now come on again for what is only his second career win, and his first over hurdles.
Hawkhurst and Dursey Sound both make the frame at Hexham
On Sat 13th May Ben takes 3 horses to Hexham for their afternoon jumps meeting, all ridden by Richie McLernon. After Man Of La Mancha is unplaced in a 2 mile novice hurdle it’s the turn of Hawkhurst to contest a maiden hurdle over just short of 3 miles. Hawkhurst, a 7 year old, is another of our jumpers owned by J P McManus, and he moved to Castle Hill Stables at the end of November 2016 from Paul Nicholls yard. Whilst Hawkhurst hasn’t yet won he has achieved a number of placings and today he makes good headway from 3 out without being able to get to the leader but nevertheless runs a nice race to finish second, beaten 12 lengths.
Later in the afternoon our chaser, and again a horse owned by J P McManus, Dursey Sound runs in a 3 mile handicap. Dursey Sound came to us from Jonjo O’Neill in August 2016 and scored for Ben at just the second time of asking in a similar 3 mile chase at Hexham in September 2016. Since then Dursey Sound’s form has rather tapered off but today the 9 year old is on fine form with himself and after making steady headway from 2 out runs on at one pace to finish 3rd, beaten 14 lengths, at 20/1. On going which was softer than ideal for Dursey Sound this was certainly his best run for some time and hopefully a revival in his fortunes may soon be on the way !
A third place, a second place, and then The Doorman scores his second win in 6 days
The busy spell continues and on 16th May horses leave Castle Hill Stables in different directions. Vaux makes the journey to East Yorkshire to run in a 5 furlong selling race at Beverley. Partnered by Graham Lee Vaux makes headway over 2 furlongs out but despite keeping on well inside the final furlong has to settle for 3rd place. This is the third time Vaux has made the first 3, but that first victory still eludes owners OnToAWinner syndicate’s 3 year old.
Our other 2 runners today, both owned by J P McManus and ridden by Richie McLernon, head north to County Durham and to Sedgefield racecourse. First off is Cup Final, winner of a 2 runner novice chase at Southwell almost 4 weeks ago. Today Cup Final is upped in trip 1/2 mile and whilst always tracking the leader is held in the final furlong but still finishes a good second, beaten only by the odds-on favourite, with the third horse 23 lengths back.
Half an hour later The Doorman tries to repeat his Carlisle success just 5 days ago. In a similar 2 and a half novices’ hurdle Richie McLernon again tracks the leader, another odds-on favourite, but The Doorman goes on from 2 out and is pushed clear by Richie to score by a comfortable two and a quarter lengths. That’s now 2 wins in 6 days for J P McManus’ 8 year old and whilst The Doorman is in such good form Ben will no doubt be keen to get her out again quickly. This win of The Doorman is also the 16th winner Ben has trained in the famous green and gold hooped colours of owner J P McManus, a very impressive strike rate indeed ! Our horses are clearly running well at the moment and to have so many of our jumpers reach the frame is testament to Ben’s excellent placing of his horses.
Well-deserved debut win for Rey Loopy and owner Daniel Shapiro at Newcastle
Another 3 days later, on Fri 19th May, it’s the turn of one of our 3 year olds, Rey Loopy, to show just what our Flat horses can do, and that they can compete with the good form of our jumpers. Rey Loopy has shown promise in his races to date but remains a maiden. Today Rey Loopy runs in a 7 furlong Stakes race at Newcastle’s all-weather track, partnered by Paul Mulrennan. Paul holds Rey Loopy up in midfield until making smooth headway 2 furlongs out. Rey Loopy then leads going into the final furlong and is pushed clear and runs on strongly before being eased towards the finish to score by a very comfortable three and a half lengths from a competitive 12 runner field. This is an excellent performance which will have delighted everyone at Castle Hill Stables but most importantly owner Daniel Shapiro for whom this is a well-deserved first success in his own name. Proof also that it isn’t just our jumpers which are running well at the moment !
Time For Treacle shows massive improvement on her first race to take 3rd place at Leicester
Yet another 3 days pass and on the 22nd of the month Ben takes 2 horses to Leicester for the first 2 races on their evening card. Time For Treacle is a 2 year old filly by Sayif who finished 9th of 9 on her debut at Newcastle in April and tonight tries turf for the first time in a Class 4 novices’ race over 5 furlongs. Apprentice Rob Fitzpatrick is in the saddle and drawn on the outside of the 9 runners Time For Treacle races prominently throughout. The filly tries to make her move from 2 furlongs out but can only run on at the one pace and has to settle for 3rd place, at odds of 50/1. Despite having a bad draw this performance is a significant improvement on her debut run and her owners will have drawn great satisfaction from the race which can only auger well for the future.
In the second race on the card Moon Over Rio, with Megan Nicholls up, contests a mile and a half selling race. Moon Over Rio makes good headway over 2 out but is slightly impeded whilst running on well inside the final furlong. Ultimately Moon Over Rio, given a good ride by Megan Nicholls, has to be content with 2nd place, beaten a length and a quarter, by a 1/2 hotpot !
Two 3rd places at Hexham for Hawkhurst and The Doorman
The following day it’s back to our jumpers as Hawkhurst and The Doorman make the journey up to Hexham for their evening meeting, both ridden as usual by Richie McLernon. Hawkhurst, second 10 days ago at the same course, runs in another maiden hurdle this time over 2 and a half miles, 3 furlongs shorter than her previous race. Hawkhurst tracks the leaders for much of the race but cannot get to them in the closing stages and at the line has to settle for another place, this time 3rd of the 9 runners. Plenty of place finishes for Hawkhurst now but he remains a maiden under rules.
One hour later and The Doorman is out again in a two and a half mile hurdle. Whilst the trip and the good going are the same as he encountered in his previous 2 winning races The Doorman is back in handicap company tonight and having been held up in the early stages this time struggles to make an impression on the two leaders in the last 2 furlongs and also has to be content on this occasion with 3rd place.
First career success for Castle Hill Cassie at Pontefract
On 26th May one of our very promising, though still a maiden, 3 year old’s, Castle Hill Cassie runs in a maiden race at Pontefract’s Friday evening meeting. Her first 3 races have all been over 7 furlongs but tonight Ben elects to drop Castle Hill Cassie in trip to 6 furlongs. As in all her races to date Castle Hill Cassie is partnered by Graham Lee who has the filly close up throughout the race and then leads entering the final furlong. Despite hanging left in the last 100 yards Castle Hill Cassie runs on determinedly and just holds on at the line by a short-head for her first career victory. It is close at the line but a first win is always important. Castle Hill Cassie has not been out of the first 3 in each of her 4 races to date, and her owners, the OnToAWinner and Trojan Horse syndicates and James Pak, can now look forward to even better days as the season progresses.
What an incredible month this has been for Ben and Castle Hill Stables. 19 runners in the month have produced 4 wins, 4 seconds and 5 thirds — a win strike rate for the month of 21%, with 68% of our runners finishing in the first 3 ! And each of the placings have been evenly divided between our Flat horses and our jumpers, to keep everyone happy — long may this success continue !