12 Apr April 2018
Eponina makes the frame yet again with another excellent 2nd place at Kempton Park
Hoping the new month will be as successful as the last, our first runners are on Wed 4th April when Ben sends 2 horses to the evening all-weather meeting at Kempton Park.
Displaying Amber can only finish 7th of the 11 runners in a 6 furlong handicap before it’s the turn of Eponina who contests a 7 furlong fillies handicap under one of the young rising stars of the Flat jockey’s weighing room, Tom Marquand, who is having just his second ride for Ben. Eponina herself, a 4 year old filly by Zoffany, has run some lovely races in the past but to date, undeservedly, remains a maiden. Tom has Eponina nicely positioned on the outside and on the heels of the leaders early in the race and enters the home straight in second place. Eponina briefly gets her head in front at the furlong marker but is frustratingly run out of it in the final half furlong by the favourite coming late on the rails. Eponina has to settle for 2nd place, beaten just 1/2 length.
So Eponina is still a maiden, but this is another excellent run, the 7th time the filly has made the frame from only 10 career starts, and surely her turn in the winners enclosure will come soon.
Prancing Oscar runs on in determined style at Wolverhampton to take 3rd place
3 days later, Sat 7th, two more of our horses make the shorter journey to another evening all-weather meeting, this time at Wolverhampton. First away is our very promising 3 year old filly Porrima who finishes unplaced in a 7 furlong handicap. However there are legitimate excuses for this run and the position is suitably documented in Dancers Diary’s column on this website.
Back to happier matters, and later on the card Prancing Oscar takes in a handicap over an extended mile, our 4 year old being a winner over this course and distance last July. Tom Marquand again takes the ride and quickly positions Prancing Oscar in second place. Prancing Oscar stays in that position until being ridden coming round the home turn when he momentarily loses a couple of places. In the last half furlong Prancing Oscar runs on in determined style and regains 3rd place at the line, beaten just under one and a half lengths. The manner in which Prancing Oscar has run on in the latter stages suggests there is much more to come from the 4 year old.
Ever So Much records win No. 8 for Ben under a remarkable Richie McLernon ride
Whilst our Flat horses are running so well we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that this is, for another week at least, still strictly the Jumps season, and as if to emphasise the point Ben takes two of our jumpers, The Doorman and Ever So Much, to Sedgefield for an evening fixture on Monday 23rd April. Both horses appreciate good ground, which they will find at Sedgefield tonight, and both are partnered as usual by Richie McLernon. In a chase over just short of 2 and a half miles The Doorman weakens in the later stages of the race and unfortunately comes in last of the 6 finishers.
Later in the evening Ever So Much, already 7 times a winner for Ben since switching from Charlie Swan’s yard in Ireland in August 2014, contests a 2 mile 5 furlong handicap hurdle. Richie has Ever So Much nicely placed in the middle of the 12 runners for the first half of the race but begins his move from 3 out. Turning into the home straight Ever So Much moves into 4th place but still with much to do to get to the leaders. Ever So Much is still in 4th place, though starting to close, jumping the last but Richie gets a tremendous tune out of our boy and drives him like a man inspired to get up literally just a yard or so from the line to score by a neck. This was a remarkable ride from Richie, described in one column in the Racing Post later in the week as a contender for the ride of the season no less, but what an equally willing partner he had in Ever So Much.
That’s now 8 wins for Ben for Ever So Much, split equally 4 each over hurdles and fences, though his first for almost 2 years. This is a welcome return to form for Ever So Much and Ben has done so well to sweeten him up and show that the will to win is still there. Still only a 9 year old there is plenty of time for him to accumulate even more wins. A very willing horse, an incredible ride, and a fine training performance from Ben — owner J P McManus must be exceptionally proud !
And make that another 2nd place for Eponina, this time at Southwell
Before the month is out Eponina is afforded another opportunity to lose her maiden tag. Our 4 year old filly goes to Southwell on 30th April for a Class 5 handicap and Ben drops her to 6 furlongs for this race. Leading all-weather jockey Luke Morris takes the ride and Luke has Eponina racing just behind the 3 leaders for the first half of the race. Shortly after turning into the straight Eponina goes into second place but despite again running on well she cannot quite get to the leader, and favourite, and for the third time has to settle for 2nd place, beaten just 3/4 length.