08 Feb February 2019
Porrima repeats last Friday’s win at Newcastle despite being upped in grade
Whilst January may have ended and a new month commenced that doesn’t mean winners have stopped flowing from Castle Hill Stables ! On the very first day of February just one of our horses, Porrima, makes the journey to Newcastle for a 7 furlong handicap on their all-weather track. This is a similar race, on the same track, as that which Porrima won just a week ago, except our 4 year old grey has now been upped in class to Grade 5. Ridden again by Andrew Mullen Porrima is a little awkward leaving the stalls and Andrew settles her at the rear of the 6 runners. A strange looking race to watch in the early stages as until the 3 furlong marker the runners race in absolutely Indian file with Porrima at the rear. After 3 furlongs out Andrew moves his mount towards the near side rails to begin his challenge. Entering the final furlong Porrima is still only 5th of the 6 runners but in the run to the line Andrew drives his filly towards the leaders, and ultimately passes them with a 100 yards left, to win nicely from the well-fancied favourite by a comfortable one and a half lengths at the line. Yet another good ride from Andrew.
That’s already 7 wins for Ben in 2019 and puts him at the top of the Racing Post’s ” Hot Trainers ” list, and also makes him currently leading trainer at Newcastle this year ! As for owners Daniel Shapiro and Partners, this is also Daniel’s 4th winner of 2019 and now that Porrima seems to have got over the problems she’s had in the past there may well be more to come from the filly, and hopefully from Daniel’s other horses of course !
A tremendously impressive debut run from Blindingly as he and Rey Loopy both take 2nd places at Newcastle
4 days later, 5th February, Ben returns to Newcastle, this time with no less than 4 runners. First off, in the second race on the card, is arguably our most interesting runner. Blindingly is an unraced 4 year old by Shamardal who cost 240,000 guineas as a yearling. As a 3 year old though he was sold for just £10,000 despite being extremely well-bred. Now running in the colours of Mrs Christine Barclay Blindingly makes his racecourse debut today in a 1 mile Maiden Stakes race ridden by Andrew Mullen. Andrew holds Blindingly up towards the rear in the early stages, moving into midfield from the 6 furlong marker. At the 3 furlong pole Blindingly looks to be travelling well and Andrew goes for a run along the near side rails 2 furlongs out. Entering the final furlong the hoped for gap doesn’t appear and Andrew is forced to switch Blindingly into the middle to mount his challenge between runners. Blindingly runs on extremely well to take 2nd place but cannot get to the leader. A frustrating final furlong but Blindingly has run an exceptionally promising race on debut to finish second, at 14/1, beaten only one and a quarter lengths. This is a most encouraging performance from Blindingly and hopefully fortune may be a little kinder to him next time and reward his owner with a deserved victory, one he might easily have achieved at the first time of asking today.
90 minutes later it’s the turn of Rey Loopy to try to add to his record of two firsts and a second place in his 3 runs at Newcastle already this year. It’s another 1 mile handicap today and again Andrew Mullen is in the saddle. The race is run in precisely the same manner as his previous race here 2 weeks ago, but this time Rey Loopy does have a very strongly fancied rival who he cannot pass inside the final furlong and on this occasion our 5 year old has to settle for 2nd place, beaten one and a half lengths. Still, form figures of 1212 at Newcastle by the first week of February aren’t exactly too bad !
Just half an hour later Blazing Dreams runs one of his best races having been upped in trip to a 1 mile handicap and finishes 3rd for the second consecutive time, running on nicely at the end of the race, and a further 30 minutes later, in the final race on the card, First Breath finishes 7th of 10 in a 6 furlong handicap, weakening inside the final furlong.
Second consecutive win over Newcastle’s 6 furlongs for our in form Epeius
After the enforced 6 day shutdown in racing in the UK due to the equine flu it’s back to Newcastle on 15th February for Epeius for a 6 furlong handicap, the 6 year old having won a similar race, albeit one restricted to apprentice jockeys, at the all-weather track just 2 weeks ago. Andrew Mullen is back in the saddle tonight. Slowly away, Epeius is held up towards the rear of the 7 runners for much of the race before Andrew starts to make his move after the 2 furlong marker. Entering the final furlong Epeius has to be switched left to make his challenge between runners. It’s only in the last half furlong that Epeius gets his head in front but once he does he goes away comfortably before being eased near the line to win cosily by a neck. Another well-judged ride from Andrew, and Epeius, having won his last 2 races, is certainly in the form of his life for his happy owners, the Ben Haslam Racing Syndicate. The equine flu may have stopped racing in the UK for a short while but even that cannot prevent the flow of winners from Castle Hill Stables at the moment !
Two fine second places from Rey Loopy and Porrima in their latest runs at Newcastle
On to 20th February and 2 of our horses return to Newcastle’s all-weather track, both having already won 2 races there during 2019. Rey Loopy contests a one mile handicap whilst Porrima takes in a 7 furlong handicap, both ridden by Andrew Mullen who has been in the saddle for their previous wins this year. Both horses again run their races but today each finds just one horse too good and both have to settle for 2nd places. But what admirable consistency both horses are showing at the moment.
It’s doubles all round for Ben, Richie and J P as Call The Cops and Manamite both score at Musselburgh
Just one week later, 27th February, and it’s back to our jumpers as 2 horses, Call The Cops and Manamite, travel a little further north, to Musselburgh. Both runners are amongst the horses owner J P McManus currently has with Ben and both are ridden as usual today by Richie McLernon. First away is Call The Cops who returned to Castle Hill Stables last autumn having had a years break from racing. Following two races, a 7th and a 2nd both over shorter distances, this winter Ben ups the 10 year old to 3 miles for a handicap hurdle. In the early stages Call The Cops is held up towards the rear of the 8 runner field. Down the back straight for the last time Call The Cops starts to make progress on the inside. Turning into the home straight Call The Cops is in 4th place. Richie rides a patient race not wanting to get to the front too soon, but he moves alongside the 2 leaders jumping the second last and after the final hurdle it’s just Call The Cops and the market leader who fight out a determined finish, but at the line it’s the green and gold colours of our runner who just prevails by a head. This is, in fact, Call The Cops’ 6th career win but his first for Ben, and his first victory since winning the Pertemps Network Final at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival when trained by Nicky Henderson.
Just over an hour later it’s the turn of Manamite who runs in an extended 2 mile hurdle race. Manamite also came to Castle Hill Stables in the autumn of 2018, in his case from Gordon Elliott’s stable in Ireland, and his 3 subsequent races for Ben have included a 2 mile maiden hurdle success at Hexham in December. Again Manamite is held up at the rear of the 9 runner field for much of the race. Turning into the home straight Manamite still has only a couple of horses behind him but this time Richie produces our runner on the outside of the field. Jumping the 3rd last Manamite begins to join the leading group of 6 horses, and then runs into 4th place jumping the second last. Approaching the final hurdle Manamite moves between runners and into a narrow lead. On the run in however Manamite, showing a great turn of foot, goes right away from his field to score impressively at the line by a comfortable 6 lengths. This is a very taking performance indeed from Manamite, and for such a lightly raced 6 year old, this is only his 9th career start ( 4 wins ), and on his handicap debut, it’s reasonable to think there may well be more to come. Two lovely well-judged rides yet again from Richie McLernon, and doubles on the day of course for him, for Ben and for owner J P McManus. And for Ben these wins continue his incredible start to the year – 10 wins already in 2019 !
Sandret scores at Newcastle at the first time of asking to keep Ben’s hot run going !
On the final day of the month, 28th February, it’s back to Newcastle once again with 2 of our Flat horses, but this time it’s a somewhat novel situation as both horses are unraced 3 year olds. Black Kraken and Sandret. Black Kraken, a colt by Battle Of Marengo, is held up in the early stages of a 1 mile 2 furlong novice stakes race and isn’t able to get involved at the business end of the race, finishing 7th of the 8 runners, but will certainly come on for the experience.
Our second runner, in the final race on the card, is Sandret, a bay gelding by Zebedee, who runs in a 6 furlong novice stakes race partnered by Cam Hardie. Sandret is kept towards the rear of the 9 runners until making a move close to the nearside rails 2 furlongs out. Entering the final furlong Sandret is still in 5th place but he runs on in great style for a horse making his racecourse debut and thrusts home in the shadows of the post to score a remarkable victory by 1/2 length, at odds of 22/1. A great ride by Cam who, surprisingly, is recording his first win for Ben.
Obviously a very impressive performance from Sandret on his racecourse debut and this is, in fact, Ben’s first first-time out winner since Lady Lekki scored at a Wetherby Flat meeting in April 2015 ! Another cause for celebration is that Sandret runs in the colours of the Ben Haslam Racing Syndicate who also have Epeius, already twice successful in 2019. Clearly this is a syndicate well worth joining !
After just 2 months into the new year Sandret also becomes Ben’s 11th winner ( 8 Flat, 3 Jumps ) of 2019, and to think our record breaking year of 2018 only yielded 20 winners. Clearly our stable is flying at the moment — and long may it last !