12 Jun June 2018
Great start to June as wins for both Ever So Much and Lord Caprio at Hexham give Ben his first jumps double
If May finished on a high then June has started in even more impressive fashion as Sat 2nd June sees 3 horses make the trip up to the delightful Hexham racecourse. This may have been Derby Day to some people but to real jumping enthusiasts there was really no better place to be.
The second race on the card is a 2 and a half mile chase and this sees the return to fencing of Ever So Much, already an 8 times winner for Ben ( split equally between hurdles and chases ). Ever So Much had won a 2 mile 5 furlong hurdle race at Sedgefield in April but since beaten into 4th place in a 3 mile hurdle the following month. It’s a return to the larger obstacles today and regular pilot Richie McLernon again has the ride. For the first half of the race Richie has Ever So Much nicely positioned on the outside in 6th place of the 12 runners. 5 fences out Ever So Much moves into 4th place travelling so well, and only around 2 lengths behind the leader. Coming round the final turn Ever So Much is in third and the leaders are three in a row jumping the final fence. On the run in it’s our boy who finds the most and Richie drives the 9 year old up to win nicely by one and a half lengths. A lovely typically well-judged ride again by Richie and it’s so good to see Ever So Much record his 9 career win, all achieved for Ben since coming from Ireland in 2014, and his first chase win for 2 years. And of course another win from Castle Hill Stables for owner J P McManus’ green and gold silks.
35 minutes later it’s the turn of Lord Caprio and today marks his debut as a hurdler. The 3 year old, whose dam is Azzurro Du Caprio herself 5 times a winner on the Flat for Ben not so many years ago, has won 3 of his own 8 races on the Flat to date, all at Newcastle, the most recent being on 28th March. Like his mother Lord Caprio is owned by our own Blue Lion Racing syndicate. Richie McLernon has the ride for Lord Caprio’s first attempt at hurdling in this 2 mile Juvenile hurdle. Richie settles Lord Caprio in 5th place of the 6 runners allowing his partner to get a good view of his hurdles. Lord Caprio stays in 5th but after jumping 2 out Richie drives him up on the inside to take 3rd place coming round the home turn. Once in the straight Lord Caprio goes second, and then leads jumping the last and runs on in good style to win by 3 and a half lengths at the line. Yet another patient and perfectly timed ride from Richie. And what a pleasing introduction to his hurdling career for Lord Caprio ! Juvenile hurdlers have been few and far between at Castle Hill Stables in recent years, the last such winner being nearly 5 years ago, but, as Ben pointed out after the race, his father Patrick was renowned for Juvenile hurdle winners some years ago, so he was naturally delighted to start emulating his father’s achievements.
Just over an hour later Full Shift cannot add to Ben’s gains as he runs unplaced in a 2 and a half mile hurdle but this is still a day to remember. It was only in March this year that Ben achieved his first ” double ” with 2 wins at the same meeting, and then repeated the feat later that same month. All those 4 wins were at Newcastle’s all-weather Flat track and less than 3 months later Ben has now recorded his 3rd double, and his first over the jumps. Who needs Derby winners anyway !!
4th place for Cherry Oak in Thirsk handicap
Just one runner on 12th June and it’s back to the Flat as Cherry Oak makes the short journey to Thirsk to run in a 6 furlong handicap under Paul Mulrennan. Paul holds Cherry Oak up at the rear of the 10 runners before making headway from halfway. Inside the final furlong Cherry Oak goes into 4th but can only run on at one pace and finishes in 4th place, beaten under 3 lengths.
Ever So Much quickly makes it win number 10 with victory at Hexham, and becomes Ben’s winning-most horse
Sun 24th June sees 2 of our jumpers contest races at Hexham and whilst one disappoints the other once again performs to the level we are coming to expect these days and record yet another success. First away is The Doorman who reverts to hurdles for the first time in over 12 months in a 2 and a half mile handicap. Disappointingly The Doorman falls at the last when out of contention, a rare fall for horses from our stable over the years.
90 minutes later it’s the turn of Ever So Much who takes in a 6 runner two and a half mile handicap chase. The excellent Richie McLernon takes the ride once again. As is their style Ever So Much and Richie track the leaders for much of the race before the 9 year old goes into second place before 3 out. Once in the home straight Ever So Much draws level with the long time leader and then leads at the last. On the run in Richie is able to take a long look round and sees no dangers at all, and Ever So Much runs on well to record a comfortable win by no less than 9 lengths. Once again a typical ride from Richie and he and Ever So Much clearly get on so well together. This is win number 10 for Ever So Much, and his 3rd victory in his last 4 races, all in the last 2 months. Ever So Much has also now become Ben’s winning-most horse as the 10 wins exceed the number successes achieved for Ben by Hi Dancer as that horse’s first 9 victories were gained when trained by Ben’s father Patrick. J P McManus’ 9 year old is clearly at the top of his game right now and whilst his preferred good ground prevails let’s hope there may be even more wins to come !
First Breath makes the frame for the first time with a 3rd place at Kempton
3 days later Ben takes our 3 year old First Breath down to Kempton to run in his first handicap, an apprentice race, and following 3 unplaced runs over 6 furlongs Ben ups the gelding to 7 furlongs. Leading apprentice Jason Watson is in the saddle tonight, his first ride for Ben. First Breath is quickly settled in midfield of the 13 runners before making headway after the 2 furlong marker. First Breath runs on well and challenges the second horse on the run to the line without being able to make an impression on the leader and finishes in 3rd place, therefore making the frame for the first time.
Another 2nd place for our super-consistent Castle Hill Cassie at York’s big Saturday meeting
For the second consecutive time Castle Hill Cassie contests a race at a high-profile York meeting, and this time it’s a Saturday, 30th June to be exact. Again the race in question is a Class 3 fillies handicap over 7 furlongs and it’s another big test for our 4 year old who has still to finish out of the frame in 11 career starts. Tom Eaves takes the ride today and holds Castle Hill Cassie up at the rear of the 9 runners in the early stages. Three furlongs out Castle Hill Cassie starts to make progress and begins to cruise through the field. Running on strongly entering the final furlong she takes lead and stays there until frustratingly being headed in the final 50 yards and has to be content with another second place, beaten just 3/4 lengths, at 6/1.
This is yet another fine performance from Castle Hill Cassie who actually finished in front of today’s winner in her previous race but on that occasion she was only giving away 6 lbs whereas today she was conceding 14 lbs to the winner. So Cassie makes the frame once again and what a credit she is to her owners the Ontoawinner syndicate, James Pak and Mrs Christine Barclay.