10 Mar March 2019
Good runs from each of our 3 runners at Newcastle on the opening day of March
After our magnificent January and February, March opens with 3 of our horses making the now familiar journey to Newcastle for an all-weather Flat meeting on the opening day of the month. Epeius, Blindingly and Displaying Amber are our runners tonight and all are partnered by Andrew Mullen.
First away is Epeius, successful in both his last 2 races, each being here at Newcastle. The 6 year old is, however, running over the minimum 5 furlong trip for the first time in his 30 race career and although he runs on well on the outside of the 8 runner field in the final 2 furlongs he cannot get to the leaders and has to settle for 5th place on this occasion. No doubt a return to 6 furlongs will see him continue his excellent 2019 form.
Half an hour later it’s the turn of Blindingly, so impressive when finishing second on his debut here at Newcastle a month ago. Over the same one mile trip for this maiden race Blindingly makes headway over a furlong out but cannot make any impression on the leaders inside the final furlong, though he still finishes 3rd of the 12 runners. This is still only the second race for Blindingly and tonight’s experience will not be lost on him.
There’s a full hour to wait for our third and final runner of the evening, Displaying Amber in a 5 furlong handicap. Displaying Amber was successful over course and distance last September but is tonight having her first race for 5 months. The 4 year old chestnut filly races in midfield before being driven 2 furlongs out. She then runs on inside the final furlong, eventually finishing in 4th place of the 12 runners, and will clearly be better for the race.
Excellent 6th place for Bouvreuil as he and Squouateur represent Ben at this year’s Cheltenham Festival
Whilst we’ve had an excellent start to 2019 numbers-wise it’s always good to have runners on the biggest stage and it was therefore pleasing see Bouvreuil and Squouateur represent our stable on the Thursday of this year’s Cheltenham National Hunt Festival. Both horses are owned by J P McManus and moved to Ben this winter from leading stables having slightly lost their way, and came in the hope that Ben could sweeten them up and get their racing careers back on track as he has done with so many of J P’s horses over the years.
Bouvreuil joined us last October and won first time out for Ben at Wetherby in December. The 8 year old is already astonishingly running at the Festival for the 5th consecutive year and today contests the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase ( Grade 3 ) ( Class 1 ) over 2 miles 4 and a half furlongs under Richie McLernon. Bouvreuil races in midfield but is hampered at the 7th fence and after making headway later in the race can only run on at the one pace in the closing stages. He eventually finishes a very respectable 6th of the 22 runners , beaten only 14 lengths. An excellent performance at this level.
In the final race on Thursday’s card Squouateur runs in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase ( Class 2 ) over 3 miles 2 furlongs. Squouateur, also an 8 year old, is running at only his 4th consecutive Cheltenham Festival ( a festival novice compared with Bouvreuil ! ). It is though his 3rd appearance in this race and he is ridden today by the Irish amateur Mr Harley Dunne. Squouateur, however, is never travelling at his best and races towards the rear of the 23 runners, eventually pulling up. This is his first race for Ben and more suitable opportunities for the grey will no doubt soon be found. But at the end of the day it’s just satisfying to have 2 horses good enough to represent our stable at the highest profile meeting on the National Hunt calendar.
3rd place for Call The Cops in Newcastle handicap hurdle
2 days after our Cheltenham Festivals runners, 16th March, two more of our jumpers owned by J P McManus make the more familiar journey to Newcastle for a Saturday National Hunt meeting. Melody Of Scotland runs in an extended 2 mile handicap hurdle but after being held up early in the race starts to lose touch on the heavy ground and is eventually pulled up. Our other runner at the meeting is Call The Cops, successful over 3 miles at Musselburgh at the end of February. Today’s trip is 2 miles 4 and a half furlongs and Richie McLernon again takes the ride. Call The Cops is held up last of the 6 runners until turning into the home straight, though never far from the leaders. Before the second last Call The Cops moves into 4th place and then runs on well after the last to take 3rd place at the line, beaten 8 and a half lengths.
Pinarella’s 2nd place is the best of our 2 runners as our Flat horses return to Newcastle after a 3 week break
Fri 22nd March and it’s the turn of two of our Flat horses to return to Newcastle for one of their popular evening all-weather meetings. Our two runners tonight ( in fact our first Flat runners since the opening day of March ) are Porrima and Pinarella. Porrima, a 4 year old grey filly, has already won twice and finished second once at Newcastle this year, each of the races having been over 7 furlongs, but tonight is upped in trip to 1 mile. After dwelling at the start Porrima makes headway 2 furlongs out but cannot make any impression on the leaders in the final furlong and has to settle for 6th place of the 13 runners.
Conversely Pinarella, also a filly but this time a 3 year old chestnut, is still a maiden after 7 races as a 2 year old. This is just her second run at Newcastle having run at the course in her latest race last November over 7 furlongs but tonight Ben drops her to the minimum 5 furlong trip, under Andrew Mullen. Pinarella races in midfield but once inside the final furlong starts to challenge the leaders and quickly moves into second place. She keeps on well but cannot reach the comfortable winner but a 2nd place, after a 4 and a half month break, is a perfectly respectable performance.
3 wins and 3 second places at Newcastle in 2019 for our wonderfully consistent 5 year old Rey Loopy
One week later, Friday 29th, Ben takes 3 horses to Newcastle for another evening all-weather card.
In between Midnight Vixen making her debut for Ben having recently joined our stable from that of David Simcock at Newmarket and running an extremely promising first race for us finishing 4th in an apprentice one mile handicap beaten less than 3 lengths, and The Bull also finishing a close-up 6th in a 5 furlong handicap in his first race in 2019, our wonderfully consistent Newcastle specialist Rey Loopy runs in a one mile handicap under regular partner Andrew Mullen. As usual Rey Loopy is held up in the early stages but approaching the furlong marker switches to the left to make a challenge between runners. Keeping on inside the final furlong in typically determined fashioned our 5 year old gets his head in front 100 yards from the line and holds on to win by a short head. Another perfectly timed ride from Andrew.
In 6 races on Newcastle’s all-weather surface during the first 3 months of 2019 Rey Loopy has never finished out of the first two, winning 3 times and finishing second on the other 3 occasions. What a magnificently consistent horse Rey Loopy is, and a credit to his owners Daniel Shapiro and Mrs Christine Barclay. Rey Loopy may next turn his attentions to a return to his turf career and it will be interesting to see if he can replicate his excellent recent form to a different surface — fingers crossed that he can !
And for Ben that’s now 12 winners in 2019 ( 9 Flat, 3 Jumps ) and we haven’t yet closed the door on March !