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.