06 Nov November 2019
Fine runs from both Lady Shanawell and Demi Sang in Listed races on afternoon card at Wetherby
A busy start to the new month as Friday 1st November sees Ben take 2 horses to an afternoon jumps meeting at Wetherby and another 2 horses to an evening all-weather Flat meeting at Newcastle.
First away in the afternoon at Wetherby is Lady Shanawell who has taken so well to hurdling and already won 2 Juvenile hurdle races, including last time out over this same course and distance. That though was a Class 4 race and today Lady Shanawell has been elevated to a Listed Class 1 Juvenile Hurdle, again over 2 miles. The filly’s regular jumps partner, Richie McLernon, is again in the saddle. Lady Shanawell races prominently on the heels of the leaders for much of the race staying close to the inside rail. Not entirely surprisingly at this level Lady Shanawell loses her place rounding the home turn and though the 3 year old weakens in the straight she still manages to hold on to 6th place of the 9 runners, beaten 14 lengths, a very respectable performance indeed at this level with some much-vaunted rivals behind.
Just 35 minutes later it’s the turn of Demi Sang to contest a Listed Class 1 handicap chase over an extended 2 miles 3 furlongs. Since joining Ben from Willie Mullins stable in Ireland just over 12 months ago Demi Sang has won 2 of his 8 races, both at Cartmel. Richie McLernon again takes the ride and holds Demi Sang up at the rear of the 8 runners for the first circuit. Demi Sang then starts to move forward and entering the home straight is in 6th place under a patient ride from Richie. 5th jumping 3 out Demi Sang then goes into 3rd place at the 2nd last fence. Demi Sang stays on well after the last but cannot get to the front two and has to settle for 3rd place at the line, just 6 and a quarter lengths behind the winner. This Listed race was certainly a classy affair and Demi Sang has equipped himself well at this level. Owned by J P McManus, Demi Sang, is still only a 6 year old and there should be more to come. Ben is pleased with the run, coming on the back of a 2 month break, and intends to give Demi Sang an entry in the prestigious BetVictor Gold Cup at the big Cheltenham meeting later this month.
Good performance by Fortamour in spite of weight concession at Newcastle’s evening meeting
First of our 2 evening runners at Newcastle is Phoenix Strike, a 2 year old colt by Casamento, in a one mile maiden race. Having just his second run Phoenix Strike finishes down the field, 10th of the 13 runners, but will come on for the experience.
Our second runner tonight is the 3 year old Fortamour, successful at this course 6 weeks ago in a 7 furlong maiden race. Ben steps Fortamour up to a mile for this novice stakes race with Graham Lee again taking the ride. As the only previous winner in the field Fortamour has to give plenty of weight to each of his 6 rivals. In the early stages no one appears to want to lead but Graham settles Fortamour towards the rear of the field. Approaching the 2 furlong marker Fortamour starts to make headway and entering the final furlong is in 4th place. Fortamour runs on well to the line but can get no nearer than 3rd place, beaten 2 and three quarter lengths by a newcomer owned by The Queen to whom Fortamour was attempting to give 5 lbs and who may well turn out to be very useful. Taking the weight concession into account this was probably a fine run by Fortamour.
Debut win for Castlehill Retreat is Ben’s 24th Flat winner of the year on a busy evening at Newcastle
4th November sees another 4 runners for Ben but this time all 4 horses are heading for Newcastle for another evening’s all-weather racing.
First off tonight is the 2 year old chestnut Castlehill Retreat having his 4th career start but his first in a handicap, for which he is also upped in trip to 7 furlongs. Paul Mulrennan is in the saddle, riding Castlehill Retreat for the first time. Paul keeps Castlehill Retreat towards the rear of the 13 runners in the early stages before starting to make a move after the 3 furlong marker. With 2 furlongs to go Paul switches his mount to the outside at which point Castlehill Retreat runs on in tremendous style and entering the final furlong has joined the leaders. On the run in Castlehill Retreat goes 1/2 length up but in the run to the line the pack closes in and Castlehill Retreat just holds on to score by a rapidly diminishing nose. This is Castlehill Retreat’s first victory and he has battled on well to achieve this, wearing the colours of Middleham Park Racing, owners of the gelding along with Mrs Christine Barclay and James Pak. This is also Ben’s 24th Flat winner of 2019, double his previous best score of 12 achieved last year.
Next away is another 2 year old Auckland Lodge, already 3 times a winner over 5 furlongs from 6 races in her debut season and again tackling the minimum distance tonight. The chestnut filly’s previous wins were all achieved on turf and tonight is her first experience of an all-weather surface. Auckland Lodge seems comfortable on the different surface and leads early attempting to make all as she has done to win each of her previous races. However tonight’s race is a higher class than those of her 3 victory’s and entering the final furlong she is caught and despite running on well has to settle for 4th place, beaten 3 and three quarter lengths, on this occasion.
After Midnight Vixen finishes 8th of 12 in a 7 furlong Classified Stakes race our final runner of the evening is The Bull, yet another chestnut, in a 6 furlong handicap. A model of consistency who deserves to have more than just one win to his credit The Bull is in midfield for much of the race but after the 2 furlong pole jockey Andrew Mullen mounts his challenge between runners. Inside the final furlong The Bull goes into 3rd but cannot get to the 2 leaders, but finishing 3rd of 14 runners, beaten only 2 and a half lengths, represents another good run from our 4 year old.
Epeius and Ritchie Star both reach places on a hectic night at Newcastle
If last Monday was busy then Friday 8th Nov was absolutely hectic with no less than 6 horses leaving Castle Hill Stables in the direction of …………. yes, Newcastle again. In the opening race on the card Rey Loopy breaks a blood vessel and is pulled up and in the second race our 2 year old Marengo Sally improves on her debut run in June but can only finish 9th of 14 in a 7 furlong novice stakes race. Our final 2 runners both contest the penultimate race on the card but the 3 year olds Pinarella and Uponastar, having just her second race for our stable, both finish down the field in a 12 runner 6 furlong fillies’ handicap. In between those races though there are good performances from Epeius and Ritchie Star.
Epeius runs in a Class 4 handicap over 6 furlongs and races towards the rear of the 14 runners in the early stages. Inside the final 2 furlongs Epeius mounts a challenge close to the far rails and runs on strongly but can only finish 3rd at the line, beaten just a length, at the very generous starting price of 16/1 considering Epeius has a very consistent profile and is a 4 times winner at the course ( and 5 wins in all ) !
Half an hour later Ritchie Star takes in a 12 runner one mile handicap. Slightly slowly away Ritchie Star is quickly driven through the field and after 2 furlongs is racing on the heels of the leaders. Ritchie Star continues to race prominently and after the 3 furlongs from home marker moves into 3rd place. Inside the final furlong Ritchie Star runs on well and goes 2nd but cannot quite get to the leader finishing runner-up, also beaten just a length, to a very much in form rival. Still a maiden this is possibly Ritchie Star’s best performance to date and a repeat of this run should soon see the 3 year old lose his maiden tag.
Impressive win for J P’s River Frost in handicap chase at Ayr
On to 13th November and Ben takes 2 horses to the West of Scotland for a National Hunt meeting at Ayr. Both horses are owned by J P McManus and as our regular jumps pilot Richie McLernon is unavailable Alain Cawley ( 2 wins from 6 rides for Ben last season ) comes in for the rides.
First away is River Frost in a two and a half mile handicap chase. Alain holds River Frost up in the early stages racing on the outside of the 8 runners. On the second circuit River Frost moves towards the middle of the field with Alain still biding his time. Leaving the back straight and coming round the home turn River Frost starts to make a move and with 4 fences to jump in the home straight takes 3rd place. Jumping the 3rd last River Frost has joined the two leaders and at the next goes on. River Frost is clear of his rivals jumping the last fence and running on well Alain is able to ease his mount down and still win by a comfortable 8 lengths. This is quite an impressive performance from River Frost, especially considering he was giving weight to all his rivals, and certainly his best run since joining Ben from Alan King’s yard in July. Hopefully the 7 year old will be able to build on this run. The win also improves even further Alain’s impressive strike rate for Ben, whilst it’s always good to train winners for J P McManus who has long been so supportive of our stable.
The following race on the card sees the first appearance for Ben of Scoop The Pot in a Class 3 handicap chase over 3 miles. Scoop The Pot joined Castle Hill Stables from Philip Hobbs yard just a couple of weeks ago but today can only finish 4th of the 5 runners. Ben is pleased to have got an early race into Scoop The Pot and better can be expected in the future.
Fine performance from Sandret finishing 4th in Class 3 handicap at Wolverhampton
Mon 18th Nov sees just one horse, Sandret, go to Wolverhampton for an afternoon all-weather meeting. Sandret, unraced as a 2 year old, has been one of our stars of the 2019 Flat season, to date winning 3 of his 7 races, including first time out at Newcastle, his only previous experience of an all-weather surface. Today Sandret contests a Class 3 handicap over 1 mile 1 and a half furlongs with Graham Lee in the saddle as he was when the 3 year old last ran, being successful at Doncaster 9 weeks ago, since when he has been put up 6 lbs. Drawn on the outside of the 13 runners Sandret is kept towards the rear of the field for much of the race and only has 2 behind him entering the home straight, 2 furlongs out. Inside the final 2 furlongs Graham gets a fine tune out of Sandret as he races through the field but can finish a no nearer 4th, beaten just under 3 lengths at the line. Not a bad performance at all considering his wide draw, and the fact that the 3 horses finishing in front of him were older horses all receiving weight from Sandret.
Good 2nd place for River Frost at Market Rasen attempting to follow up Ayr win 8 days earlier
On 21st November River Frost travels to Lincolnshire for a 2 mile 5 and a half furlong Class 3 novice handicap chase at Market Rasen, just 8 days after scoring his first chase win at Ayr over a furlong shorter trip. Richie McLernon is back in the saddle today and holds River Frost up towards the rear of the 6 runner field in the early stages. Entering the home straight River Frost is still in 5th place but only a couple of lengths behind the leader and after jumping the second last Richie drives River Frost into second place. Our 7 year old jumps the last almost alongside the leader but is awkward at the fence and gives the initiative to his rival who he cannot quite get to on the run to the line having to settle for 2nd place on this occasion, beaten just 3/4 length. But another good performance from J P McManus’ chaser coming soon after his previous win.
Castlehill Retreat takes 3rd place at Newcastle on first attempt at a mile
The following day, Friday 22nd Nov, sees just Castlehill Retreat making the journey to Newcastle for an all-weather meeting. Like River Frost, Castlehill Retreat was also a winner earlier this month, in his case 18 days ago, also at Newcastle. That run was over 7 furlongs and today the 2 year old chestnut gelding steps up to a mile for the first time, and is upped in grade, but again with his successful pilot Paul Mulrennan in the saddle. Slowly away Castlehill Retreat races towards the rear of the 7 runners until moving forward with 2 furlongs to run. Castlehill Retreat makes good headway but inside the final furlong can only run on at one pace and today has to settle for 3rd place, beaten 2 and a half lengths.