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.