08 Sep September 2016
Nice introduction from Dursey Sound, our latest recruit from J P McManus
On the first day of the new month Ben takes Dursey Sound, at the time, our latest recruit from leading owner J P McManus ( though 2 more have joined us subsequently, the illustrious if sometimes quirky Mr Mole, together with The Doorman ) to Sedgefield for a 2 mile 5 furlong handicap chase. Still only an 8 year old Dursey Sound has already contested 26 chases, winning 3 ( plus 2 out of 5 hurdle races ), including 2 at Cheltenham Festivals, and whilst his form has cleared tapered off in recent times connections hope that a move to Castle Hill Stables will freshen him up and hopefully enable him to recover his previously good form.
Richie McLernon takes the ride and settles Dursey Sound in last place of the 4 runners. Dursey Sound is still 4th but in the process of running a nice race when he slips on the bend before the second last and from then on cannot reach the leaders and comes home in 4th place. Nevertheless this should be a nice confidence booster for Dursey Sound who will surely come on for the race.
Two promising 4th places from our 2 year old’s at Thirsk
Tues 13th Sept and Ben takes 2 of our 2 year old’s to Thirsk to contest the two divisions of the 6 furlong maiden race. First off is the unraced Vivardia, a chestnut filly out of Rip Van Winkle. Graham Lee holds Vivardia up early in the race but the filly runs on nicely in the closing stages to take 4th place, beaten just a little over 5 lengths. A nice introduction from Vivardia for his owners, our own Blue Lion Racing syndicate.
Just half an hour later it’s the turn of Skellig Michael, again the mount of Graham Lee. Skellig Michael finished last on his debut at Redcar a little over 2 weeks ago but leaves that form behind by leading in the early stages, though running on at the one pace from a furlong out. Belying his odds of 50/1 Skellig Michael also finishes 4th, again beaten just over 5 lengths and this is a much more encouraging performance indeed.
Ben secures another win for Dursey Sound at only the second time of asking
3 days later, and just 2 weeks after Dursey Sound made his first appearance for Ben at Sedgefield, J P McManus’s 8 year old is out again, this time to contest a Class 4 handicap chase over 3 miles at Hexham. Ridden again by Richie McLernon Dursey Sound is held up and races second last of the 7 runners for much of the race and coolly Richie doesn’t make a move until 3 out after which he quickly goes into 3rd place. Dursey Sound is still third jumping the last and though not helped by a slightly awkward jump Richie gets a fine tune out of his partner on the run to the line and in another of his wonderfully timed finishes succeeds in getting Dursey Sound to lead 100 yards from the line and prevail by 1/2 a length.
This was only Dursey Sound’s second run for Ben who has clearly sweetened the horse up well in the short time he has had him. Not having previously been successful for almost a year this win should also act as a nice confidence booster for Dursey Sound. This is Ben’s 4th winner from just 9 runners in the present National Hunt season for ” J P’s ” horses, and following 2 further recent acquisitions Ben currently has 5 horses of the legendary owner in his care and will look to build on these stats as the jumps season progresses. Exciting times look to lie ahead this winter !
Epeius shows improved form with a close 4th place at Catterick despite the softened ground
One day later and Epeius is off to Catterick for a 7 furlong handicap at our local course. This is the final race of an 8 race card and whilst the going is still described as good the ground has been softened up by the time of our race and certainly gone against Epeius who prefers much better ground. George Chaloner takes the ride on the 3 year old for the first time and has Epeius nicely positioned behind the leaders in the early stages of the race. Once in the straight Epeius begins to make his move and goes third 2 furlongs out looking for a moment as if he may take a hand in the finish. Epeius however can only run on at the one pace in the final furlong on the softened ground and finishes in 4th place, beaten only a length and three quarters.
Given that Epeius did not have his preferred ground this was a good run and certainly his best performance for some time, which should auger well for when he is eventually able to race on better ground than he encountered here.
Moon Over Rio and Saint Charles both reach the frame again at Uttoxeter
Busy times at Castle Hill Stables as again one day later Moon Over Rio and Saint Charles make the trip to Uttoxeter. First off is Moon Over Rio who finished third in two Flat races during August and who now reverts to hurdles for the first time in 10 months for a 2 mile novices’ handicap hurdle. Always prominent under Richie McLernon Moon Over Rio goes on after 3 out but on the run to the last is passed by the eventual winner and has to settle for an excellent 2nd place of the 14 runners, beaten just a length and three quarters. Still a maiden after 5 races over hurdles, although twice a winner on the Flat, this was a most encouraging performance and unquestionably his best run in this sphere, still on ground better than would have been ideal for our own Blue Lion Racing’s 5 year old.
Half an hour later and it’s the turn of J P McManus’ Saint Charles to contest a 2 and a half mile Class 3 handicap chase. This is only the 6 year old’s third race for Ben, his first handicap chase, and 1/2 mile further than each of his previous 2 races for Ben, but he certainly equips himself well. As in both his previous races Richie McLernon takes the ride and holds Saint Charles up at the rear of the field until making headway 4 fences from home. At the last Saint Charles goes into third but cannot reach the leaders and has to settle for a very creditable 3rd place of the 10 runners, beaten 6 and a quarter lengths. This was a good class race, Saint Charles jumped well throughout, and for a horse relatively inexperienced in this class over fences a fine performance which should auger well for the future.
Shesnotforturning desperately unlucky not to record second career win, beaten on the line in a bob of heads
Yet again the following day, Mon 19th Sept, Ben sends 2 horses, Shesnotforturning and Operateur to Hamilton. In a 6 furlong handicap Tom Eaves has Shesnotforturning, a 6 year old mare owned by Christine Barclay and Geoff Wilson, quickly out of the stalls and sends her into an immediate lead making the best of her way home against the rails. Shesnotforturning cannot quite shake off a number of challengers behind her but she runs on really well for Tom until frustratingly being joined on the line by one of her rivals and in a bob of heads loses out by the minimum distance, a nose ! Having lead from pillar to post ( well almost ) Shesnotforturning deserved better and a second career win was almost hers — it couldn’t have been closer !
Later in the afternoon Operateur finishes 7th in his race.
Castle Hill Cassie makes a pleasing introduction at Redcar
A short break for our runners as it’s not until 2 days later, 21st Sept, that our next runner leaves Castle Hill Stables. This time it’s a debutant, the 2 year old Castle Hill Cassie, who makes the trip to Redcar to take in a 7 furlong maiden race. Graham Lee is in the saddle and he keeps Castle Hill Cassie towards the rear before making his run on the outside of the 10 runners. After the 3 furlong marker Castle Hill Cassie starts to make good progress and runs on well for Graham in the final furlong to take 3rd place at the rewarding odds of 22/1. Castle Hill Cassie, a chestnut filly, is another of our 2 year old’s to carry the colours of the Ontoawinner syndicate and this is a very promising introduction and hopefully one which can lead to a deserved success for her owners.
This 3rd place means that in the last 9 days Ben has sent out 10 runners, no less than 8 of which have made the frame. A remarkable training performance and one which has deserved more than just the one winner during this period. A kinder rub of the green would be much appreciated !