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Back At It With Ben!

Since you’ve last heard from me it has been Christmas and New Year which seems a while ago now. I had a very good Christmas spending time with my family and cousins. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve I feel it’s a bit overrated, so I celebrated it at Cheltenham races the following day with mates where we pretty much spent most of the day in the Guinness village, which as you can imagine is extremely dangerous!

Before Christmas, I rode at Larkhill in the challenging spectator’s conditions…the insane fog! As Zac described in his blog it being like the smog in London in the 1900s, he was completely right as at Larkhill as a rider you can normally see a long line of fences along both straights but that day I could only see fence to fence, so the spectators weren’t able to see much of the action. I rode Chameron in the Mixed Open where we departed after the third fence sadly. He jumped the first two really well, we bypassed the third, then at the fourth we were going in short, so I sat to go in and pop it, but he decided last minute to take another half stride, where he hit the fence and his momentum stopped which resulted in me being fired into the ground. I came away sore, but I wasn’t riding for a couple of weeks, so I had time to recover and Chameron was absolutely fine the next morning. Before I rode, I tried to watch but couldn’t see a thing, and Dad’s homebred Santos Blue fall at the same fence a circuit later when in contention.

The New Year has started really well for me. The weekend of the 9th I went to Ampton for two rides. I rode Sir Mangan in the first which was the Veterans, where he won and gave me my first winner of the season. He is an absolute legend! He is now Dad’s most prolific winner having won six and I’m sure he has a few more wins in him. We got a great start up the paint in the lead and then going down the hill Chase Me and Trojan Star went on at a good pace, so I was happy to sit in behind. Going out for a circuit to go I took it up and from then we managed to stay in front and win. Annoyingly the fences down the hill were taken out as he’s a class jumper, with those fences being in he could’ve won by a bit further as his jumping could’ve gained us a few lengths at that stage. He was so brave at the last to come long as he wasn’t on a stride. He absolutely loved it and he couldn’t stop smiling after. Huge thank you to Alan and Joe Hill for doing such a great job keeping Sir Mangan in such good form at 14.

My second ride at Ampton was Diplomate Sivola in the Men’s Open, where he finished second behind course specialist Tullys Touch. He ran an absolute cracker. After the disappointment at Alnwick he ran so much better and felt like his old self again, we were so pleased! It was the first time with cheekpieces on and I definitely felt like they helped. Alan Hill wanted me to bounce out and be positive, so we did exactly that and then had some company for majority of the way; he jumped class with his usual zest. At the third last we got headed by Tullys Touch and the third horse, but what was really pleasing with Diplomate was he didn’t sulk, he battled back to go past the third horse and stayed on all the way up the hill to pull away from the third horse and never let the winner increase his lead.

This Sunday just been I went down to Buckfastleigh to ride Chameron in the Mixed Open. I went on my own as Dad was flying to the US for business. I had the luxury of driving his new Land Rover Defender as my VW polo is in the garage receiving treatment after Lawney Hill gave it a little bump! Buckfastleigh on Sunday was the first meeting there since the pandemic hit us and it felt like proper pointing, as there was huge crowd which was really nice to see. There was four of us in the Mixed Open, so with the beauty of there being a small field we didn’t need to go off at a strong gallop, especially watching the previous races they weren’t getting home. We did exactly that and went off at an even pace. Chameron jumped a lot better but still made a few costly mistakes, he’s a type of horse when he makes one mistake, he loses his confidence, but when he’s on one he’s good. Turning out of the back straight we pretty much went from zero to one hundred heading into the last which is usually the second last. Tommie O’Brien and I afterwards said we never been so fast into that fence before! With that Chameron hit the second last which resulted in me losing my left iron, so for a couple of strides I was struggling to get it back but finally I did and luckily the last fence was taken out. Once I did get my foot back in I pulled Chameron out to go around Hazaar and he ended up going past quite easily to win. Huge credit to Sam Loxton who has done a fantastic job with the horse.

Now the season is in full swing I’m looking forward to more rides and hopefully more winners! Catch up soon!

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