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Back Winning With Ben!

Hi everyone, hope you had a great long weekend. I’m feeling the Easter weekend blues!

Rewind back to 26th March we took Tidal Flow to Siddington, a week after his walkover at Brafield-on-the-Green. Siddington is one of my local tracks and was the first time this season where I didn’t have to travel an hour or more. He finished 3/3 in a tightly finished conditions race beaten two lengths by the winner Epi Sacre, who I believe has won around €100k in prize money when he was racing in France! Tidal was giving five pounds to the 1st and 2nd horses so in theory was a good run by him. When he got headed turning into the straight (which is around three furlongs out) I thought he was going to give up as that’s what he’s looked like he’s been doing when he was running under rules, but fair play to him he battled on and closed the gap. A couple of weeks later we took Tidal Flow to Stratford for a Hunter Chase as Dad thought we were going to get better ground than pointing and in his under rules career with Philip Hobbs he had won round Stratford, so we thought we would take our chance. I pulled Tidal up with a circuit to go as he wasn’t going a yard; he was hating it! He was jumping very slow and careful and not really putting 100% in. After the blinkers working a treat at Siddington they weren’t working their magic this time. It was worth a try as we would never have known otherwise. After we all agreed it was a blessing he didn’t qualify for Aintree, as don’t think he would’ve taken to it and could just see him potentially refusing at the Chair, which would’ve been interesting! Tidal holds an entry this weekend at Woodford in the Open as well as Chameron; one or the other will run if all is well.

The following Friday 1st April, Diplomate Sivola ran at Newbury in the Hunter Chase. Dad was keen to have a runner as himself and my brother Dom both won it in consecutive years on the same horse, Offshore Account. With the ground being so dry our best option was going under rules for better ground, but it still seemed too quick for him as he never jumped or travelled with his usual fluency, which resulted in him finishing last. Later that night he had bled so all explains why he didn’t run so well.

The following day I was at Newbury again riding Jet Marshall in a two-mile novice hurdle for Philip Hobbs and owned by my dad. Jet ran a super race finishing 5th. On his last run, in a bumper at Taunton, he was very keen so Philip told me to drop him out last this time and slowly creep into it, which we pretty much did. He couldn’t quicken again when the leaders did but stayed on really nicely. Next time he’ll want a bit further and with a bit more cut in the ground. He’s now being roughed off for his holiday and will be back out in the autumn.

The week running up to Aintree Joe Hill spotted on Twitter that Mighty Stowaway was for sale and so Dad decided to buy him as he’s been looking for a Foxhunters' horse of that calibre. Mighty held an entry for the Aintree Foxhunters and so that was the plan. Sadly, the morning of Aintree Mighty hadn’t eaten up and Lawney and Alan felt he didn’t look 100%. The vet came to check him, and it turned out he had a temperature, so Lawney, Dad and I said if he’s not 100% then we won’t run him and that was the case. As gutting as it was for everyone the horse comes first and there will be another day for him. He’s now A1 and is in tremendous form; the plan is to go to Cheltenham Hunter Chase evening a week on Friday in either the four mile or 3m2f and if all is well then onto the Stratford Hunter Chase evening.

I still went to Aintree with a group of mates on the Thursday and Friday for two days of racing and nights out, which was seriously good fun as it always is. Cheltenham Festival is good, but Aintree is better, and you’ll see why I say so when you go and stay up in Liverpool. We stayed in the luxury Adelphi hotel with all six of us piled into a two-man room, which was cosy! It was only meant to be for two of us, but my other mates couldn’t be bothered to go back to their uni house in Manchester. Got home in time Saturday for the Grand National in front of the TV with the family. I didn’t back the winner but was great to see amateur Sam Waley-Cohen win on his final ride in the saddle.

Easter weekend has just been and started with going to Lambourn Open Day on the Friday with a couple of mates, which resulted in me somehow getting sunburnt which I never thought I would in April! Eater Saturday I had two rides at Kimble on Majestic Touch and Sir Mangan. Majestic ran in the 2m4f Men’s Open where he ran a little disappointing finishing 3/3 but not beaten overly far. Realistically for that trip, he needs more cut in the ground and ran like he needed three miles.

Sir Mangan won the Hunt Members race in great style, he was awesome! He jumped incredibly well and just kept on quickening and finding more. We are so lucky to have a horse like him who just tries his heart out every time. He looks magnificent at the age of 14 and very much still loves his racing. Both horses have come out of the races A1. It was a great day for team Hill and especially well done to Alan on training his 400th winner, a remarkable achievement. Alan Hill did a tremendous job watering the course, the ground was good all the way around and I think there’s not a better person out there who produces better ground.

On Easter Monday I very nearly went to Lockinge for a day out but last minute I went bottle kicking in Leicestershire with my girlfriend and her mates. Bottle kicking is a tradition which has been happening for over 50 years I think! I’ll try to explain it as best as possible; two villages go head to head and try and get a 5kg barrel of beer into the opposite side’s village. It’s very similar to rugby but with no boundaries or rules; it's best of three and it looks like one big rugby maul that results in some people ending up in the back of the ambulance with at least something broken. If I came home with a broken bone don’t think dad would be too happy!

Can't believe how quickly the season is going by, looking forward to what the next few weeks have in store!

Images kindly thanks to Hattie Austin Sports Photographer

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