Horses to follow – Five of Ben Pauling’s top jumpers to track this season
Our expert takes a look through Ben Pauling’s yard and highlights five horses who are well worth tracking during the 2019/20 National Hunt season.
If I was to select one “under the radar” trainer who could have a fantastic campaign in 2019/20, it would be Ben Pauling. Pauling had to push through some tough times last season, losing the super-talented Willoughby Court after a freak training incident, while also having to watch the demise of the former star, Barters Hill before his inevitable retirement. Yet, there were plenty of high points for Pauling too, as some of his top jumpers did him proud on the track.
The best moment of Pauling’s season came at Cheltenham, as Jamie Codd guided Le Breuil to an excellent victory in the National Hunt Chase. I was delighted to see Le Breuil get his head to the line that day, as he was one of my horses to track last term and his campaign will be tailored towards a tilt at the Grand National come the spring.
A raft of exciting young horses have entered Pauling’s stable during the off-season and several horses who shone last season will bid to enhance their reputations. It’s been hard to whittle it down to just five, but here’s a handful of Ben Pauling runners I recommend you track over the coming weeks and months.
Ben Pauling Horses To Follow
Now Is The Winter
This son of Fame And Glory appeared just once last season, winning a bumper at Stratford back in March. Second, that day was a highly-regarded sort of Olly Murphy’s called Mr. Fitzroy, who really served it up to Now Is The Winter at the two-pole and I expected the long-time leader to fall away. Yet, Nico De Boinville’s mount really knuckled down before eventually prevailing by half-a-length.
On his only start for Sophie Lacey between the flags, Now Is The Winter finished a staying on third over two miles, a distance you don’t often see in the point-to-point. I see no reason why he won’t stay trips beyond two miles during his novice hurdling campaign and Pauling has been pleased with the way he’s filled out over the summer break. He could even shape up into a horse for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, a race Pauling won with Willoughby Court two years ago.
Global Citizen made a lasting impression during his novice hurdling days, despite a limp showing at Aintree at the end of the season. I selected Pauling’s charge as one of my tracker horses heading into last season as I felt he would progress nicely as a second-season hurdler, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
After running a blinder to finish second under top-weight in a Listed Handicap at Ascot, Global Citizen held on from the front to win the Gerry Feilden, proving he could handle soft ground in the process. A fourth-place finish in the Christmas Hurdle followed, before Pauling’s colt secured the second Group Two of his career up at Haydock, defeating Silver Streak by three lengths in their Champion Hurdle Trial.
Things didn’t go to plan in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, but Global Citizen might have been a little over-the-top by then and I’m not sure he’s suited by undulating tracks like Cheltenham. Plans are to now send Global Citizen over fences and Pauling has been very pleased with how his seven-year-old has schooled over the larger obstacles. The Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas looks a realistic winter goal or even the Grade One Henry VIII at Sandown.
Pauling’s charge sprang a surprise on his debut over hurdles, carrying odds of 20/1 into the winners’ enclosure at Newbury, beating future four-time winner, Dashel Drasher. After a second novice triumph, this time under a penalty, Bright Forecast stepped up to graded company for the first time in the Rossington Main, where he finished a staying-on second behind Nicky Henderson’s Mister Fisher.
A step up in distance was inevitable after that display and Pauling threw Bright Forecast into the Ballymore at Cheltenham. All eyes were on City Island and Champ as the pair drew clear at the front of the field, but Bright Forecast enhanced his reputation no end by securing an impressive third-place finish.
Like Global Citizen, Bright Forecast will now begin life as a novice chaser and he certainly has the scope to improve over the bigger obstacles. Pauling is confident this son of Arcadio will take high-order over fences and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him line up in the RSA Novices’ Chase when Cheltenham rolls around.
Another name who featured on my list of tracker horses last term, I was really excited to see how Kildisart would fare over fences, having looked a classy chaser in the making during his season as a hurdler. Kildisart ran really well on his chasing debut, losing out by just half-a-length to a race-fit Wenyerreadyfreddie and followed that performance up with two handicap victories, the second of those coming over Highway One O One on Cheltenham Trials Day.
A rating of 147 meant Pauling couldn’t enter his charge into the Close Brothers’ Handicap at the Festival. Instead, they took their chance in the JLT and Kildisart lost nothing in defeat, crossing the line third behind Defi Du Seuill, Lostintranslation, and Mengli Khan. Pauling’s charge then underlined his undoubted quality at Aintree, where he shouldered top-weight with distinction to see off Mister Malarky by five lengths in the Group Three Betway Handicap Chase.
That was the first start over three miles for Kildisart and, after seeing out the distance so well under a heavyweight burden, his future will surely lie over that distance this term. At the age of seven, there’s plenty of reason to suggest Kildisart hasn’t reached his ceiling over fences and his return should be tailored towards the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree at the start of December, followed by the Cheltenham Day 1 races.
Guena Des Mottes
Formerly trained by Francois Nicolle over in France, this juvenile will one of man Pauling horses to run in the colors of Simon Munir and Isaac Suoede. Guena Des Mottes won on his only start on French soil and comes from a family of good jumpers. Pauling and his team have very high hopes for this three-year-old and you can expect to see him running in all the best juvenile races leading up to the Triumph Hurdle in March.