Sunday, 29 April 2018

Ben Pauling: Engineering a Bright Future

Former “Young Engineer of the Year” Ben Pauling is a fairly recent addition to the horse trainers’ roster, having begun his training career at the start of the 2013/14 season. Nevertheless, Pauling comes from a family of racehorse trainers – his father, and grandfather trained their own horses under permit – and spent six years as assistant to reigning Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson at Seven Barrows, Lambourn.

When betting on horses, pedigree matters a great deal, because some trainers have much more of a winning reputation than others. It's when placing a bet it's certainly a good sign to have confidence in the horse, the jockey, but also the trainer it's received in the run up to the race. With the racing pedigree of Pauling, coming from a family of trainers, you feel like your bet is off to a good start, even before the race begins.

Pauling moved to Bourton Hill Farm, near Bourton-On-The-Water, in the heart of Gloucestershire in 2013 and saddled his first winner, Raven’s Tower, at Plumpton in November of that year. The Cotswold Brewing Company, which sponsors the racing yard, brewed a new beer, called Raven’s Tower, to commemorate the feat.

Pauling trained another eight winners, for a total of nine, in his first season and has improved on that number, year-on-year, ever since. In fact, in three subsequent seasons he saddled 20, 26 and 32 winners, respectively and, at the time of writing, has already saddled 28 winners in the 2017/18. Of course, his 2015/16 total included his first Grade 1 winner, Barters Hill, in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, while his 2016/17 total included his first Cheltenham Festival winner, Willoughby Court, in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle. The latter, who’s already a Grade 2 winner over fences in 2017/18, made all and kept on gamely in the closing stages to hold the hitherto unbeaten Neon Wolf by a head.

In four years, Pauling has seen Bourton Hill Farm expand from 20 boxes to over 70, most, if not all, of which are full. By his own admission, many of his string were bought as ‘store’ horses – that is, stoutly bred, slow-maturing types – and, as Pauling tells his owners, “if they’re not ready, they’re not ready”. What that does mean, of course, is that he has plenty for which to look forward, in the 2017/18 season and beyond.

As testament to his ambition, Pauling has also signed up Daryl Jacob as stable jockey for the 2017/18 season. Jacob already has a retainer with owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, who have first call on his services, but will ride for Pauling whenever available. Pauling said of the appointment, “It’s huge having Daryl Jacob on board. Nico de Boinville and David Bass have done a great job for me the last few years but they have stables they’re attached to and I needed someone that was committed to me more often than not.”

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