Thursday 22 February 2018

Ben bags chase glory

Robert Thornton celebrates after winning the Stewart Family Spinal Resaerch Handicap Steeple Chase on Bensalem. Photo: Getty Images
Robert Thornton celebrates after winning the Stewart Family Spinal Resaerch Handicap Steeple Chase on Bensalem. Photo: Getty Images

Bensalem avenged his luckless defeat of 12 months ago with victory in a thrilling Stewart Family Spinal Research Handicap Chase.

Alan King's 5-1 chance was travelling powerfully when falling two fences from home in last year's renewal of the competitive handicap but made no mistake this time around.

The field was strung out like washing with a full circuit to run in a contest blighted by mistakes and fallers, with favourite Sunnyhillboy one of those failing to complete.

There were only four in with a chance turning for home and the fall of the front-running Great Endeavour meant just three were left in contention.

Bensalem engaged in a titanic tussle with Carole's Legacy after the final fence and it was the former who emerged triumphant.

Reve De Sivola was third with Fair Along a long way further back in fourth.

Winning rider Robert Thornton said: "I'm certain he would have won last year and I'm so pleased he's done it this time.

"He's a big brute of a horse and he shouldn't be scared of anything. I was a bit further back than I would have liked, but they went such a gallop early on. This really makes up for last year.

"The owner has stuck with me and let me have another go which I am very grateful for. It's three years since I've ridden a winner here so it's nice.

"Last year was a blank year. This has made up for it."

King added: "This has been a great team effort and it's such a thrill that he's come back.

"Last summer he got travel sickness, pneumonia and then pleurisy. One of the vets wanted to put him down, but our vet said he's a special horse and we should continue.

"They took litres of fluid off him and he was a very sick horse."

Co-owner Alan Marsh said: "We're very happy. It makes up for what has been an extraordinary year. Alan said he would bring him back and he has. We are very excited.

"It doesn't get any easier. You sit there and you watch it and wonder if it is going to be work out and it has worked out.

"There's been a lot of tribulations this year and there was a thought he might not make it but he has and he's won. We couldn't wish for a better result."

Reve De Sivola's trainer Nick Williams said: "He was a bit novicey at times but it was a good performance. I think he appreciated the trip.

"We couldn't expect more really and he was beaten by two better horses. We can't be disappointed as it was a good run. I would think he'll run again this season, but I have nothing specific in mind."

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