Ben Pauling column: Stable back among the winners with High Bridge, Nestor Park and Barters Hill set to run

Ben Pauling's high-class trio Nestor Park, High Bridge and Barters Hill
Ben Pauling's high-class trio Nestor Park, High Bridge and Barters Hill

Ben Pauling's column returns with the yard back among the winners and looking ahead to a massive weekend - including the return of Barters Hill.

A Southwell treble on Monday and a whole host of entries this week - there must be a spring back in your step?

You could say that - to bang in a treble with our first winners for a few weeks was fantastic and it's a big relief for everyone at the yard. We did all celebrate together on Monday evening and the atmosphere was great.

It's been such a frustrating time but whenever you get something like that (a bug in the yard), no matter how hard you try you have to be patient.

The staff and owners have been fantastic throughout and in the grand scheme of things a lot of the horses have basically missed a month, on horrible winter ground, so it could certainly have been worse.

I honestly don't know how many days it had been since our last winner but dealing with these issues and the pressures they bring is part of our job as a trainer - people are quick to praise you but equally quick to curse you so keeping calm is a key part of it.

What next for the heroic Southwell trio?

Two Swallows is a really likeable mare, she's tough and she's as hard as they come. She's only about 15.1 believe it or not but she's run her race every time and has a huge heart.

She won nicely on Monday, she jumped right a bit when following leader but otherwise was fine. We might actually come back over hurdles now as fences do appear to be an effort for her. We have the option to mix and match anyway so that's what we'll be doing.

Boreham Bill is a horse we've always thought a lot of. He showed us some good form in bumpers last year, he can just be a little enthusiastic and did over do it when he ran at Ascot last December.

I thought he'd be a proper 2m4f novice hurdler this time around and he now looks like he might fulfil his potential. He blew up behind Santini at Newbury first time, when the form worked out really well, and Huntingdon didn’t go to plan with his jumping, but now hopefully his season is back on track.

He received a good ride and in truth Daryl (Jacob) has been great for us, that's where having the job with Simon and Isaac helps immensely – they’ve got horses with a few other trainers and even during our quiet spell Daryl has still been riding plenty of nice horses which keeps his confidence high.

Daryl has been calm and collected, a huge supporter generally.

Global Citizen is very exciting, I must admit. He’s a full brother to A Hare Breath who I train and does possess plenty of similar attributes. I was keen to buy him initially at the sales but didn't have enough money so it's been great to get him via Jonjo O'Neill's yard, where his final couple of runs weren't brilliant.

I didn't really have a handle on that form and didn't enter him at Cheltenham on purpose. I've been keen to let him find his feet and hopefully he'll now blossom, with a trip to Aintree possibly on the agenda. He'll love a bit of spring ground.

How do you reflect on Oistrakh Le Noir's Market Rasen win on Tuesday?

I was delighted with Oistrakh Le Noir, really happy with the way he did it.

This was much more what we expected after he finished quite tamely first time out for us and hopefully there's more to come.

He travelled, jumped extremely well and put it to bed nicely so there's no complaints from me.

He'll qualify for a mark now as he didn't arrive with a rating following two runs over hurdles in France and I'd like to think he could sneak into the Fred Winter at Cheltenham. I think he's a 128 horse so anything around there would be great and that would be enough for him to get a run at the Festival.

Newbury bill it 'Super Saturday' this week - what can we expect from Team BP?

Well, hopes are pretty high and we've obviously been working back from this Saturday with High Bridge and he's in great form ahead of the Betfair Hurdle.

He speaks for himself in many ways in that he's unbeaten from three starts at the track. He's ended up top weight which is quite surprising but Alex Ferguson's 7lb claim is extremely valuable and it may not be the hottest Betfair we've seen in recent years.

There's a lack of established two-mile hurdlers heading to the race and the main dangers are lurking a bit further down. Lalor possibly hasn't lived up to expectations yet but he and Kalashnikov may emerge as Sky Bet Supreme horses if they go well here and I actually think the latter is a lovely horse and certainly the right type for this race.


Sky Bet's Betfair Hurdle market - 8/1 Jenkins, Lalor, 10/1 Kayf Grace, Bleu Et Rouge, 12 Irish Roe, Kalashnikov, Lough Derg Spirit, Silver Streak, Waterlord, 12/1 High Bridge, Knocknanuss, Verdana Blue


I think the world of Nestor Park who absolutely loves this soft ground. He should be well suited to the race on Saturday and I'd be a bit disappointed if he didn't go well in the Listed bumper. It's bound to be a warm race but he's a horse I hold in very high regard.

Barters Hill is - and I keep my fingers crossed every time I talk about this horse - finally ready to make his belated return to the course.

He looks great at the moment, he really does and, with the yard back among the winners, I'm happy to let him take his chance. He's had a clean bill of health and I've actually tested a significant number of the horses again this week and there wasn't one that looked wrong.

I'd like to reiterate that Bart owes us absolutely nothing and anything he does now is a bonus, but I certainly wouldn't rule him out being pretty dangerous from a mark of 142 first time out. He's entered in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham but it'd be unfair on him to even talk in those terms yet after the long layoff he's had.

Ben Pauling on High Bridge and Nestor Park

What else should we be keeping an eye on this week?

We've got runners at Fakenham and Ludlow on Wednesday and Red Indian will hopefully be the highlight.

Three miles around Fakenham looks well within his remit and he's in good order. His form is pretty strong and he handles soft - there's not much to dislike with him and David Bass takes the ride.

We run Creep Debois at Ludlow, along with Kerry's Boy and Gowiththeflow in the same maiden hurdle.

I think Creep Debois could be well suited by the track. He's a lovely, honest horse that jumps well and won despite track and ground at Fakenham last time. There could still be a bit of mileage in his mark.

Gowiththeflow is a very decent horse who has Cheltenham entries and we like him a lot.

Am I Appropriate ran well in a bumper and we hope to get her back on track at Ludlow on Thursday after she pulled-up when last seen at Warwick.

We'll run either Equus Secretus or Kildisart in the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon and both are progressive horses in my view. You can draw a line through Equus Secretus's last run as he pulled too hard.

Black Kalanisi and Coole Well could appear on Friday at Kempton and I would like to think they'd run well.

Carlos Du Fruitier may run at Bangor. We did an overground scope with him and all seemed fine after his last run when he made a strange noise turning in. We ran a heart monitor and nothing came to light so there's every chance he could run.

Markov has a few entries but we might also wait for Ayr next week. I'm keen to keep an eye on his mark (138) as I want to run him in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham if at all possible.

Edwulf won the big one at Leopardstown - didn't you used to train him?

I certainly did, he was sent to me to train for a bumper after his point-to-point days and he was an absolutely huge horse.

He was very backward and the ground was a bit quick for him initially and he didn't run in Britain before his owner at the time - Donn Forster - felt he'd like to have a crack at the big bumper at the Punchestown Festival on his way to Ireland, where he was due to summer that year.

I didn't feel he'd done particularly well for his time there from a physical point of view and wasn't all that keen to run at Punchestown but the owner was happy to run and I was amazed when he ran a massive race to be seventh behind Champers On Ice.

I knew the owner was keen to link up with Joseph O'Brien and the horse never returned to me but he's one we've been watching with interest and it's fabulous for all concerned that he was able to win an Irish Gold Cup.

It seems there's no limit to what Joseph could achieve in his training career and having not officially won a Grade One before the weekend, he went and banged in two including the Irish Gold Cup! Remarkable stuff really and I wish he and Edwulf well in the future.

Edwulf (red cap) in among horses during the Irish Gold Cup
Edwulf used to be trained by Ben Pauling

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