Horses To Follow » Penn Da Benn

Penn Da Benn

Penn Da Benn pulled Charlie Huxley’s arms out for most of the two-and-three-quarter-mile trip in the second division of the staying handicap hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday, so much so that it looked like it would count against him at the end of the race, that he was expending so much energy fighting against his jockey that he wouldn’t have much left to give in the closing stages on really testing ground. It didn’t. If anything, he probably had more left to give than what was required to get there. Taking it up from Fistral Beach and Stripe Me Blue on the run to the second last, he hung badly to his left as Huxley looked around anxiously to see where the others were. He almost walked over the last, and didn’t pick up again until he reached the rail on the run-in and Stripe Me Blue mounted a challenge of sorts on the far side. However, once he picked up again the result was never in doubt. Penn Da Benn is obviously a talented individual, but he also obviously has his quirks. He didn’t show a much in four runs last season when with Philip Hobbs, but the switch to Alan King’s yard seems to have kindled his enthusiasm. He fell on his debut for King, but was an impressive winner of a handicap hurdle at Exeter on New Year’s Day on his second start. He was given a 13lb hike for that by the handicapper, which left him on a mark of 125 for Saturday’s contest, of which he made light. A three-length defeat of Stripe Me Blue isn’t really much to write home about, and the well-fancied favourite, the Paul Nicholls-trained Fistral Beach stopped as if shot just after they levelled up for home, but Penn Da Benn had any amount in hand. Also, Stripe Me Blue won this race last season, so it is probable that he was being geared up to peak for a repeat bid. Because the winning margin was relatively narrow, and because Penn Da Benn had to be ridden hard to score, it is unlikely that the handicapper will be too hard on him. Even a 5lb or 6lb hike could significantly under-estimate his ability and, now that he is on a winning thread, he should be worth following wherever he goes next. He saw out this trip well, but a drop back down to two and a half miles, when they would go a little faster in the early stages, could suit him better.

14th February, 2009