Horses To Follow » Bennys Mist

Bennys Mist

Bennys Mist put up a big performance to finish second behind the hugely impressive Ma Filleule in the Topham Chase at Aintree on Friday. Settled just behind the leaders through the early stages of the race, his jumping was good and he was not as keen in his first-time hood as he often can be. He travelled really nicely down the side of the track, and his jumping over these unique fences was fluent and effortless. He appeared to really enjoy himself over them.

He moved into a share of the lead with Ma Filleule over Valentine’s, and he travelled well just behind the mare on the run to the home turn. He was niggled along by Aidan Coleman on the run to the second last, and it was at that obstacle that he made his only mistake in the race as it appeared that the pacier horses were going to get away from him a little. However, he stuck to his task really well and, while Ma Filleule came right away from her field to post a really impressive victory, Bennys Mist stayed on best of the remainder to come from a share of fourth place over the last to get up and grab the runner-up spot from Eastlake and Double Ross inside the final 100 yards.

This was a new departure for Venetia Williams’ horse. Before this, his best performances had been on heavy ground, and his record at Aintree had been poor. In two runs there, he had been pulled up in last season’s Topham Chase, and he had finished 11th in the Becher Chase last December. This run proved that he could put up one of the best performances of his career on goodish ground, and that he operates at Aintree. More than that, he seemed to relish the fences. It may not be a coincidence that this was Bennys Mist’s first run in a hood, and that he appeared to improve for it. He has been a free-going sort in the past and, if he can continue to settle in his hood as well as he did here, he should be able to progress again as he moves back up in trip. He is an interesting horse for next year’s Grand National now. The Topham Chase can, unsurprisingly, be a good pointer to the following year’s National. Bindaree finished fourth in the Topham as a seven-year-old a year before winning the Grand National (he is the last horse aged as young as eight to win it), while Monty’s Pass finished second in the Topham as a nine-year-old the year before he won the National. Bennys Mist is eight, he should be well-equipped for the National next year as a nine-year-old or the following year as a 10-year-old.

The handicapper raised him 2lb for this run. That leaves him on a mark of 140, which should be high enough to get him into the National next year, all going well, and which should be low enough to see him set to carry a relatively low weight. Venetia Williams knows how to train a National winner, having done so with 100/1 shot Mon Mome, and it would not be at all surprising were she to train Bennys Mist specifically for the 2015 Grand National from now. If that is her plan, do not be afraid to see him race without his hood between now and next February when the weights are published. Only a few firms are betting on next year’s National, but the 66/1 that is currently available about Bennys Mist is interesting if you are into betting on races that will be run in 12 months’ time.

4th April 2014