North Yorkshire trainer Chris Fairhurst is confident Benadalid can return to winning ways in the feature race on Flemingate Ladies’ Day at Beverley on Wednesday.
The four-year-old son of Assertive is one of nine declared runners for the Jill Willows Handicap (3.30) over a mile and a quarter. And though he was slightly disappointing on his last outing at Thirsk, having finished sixth of 10 in a mile-and-a-half-handicap, Fairhurst believes that run can be stricken from the record.
The Middleham-based handler said: “He’s been fine since Thirsk – not a bother – but we were just wondering whether he gets home over that sort of distance these days. Royston (Ffrench, jockey) got off him and said that he didn’t stay. He also got squeezed a bit and seemed to back off after that. He ran a good race, but I think we’ll see a better horse at Beverley.”
Benadalid has done really well for Fairhurst in a 20-race career that has yielded four victories and seven placed finishes. His crowning moment thus far came at Ripon last July, when he secured a big-race triumph in a class two handicap over a mile and a half. His form this year has been a touch in and out, but Benadalid won by a neck at Doncaster last month over this trip.
And Fairhurst said: “He’s one of the favourite horses in our yard. He’s a grand little horse and is as honest as they come. He’s run well all year, to be honest, and he showed at Doncaster that this trip might be ideal for him now he’s getting a little older. He finished third in the Brocklesby at Doncaster in good to soft, so he’s a versatile horse when it comes to the ground. It’s also grand that Joe (Fanning) rides. Joe won at him at Doncaster this year so he knows a bit more about him now. It’s a very competitive race, but he ticks a lot of boxes and is still 3lb lower than when he won at Ripon last season. We go to Beverley with a good chance and we’re all looking forward to it.”
Benadalid takes on a good-looking field that includes the red-hot Archie Perkins and last-time-out scorer Regal Mirage. Gossip Column has also been in good nick this term and is at the head of the weights for Ian Williams, whereas David O’Meara is doubled-handed with Stonific and Invasion Day. International Guy, Thomas Cranmer and Top Notch Tonto, who runs at Beverley for the first time in six years, completes the line-up.
Following six millimetres of rain on Monday evening, the official going for Flemingate Ladies’ Day – the social event of the year in East Yorkshire – is now good. Gates open at 11am, with the first of seven races due off at 2pm.