Ask Ben was a surprise 50-1 winner of “The French Furze” Novices’ Hurdle at Newcastle.
Sponsored by Weatherbys Racing Bank, the Class Two event has been won by some decent types down the years – including subsequent Gold Cup winner Native River in 2014.
Trained by Graeme McPherson, the five-year-old had been second in his most recent point-to-point, behind a horse who won at Hereford this week, but he was expected to come on considerably for the run.
Dan Skelton’s Beakstown and Brian Ellison’s Windsor Park had wins and experience under their belts, while Lord Du Mesnil put the pace to the race, but it was Ask Ben who prevailed in a blanket finish by a head.
“We came here because it was a small field and their was prize-money down to sixth, all he does is gallop and jump,” said McPherson.
“To be honest, he’d hardly set the world alight at home, but it was nice to see the horse who beat him in a point win the other day (Danny Whizzbang).
“As this was not expected, I didn’t even have £1 each-way on him. I’ll have to go home and have a look at the computer to see what we do next.
Two greys set out in the Weatherbys General Stud Book “Introductory” Juvenile Hurdle and they fought out the finish – but by the time Style De Vole (2-5 favourite) and Oi The Clubb Oi’S crossed the line they were covered in mud.
Nicky Henderson’s Style De Vole eventually gained the upper hand, although Barry Geraghty’s mount then had to survive a stewards’ inquiry having carried Ian Williams’ runner across the track.
“It’s pretty tiring ground and he was just hanging,” said Geraghty.
Speaking from Newbury, Henderson said: “I suppose it was a bit harder than it should have been, but it is only the second time he has seen a racecourse. Mind you, a lot of the others were the same, as it was an introductory race.
“He has not been in that long and he came over in the summer looking very French. He came and had a gallop at Newbury and I thought he might have been straight enough.
“He has done himself well, as he had put on a lot of weight. All these horses are coming on for their runs.”
Sandy Thomson’s Dimple (9-1) jumped with enthusiasm for Sean Quinlan to win the Equine Products UK Handicap Chase.
An Irish point winner, he showed little in two starts for Iain Jardine but Thomson possibly explained why.
“When he ran in a bumper at Ayr he got loose and got a cut in his bum. When he came back from David’s (Armstrong, owner) this year we spotted a lump on his bum and it was a bit of plastic,” said Thomson.
“It had been stuck in there for three years so might explain why he’s been tricky to train. Hopefully he’s over his issues.”
Polydora (15-8 favourite) made all in the GVA Building Newcastle’s Future Chase for Tom Lacey and Alan Johns.