Stratford winner Mole Court stepped up on Friday to give part owner Ed Hoddell a magic moment as Cheltenham launched back into life after a five month break, with a 1/2l staying-on victory in an amateur riders chase.
The six year old gelding has now won five races in the calendar year, and his last four outings at Worcester (twice) and Stratford in August.
But as with almost every winner at the home of the sport, the back story is as interesting as the horse itself. Horrell is the building contractor at Ben Pauling’s Naunton yard, having built much of it from scratch through his Hartpury Construction business. And whilst this would vest him deeply in Pauling’s ongoing success, there is more. Wife Tina fell ill during the course of the build, and was ill enough to miss this latest success, with the prognosis for a recovery not good. No surprise therefore that a winner in that most precious of Winner’s Enclosures should be so heartily received.
Pauling meanwhile enjoyed his best ever season in 2022-23; just as well considering the investment in the Naunton Downs Golf Club and new racing set up. Over 70% of Pauling runners have won or been placed since the off of the new term in May, and at this pace, he stands every chance of growing again and passing the £1m marker.
We’ve been lucky to see 3 of those winners here at Stratford this summer where his 10 runners to date have scored an impressive 33% strike rate, which could yet be improved this week for our final fixture on Thursday.