Frustrated Pauling puts Barter's Hill chasing bow on hold
Ben Pauling is one of many jumps trainers frustrated by the dry spell which shows no sign of ending, but he refuses to take unnecessary risks with his horses on quick ground.
Pauling, who declined to commit his stable star Barters Hill to the beginners’ chase at Newbury on Thursday after walking the course earlier in the week, said : “It’s a very frustrating time for everyone. My attitude is that we now have two very different seasons – summer jumping and winter jumping.
“The winter horses are the bigger, more traditional chasing type, and slightly heavier. They aren’t built to go on quick ground.”
Pauling’s team came into training at the beginning of July when the plan was to have plenty of runners by now.
“Mine are all ready to go,” he said. “The aim was to get them ready for the middle or end of October. However, the ground is just too quick for them at the moment – and it’s getting even quicker all the time.
“You’ve got to be prepared to pull out and be patient. Hopefully we may get a wet May so that we can get an extra run in then. I am not going to run anything unless there is ‘soft’ in the description. I’d soon end up with a depleted team if I ran them on the ground we’ve got at present.”
Barters Hill, winner of the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury last season, is reported in good form as he is prepared for a novice chase campaign.
“Barters Hill couldn’t be better. He’s done some very nice pieces of work and has been ready to go for the last ten days,” Pauling said.
“We looked at races at Wetherby, Huntingdon, Bangor and Newbury for him. I drove to Newbury on Tuesday afternoon and walked the course myself.
“There’s a beautiful covering of grass there, but you can only get the stick in an inch at best. I don’t want him to start his season on ground quicker than good.
“Barters Hill is a big, heavy-topped chaser. In the spring you’d run him on good to firm because there would be plenty of juice left from the winter. At the moment, though, after the dry summer and autumn, there is no moisture in the ground.”
Pauling withdrew two runners from Chepstow on Wednesday, Willoughby Court and Alpine Secret, after the ground dried out.
“It was good to soft there for the meeting last Tuesday, but it had dried out since and when I heard there was some good to firm places in the last three furlongs I had no hesitation in taking them both out,” he said.
“It’s a tough old time, but it will change. The rain will arrive at some stage. We’ve just got to be patient.”