Powerhouse Pauling ready to get more kicks at Cheltenham
Ben Pauling celebrated like he had won the Champions League when Willoughby Court gave him his first festival winner last month, but the trainer suspects his latest Cheltenham challenge might be beyond him on Wednesday night.
Pauling will line up alongside former perennial champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy and riders Sam Twiston-Davies, David Bass, Wayne Hutchinson, Alain Cawley and Jamie Bargary in a charity football match against a Cheltenham Legends XI in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
Professional ringers Conrad Logan, Julian Joachim, Darren Byfield, Seth Johnson, Francis Jeffers and current Cheltenham Town captain Aaron Downes have been recruited for the racing side, but organiser Chris Coley, who hopes to raise more than £15,000, admitted disappointment at "missing out on a star like Luke Harvey" who will be at Newmarket for ITV4.
'I love it and I can't wait'
Pauling said: "I'm really looking forward to it but haven't played a competitive 11-a-side game for a long time. I played a lot as a kid up to the age of about 15 and played regularly then, while I play every Tuesday night socially now. I love it and can't wait.
"I'm the most competitive bugger in the world and do love my football, so it should be great fun, but I can't help but feel the ex-pros of Cheltenham might be a bit handy.
"I know Shane Duff well – he was great mates with my sister at school – and he's playing. He's still only 35, so he's not going to be rusty, is he?"
Pauling, a midfield powerhouse in his prime, was expecting to slot in at full-back and promised to be "physical".
He added: "It's going to be a great evening and it's for a fantastic cause in the Injured Jockeys Fund. Chris Coley has put a huge amount of effort into it and hopefully it'll be exciting to watch and participate in.
"If Charlie Poste starts he's a very able footballer, while Jamie Bargary is quite useful. Bassy is a supersonically fit guy, he runs non-stop, and is quite talented."
The match kicks off at 7.30pm at the LCI Rail Stadium, Cheltenham, GL52 5NA and will be played under floodlights. Tickets cost £10 (£5 for under-16s and concessions) and there will also be half-time entertainment in the form of a penalty shootout featuring Wayne Shaw, the pie-eating ex-Sutton United keeper who faces champion trainer Paul Nicholls, among others.
Former rugby international Nicky Robinson is Paddy Power's favourite, and the firm's Paul Binfield said: "It's fair to say the market has failed to ignite yet, but as so often with novelty markets like this, unexpected things can happen fairly quickly and there's still time!"
Paddy Power Penalty Potshot
Paddy Power: 7-2 Nicky Robinson, 5 Paddy Brennan, James Simpson-Daniel, 6 John Francome, 8 Fergal O’Brien, Dan Skelton, 10 Martin Keighley, 12 Carl Llewellyn, Peter Scudamore, 16 Paul Nicholls, Nick Skelton, 20 Jonjo O’Neill
You can donate to the Injured Jockeys Fund here