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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Winks pays tribute to old stalwart Chestnut Ben after bringing career to a close

Chestnut Ben (green) was described as being "as brave as a lion" by trainer Peter Winks
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Peter Winks says everybody at his yard will miss veteran chaser Chestnut Ben after his career came to an end one race earlier than planned this week.

The 12-year-old had been due for a festive farewell on December 26 but after he was found to have tweaked a leg in the wake of his last start at Doncaster on December 1, the decision was taken to bring his retirement forward.

Chestnut Ben now heads to his owner Russell Lee's property near Beverley with an enviable record of 12 wins and a further 27 placed efforts from 74 starts, with £83,177 in prize-money banked.

"It's a fantastic return for an old chaser, you don't get even get many Flat horses who do that," said Winks. "He's been a good old stick and we're going to miss him."

Winks took over the care of Chestnut Ben from Gary Brown in November 2014, after Tony McCoy had won three races on the son of Ridgewood Ben.

'Brave as a lion'

It was Winks' son Ryan who got on best of all with him though, winning six times and the trainer recalled: "Tony once said to us he didn't know how he was going to get him to win but he did eventually, like he always did.

"I remember I picked him up from Henrietta Knight's when we got him, and when I was leaving she told me I'd get more out of this horse. I wondered what she was on about, but lo and behold we did. He just seemed to get better from nine to 11, they were his golden years."

Chestnut Ben won six times for Winks, the highest-rated of which came off 120, and the trainer identified his victory in the 2016 Scottish Champion Chase at Musselburgh, for which he was sent off an 18-1 chance in a field that included the Nicky Henderson-trained 5-2 favourite Full Shift, as the pick of them.

"It was something else when we beat Nicky Henderson's favourite in the Scottish Champion Chase, that was fantastic," said Winks. "He was one of the big outsiders and it took me about a week to get sober afterwards, it was absolutely fabulous."

Winks added: "He'll probably be fed up out in a field because he really loved his job, so I think he might go down the eventing road if he takes to showjumping. He's brave as a lion and he'll jump anything, so they'll give him a shot when he gets better."

If you are interested in this, you should read:

Retraining centres set for new approval system

Racing must unite in drive to enhance the lifetime care of horses


He was one of the big outsiders and it took me about a week to get sober afterwards
E.W. Terms
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