Press Release 27th October 2023 Cheltenham
BY GRAHAM CLARK
Tears of both joy and sadness trickled down the face of part owner Ed Hoddell who insisted there is a ‘racing God’ after Mole Court secured a highly emotional success when completing a four-timer with a tenacious victory in the Close Brothers Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase on day one of The Showcase today.
The Ben Pauling-trained six-year-old received the biggest cheer of the day on walk back into the famous winner’s enclosure when digging deepest of them all under Jack Andrews in the three miles and one furlong prize to add to his brace of wins at Worcester and last time out victory at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Racing beyond an extended two miles and six furlongs for the first time, the 9-1 chance found plenty of stamina in reserve late on to deny Midnight Our Fred by half-a-length with stablemate Wick Green a further length back in third much to the delight of Hoddell, whose wife Tina is battling an illness.
Hoddell, who is based in Hartpury, said; “There is a racing God and he has smiled down on us today. That is all I can say. All our friends are over there. I’m so happy and so sad at the same time.
“It is incredibly emotional, and I’d like to say a huge thanks to Ben and all the team up at Naunton Downs as they are an amazing team up there. It is just wonderful.
“We did a little bit of work up there. Ben and Sophie through the whole process of building the yard have been incredible.
“They are great people to work for and great people to have a horse with. They are just wonderful people. I didn’t have time to think about the race.
“There are four of us involved in the horse my father-in-law Michael, Oliver and Lizzie (Troup) and myself. We called him Mole Court as he was the initials of the people. It is just wonderful.”
Equally emotional was the Naunton handler who hopes the victory would give the Hoddell family ‘every bit of joy they deserve’.
Pauling said: “Ed basically single handedly with his whole team built my new yard and halfway through the build his wife Tina fell ill and very sadly she is not very well at all. We don’t know how long (she has left) but hopefully this will have given her everything.
“She is the most incredible person. Tina, we do love you lots. It is quite hard to talk about but this horse means a lot to everyone. This means so much. We all love winners here, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like this.
“Tina and the Hoddells are the most amazing family and I hope this gives them every bit of joy they deserve.”
Ben Pauling is preparing a small but select team for next week’s Unibet Jump Season Opener at Chepstow.
Awaythelad has been earmarked for a tilt at the Grade Two Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle on the Friday card of a two-day fixture.
The six-year-old was placed at Uttoxeter, Ascot and Fontwell last season and could benefit from that experience in what is always a competitive contest.
Pauling told Sky Sports Racing: “He just wasn’t quite right last season and is still a maiden.
“But you quite often see, with a bit of experience under your belt, a second-season novice goes well in a race like that.
“You might not be the best novice hurdler for the rest of the season but experience helps and we’re aiming him for that.”
Galahad Threepwood closed last season with a disappointing effort at Cheltenham after falling heavily at Warwick.
However, he had previously scored at Doncaster and is a possible contender for the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle.
“He was a bit tricky to win with last year but did win one and he’s got loads of gears, so he could do that sort of race,” added Pauling.
Jipcot was 11th in the Triumph Hurdle on his first start for Pauling after landing a Pau double under Patrice Quinton.
The trainer reported: “He’s a lovely French horse we’ve bought who we probably rushed a little bit when running in the good juveniles towards the end of last year.
“He’s come back in looking great so he’ll go for the four-year-old handicap hurdle.”
Pauling finished last term with a career-best tally of 80 winners and is keen to build on that with another strong campaign.
He said: “The yard’s thriving, everyone is in a great place and it’s a really enjoyable time for us at the moment.
“Last season went so well that you sort of have to pinch yourself, but at the same time as everyone is saying how amazing it was, you’ve now got to stick to it.
“We’ve got some fabulous owners who have bought some very nice horses so hopefully we’ve got some really nice ones to go to war with.”