Ben Nevis (eventually ) Scales the Heights: Admiral's Advice: John Arlott: White Carpets

 A few weeks ago, the weights came out for this year's Grand National, to be held on April 5th, at Aintree Liverpool,
The race always throws up a story and I was reminded the other day, whilst watching race videos, of the year 1980 and the victory of Ben Nevis.
Originally bred in England, he went point to pointing and eventually won a race and in so doing caught the eye of an American gentleman, Redmond C. Stewart Jnr.

He took a shine to the horse, bought and transported him to America; where after a modest start he managed to win the prestigious Maryland Cup in 1977 and 78.

Aimed at the Grand National, the horse was brought back to England to be trained by the Late Captain Tim Forester, at his stables in Lambourn.

I had the great fortune, whilst on a racing trip, to meet with the Captain, who graciously allowed us to wonder around his cottage and view his trophies and racing memorabilia . Tim was a true gentleman, who allowed his horses to slowly come to themselves. He never rushed their preparation and especially liked his 'chasers to be at least 8 years of age and capable of racing over distances of three miles or more.
The one problem with the man was he was a constant worrier and pessimistic in nature.

I can only wonder at his concern when Ben raced twelve times without troubling the judge and
thus it was in 1979,  that Ben was entered in the Grand National, ridden by his american jockey the amateur Mr. Charlie Fenwick. The horse made it as far as the chair fence and fell, His race was over.

The following year Ben was entered again at the ripe old age of 12. The ground was boggy and very heavy.
The Captain urged the owner not to run Ben, as he was sure the horse was unsuited by the ground conditions. Redmond ordered the Captain to give the horse his chance, especially as friends were flying across the Atlantic in Concorde to see the race.

The Captain"s orders to Mr Fenwick: Keep remounting!

But incredibly Ben seemed suited by the heavy going and in a race of attrition where only four horses finished Ben Nevis galloped in front and won by a comfortable 20 lengths; at the working man's price of 40/1. In doing so he became the second horse ridden by an American Amateur to win the race.
The first being Jay Trump in 1965.

Years later I met a punter at a race-meeting and we got talking about the races and the Grand National in particular. He told me he won over a grand by backing Ben Nevis. I asked him how on earth had he picked the horse.
He told me simply, that as Ben in the past had won the Maryland Cup and if he was good enough to get round those tough fences, he'd be all right at Aintree.

He went on to describe how dreadful the race conditions were, saying he could  hardly view any of the race and he remembers seeing a horse looming out of the mist and jumping the last in a clear lead.
He asked the name of the horse and was told Ben Nevis. At that juncture he became very happy indeed.
Ben Nevis


@CTFCOfficial Cheltenham Expects--- Know your enemy and yourself; then you can fight battles without disaster. Wear your shirt with pride.


My good friend K. mentioned to me the other day ( 25/02 ) that John Arlott, the supreme cricket commentator, had he been alive, would have reached the age of 100.

His distinctive hampshire burr was a joy to hear. The cricket ground was his canvass. His voice the paint. As in racing with Sir Peter Sullivan, a passion for the sport lifted the commentary to new levels. I liked the way John was prepared to pause, even on air to give his forthcoming words the gravitas they needed.
Here is a piece of vintage Arlott for you:

 " And now as the sun sets in the West, John Arlott will commentate on the remaining half-hour's play" 
John began :" And if the sun sets anywhere else than in the West, you will be the first to hear it."
Taken from Mike Brearley's piece from ' The Times '


Last Wednesday (26/2 ) D. and I visited the Sherborne National Trust Estate, near Northleach, Gloucestershire. We expected the ground to be very wet and muddy. In fact, apart from a few big puddles, the paths were quite walkable. The snowdrops we found were beautiful and spread in places like white carpets amongst the trees.
Here are our best photos:


Well March has arrived and hopefully  spring is round the corner.
Enjoy the week ahead.


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