Just about Ben! Awapuni horse Just Ben records 10th second placing

Just Ben (number 1 saddle cloth) had to be content with yet another second placing at the Levin Racing Club meeting, the 10th of his career.

A hardcase racehorse is gaining a cult following for “just about” winning.

Just Ben, a five-year-old gelding from Awapuni, has developed a frustrating knack for running second.

Sometimes he’s looked home-and-hosed halfway down the straight, like yesterday at the Levin Racing Club’s meeting at Ōtaki, when he cruised to the lead on the home turn – only to be dive-bombed by another horse in the shadows of the post .

Raceday commentator Tony Lee’s voice went up a notch when Just Ben and jockey Jonathan Riddell hit the lead.

“Just Ben … he’s starting to level he’s gone to the lead here … Just Ben having his 34th start is he going to break through today we won’t put the mocker on him … he’s in front though .. . out wide now getting home really well is Strides … and Strides is going to blow all over top of them the last little bit and will beat Just Ben,” he said, hardly believing it himself.

“… second again, dear me…” he summed up.

It was Just Ben’s 10th second placing in 34 career starts. His trainer Gary Vile isn’t giving up hope, confident a deserved win is just around the corner for the stable favorite.

“There’ll be a party when he does,” he says.

Just Ben is a bit of a character. He has a laid-back personality and is as easy as a rocking horse to ride each day, making him a favorite among the staff.

Awapuni horse Just Ben, pictured with attendant Tracey Preston at the Levin Racing Club meeting.
Awapuni horse Just Ben, pictured with attendant Tracey Preston at the Levin Racing Club meeting.

Vile said the ownership group involved in Just Ben – A Vincent, D Taylor, G Towers, C Oxenham, M Evans and M Osborn – won’t be waiting long to get that winning photo on the wall.

“They’re a great bunch of owners. They’re all friends of mine,” he says.

“He’s been unlucky. He’s run some good races without much luck and only just been beaten. But he’s earning a check each time and paying for himself.

“We’ll win a race with him soon, don’t worry about that. His turn will come over summer.”

Just Ben also recorded four thirds, four fourths and five fifths, earning $34,485 in prize money. He also finished second on a further four occasions in trial races.

The lion’s share of the $15,000 stake in the Ribbon Plus Maiden (1200m) at Ōtaki yesterday was Stride’s winning cut of $8400, while Just Ben earned $2700 for coming second.

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