Former football manager Harry Redknapp might have had to make do with watching Shakem Up’Arry from the comfort of his home, however it failed to stop him from enjoying his biggest victory as a racehorse owner at Cheltenham from a far according to triumphant trainer Ben Pauling.
The former Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Portsmouth and Southampton manager was the first on the phone to the Naunton handler after the 10-year-old carried his red, blue and white silks to victory in the £100,000 Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase.
After running no race on his seasonal return at Stratford the Flemensfirth gelding failed to see out the three and a quarter mile trip in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury on his most recent start. However, the drop back in distance appeared to work the oracle today.
Held onto until as late as possible by Ben Jones the 11-2 chance drew alongside Frero Banbou on the run down to the final fence before he was unleashed over the last and sent on his way to glory in the extended two-and-a-half-mile contest.
Despite idling slightly, it failed to halt the momentum of Shakem Up’Arry who passed the post seven and a half lengths clear of Frero Banbou.
Pauling said: “It will mean a lot to everyone this. As an owner I would say it is his biggest result. It is important to have those days.
“Unfortunately, Harry is at home as Sandra has got a bit of flu so they couldn’t be here today, but that meant a lot. He has already been on the phone and he is absolutely loving it.
“It is the first time he has ever found off the bridle to be honest. I slightly felt that are we coming back to waters that have been swum before and are we going to get the same result.
“I don’t think he travelled as well today as he normally does. He was really keen in the Coral Gold Cup and today he was behind the bridle. Maybe that is the key to just get him to switch off.
“Luca Morgan used to ride him every time and he said he was just flat tack the whole way (over this trip). I’d say the ground and everything else has played right for him today.
“He travelled and flattened out slightly at Aintree last season and we did his wind over the summer and I would say that has helped a little bit.
“His first race this season at Stratford was a disaster as he couldn’t raise a gallop. He was then too keen in the Coral Gold Cup and couldn’t get home, but we have managed to get it right by hook or by crook today.
“I wasn’t getting excited until he jumped the last because I could then see he was going away. He slightly idled in front, but not too badly, and he had it under control at that point.
“He will come straight back here in March at the Festival for the Plate that he ran in last season. He could go in the Ultima if the ground was quick and he will probably have an entry in both races. That is where he is. “
Pauling also heaped plenty of praise on the winning rider, who was celebrating his first Cheltenham success.
Pauling added: “That is amazing as he is a great lad. With Luca (Morgan) retiring we needed someone to come in behind Kielan (Woods) and Ben has filled that spot.
“Woodsy is a superstar, and he has done a huge amount for us, but I always felt after Stratford it went so badly he then ran for Ben at Newbury, and I’m sure he would have run for Woodsy, but I decided to leave Ben on today and see how we got on and it worked.”
Jockey Ben Jones, riding his first Cheltenham winner at the 28th attempt, told ITV Racing: “At one stage I didn’t think I was going to do it (ride a Cheltenham winner).
“Growing up as a child, watching these big occasions at Cheltenham with the likes of Dickie (Richard Johnson), AP (Sir AP McCoy) and all the rest riding makes you want to win here and it’s an amazing feeling to finally do it.
“It’s a wonderful day and it’s great to ride Ben (Pauling) a Cheltenham winner – it means a lot.
“This horse is an absolute dude. He’s big and took a long time to fill into his frame. He jumps like an absolute buck and that is probably what has won it for him today.
“To get the call up today and deliver the goods – I couldn’t be happier.”