Ben Smith enjoys memorable first success at Ayr

There were joyous scenes at Ayr on Tuesday when 17-year-old Ben Smith rode his first ever winner on Follow Charlie, trained by his father, Mike.

Having just his fourth ride under rules, the teenager punched the air on crossing the line, delighted to get off the mark.

Sent off a 17-2 chance in the Ayr Completes Juilia’s Racecourse Journey Handicap Hurdle, he came home 10 lengths clear of Lewa House.

Ben Smith said: “It was just my fourth ride, my second at Ayr and I’m absolutely over the moon, I’m delighted.

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“I nearly won on him on my first ever ride. I’d say he was runner-up to a well-treated winner (Gamigin) who has won again since, that filled us with a bit more confidence coming here today and the step up in trip was always going to suit him.”

On returning to unsaddle, the youngster performed a flying dismount and said: “I’m not quite Frankie (Dettori) yet but I’ll keep trying!

“I just naturally progressed through pony racing, point-to-points and showjumping there was never anything else I was going to do.”

Mike Smith said: “I was very emotional, I was nearly crying but if you can’t get emotional about that, what are you in the sport for.

“To do it here, almost home turf, ridden by my son, a horse we bought for handy money (£2,500) – it’s fantastic.”

There was not such good news for Derek Fox who was taken to hospital with a suspected shoulder injury after his mount, Clovis Bay, fell on the flat.

The rest of the card was dominated by Northern Ireland-based Stuart Crawford, who enjoyed a treble.

Ballycoose (13-8 favourite) won the Ayrshire Wedding Show Novices’ Handicap Chase while Joshua Des Flos (4-7 favourite) was an easy winner of the Quiz Night At Golf Inn Prestwick Maiden Hurdle, with both ridden by Daryl Jacob.

JJ Slevin came over to ride Ailie Rose (6-4 favourite) in the Golf Inn Prestwick Handicap Hurdle.

Stuart Crawford (left) and J J Slevin were on the mark at Ayr
Stuart Crawford (left) and J J Slevin were on the mark at Ayr (Brian Lawless/PA)

Crawford is a regular visitor to the track and told Racing TV: “Apart from Down Royal and Downpatrick, this is almost our local track.

“It’s quicker for us to get here than going to the south of Ireland and it’s very easy because for two hours of that journey you are asleep on the boat or reading the paper.

“Joshua Des Flos has been here the last twice and he’s been beaten by nice horses, the novice hurdles here are as competitive as you get anywhere, they take a bit of winning – the big difference today was the softer ground.”

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