A double at Windsor for Harry Bentley on Saturday evening followed victory in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes on board Hawksmoor. The talented young rider continues to impress and has notched up four winners in the last two days from just seven rides.
From West Sussex, his big break came at 16 when due to take his A levels he was approached by Horsham trainer Gary Moore and encouraged to gain his apprentice licence. He was offered rides by Moore and said of the time: “It was a big risk to drop out of education, but I took it and so far so good.”
Though still a relative youngster at 23 he is already recovering from the setback of losing his post as jockey for Qatar Racing a year ago. The decision came as something of a shock at the time, but Bentley handled the matter with a great deal of style and maturity. When interviewed he said: “I had been retained by Qatar for two years so to part company after that period is naturally going to take a little time to sink in. These things have a habit of working themselves out, and I have no doubt that this will be for the best in the long-run. I am grateful for the opportunities which Qatar has offered and I still might pick up the odd ride for them next season.”
There’s little doubt that his handling of such a situation has been to his advantage. He is doing his talking on the track, keeping his head down and impressing those around with his stylish riding performances. He spent another hugely successful winter travelling to Qatar riding for the country’s leading owner, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani. He set a new record with 105 winners, 69 ahead of his nearest rival.
His agent, Mark Robinson, said: “He really matured over the winter in Qatar. He has grown in confidence and he would be the first to admit it. He anticipates and tends to challenge wide. He rarely gets into trouble.”
That was certainly true of his win on Hawksmoor at Goodwood. Extricated from something of a pocket two furlongs out, he came with a power-packed finish to get up in the shadow of the post. “I was stuck behind the wrong horse but once she's got some room she's picked up really well”, said Bentley. “I thought she'd be a convincing second 50 yards out but she flew and I just thought she'd got there. The ground is massive for her and she's always shown a lot at home. The obvious thing will be to step her up to a mile now.”
Those following the young jockey during this summer will be considerably wealthier thanks to a stunning profit of over £100 to a £1 stake. And it was the second Group 3 success of the year for Bentley on a Palmer trained filly, following the victory for New Providence back in July at York.
He continues to get rides for Godolphin though would clearly love more. One success at Windsor came on board Beautiful Romance in the listed Sri Lanka August Stakes. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the filly won with any amount in hand, giving Bentley few problems on top. The double took his tally to 40 for the season at a strike rate of 21%.
Supported by a number of high profile trainer’s including Ralph Beckett, William Haggas and Roger Charlton, Bentley will hope for further eye-catching performances as the season draws to a close. He looks destined for greater things, and it would come as no surprise to see him snapped up by a formidable outfit before the next season begins.