Ben Pauling struck out on his own in 2013 after being assistant trainer to Nicky Henderson for six years.
Yet another that has succumb to the beauty of the Cotswolds, his stables are at Bourton Hill Farm, just south of the pretty village of Bourton On The Water. With 44 boxes, two five furlong gallops an indoor school an outdoor school, Solarium, horse-walker and so on and so forth, he certainly has the facilities to make an impact.
Ben started working for bloodstock agent David Redvers in 2007 after graduating from Reading University where he had taken a Property Land Management course. Bitten by the racing bug his enthusiasm for the training of horses grew and he was encouraged to take the plunge at a racing yard. In February 2008 he started as assistant to Nicky Henderson at Lambourn. Learning from one of the best in the business, he was lucky enough to be associated with the likes of Bobs Worth, Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig.
Riding from a young age, horses have played a large part in his life. Pauling’s father and grandfather trained their own horses so it seemed inevitable that Ben would follow suit. The daunting new venture, not far from where he grew up, was made slightly easier through the love and support of new wife Sophie. Starting with just 15 horses he saddled his first winner Raven’s Tower in a handicap hurdle at Plumpton on November 4, 2013. He sent out a total of nine winners in his first season.
Currently on 16 this winter, eight of those have come over fences at a strike rate of 40%. Two victories came at Towcester last Thursday when course specialist Newton Thistle won over fences and then the young French import Assirem galloped home by 13 lengths in a handicap hurdle. It continued a terrific recent run which has yielded five winners in the last two weeks.
Pauling has a fine team of jockey’s at Bourton Hill Farm. David Bass is the yard’s number one who Ben got to know during their time at Seven Barrows. Bass was a successful conditional for Nicky Henderson and while he still rides for him and various other trainers he is at Ben's yard as often as possible. He has played a huge part in the yard’s initial success.
Nico De Boinville is another Seven Barrows regular with a wealth of experience having worked with some of the very best horses in training. He schools and rides out at the yard as often as he can and has ridden several winners for Pauling during the winter.
And what of the horses that are going to put the Bourton yard on the map? That recent success for Assirem was certainly no fluke. Carrying the well-known silks of owners Paul and Clare Rooney, more commonly found on a Donald McCain inmate, the horse looks capable of stringing together a number of wins. A big strapping five-year-old he appeared well suited by the stiff finish at Towcester.
Ballyhenry won a bumper at Warwick, beating a talented horse from the Tizzard stable. A typically powerful looking son of Presenting he performed better than expected in the heavy conditions and looks a terrific prospect, not only as a future hurdler but over fences in time.
Pithivier is another young hurdler with plenty of potential. Last seen chasing home Commissioned back in November in a novice hurdle at Kempton, he is a son of Poliglote and is yet to be out of the places in four runs. Another owned by the Rooney’s, who have a decent string with Pauling, he is set to run again this weekend at Newbury or Exeter.
It’s early days for Pauling and his team, and as with all the younger trainers, it’s a case of improving facilities, attracting new owners and building on the quality of equine stock. Competition is tough, but Ben’s experience under Nicky Henderson is sure to have left an indelible mark. Those connections made during his time at Seven Barrows will undoubtedly help.
The future looks bright for this latest addition to a thriving Cotswold racing scene.