Hamilton is a happy hunting ground for Kevin and the stats back that up as the Scottish track is where Kevin has trained more turf winners than anywhere else. It was quite fitting that a horse named after a famous Scottish peak would make his debut in the country. Ben Macdui is the second highest mountain in Britain but the name sake wasn’t going to settle for second best. Ben Macdui put inexperience to one side and made a winning debut in the 5f Irish EBF Novice Stakes.
Kodiac needs no introduction as a sire and even more so now with the exploits of Hello Youmzain. If you are looking for sharp juveniles then Kodiac would top the list. Ben Macdui was the typical type, strong, precocious looking yearling who more than likely be an early 2yo. That was true with his work too and Ben Macdui came was ready to rock but had to bide his time with the current predicament. This led to a growth spurt so that when racing returned, Ben Macdui wasn’t able to hit the track immediately. It could well have been a blessing in disguise and gave the 2yo an extra few weeks to really mature.
Kevin has unleashed some lovely juveniles at Hamilton with the likes of East and Bapak Chinta winning there. The track is tricky early doors with the downhill run but the finish is nice. Rising up in the final furlong, the stiff finish allows jockeys to take their time and gives 2yo’s the chance to finish. This means that generally it is quite a fair track and Ben Macdui headed to Scotland to face 7 rivals. The race offered very little form with Salsoul having shown the best. With Kevin’s horses in great form, Ben Macdui was well supported to make a winning debut and challenged Salsoul for favouritism. Eventually nothing could separate them and both would start as 3/1 joint-fav.
It has been a real break out season for Kevin Stott, who is flying high in the jockey’s championship and he was partnering Ben Macdui. Jumping well, Ben Macdui was straight into stride from his central stall and went forward. His market rival was away well too on the inside and immediately tracked over to the stands side rail. Stott followed suit and the pair pressed on, charging downhill. Ben Macdui did just fight for his head a couple of times but it was Stott who won the day, getting his gelding to settle alongside Salsoul. With the favourites pressing the action it was a typically fast pace with a couple becoming detached early on.
The field quickly passed the halfway stage. Ben Macdui travelled well and Kevin was happy to let him free wheel along. Downhill sprints can be tricky for younger horses but Ben Macdui was balanced so Stott didn’t want to do anything to knock him off that rhythm. The high tempo would ensure a stern finish when the youngsters hit the rising ground. Salsoul pressed on with the help of the rail and opened up to a 1/2 length lead passing the 2f marker. It was at this stage that Kevin had to start earning his riding fee. Although he began to work it was to get his mount lengthening and the gelding did that. Only Salsoul was left on the bridle as those behind began to work, attempting to make their challenge on the leader.
Ben Macdui was beginning to shift through the gears and had kept tabs with the leader. Stott was still just niggling and urging his mount but was ready to really press the button. The leader sensed the danger and from 1 1/2f came under a drive to try and capitalise on their lead. Stott followed suit and inched closer, looking like a big danger. For a few strides the first sign of inexperience started to show as Ben Macdui edged away from his rival. Kevin was quick to realise this and immediately pulled his stick through to his right hand. With a few slaps he straightened up the gelding, got him back balanced and moving forward again.
Entering the final furlong the two market leaders were eyeball to eyeball. Ben Macdui looked the stronger of the pair but couldn’t overhaul Salsoul who continued to lead along the rail. Slowly the penny started to drop and this was the first time Ben Macdui had really been asked any questions. Suddenly he realised what Kevin wanted from him and he found another gear. Whilst his rivals couldn’t quicken on the rising ground, Ben Macdui scooted away at the 1/2f. This move put the race to bed and Stott knew that. He had asked the question of Ben Macdui and the gelding had come through for him. The moment he opened up, Kevin was able to sit up on the gelding and rode the momentum to the line. The winning margin was a comfortable 1 length as Ben Macdui got off the mark on the first go.
It was an impressive debut from Ben Macdui and this run can be marked up. People may question the form of the contest but he was visually impressive and the way he won was very pleasing. Through the early stages Ben Macdui was very professional and once the penny dropped he put the race to bed. There was only one time where he showed greeness but he quickly learnt and gave Stott everything. Showing good speed and then a turn of foot is impressive and Ben Macdui will surely be aiming higher in the future with 6f well within his grasp.