HORSE RACING - Former footballer Ben Turner hopes Marsh Wren can fly to victory in listed feature at Warwick - The Leamington Observer

HORSE RACING - Former footballer Ben Turner hopes Marsh Wren can fly to victory in listed feature at Warwick

Leamington Editorial 13th Dec, 2023   0

FORMER Coventry City defender Ben Turner insists Marsh Wren is in ‘savage form’ ahead of the Larkshill Engineering Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices’ Chase at Warwick tomorrow (Thursday, December 14).

The now retired father of three describes the race as Marsh Wren’s ‘cup final’ and hopes the Stuart Edmunds-trained seven-year-old can hit the back of the net on her second appearance at Listed race level in the £35,000 feature prize.

The daughter of Schiaparelli, owned by the Far Bihoue Partnership which Turner runs, made the perfect start over fences when carrying top-weight to glory over course and distance last month to make it six career wins from just 10 starts.

And with the testing conditions set to be in Marsh Wren’s favour in tomorrow’s race, Turner believes she has the ideal chance to secure some valuable black type in the two-and-a-half-mile prize to enhance her status when she eventually retires and swaps the racetrack for the breeding sheds.

Turner said: “This is a massive opportunity for her to get some black type as we want to breed from her eventually as I don’t think we will get a better mare to breed from.

“She is from the sort of family that you want to breed from as well as she is so tough. From what both Stu and Ciaran Gethings have said she is looking in savage form at home.

“Arclight is rated higher than us, and is trained by a master trainer in Nicky Henderson, and we have to give her weight as she is only a four-year-old, but her best form is over shorter and on better ground.

“The ground can’t be testing enough for Marsh Wren. So many horses struggle to find that little bit extra when the ground is bottomless but she takes to it like a duck to water.

“This is Marsh Wren’s time of year, and this is her trip. This is her cup final, and we planned to go here even before she won her last start.

“She nearly pulled herself up in front last time as she thought she had done enough so we are hoping she was a bit more value than what her winning margin was.”

Reflecting on Marsh Wren’s debut victory over fences Turner, who also enjoyed spells playing for the likes of Burton Albion and Notts County along with naming ex Liverpool star Luis Suarez as the best player he faced, feels it was a success that perfectly summed up her character.

Turner added: “I’d seen her schooling before her first run over fences and I was sent some videos as well and both Stu and Ciaran said that if she brings her jumping from schooling to the track she would go well.

“As soon as they started the jumping in the race she locked on and was very interested in the fences and was not scared of them. It was a thrill to watch her attack them.

“She made one mistake down the back straight where the fences come thick and fast and she had every reason to lose a bit of bottle at the next, but she didn’t and that sums her up.

“Every time she has the chance to win she sticks her head down and goes and gets the job done. Her biggest strength is her tenaciousness. There is nothing soft about her; she is just so hardy and tough.”

While Turner’s days on the football pitch are now over the 35-year-old still has plenty of fond memories from a career that saw him play, and score, in the 2012 League Cup final for Cardiff City along with featuring in the Bluebirds team that won the 2012-13 Championship title.

He said: “My family would say the League Cup Final would be their best memory, and it would be my best one-off memory, but getting promoted to the Premier League was my best achievement as that takes some doing over 46 games.

“One of the games I remember most from that season was when we played Wolves away. We had a few injuries and the night before I didn’t feel great in the hotel.

“I was due to play centre back with Aron Gunnarsson who was a centre midfielder as we had no one else available to play at the back.

“I somehow managed to get through the game and we managed to get a result there despite the setbacks and that game I felt was a really turning point for us as a team as it showed the spirit we had.”

Associated with the glamour of the Premier League during his time as a professional footballer, Turner is proud of the fact that he been able to offer people outside of the stereotypical racehorse owner the opportunity to be part of something special with Marsh Wren.

He said: ”Marsh Wren was purchased on a shoestring budget and we have 30 people involved in her including several members of my family.

“What is great about the syndicate is that they are all working class people who have normal jobs. We haven’t got the resources to spend big money out of the point-to-point field but here they are with a horse in a Listed race.

“When I was playing football I was fortunate enough to have half and quarter shares in horses, along with own one outright, but being in a syndicate like this is no less of a buzz.

“We have people in their 20s right through to their 70s involved so we have the full age scale which is great to see.

“I think we should have between 15 and 20 of the syndicate at Warwick as some can’t get the time off work unfortunately, but I’m sure they will be scrambling around their phones to see her as everyone is really excited about this race.”


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