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Meet the racehorse called The Cob: a mischievous Grade Two-winner who despises other horses

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  • ‘The Cob’ isn’t a name that you would immediately associate with a racehorse, let alone a Grade Two-winner. But for one particular thoroughbred, who won the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle under Daryl Jacob at Doncaster on Saturday 30 January 2021, The Cob is exactly what he is called.

    Trained by Cotswolds-based Ben Pauling, The Cob got his name when he first arrived on the yard as a three-year-old, after Ben and his wife Sophie picked him up at the Tattersalls Ireland August National Hunt sale for a relatively cheap €13,000 in 2017.

    “The girl riding him out started calling him ‘Cobby,’” explained Ben to H&H reporter Marcus Armytage after the horse’s win on Saturday. “I said ‘that’s not a great name’. She asked if he had a name and suggested he should be called The Cob so we did, though he’s a bit better than your average cob!”

    The seven-year-old son of Let The Lion Roar, is 16.1hh and is described as a “leg in each corner type” by Ben’s secretary Hannah Vowles: “He has a good amount of bone but is a very good-looking horse too.”

    But the story of The Cob, who has now earnt £27,591 in prize money for Ben, Sophie and The Ben Pauling Racing Club, who are also involved in his ownership, doesn’t stop there, as it transpires he posesses character in abundance.

    When Hannah asked Olly Andrews, who looks after The Cob, and Nathan Green, who rides him at home, for The Cob’s back-catalogue of quirks and tricks, so that she could share them with H&H, they laughed.

    “Both Olly and Nathan said how cheeky The Cob is,” she explains. “He tips the wheelbarrow over when you’re trying to muck him out and will chew broom handles. He is also the only horse on the yard, who doesn’t have an equine neighbour — he really dislikes other horses, but is totally happy in his own company.”

    So The Cob has a stable where he can’t see other horses. Instead he has a ‘room with a view’, overlooking the working farmyard that sits on the same site as Ben’s training facility.

    “He loves watching tractors move about and all the machinery coming and going, but if you want to plait or pull his mane, for example, it will take two people to get the job done as he would much rather not have you there at all — he does things his own way,” laughs Hannah.

    “We very much treat each horse as an individual and he is the epitome of that! He’s not a mean horse by any means — he is just his own man.”

    The Cob’s character is also very apparent when he is being tacked up.

    “He loves to chew and the first thing that he attacked were his rein stops,” says Hannah. “So Nathan made sure that once he was tacked up, The Cob’s reins were tightly twisted in the throatlash to stop that. Then he moved onto his girth sleeve, which he managed to chew off one morning — he’s now the only horse on the yard that doesn’t wear one — he is a massive opportunist!”

    So, when the rein stops and girth sleeve couldn’t be The Cob’s game any more, he decided the only thing left in his repetoire was to roll, while completely tacked up.

    “He’s done it twice so far,” laughs Hannah. “But when he is ridden, he goes about his business and is very professional. He is lazy in walk and trot, but knows what he needs to do on the gallops.”

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    And now, after a nine-length win that “thrilled” but also slightly “surprised” the Pauling team last weekend, The Cob could be heading to this year’s Cheltenham Festival for a tilt at the Albert Bartlett.

    “It would be magical for The Ben Pauling Racing Club if he got to the Festival,” says Hannah. “He wasn’t originally entered for the race and to supplement him [put in a late entry] will cost £4,500, but it’s £4,500 whether we supplement him now or wait until the cut-off date, so Ben is going to wait and see.”

    “Even though he’d won two before this weekend, I’d have thought the Albert Bartlett was pie in the sky,” said Ben on Saturday. “But he’ll be trained for it and if he’s in good form [then he will go] – we don’t have to supplement until six days before.”

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