Benny The Dip

Benny The Dip 1997 Epsom Derby Champion

  • b or br h Silver Hawk – Rascal Rascal (by Ack Ack)
  • Races: 11, Wins: 5
  • Foaled: 1994
  • Trainer: John Gosden
  • Owner: Landon Knight

Benny The Dip American-bred and British-trained Thoroughbred Racehorse and Sire

Benny The Dip was trained at Newmarket by John Gosden and never fought shy of taking on the best. He ran in several top two-year-old races, and performed well on every occasion. The Silver Hawk colt recorded three wins from five starts as a juvenile. His biggest success was in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot in September, when he beat Michael Stoute’s Desert Story. He also finished a close third behind Medaaly and Poteen in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

Benny The Dip’s seasonal debut in 1997 pitched him in against some other Derby hopefuls in the Thresher Classic Trial at Sandown. And he ran a blinder to finish one and a half lengths second behind Voyagers Quest. Gosden’s horse also had another Derby chance Silver Patriarch a head behind him in third.

The Dante Stakes at York was the final classic warm-up for Benny The Dip, and he put in an excellent performance on the Knavesmire. Given an inspired ride by the brilliant young Frenchman Olivier Peslier, the son of Silver Hawk gradually drew away from a good field to beat Craven Stakes winner Desert Story by two and a half lengths.

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The next stop was Epsom, and seemingly the battle for second place behind hot Derby favourite Entrepreneur. But Entrepreneur never fired and the huge bets on him were lost.

Willie Ryan had Benny The Dip perfectly placed in the front rank and kicked for home early in the straight. With a furlong to go Gosden’s colt was a street clear, but Pat Eddery and Silver Patriarch were beginning to get into top gear. Throughout an amazing final furlong Silver Patriarch found another gear and put up a spirited challenge. The pair flashed past the post together, and the result was in doubt. After a few minutes of suspense Benny The Dip got the verdict in one of the most thrilling Derbys ever.

The colt seemed to be running out of stamina in the final stages at Epsom, and was tried back over two furlongs shorter in the Coral Eclipse next time. He faced two brilliant older horses in Pilsudski and Bosra Sham, but wasn’t disgraced at all. He managed to beat Bosra Sham and found only Pilsudski too good after a battling display.

Benny’s next outing was at York in August where he lined up against a very select field in the Juddmonte International. This time, Benny ran into Michael Stoute’s other superstar, Singspiel. Benny was not disgraced and finished third behind Singspiel and Desert King, the dual classic winner. Bosra Sham, on her last outing, finished back in fourth.

Benny’s final outing came in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket. After hitting the front two furlongs out, he faded and finished well behind Pilsudski. This proved to be Benny’s last race and the decision was made to retire him.

Benny The Dip Retired

from The Thoroughbred Times, October 22 1997

Landon Knight’s Epsom Derby (Group 1) winner Benny the Dip, who was expected to start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (Group 1) on November 8 at Hollywood Park, has instead been retired from racing and will be shipped to the United States to begin his stallion career next year at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky.

The three-year-old Silver Hawk colt was off the board for the first time in his career on October 18 when he finished sixth of seven in the Dubai Champion Stakes (Group 1) at Newmarket. Following that race, Knight and trainer John Gosden decided it was better to retire the colt rather than risk another poor performance in the Breeders’ Cup.

Gosden described Benny the Dip as “a genuine racehorse who has retired sound.” In 11 career starts, Benny the Dip won five times, with three seconds, two thirds and earnings of $1,427,414.

Winner of the Royal Lodge Stakes (Group 2) as a two-year-old, Benny the Dip won the Dante Stakes (Group 2) in his final Epsom Derby prep, then scored a front-running victory at Epsom, where he held off Silver Patriarch to win by a nose. He lost his final three starts but ran creditably: He finished second to Pilsudski (Ire) in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Group 1), and third to Singspiel (Ire) and Desert King in the International Stakes (Group 1).

Benny The Dip will always be remembered as the dark horse who beat local hero and the ‘common man’s’ representative Silver Patriarch in the Derby. The finish was spectacular and both horses showed all of the courage that makes mere mortals look up to the mighty Thoroughbred. Epsom Racecourse used the painting by Sue Wingate and the photo of that finish for many years afterwards to epitomise the special atmosphere of Derby day and the greetings cards from the painting remain very popular with racing fans.

They still say that the Epsom Derby is the race all owners want to win and the horses who oblige provide their connections with an unforgettable memory. But the accolades die down almost before the horse leaves the Winners Enclosure as he is asked to prove that he is really the best three year old in the land. In any land. It is a tall order and so many fail. Benny The Dip did his best to rise to the occasion. Always campaigned at the highest level he was immaculately turned out and a wonderfully consistent racehorse. But this was still not enough to ensure him of the success at stud which he deserved.

Benny had a large fan following and it was a disappointment when he retired to stud in America. When Cheveley Park Stud brought him back to Newmarket he was welcomed by fans and breeders but did not achieve the continued patronage necessary for him to remain in the upper echelons of the stallion book. Newmarket is full of green paddocks and peaceful havens and amongst them the 1,000 acres of Cheveley Park Stud stand out like Shangri La. Despite having some 300 broodmares and over 100 horses in training all of the stallions and horses at Cheveley Park are part of the family and great care is taken to treat each one as an individual. It is quite touching that the older stallions have their own little block and paddocks so that they do not feel awed by the young pretenders to the throne, and the spirited youngsters have central paddocks where a close eye can be kept on them. Benny had happy times there and on a Spring day when we visited he showed off with a little gallop and came over to the fence to say hello without hesitation. His dark coat gleamed in the sunlight and his eyes were clear and bright. He looked every inch a Derby winner and he had an enormous presence.

Middle distance horses were once in great demand at stud, Derby winners met with Oaks heroines and begat Derby winners. Benny’s own Father Silver Hawk nearly managed this as he finished third in the Blue Riband and sired one who won. But no more. Sprinters and Milers are the stud champions. Derby winners get sold to Japan, fail at the National Stud or go to Ireland to sire decent jumping stock with a touch of class. And future Derby runners lack for stamina being bred only for speed from the fastest, but probably not the best bred animals. It is a shame.

And so it was that Benny was sold to Rathbarry Stud in Ireland where Blueprint, Presenting, Lear Spear, Dushyantor and Barathea stand. Rathbarry is owned by the very shrewd Liam Cashamn who knows a nice horse when he sees one. Others may pass over middle distance horses but he has quite a few under his wing, and they are achieving success with canny Irish breeders and buyers. Some do not remain at Rathbarry but move on to Glenview where their NH sires stand. Benny traded one set of green paddocks for another where he might get a larger book of mares of perhaps less quality, but he would not notice. And it might have been his chance to prove that Derby winners do have plenty to offer to the stud book if only they get enough mares to matter. Or he may have got lucky and covered a mare who would breed him a winner at that other Field of Dreams, Cheltenham. To some breeding jumpers from Derby winners is a crime, but to others it is redemption.

Sadly Fate robbed him and Rathbarry of the chance for a new future and unless the few offspring he has sired can continue his line, we will never know if he could have been a success at stud. He has not been a flop, he has sired some good winners, but needs that one special horse to rise him above the average.

His early death at only 9 years of age is a sad end to an admirable, beautiful and kind racehorse with a big heart. It is cruel irony that his most glorious moment, on that June day at Epsom is his zenith and his ruin at the same time. Had he not won that Derby he would not be assured of his mark on history, but perhaps he would have had more luck at stud. That winning post at Epsom continues to be tarnished by the lack of respect the sales ring shows to those who have run their heart out to conquer it.

But the life that he had was good and he knew only kindness during it. He also knew that he was a champion racehorse and he celebrated himself in his gallops around illustrious paddocks he inhabited. Let us remember him as he was that day at Epsom, full of promise, courage and glory. His memory is secure on the turf. And there is still hope that just maybe one of his offspring will leave their mark on one of racings main playing fields.

Willie Ryan’s greatest moment came after he landed the spare ride on the John Gosden-trained Benny The Dip in the 1997 Derby. Ryan, 38, was victorious by a short head after resisting the late surge of Pat Eddery on Silver Patriarch.

THE beauty with Benny The Dip was that he was so well-balanced, which I think won him the race. Turning into the straight, he was in a real good rhythm so I let him go on, just trying to save a bit as I had been told to keep a little back for the final half-furlong

Close home, I knew one was coming and all I could think was where the bloody winning post was. When I saw the grey head of Silver Patriarch alongside me I can’t tell you what I thought. As we passed the post, both Pat and myself asked each other who had won. Lesley Graham came bounding over to me so the TV producer thought it was me.

It had been a dream from an early age to win the Derby, but it was a relief as losing in those circumstances would have been a big let-down.

However, once you’ve won it, you want to win it again, probably even more so because you know how it feels. The offer to ride Benny The Dip came out of the blue. I’d ridden in the race before and finished tailed off which isn’t much fun. These days, it’s bloody hard just to get a ride in the race, especially one with a live chance.”

His sire Silver Hawk won the Craven Stakes, Newmarket, Gr.3, Solario Stakes, Sandown, (at 2 years) and placed second in Irish Derby, Curragh, Gr.1, and Royal Lodge Stakes, Ascot, Gr.2 and third in Vodafone Derby Stakes, Epsom, Gr.1.

In 2003 he was a leading International Sire with 56 Stakes winners and earners of over $33,000,000, including:

Lady in Silver, Champion 3yo Filly in France, won the Prix de Diane, Chantilly, Gr.1. Grass Wonder, Champion 2yo in Japan, won Asahi Hai Sansai Stakes, Gr.1, Takarazuka Kinen, Gr.1, etc. Mutafaweq, Champion 3yo colt in England, won Rothmans St. Leger Stakes, Doncaster, Gr.1, Canadian International Stakes, Woodbine, Gr.1, King Edward VII Stakes, Royal Ascot, Gr.2, etc. Hawkster, won Secretariat Stakes, Arlington Park, Gr.1, Norfolk Stakes, Santa Anita, Gr.1, etc. Memories of Silver, won Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes, Keeneland, Gr.1, Beverly D Stakes, Arlington Park, Gr.1, etc. Magnificent Star, won Aston Upthorpe Yorkshire Oaks, York, Gr.1, etc.

His dam Rascal Rascal was the Stakes winner of 4 races at 2 and 3 years and dam of eight winners, including: Cryptic Rascal who won 7 races including Forerunner Stakes, Keeneland, Gr.3, Palm Beach Stakes, Gulfstream, Gr.3, and Pilgrim Stakes, Aqueduct, Gr.3.

Beggarmanthief, who won the Horris Hill Stakes, Newbury, Gr.3

Wakia who was a Stakes winner of 7 races.

BENNY THE DIP RACE RECORD – from 10 starts

At 2 years: Won Gr.2 Royal Lodge Stakes, Ascot, 8f. (beating Gr.1 winners Medaaly & Air Express. Won Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons Conditions Stakes, Doncaster, 7f. Won Kris maiden Stakes, Newmarket, 7f, by 2½ lengths. 2nd SBJ Group Maiden Stakes, Sandown, 7f (NTR time) on debut. 3rd Gr.1 Racing Post Trophy, Doncaster, 8f.

At 3 years: Won Gr.1 Derby Stakes, Epsom, 12f, beating Silver Patriarch & Entrepreneur. Won Gr.2 Dante Stakes, York, 10+f, beating Desert Story & Medaaly. 2nd Gr.1 Eclipse Stakes, Sandown, 10f, (to Pilsudski) beating Bosra Sham. 2nd Gr.3 Classic Trial, Sandown, 10f, beating Classic winner Silver Patriarch. 3rd Gr.1 Juddmonte International Stakes, York, 10f (to Singspiel & Desert King), beating Bosra Sham again.

STUD RECORD Benny The Dip’s first crop of yearlings were offered in 2000. Of the 16 sold in the UK & USA, they averaged £83,474, which is over 10 times his 2001 stud fee. In 2003 he was standing at Cheveley Park Stud for £6,000.

His first crop have produced 89% winners or placed horse worldwide.

His progeny have proved that they have ability but they need a little time and will probably make better three year olds or older horses. Benny himself needed more time at stud and we have to hope that at least what we do have from him will now be given a fair chance. Winners he has produced up to his death include:

Benny The Vice, Benny The Hawk, Stalaktitis, Unleash (Northumberland Plate) and the debutante winners Buy On The Dips and Sugar Dipped. Proven won his first two starts and Charley Bates a competitive handicap at Chester. Buffalo Jump won the Listed Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine over 7 furlongs and came into the reckoning as one of the best juvenile fillies in Canada during 2002.

Benny’s last winner prior to his death was an impressive one, at Goodwood on 24 September 2003. The John Gosden trained Tip The Dip started favouite and was the first win of a double for Frankie Dettori and favourite backers when he overcame his inexperience to win the classified stakes. He showed great courage to run down the front runner Wasted Talent at the end of the mile and half contest.