Benny the Dip

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Benny the Dip
Racing silks of Landon Knight.svg
Racing colours of Landon Knight
Sire Silver Hawk
Grandsire Roberto
Dam Rascal Rascal
Damsire Ack Ack
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1994
Country United States
Colour Bay/Brown
Breeder Charles Landon Knight II
Owner Charles Landon Knight II & Claiborne Farm
Trainer John Gosden
Record 11: 5-3-2
Earnings ₤876,267[1]
Major wins
Royal Lodge Stakes (1996)
Epsom Derby (1997)
Dante Stakes (1997)
Last updated on August 25, 2007

Benny the Dip (1994–2003) was an American-bred and British-trained Thoroughbred race horse and sire. In a career which lasted from 1996 to 1997 he ran eleven times and won five races, most notably the 1997 Epsom Derby. Benny the Dip was retired to stud at the end of his three-year-old season. He died after sustaining an injury in a paddock accident in 2003.


Benny the Dip was a dark brown (officially "bay or brown") colt with a white star,[2] bred in the United States by Landon Knight who raced the colt in his own colours until August 1997 when he sold a share in the colt to Claiborne Farm. The colt was sired by Silver Hawk out of the mare Rascal Rascal. Silver Hawk was an American-bred son of Roberto who raced successfully in the United Kingdom before moving back to the United States where he became a "very good" stallion, siring good winners such as the St Leger winner Mutafaweq, the Arc de Triomphe runner-up Mubtaker and the leading American turf runner Hawkster.[3] Rascal Rascal produced several other winners including Cryptic Rascal (Palm Beach Stakes) and Beggarman Thief (Horris Hill Stakes).

Benny the Dip was widely, but incorrectly reported to be named after a Damon Runyon character.[4] In fact he was named after a 1951 crime film.[5] He acquired the unflattering nickname "Benny the Drip" because of his tendency to sweat heavily before his races.

Knight, a newspaper publisher from Ohio (the son of John S. Knight[6]), considered selling the colt as a yearling but was persuaded by his English trainer John Gosden to send the colt to him to be trained at Newmarket, Suffolk.[7]

Racing career[edit]

1996: two-year-old season[edit]

Benny the Dip was one of the best staying two-year-old colts of his generation in Britain, winning three of his five starts. He began his career in June when he finished second of the nine runners behind Putra in a seven furlong maiden race at Sandown. Two weeks later he reappeared in a similar race at Newmarket and led from the start to record his first win, beating Sturgeon by two and a half lengths.[8]

Benny the Dip did not run again until mid September, when he ran in a minor stakes race at Doncaster. Ridden by Frankie Dettori, he tracked the leaders before taking the lead a furlong out and winning by one and a half lengths from Desert Story.[9] At the end of the month, Benny the Dip was moved up in class to run in the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot for which he was made 9/4 favourite. Ridden on this occasion by Walter Swinburn, he ran on strongly in the closing stages to again defeat Desert Story, this time by three-quarters of a length, with the future Group One winners Medaaly and Air Express unplaced.[10] On his final start of the year, Benny the Dip was made 11/10 favourite for the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, but could finish only third behind Medaaly and Poteen.

1997: three-year-old season[edit]

Benny the Dip was prepared for the 1997 Derby by running in two recognised trial races.[11] On 26 April he started favourite for the Classic Trial Stakes at Sandown and finished second, failing to concede two pounds to Voyager's Quest, with Silver Patriarch a head behind in third. After the race he appeared to be a sick horse; Gosden said that he was coughing and "full of mucus".[4] He recovered quickly however, and in May he led from the start in the Dante Stakes at York confirming his best two-year-old form by beating Desert Story by two and a half lengths with Medaaly unplaced.[12] Richard Edmondson, writing in The Independent described the win as "fluent", while Gosden explained the tactics by saying that "we went out there to see if he could stay and he outstayed them."[4]

At Epsom on 7 June Benny the Dip, started the 11/1 third favourite in a field of thirteen for the Derby. He was ridden in the race by Willie Ryan, a journeyman jockey who had been given the ride when both Olivier Peslier, who had ridden him at York, and Frankie Dettori, were unavailable. The 2000 Guineas winner Entrepreneur was made odds-on favourite, while Silver Patriarch, ridden by the veteran Pat Eddery was the 6/1 second choice. Ryan tracked the leaders before sending Benny the Dip past Crystal Hearted and into the lead half a mile from the finish. In the straight, Benny the Dip went six lengths clear of his rivals two furlongs from the finish, but was then strongly challenged in the closing stages by Silver Patriarch. The grey colt appeared to catch the leader a few yards from the finish, but Benny the Dip produced a final effort ("he dug deep", commented Ryan) and the two colts crossed the line together.[7] After a delay, the result of the photo finish revealed that Benny the Dip had held on to win the race by a short head.[13]

For his next race, Benny the Dip was brought back to ten furlongs for the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, in which he faced top class older horses. Once again, Ryan attempted to make all the running. On this occasion however, he was overtaken two furlongs out by the five-year-old Pilsudski, but stayed on well to hold on to second place from the filly Bosra Sham, who had started odds-on favourite. Although he was beaten, the form of his run was rather better than his Derby win: a Timeform handicapper had said before the race that Benny the Dip would be doing well if he got "within five lengths" of Bosra Sham.[14] Benny the Dip again took on the best available competition in his next race, the International Stakes at York. As usual, he made most of the running before finishing third behind Singspiel and Desert King.[15]

On his final start, Benny the Dip disappointed in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket in October. He led briefly three furlongs from the finish, but then faded into sixth place behind Pilsudski. It had already been announced that Benny the Dip would not race as a four-year-old and would be retired to stand at stud in North America.[16]


In their book A Century of Champions, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Benny the Dip as an “inferior” Derby winner.[17]

Stud record[edit]

He retired to stud in 1998 and stood at Claiborne Farm, at Paris, Kentucky, until 2001 when he began serving at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket. He was sold and moved to Rathbarry Stud, County Cork, Ireland in 2003 but was euthanised two weeks after arrival after fracturing a knee in the paddock.[18] Benny the Dip made very little impact as a stallion. He produced no top class horses, with the best of his flat runners being the Group placed Charley Bates and the Irish Listed race winner Senor Benny. Some of his progeny have shown ability over jumps, notably the steeplechaser Benny Be Good. His stud fee at the time of his death was £6,000.[19]


Pedigree of Benny the Dip (USA), brown stallion, 1994[20]
Silver Hawk (USA)
Hail to Reason Turn-To*
Bramalea Nashua
Gris Vitesse
Amerigo Nearco
Matchiche Mat de Cocagne
Chimere Fabuleuse
Rascal Rascal (USA)
Ack Ack
Battle Joined Armageddon
Ethel Walker
Fast Turn Turn-To*
Cherokee Rose
Savage Bunny
Never Bend Nasrullah
Tudor Jet Tudor Minstrel
Precious Lady(Family: 9)
  • Benny the Dip was inbred 4x4 to Turn-To. This means that the stallion appears twice in the fourth generation of his pedigree.


  1. ^ "Benny the Dip's pedigree and racing stats". October 2, 2003. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Epsom Derby winners - in pictures". BBC News. June 2, 2001. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Silver Hawk Stud Record". November 9, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Richard Edmondson (May 15, 1997). "Racing: Gosden fears a Derby frame-up - Sport". London: The Independent. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Sea The Stars a true champion - at 1m 2f". June 10, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ Charles White. Knight: a publisher in the tumultuous century. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  7. ^ a b Sue Montgomery (June 8, 1997). "Racing: Gosden's Dip into history". London: The Independent. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Kris Maiden Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Yorkshire Dragoons Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Royal Lodge Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Espom Derby Trial Races". Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Dante Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Derby result". Racing Post. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ "LUCKY DIP FOR WILLIE. - Free Online Library". Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  15. ^ "International Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Racing: Champion in view for Benny - Sport". London: The Independent. 1997-10-13. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  17. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press,. ISBN 1-901570-15-0. 
  18. ^ Horse Racing (October 7, 2003). "Benny The Dip put down". London: Telegraph. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Benny The Dip | Stud Record | Bloodstock Stallion Book | Racing Post". November 9, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  20. ^ "English Derby Winner: Benny the Dip". Retrieved December 16, 2011.