Kempton, 6/5/19

It was family fun day but the afternoon was not as awful as that sounds. The bouncy castles etc were out of the way down by the pre-parade ring and exit for horses into the track (could have been fun had there been one or two flighty sorts on duty) and the rest was done indoors on the first floor of the stand. It seems kids cannot be risked in a gentle breeze these days. Which just left more ice cream for the adventurous ones that risked the fresh air.

Going: Good, Good to Firm in places – there is an element of suspicion about this as the course stated before the day that it was Good to Firm, Good in places but they would water to make it mostly Good. Whether they achieved that or not, they were bound to say that they had…

Race 1: Matchbook Betting Exchange Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Vision Clear     2: Tiffin Top     3: Mystic Court

Winner owned: Tony Head, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

Unfortunately for the occasional racegoer, the most exciting finish of the day was over and done with after the first event, Vision Clear depriving Mystic Court of the lead two from home and then fending off a determined rally from Tiffin Top. There were several talking points about the race. The first two were the most exposed and had handicap marks that whilst not in gift territory, were not the worst seen around, so for them to turn up in novice company (especially penalised Tiffin Top) was slightly surprising. After his unseat when in cruise mode at Plumpton, Vision Clear jumped left at the last two here, offering the runner-up the opportunity to nick it. He needs to sort out his jumping at pace but all the rest is in working order. Market interest in bumper winner Lantiern was well off of the mark. Note that whilst his win was a shoddy all-weather valueless one, he got close up in a couple of turf bumpers although they were not conspicuously strong events. And 87-rated flat convert West Coast Flyer was in contention three out but blundered significantly there and never really got, erm, flying again.

+  Mystic Court (3rd): A record in British points of UF1 does not tell a tale of a horse with good eye to foot coordination. He backed that up with a solid bumper debut only to disappoint thereafter. This was not a bad first bash at hurdling. All he has to do now is not regress like he did at the previous job.

+  West Coast Flyer (4th): The notable error three out was entirely his own fault but if he is not going to make a habit of that silliness, then he can leap forward notably on this hurdles debut.
Hurdle number two. Tiffin Top on the left has a nice clear view but next across is Twist, who has got in a twizzle approaching the hurdle. Continuing left to right, we have Vison Clear (he has!), Mystic Court, nosebanded West Coast Flyer and Lantiern.

Race 2: Matchbook Low Commission Exchange Beginners’ Chase [2m 4.5f]

1: Burbank     2: Sao     3: Kingston Mimosa

Winner owned: Trevor Hemmings, trained: Nicky Henderson, ridden: Jeremiah McGrath

An uninspiring three horse race. Burbank started favourite, made all and won. He had tried fences twice before, got beaten at odds-on twice and in both instances he impressed connections so much that he immediately went back to hurdles. Sao tried to make a race of it on his debut over fences but second place was accepted after he thumped the twelfth and quickly lost a few lengths to Burbank. Kingston Mimosa is rated 46 pounds worse than Sao and 58 worse than Burbank. He showed in two recent tries that he can jump, so the plan was clearly to pop round and collect £1,087.56 for third. Executed perfectly.

+  Kingston Mimosa (3rd): He did win one of his hurdle races, almost three years ago, and on what he has shown chasing recently he is probably capable of class 5 handicap chase success at around two and a half miles. Note: He ran again the next day. After being almost knocked over at fence two the jumping was a bit wobbly. By halfway he had his confidence back and lost by only a length.

x  Burbank (1st): Those who joined UK-Jumping in reading his past chase form negatively will not have seen enough here to totally erase the cynicism. He was slick enough to promote himself from “definitely look to take him on” into the tray labelled “opposable, but be wary of him.” 
Burbank's bloodless victory is compelling watching to some

Race 3: Matchbook Novices’ Hurdle [3m]

1: No Hidden Charges     2: Fontley House     3: Domaine De L’Isle

Winner owned: Stephen & Gloria Seymour, trained: Neil Mulholland, ridden: Tom Scudamore

Only five ran and the uncertainties over the three mile trip left it as a race shrouded in mystery. The outcome was decided at the second last hurdle when Slaine made a mistake and unseated her rider, leaving No Hidden Charges to hold Fontley House at arms length a bit more easily than the official four lengths margin. Slaine, who got in the way of Domaine De L’Isle as she kept herself on all fours and threw Paul O’Brien to the wolves, was also stepping up in distance and had not finished off a two and a half miler at Huntingdon last time in the style of a nascent three mile horse. So whilst she appeared to be going best of all when departing, there is not a solid reason to assume victory was coming. As for the winner, he flopped over 2m 7f on stable debut but a couple of better performances since at 2m and now 3m suggests that soft ground was his undoing first up.

Fontley House (2nd): A close third of nineteen at Punchestown on bumper debut, he had disappointed since but after a wind op he had offered an improved display at Ludlow last time over 2m 5f. Maybe this longer race did not fit his requirements, but he just looked rather slow at the end.

Race 4: Get Switched On With Matchbook Handicap Chase [3m]

1: Beau Du Brizais     2: Marquis Of Carabas     3: Exitas

Winner owned: Mrs RJ Skan, trained: Philip Hobbs, ridden: Richard Johnson

A more eventful six minutes than the average five horse handicap chase. Lord Bryan tried to lead but conceded that spot when thumping the fourth. He carried on in second place for a lap before weakening tamely. Maybe he had picked up a knock, maybe he lost interest due to not being in front, maybe it was just another episode in his history of three mile race failures. Tommy Silver was bowling along in front at that stage, and because he had avoided one of his intermittent blundersome days, he was going to take some hard work to catch. Unfortunately he pulled up lame approaching fence fifteen, although it was at least reported later on to have been a minor knock. That left three to fight it out. Exitas continued his traditional spring slump and cracked first. Marquis Of Carabas was outpaced from the third last and Beau Du Brizais won, despite getting the final fence rather wrong.

+  Beau Du Brizais (1st): Now he has raced fourteen times on right-handed, level tracks and won five of them. All other configurations combined have a score of 0/13.

+  Tommy Silver (PU): His win rate has been undermined by certain days when he forgets how to jump, but on good to firm he is unbeaten in three tries. The way the weather has been lately would suggest that there could be some prizes to plunder in the next couple of months.

x  Exitas (3rd): Although he loves good ground (7/23 on it, 1/29 off of it) all of those wins have come between September and November, with this time of year used to get his handicap mark down to enable him back in classes of race that he can compete in. This x expires on 31/8/19. here.
Having checked that the yellow cones comply with health and safety requirements, Lord Bryan, Tommy Silver and Exitas form an equine wall to protect Beau Du Brizais (grey) and Marquis Of Carabas from ranty racegoers. We have no suggestions as to why the horses did this.

Race 5: Matchbook Betting Podcast Handicap Hurdle [2m 5f]

1: Neverbeen To Paris     2: King Cool     3: Special Acceptance

Winner owned: PM Claydon, trained: David Arbuthnot, ridden: Bryony Frost

When the declarations were published this nine runner handicap hurdle threatened to be the prime punting medium of the day, but once checking out the runners we had eight who seemed much of a muchness (assuming that Full was on a cooperative day and not in an elite strop) and Neverbeen To Paris, whose win on handicap debut two weeks ago left him looking like a possible short-priced steering job. And so it proved, although there was a time entering the home straight when King Cool hit the front moving rather comfortably when defeat for the jolly seemed an option. Then the handbrake was eased off for Neverbeen To Paris and it was soon all over. Special Acceptance was in rear three out and looked a bit of a forlorn hope but he finished nicely to challenge King Cool for second. Having Ballygown Bay hang off to the right all the way down the home straight did help Special Acceptance turn fourth into third.

Special Acceptance (3rd): He has not yet won and has finished second on three occasions, but gives the impression that he is capable of victory in some shape or form. Since graduating to handicap hurdles he has tended to travel indifferently in his races and then finish them of solidly (even in the one where he unseated, the effort was picking up). This longer race and better ground was not the cure, but there is something waiting for him.

x  Malangen (5th): Failed to complete the four-timer but this was rather tougher than the two sellers and one class 5 handicap that had brought him into this race.

x R oyal Rebel (6th): Caught a handicapping crab when winning a novices’ hurdle on this course a year ago. A gentle relaxation of his rating allowed this first try in 0-120 company, which was an eye-catching plus. It was not the answer.

Race 6: Matchbook VIP Handicap Chase [2m 2f]

1 Dolos     2: Solar Impulse     3: Dandridge

Winner owned: Mrs Johnny De La Haye, trained: Paul Nicholls, ridden: Harry Cobden

This was a sight unexpected for Kempton on a May Bank Holiday. The first two in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham (2016 version) took part in this, and both were out of the handicap. As was Cut The Corner, who has plenty of wins himself over the years. The ones on their correct weight were Adrrastos, who has been working his way up the chasing ladder for the last two years and Dolos, who was giving lumps of weight away all round. His method is usually to jump well and then be a bit timid in the finish. The second part of that equation was dropped for this event and he held off the two Grand Annual veterans, Solar Impulse and Dandridge, without too much stress. The second and third have both had their troughs of performance and changes of stable since that heyday, but are only aged nine and ten respectively, so should not just going through the motions to retirement.

+ +  Solar Impulse (2nd): Only started running for Ian Williams this calendar year and his handicap mark had slumped to 117. That allowed him an easy win last time at Bangor and on this evidence being on 128 need not stop more coming. Here he was untidy over the last fence on the far side of the track and lost position going into the final bend. From two out he came home purposefully and the only concern was the time it took him to wind up to full speed.

+  Dandridge (3rd): Without a win since January 2016, various tribulations mean that it is only seventeen races. He would be worthy of a second + for this effort were it not for the fact that he has struggled to pick up wins even when at his peak.

Race 7: Matchbook Casino Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Tomorrow Mystery     2: Stepover     3: Sula Island

Winner owned: JP McManus, trained: Paul Nicholls, ridden: Harry Cobden

Only four came for the closing event but each of them had potential to win it. Tomorrow Mystery was odds-on, more based on the owner and trainer combination than anything, and when she was first to come under pressure on the final bend, her chances did not look good. However, it may have been taking the tight turn at speed that was today’s mystery, because once they straightened for home, she picked up well. Stepover, outsider of the quartet, came round the bend looking most like the winner, but once Tomorrow Mystery had passed her, she ran out of puff quite quickly and struggled over the final hurdle a touch awkwardly.

+  Tomorrow Mystery (1st): Her first four hurdle races saw her placed in eight runner races each time, so she had not been hiding her light under a bushel prior to this. Now that she has cracked the winning thing she might have room to pick up more before the handicapper takes control. The note of caution is only one victory in eight tries on the flat.

+  Stepover (2nd): She has assembled a very respectable record when fresh (six months off before this) but it has been done quietly because it involves lots of close losses and not many wins. Always take her seriously after a break, even when, like today, she seemed a little tubby – perhaps she is a naturally stout mare. here.
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