Kempton, 13/5/19

A bit too much local racing of late counted against a big crowd for the second Monday meeting in eight days. The racing was not the most fascinating either, so there was adequate time for pondering other things. For instance, in race four one of the runners badly lost his action on the flat before hurdle three. The jockey did a good job of using the rails to get it to stop and be steady as soon as possible. But then the medical/course team moved the horse in front of the hurdle and directed the runners around it, into the gap where the injured horse had pulled up, well out of the way. Forcing him to move cannot be in the best interests of the injured animal, can it? Common sense and all that does apply.

Going: Good, Good to Firm places

Race 1: Inspire Foundation Freddy Tylicki Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Locker Room Talk     2: Tiffin Top     3: Highly Prized

Winner owned Carl Hinchy, trained: Nigel Twiston-Davies, ridden: Jack Savage

The first of two rather dull novice races. Locker Room Talk can be a bit hysterical about his races but after setting a sensible pace here, his two theoretical threats could not get him off of the bridle. Tiffin Top perhaps showed the effects of his hard race in narrow defeat here a week ago, or just has done enough for the season. Highly Prized put up a much stranger show. He made a bit of an error at the third last but when the first two started to move away from him, rider Adam Wedge remained stock still in the saddle. And so it continued as he finished tailed off, but not at all tired. It was subsequently reported that he had a breathing problem.

+  Highly Prized (3rd): Looked pretty handy when he returned from the US with a Wincanton victory. The wind issue seemed not to be major so hopefully it is fixable.
Locker Room Talk winning easily in front of a screen showing Locker Room Talk winning easily, which includes a screen where Locker Room Talk wins easily…

Race 2: Get Switched On With Matchbook Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle [2m 5f]

1: Barbados Blue     2: Prophets Prayer     3: Viking Ruby

Winner owned: Crimbourne Bloodstock, trained: Nicky Henderson, ridden: Nico de Boinville

Long odds-on Barbados Blue just had a canter around and picked off Prophets Prayer when that rival was a bit awkward at three out. In order to try and fake some suspense, Barbados Blue made her own gaffe two from home, but the crowd was not fooled. Easy peasy thereafer. Viking Ruby had next to no chance on paper and jumped too erratically to tempt any of us to shred the paper

Race 3: Matchbook Bets Value Exchange Novices’ Handicap Chase [2m 4.5f]

1: Templepark     2: Shoal Bay     3: Ballyart

Winner owned: Mrs Carolyn Kendrick, trained: Ben Case, ridden: Max Kendrick

This was much more interesting stuff. Despite being the only runner with chase experience, and doing quite well in that race, Templepark was as popular choice with punters as a bearskin hat in the Sahara Desert. They were wrong. He jumped well, led much of the way and was set for an impressive success. Except that once Shoal Bay tried to put the wind up him, Templepark nearly went to pieces. His jumping skills deserted him and he was inclined to hang left. Alas for Shoal Bay he was tending to jump left himself and thus was able to narrow the advantage but not cover it totally. Ballyart did solidly in third considering he needs further and softer.

+ + Ballyart (3rd): Was the paddock pick of the meeting, never mind this race, but it was wasted at this distance on quickish ground. His jumping early was not spot on, yet because it improved over the race to keep him contending until two out, we can bear him in mind for the autumn. This is a bear themed race. **Belated additon: Went to Doncaster sales soon after and was bought back for only £10,000. Maybe there is some physical issue that needs to be fixed.

Shoal Bay (2nd): Might well have won this but for jumping left throughout. He either needs to have that schooled out of him or find a track with the rails on the left hand side of the chase fences, i.e. something the polar opposite of Kempton. The rest of the ability is there.

Monty's Award (PU): Started second favourite but did not really take to this in conditions that would have suited him more than some of the oppo.
Templepark leads Shoal Bay over the third. Ballyart (yellow cap) and Monty's Award in pursuit. More happened in this than the description makes it seem

Race 4: Matchbook Casino Novices’ Handicap Hurdle [2m 5f]

1: Saumur     2: Miss Malarky     3: Multigifted

Winner owned: Sparkling Partners, trained: Denis Coakley, ridden: Jonathan Burke

After the slow start to the meeting, another good finish was constructed from this race. The prize went to Saumur, whose stamina in this longer race just lasted enough to let her fend off Miss Malarky. At face value that is incredibly ordinary form, but Miss Malarky was sporting cheekpieces for the first time. On top of that there was a suspicion that her twenty lengths loss at Plumpton last month could turn out to be a solid race, so this is not necessarily a fluke nor reason (yet?) to scoff at the race, in the way that we would at, say, any episode of "Ancient Aliens." Multigifted, close up in third, had possibly been an unlucky loser at Fontwell last time, hampered by a last flight faller and then being pipped into second. The one that roughed her up, Hawkerland, was favourite to make amends this time, also in first time cheekpieces, but he was not on for this at all today and pulled up.

+ Multigifted (3rd): Has had a few chances, but in her last two she has not had luck in running, this time being least well placed to bypass the second last hurdle. She can win if the good form outlasts the bad luck.

x  From The Heart (4th): Kept on to pinch fourth in the last metre but adding a tongue tie unleashed less hidden passion that may have been hoped for.
A slightly ragged field heads out for the final lap - Kilinakin, Panic And Run and Lord Marmaduke did not appear to go very fast, but Kilinakin's fifth was the best that the trio managed. Miss Malarky and Saumur are the next pair, then Multigifted and an already fed up Hawkerland

Race 5: Matchbook Betting Podcast Handicap Chase [2m 4.5f]

1: Argyle     2: Come On Charlie     3: Here I Am

Winner owned: NJ Roach & GL Moore, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

This was not a very strong race and like the earlier chase it was won by a horse given little credit in the betting ring. Argyle had admittedly not taken to fences and peaks on soft or heavy as a hurdler, but he had not met an opportunity as gaping as this one before. A baleen whale of low grade chases, with Argyle as the krill. Or is he Captain Ahab? Perhaps both analogies work. The clue to the race is Come On Charlie who has hated chasing so far and did not quite show a change of heart here, other than narrowly outstaying the veteran front runner Here I Am for second, i.e. perking up when there was nothing left to jump.

x  Argyle (1st): Did nothing wrong at all here. In future chases will probably be tougher and overall it is odds against him rising to the occasion.

x x  Come On Charlie (2nd): Due to lack of better ideas he wound up favourite for this, which was asking for an upset. If he does not return to hurdles, he can be steadily opposed.

x x  Canny Tom (4th): Other horses have gone 1/35 over hurdles (second in nine of them) and 1/7 in chases, but not many do most of it trained by Gordon Elliott. Always worth taking on, and today he was not even bothered to offer his usual Placepot heroics.

Race 6: Matchbook VIP Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Tidal Watch     2: Blushing Red     3: King Muro

Winner owned: Ms Diane Carr, trained: Jonjo O'Neill, ridden: Jonjo O'Neill jnr

For a long while a close finish was threatened but then Tidal Watch decided that the race was there to be won, and did that in a few strides. Blushing Red and King Muro chased hard as they went eye to eye for second but all their moves had been covered by Tidal Watch. With this being the last Kempton jumps race until October, the crows were gathered in numbers waiting for the finish of this, which would have made Ravenous a topical winner. Then a topical place once the winner played his hand, but Ravenous missed out on second by less than a length. Paddock pick Haafapiece (he often seems to be the stand out in the preliminaries) ran his normal race - which means he lost by about ten lengths.

+  Tidal Watch (1st): Has won five of his last seven but is still a possible winner if able to get a quick follow up race in.

Ravenous (4th): Has hit a good spell of form and could have the elusive first hurdle win looming. He wins a few on the flat so there is not an aversion to success about him.

+  Haafapiece (5th): A horse that consistently loses by insufficient to get any handicapping relief is not normally a plus point on here, but last July at Worcester he conjured up a half of something extra to win a race. Why not again? 
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