Lingfield, 5/3/18

Due to snow disappearing in an instant, the final Lingfield jumps meeting of the season went ahead, meaning that they may have crept ahead of average for the percentage of meetings staged. The going was unusual for the locale, clearly being testing but not in the sloppy consistency that makes cleaning tack and kit a horrendous chore.

Going: Heavy

Race 1: Enhanced Place Odds At 188bet Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m]

1: Dazibao     2: Balli Martine     3: Skyline

Winner owned: Turf Club 2016, trained: George Baker, ridden: Andrew Tinkler

Eight came for this race, four who had raced and four who had not. The standout form was with Skyline, who started odds-on. His effort was a bit sluggish. If you interpret this as him running to form, then newcomer Dazibao and more experienced Balli Martine ran excellently. If the perspective is that Skyline did not migrate turf ability to sand, then the efforts of the first two are a bit harder to quantify. The inclination is go with the latter and not assume that this form will translate well to turf hurdling.

Race 2: 188bet Up To £75 Cash Bonus Maiden Hurdle [2m 3.5f]

1: Kupatana     2: Pull Together     3: It's Got Legs

Winner owned: Grech & Parkin, trained: Nicky Henderson, ridden: Jeremiah McGrath

This was quietly an extraordinary race, all thanks to Kupatana. She won her only Irish point but had been a disappointing beaten favourite on hurdles debut. Today Kupatana showed why she may be a problem, but has immense potential as well. On the way to the start she overshot the gate off of the all-weather and decided to do another lap of the sand track. Fortunately she did not completely bolt, but went round at steady pace, refusing to stop and go back. The net effect was a massively long warm up, but the vets gave her the OK to take part. Steadied at the off, she pulled her way to the front after the first hurdle, tanked along a bit daftly, but still had the energy to never concede the lead when challenged, and was actually pulling clear on the run-in. The dimmer switch in Kupatana's brain is not easy to get on the right setting - she is acting dimly and getting too lit up at the same time. Bad wiring?

+   It's Got Legs (3rd): He is edging forward with every run, losing by about seven lengths here. Once in handicaps we could well see him blossom. Or, as mammal limbs tend not to have flowers, open his legs and show his class.

+   Kupatana (1st): In the long term she has bags of ability...

x   Kupatana (1st): ...but in the short term she is her own worst enemy.

UK-Jumping Selections: Pull Together (2nd): Although selected purely for handicaps, Kupatana offered him a golden opening and it was disappointing that he could never get to the front and challenge the winner's mentality.
Despite this being the start of her third circuit of Lingfield on the day, Kupatana cannot be bothered to wait for the rest, ironically led by Pull Together. It's Got Legs and Buster Moon are not helping to chase the leader down.

Race 3: Best Odds Guaranteed At 188bet Novices' Chase [2m]

1: Maestro Royal     2: Georgieshore

Winner owned: Mrs Rita Brown, trained: Nicky Henderson, ridden: Jeremiah McGrath

A gentle spin around for Maestro Royal, although Justanother Muddle (returning from two years off) was still alongside the winner when he fell four fences from the finish. Maestro Royal is not the biggest chasing convert you will see - it may be significant that he has only gone over fences at the age of nine - so it is to be learned how he will fare when not in uncompetitive novice chases. That said, the Lingfield fences are not small and one minor error at halfway was his only blemish.

Empire: Georgieshore (2nd): His chase debut had never happened earlier because he was all a bit cowwardly about fences. Recently he had been a bit more confident about it with Tommy Dowling and he was never in any danger of a tumble here - but he was far to slow and careful to be competitive. There may be mileage in chasing minor money in small field novice races.

Race 4: Download The App At 188bet Handicap Hurdle [2m 3.5f]

1: Landin     2: Remiluc     3: Never Equalled

Winner owned: Four Candles Partnership, trained: Seamus Mullins, ridden: Jeremiah McGrath

This valuable class 2 race looked to be very tightly contested, despite only six taking part. At one stage the betting range from favourite to outsider was 3/1 to 7/1. Nobody had given this information to Landin and he won it fairly cosily, especially as he did not attack until two out and that was on the back of a slow looking pace. Remiluc made a fight of it but even after his rider's claim, the weight concession was nearly a stone and than was a statistic that Landin appreciated. Never Equalled had found a ideal race and had a very tempting 10 stone 2 pounds to carry around. Having set a slow pace, it was a bit disappointing that he was left looking very one paced by the first pair but he has had a very interrupted career since March 2017, so it is possible that more fitness fine tuning was needed. Knockanuss has been whacked up in the handicap since his last win and struggled with heavy ground earlier in the season. The latter gives a reason to forgive the defeat, the former might make it hard to win on better conditions. Chasing next season?

+   Landin (1st): Had never raced on heavy before, and the odd shar course appearance had been below his best. So with two new things added to his repertoire and a handicap mark that looked workable before the race, he has to be considered a solid candidate to follow up.

x   Remiluc (2nd): UK-Jumping has liked him since he came over from France and other than getting over an injury absence he has tended to be a a very game competitor. However, for the second race in a row he was mounted on the track and here had to be encouraged to head to the start. Once running he seemed honest enough, but is the pre-race stuff a sign that his attention is wandering?

x   Marley Firth (5th): Turned for home bang on the heels of the leaders but weakened badly and just avoided being demoted to last by previously tailed off rival. He was unproven over the distance, the first time tongue tie hints at a suspected breathing issue, and Bridget Andrews was sympathetic to him once beaten, but it did look an ugly way to be brushed aside.

Race 5: 188bet Casino Handicap Chase [2m 7.5f]

1: Alberto's Dream     2: Black Narcissus     3: Touch Screen

Winner owned: Wallys Dream Syndicate, trained: Tom Lacey, ridden: Alan Johns

Although having grabbed a win each in hurdles and chases, in the past Alberto's Dream had often failed to get the best results that he was capable of on a good day, but every time connections gave him different conditions and distances to take on, there was no positive response. As is often the case, a change of stable drove an adrenalin rush and he won this very comfortably indeed, eased plenty on the run-in. Three miles and sharp bends were not amongst previous preferred experiences, but Alberto's Dream did not have a nightmare with them this time around. The eternally cantankerous Black Narcissus was on her best behaviour and still had no chance at the last fence. A more interesting run was Touch Screen. A bad early blunder got him a few lengths off of the pack, and he was patiently allowed to lob around until passing most of his oppo climbing the hill. At that stage he was going as well as Alberto's Dream, but then dropped away after the third last. Before this stamina was a big doubt and he ran as expected in that context. For the first time on the card, the front runners (Leith Hill Legasi and Veauce De Sivola) set a pace that instantly seemed self defeating and they ended up fifth and sixth of the seven runners. First visual impressions 1, impatient horses who are old enough to know better 0.

+   Touch Screen (3rd): Has the ability to win 0-100 chases, but probably not beyond 2m 5f.

x   Black Narcissus (2nd): Reacted well to the first time in cheekpieces. She is not the sort to sustain the positive vibe.
With varied degrees of enthusiasm the field managed to stay in touch to see what happens in the second half of the race. Leith Hill Legasi is behind Veauce De Sivola (8). The next group are Canyouhearmenow and Alberto's Dream, then Black Narcissus and What Larks. Touch Screen has opted for anonymity.

Race 6: Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle [2m 7f]

1: Pray For A Rainbow     2: Brother Norphin     3: Burgess Dream

Winner owned: Kevin & Anne Glastonbury, trained: Samuel Drinkwater, ridden: Robert Dunne

Six ran in this, four known to stay this far, one for whom an opinion could not be formed and one who had struggled with the distance in the past. That latter was Pray For A Rainbow, who enjoyed this very much thank you, as it turned out. On his stable debut Pray For A Rainbow had run OK at Sedgefield, his first really lively effort since spring 2015, when he won a maiden point-to-point in this country. So something good could be seen to be coing, but perjaps not this. The win was another that was very dominant, but Brother Norphin's effort in trying to chase him down was all a bit half-hearted. Burgess Dream is well pleased when he gets this course, distance and going combination, but he is not used to dealing with big weights and with 11-12 on his back now, it was not possible for him to build on a promising position coming down the hill.

+   Pray For A Rainbow (1st): Only achieved here what seemed easily possible in his early days, and the move to a new yard (or rounding off a naturally slow development) seems to have found the key to getting something tangible from the potential.
x   Boardwalk Empire (4th): Made a very bad error at the seventh, dropping a smattering of lengths off of the pack. He recovered to lose by less than six lengths and put in a show that was not short of encouragement. Alas, since winning a course and distance novice hurdle just over three years ago - a bad one! - he is now 0/16 and seems to be getting clumsier and clumsier.

x x   Brother Norphin (2nd): When he joined Seamus Mullins this site, along with other people based on the betting clues, had him down as just the sort of horse that the new yard gets wins with. When it initially failed, the thought was that he needed chases, but on the back of this showing it is not certain that the horse has bought into the theory at all.

Race 7: Injured Jockeys Fund Training Series Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase [2m]

1: Finnegan's Garden     2: Vicenzo Mio     3: Pembroke House

Winner owned: Kenny Corke, trained: Zoe Davison, ridden: James Bowen

If racing employed the challenge trophy concept as seen in such instances as the Ranfurly Shield, then Finnegan's Garden would be Lingfield champion until jumping gets underway here in the late autumn. He got to that mythical title by stalking the two leaders down the hill and picking them off at the third last fence. From then on Finnegan's Garden, who stays two and a half miles well, was able to fend off Vicenzo Mio, who may not be the most natural chaser in the world (or even in Hampshire, or even in a five metre radius of his stable) but has hurdle form in the past that shows him to be quite speedy when he cares to show it. A demonstration on how much energy a good round of jumping can save a horse. Pembroke House is capable of being a bigger factor when his yard is off of the cold list, although he has an uninspiring winning percentage.

x   Vicenzo Mio (2nd): Historically he has not been great on heavy ground and is yet to convince as a chaser. An eight lengths second in a class 2 handicap hurdle from a much higher rating in December shows that he does not have the excuse of being generally out of sorts.

  Bagging Turf (5th): Won on her chase debut, but has since failed to the tackle the job with much conviction and she is not one to follow over fences.
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