Plumpton, 3/12/18

No special notes, just a normal Plumpton Monday with the 2019 Arkle favourite and 2018 Festival Bumper fourth turning up to race. A gentle reminder of a day in the early 7s when Pendil came here for a handicap hurdle and had three or four coneding him weight.

Going: Soft

Race 1: Silly Moo Sussex Cider Maiden Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Third Wind     2: Fly To Mars     3: Breaking Waves

Winner owned: Mouse Hamilton-Fairley, trained: Hughie Morrison, ridden: Tom O’Brien

Just a bog standard old Plumpton maiden. We had Acey Milan, fourth in the Festival Bumper and best finisher of the British trained horses. Then there was Breaking Waves, a bumper winner before being third of twenty-three in a non-festival Cheltenham bumper. And if considering him, then it was not possible to ignore Third Wind, who was three lengths behind when Breaking Waves won, and can be given the forgiveness of youth when doing less well next up. The next clump to be considered were none too shoddy either, including Fly To Mars who had only been sixth on his sole bumper appearance but all four of the five to beat him that had run since had won over hurdles. It was not as close as was expected at the end with Third Wind swooped two out and won impressively from a gallant and persistent Fly To Mars. They were a dozen lengths ahead of Breaking Waves, who lasted out the race distance less well than the first two. Coincidence exacta punters had a field day here, but one that was pretty much a pay out dud. There were all sorts of combinations with Third Wind, Soarlikeaneagle, High Up In The Air and Fly To Mars(although Fly To Mars and Third Wind was the least puntastic combo), then Coastal Drift with Breaking Waves. We witnessed at least two people have their head explode whilst attempting a decision.

+ +  Third Wind (1st), Fly To Mars (2nd): The pair of them demolished a much better than average Plumpton line up and both should be up to competing at higher profile venues or events.

+ Breaking Waves (3rd): Failed to find this the perfect race, but it was hardly a flop and he should soon be winning over hurdles.

+  Dusky Hercules (4th): Beaten five lengths in a decent Ffos Las bumper when using cheekpieces, he was the best finisher of the less fancied horses, although his SP of 20/1 was arguably underestimating his latest effort. He has winning potential.

x  Acey Milan (5th): Got turned over at odds-on for his hurdle debut and did so again. In this company a place could have been forgiven, but this was not up to par. There have been other elite bumper horses from the Honeyball yard that have proved less able hurdlers when asked to convert their skills.

x x  Kapdad (7th): Racked up a succession of places which culminated in a fast ground loss to the crazy Jumping Jack. Needless to say this was not his cup of tea at all.

Empire: Pete’s Choice (9th): In this ferocity of competition, we can live with this. Finishing four lengths behind 115-rated Kapdad was not ideal but surely the handicapper will not rate the race through the horse in seventh.
Dusky Hercules (4) takes them out for two more laps, escorted by Kapdad (8) and Breaking Waves (2). Third Wind is just poking his nose into daylight between them.

Race 2: Sky Sports Racing Novices’ Chase [2m 1f]

1: Kalashnikov     2: Envoye Special     3: Paddy’s Poem

Winner owned: Paul Murphy, trained: Amy Murphy, ridden: Jack Quinlan

There was only one point of interest here and that was the potentially mighty Kalashnikov opening at odds of 1/4 and being backed into 1/7. On raw talent it was understandable, but he had not been foot perfect on chase debut and was meeting some notoriously fiddly fences here. He had also never tackled tight bends like Plumpton before, so there were new skills to be demonstrated. All those concerns were swept away in the race, with the only little hiccup being when he misjudged the fence at the bottom of the hill the second time. A mistake that never threatened to be his undoing. A four year old French import with added wind op, hood and tongue tie, Envoye Special did as well as can be expected in the circumstances, also making one non-terrifying error. As he noodled through hurdles last season, Paddy’s Poem looked every inch a chaser. He led, made a couple of errors and then one or two more when his fitness failed him. His yard has schooled the daftness out of Glen Rocco post-chase bow this term and this horse needs the same work.

+ +  Kalashnikov (1st): Not totally convinced after his first stab at fences? You can be now. It was not the horses that he beat, but the aptitude that he showed in doing so.

+ Envoye Special (2nd): It is not convincing that his French derived rating of 137 is yet workable, but this was a solid UK debut and he can grow into what the handicapper thinks he is.

x  Attest (5th): Came here with distinct chasing potential, and whilst not in the winner’s class, a challenge for third, or maybe even second, was viable to expect. He never really got going and has a lot of improvement to make if chasing will be his game, especially with his jumping.

Race 3: Tysers Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Royal Claret     2: Jully Les Buxy     3: Wishicould

Winner owned: The Nigel Jones & Roy Ovel Syndicate, trained: Tom Symonds, ridden: Ben Poste

These can be assessed in order of known stamina. Royal Claret had narrowly lost a Ffos Las three miler recently and was certain to be fine on the going and track, plus the slightly longer distance. The only downside was her yard being on the cold list. A mid-race flat spot gave a few worries, but she recovered strongly and won fairly easily. Wishicould also had proven herself over this far, but twenty months off caught her out late on. Jully Les Buxy was going a furlong or so further than her past longest try, but she had shaped as if she should last it. Despite a good first time out record, she laboured around without dynamism, mysteriously hitting a sweet spell only when Royal Claret floundered. There is your ying and yang at work perfectly, just for no obvious reason. Oscar Star had was proven as far as 2m 5f, and had hinted at lasting 2m 7f but not totally confirmed it. She hit her stamina wall two hurdles out and turned the stretch after the last to a walk in. Snippetydoodah was also known to last 2m 5f, but she lost interest after hurdle five this time and stamina was never put to the test.

+ Royal Claret (1st): Stays well and is not disastrously handicapped. She can find more wins against non-stayers and non-enthusiasts.

Oscar Star (4th): Did not come close to lasting home, and this is not the first horse this autumn from her stable that has got stuck into three milers full of optimism and ended up failing by some way.
Race 4: Cranbrook Underwriting’s Bob Katzaros Celebration Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Coole Well     2: Manning Estate     3: Johnny Rocco

Winner owned: Mrs Carolyn Kendrick, trained: Jamie Snowden, ridden: Max Kendrick

As seems to be drifting towards the normal for Plumpton novice hurdling, the race ended up with two horses scooting well clear of the pack. Coole Well had let down his bumper form by unseating mid-race on hurdles debut, but he was totally solid here. He set the pace and could not be caught, even though Manning Estate strove very hard after passing the railway station. It was more than fifteen lengths back to outsider Johnny Rocco, who had shown bumper encouragement, but not to the degree of expecting novice hurdle wins at two miles. The trio that chased them home were two JP McManus horses that gave the impression of perhaps doing more dramatic things on another day (I know that readers will be shocked, but there it is), plus course specialists bumper horse Rosy World.

+  Manning Estate (2nd): Definite ability was shown in bumpers and over hurdles watch out for him in longer races.

+  Duc De Beauchene (4th): Finished a close second on bumper debut and then not so close because someone had the bright idea of running against Kalashnikov. He has been fine, bad then fine again over hurdles and now is handicap qualified.

Rosy World (6th): Had some good results in not very strong Plumpton bumpers, so at least she was known to handle the course. However the stable is out of form and she needed the run, so the result was not terribly great. At least there are two good reasons for her to put it behind her.

x  Empreinte Reconce (5th): Ended up a length behind Duc De Beauchene in the JP McManus head-to-head, which was not bad, and he has won a hurdle at Newton Abbot in the summer. There is a suspicion that his inability to stay race ready (average gap between races is five months) means that he is not necessarily being nursed along with the future in mind and what we see is all that he is.
Coole Well is still cruising along after the line whereas Manning Estate could look a bit more dismayed about the amount of effort made in vain

Race 5: Tysers Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: The Tin Miner     2: Clondaw Bisto     3: Sartorial Elegance

Winner owned: Simon & Liz Hunt, trained: David Bridgwater, ridden: Tom Cannon

In September 2017 The Tin Miner came to the last on this course and distance and fell with the race at his mercy. This was only the second try since, and he cast aside the shackles of jumping incompetence to leave the oppo labouring and making his success relatively comfortably. He was helped by Clondaw Bisto doing absolutely everything in his power to unseat Tom O’Brien at the third last, but when the jockey refused to accept the horse’s opinion, Clondaw Bisto did run on a bit to ensure second, at least by his own limited terms of reference. Sartorial Elegance failed to justify being favourite, but he did outbattle Cadeau Du Bresil for third, the latter cruising comfortably through the race in rear and finding very little when the oppo began to struggle. In this instance, The Tin Miner’s easy win did genuinely reflect the minimal contributions of the challengers – most disappointing being Cheque En Blanc whose win here last time seemed to be worth more than the handicapper had raised him.
x  The Tin Miner (1st): He is well handicapped on raw ability and up to defying a rise for this win, but one swallow does not a summer make, and a couple more accident-free days are needed to convince that this will become his normal way of doing things.

x  Clondaw Bisto (2nd): Looked very promising early in his career but the losing run goes on and on and if Tolstoy had his level of determination, War And Peace would have been a brief pamphlet.
A classic UK-Jumping shot of horses doing aimless things at the start. Cabragh dominates the scene, with runner-up Clondaw Bisto (5) getting a good look in, with stable mate Invicta Lake on the right, in front of Cheque En Blanc. Where oh where is The Tin Miner? The white face and feet just the other side of Cabragh.

Race 6: Sky Sports Racing Sussex National 6th January Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Legend Of France     2: Seaweed     3: Generous Jack

Winner owned: Ermyn Lodge Stud, trained: Pat Phelan, ridden: Sean Houlihan

This was a lesson in optimism, as after her summer break Legend Of France returned to the game a vitalised horse (she could not call herself revitalised, as she had previously done next to nothing of note). However, runner-up Seaweed was more or less in the same boat and Generous Jack had done more in the past but was coming back from more than two years on the sidelines. Sooooo, did the first two leap forward or are we looking at disappointing efforts elsewhere? Take note that if asked about this group of horses “hands up who likes running around Plumpton in the mud?” there would not be too many takers. Even fourth placed Golden Cannon, a winner here last time, was up against very different ground after the passage of just two weeks. Therefore we can conclude that the main protagonists were ready to seize the moment and the rest of them did not fancy it, or have never done anything close to winning a race. Probably not a race to track excessively closely.

Empire: Brother Bennett (10th): Travelled well in the race but did not quicken at all in the last half mile. He needs a chase where he pops along and does not get so readily fed up with the enemy.
An actual winner in the picture - Legend Of France (7). Cassivellaunus, who dropped away sharply at the end of the back straight, is alongside her. The other definites are Seaweed (2) and Kastani Beach (11).

Race 7: Back Yard Coffee Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 1.5f]

1: Eden Du Houx     2: On The Slopes     3: Little Vern

Winner owned: Prof Caroline Tisdall, trained: David Pipe, ridden: Tom Scudamore

This race was preceded by a short cloudburst, making it the first race of the day to be staged in proper winter gloom. Eden Du Houx (a name designed to make the commentator sound like he was doing owl impersonations) had won his only Irish point, but clearly learned only a little bit from it, as he was dominating all the way in the home straight but had no idea how to utilise his superiority. On The Slopes took the final bend on the churned up inner, but handled it well and threw a sort of challenge at Eden Du Houx, without seeming as if he would finished it off. Behind them it all got a bit scattered, and nothing was able to tag along with On The Slopes and knock Little Vern out of a place.
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