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Plumpton, 5/1/20

Two winning novice hurdle favourites, a long odds-on jolly turned over in the novice chase, two very teasing handicap chases, two completely unfathomable handicap hurdles and a belting bacon roll in the course coffee shop. Vintage Plumpton and happy new year indeed. Shame that the original report was written and then accidentally deleted prior to being published. That sort of confusion makes it seem as if even the bacon roll may be a false memory.

Going: Soft

Race 1: Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Highway One O Two     2: Morning Spirit     3: White Chocolate

Winner owned: Anthony Ward-Thomas, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Leighton Aspell

After Highway One O Two won here last time, Chris Gordon did reveal in the post-race interview that the horse tends to rather operate walking a mental razor’s edge, which leaves racegoers waiting with bated breath for something to go wrong. Perhaps he is getting better as being harassed by the loose Maid Of Camelot and then accosted by the more planned intervention of Katahdin did not stop Highway One O Two repeating a wide margin success. Katahdin got very tired and fluffed the last two hurdles, leading to both Morning Spirit and White Chocolate stealing the minor places. Some people would see that as more of a hangover cure than a horse race result.

+ +  White Chocolate (3rd): She has a flat racing of 82 and three wins over 1m 2f, so bears good credentials for hurdling. For this she had no previous experience of the job yet got a promising result. Mares hurdles should be there for the taking. Well, some of them.

+  Morning Spirit (2nd): Finished nine lengths behind Katahdin on his hurdles debut but is gently going forward and got revenge on that horse here. This qualifies him for handicaps and he will probably do OK at that job in longer races.

+  Katahdin (4th): All three hurdle runs have seen him finish quite tamely but he travels well and there is definitely something to work with.
Description
Katahdin, Isle Of Wolves, White Chocolate (green), Bigunonthebalcony and Morning Spirit are all in shot, but Highway One O Two was just too quick for us

Race 2: Follow At The Races On Twitter Novices’ Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: De Plotting Shed     2: Who Dares Wins     3: Impulsive Leader

Winner owned: Kelly, Beal and Vasey, trained: Suzi Best, ridden: Tom Scudamore

Who Dares Wins became yet another tale of long odds-on woe in Plumpton novice company but he was a little more unlucky than most. A blunder at fence six was all of his own making but there was time to recover, which he did, and he lost more than the neck margin of defeat when hampered by the fall of Not Never at fence eleven. Amid all this, some credit goes to De Plotting Shed for, when given the chance, showing rather more dynamism to take it than was evident when brushed aside at this track last time. Of course, runner-up Flaminger had since shown that maybe the previous effort was not as mediocre as it looked in real time.
Description
This is mid-race and they were not at the front of affairs but this shows Who Dares Wins, De Plotting Shed and Impulsive Leader, the three that actually completed.

Race 3: Visit attheraces.com/jumps EBF Novices’ Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Cat Tiger     2: Iconic Muddle     3: Top Man

Winner owned & ridden: David Maxwell, trained: Paul Nicholls

After the horrible tactical implosion at Lingfield last time, Cat Tiger was asked to bowl along in front this time and make the others do the worrying. It worked but having won two Grade 3 races at Auteuil and lost by only four lengths in Grade 1 company, Cat Tiger had no valid reason for finding that a difficult task to execute. The field was quite strung out by hurdle five and although a few tried to burrow into the Cat’s psyche, it never looked like paying off. Iconic Muddle ran into second place despite making a mess of the second last and got ten lengths closer to the winner than the handicapper previously thought that he should do. In fact if we trust the ratings implicitly, Top Man came out as slightly the second best horse as he was stuck with a six pound penalty for his recent Plumpton win.

+  Moroder (4th): A bumper winner, the value of his hurdles debut is unknown as the victor fell in the Challow Hurdle before exposing the form to either a bright light or a deep, dense shadow. This run implied ability but with a need for a longer race.

Kerb Line (6th): Having only his second race, he tended to jump right and lose more ground on top of that given up by settling at the rear from the start of the race. However by the time he meandered up the run-in he did not seem especially tired and better is on the way.

UK-Jumping Selection – Iconic Muddle (2nd): Put in a very solid display and if the handicapper interprets this as Cat Tiger winning with a bit in hand and the placed horses being better yardsticks for the race, he could even get away without have devastated his handicap prospects.
Description
After the failings of the first two races, no chances were taken with Cat Tiger. The grey Iconic Muddle and Top Man have a very distant perspective

Race 4: Download The Free At The Races App Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: High Up In The Air     2: Ede’iffs Elton     3: Zoltan Varga

Winner owned: P Mott, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

Fifteen runners made this extremely competitive. Nobody had informed High Up In The Air that this was supposed to be the case and he made short work of leading from pillar to post. He did not even bother with the intricacies of flawless jumping and although he had not been placed since his run in a weak Irish point, the betting market told us that some people were expecting the outcome. Having been towards the rear early on, Ede’iffs Elton never got within blinking distance of High Up In The Air but he picked off the remainder quite readily. In the case of Zoltan Varga, Ede’iffs Elton only passed him quite late and after he got tired once having exited the railway turn.

+  High Up In The Air (1st): Lightly raced and with scope to improve more, he did not have a hard race and could handle a quick reappearance. In this mood he would n not be too bothered by a higher mark after being reassessed.

+  Ede’iffs Elton (2nd): Ran into the wrong opponent for his handicap debut but he will find easier opposition in other 0-100 races.

x  That’s My Rabbit (6th): Won his previous race, at Uttoxeter just before Christmas but could not sustain the improved form. He is getting on a bit now, although this was only race number fifteen, but inconsistency is probably going to be norm from now on in.

Race 5: Sky Sports Racing Sussex National Handicap Chase [3m 4.5f]

1: Christmas In April     2: Uallrightharry     3: Rathlin Rose

Winner owned: Swallowfield Racing, trained: Colin Tizzard, ridden: Harry Cobden

The opportunities for the lower level marathon chasers have increased a little in recent years and this renewal of the Sussex National was not quite the guessing game that the race has been in the past. Despite that the market was a bit barmy because despite having jumped indifferently in his audition Hard To Forget was a popular favourite. Before there was time to ask “What could possibly go wrong?” his rider was left on the deck. Christmas In April had won a 3m 2f chase in first time cheekpieces in his previous race and greatly enjoyed the slightly longer trip here. He also stayed it well enough to hold at bay Uallrightharry on one of his less clumsy jumping days and Velka Pardubice sixth Rathlin Rose. Fourth placed Belle Empress has won over further, so had there been any chink in Christmas In April’s presentation, there right hordses to take advantage were snapping at his heels.

+  Christmas In April (1st): Likes soft conditions but has won on good and given that flexibility the Scottish National could turn out to be a good race to target.

Belle Empress (4th): The field went round the final mile and a half at what looked like a fair old lick for a long distance chase and at that pace her jumping left a little bit to be desired. It will not necessarily stop her in smaller, more careful line-ups but is a factor to be wary of.

x  Garrane (7th): Despite never having won a chase, posting four second places from what is now now nine tries, he was quite popular in the betting. It seems that first time cheekpieces were not the fix he seeks.

Race 6: Free Tips Available On attheraces.com Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Ramore Will     2: Chivers     3: Soarlikeaneagle

Winner owned: EJ Farrant, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Jamie Moore

A fine spectacle on the supporting card to the main event. Tara Bridge made the running then was passed by stablemate Ramore Will at the third last. The new leader was going well at this point in time but so was Shintori, on his favourite track and with his favourite jockey and off of a pace that did not turn him into an angry fiend determined to destroy the human race. Two from home Shintori was still a major danger but his trigger went and he downed tools more or less on landing over that fence. It was not all done for Ramore Will as Chivers was sneaking along on the stands side, not even to poke a nostril in front, but enough to remind Ramore Will that there was no margin for error and enough also to remind Shintori that he was in anti-punter mode today. That worked, because Soarlikeaneagle stole third on the line.

+  Ramore Will (1st): Took his Plumpton record over roughly two and a half miles in hurdles and chases combined to 13U111. Now it is up to the course to keep staging Ramore Will friendly races

Chivers (2nd): For the most part he has a terrible record first time out but he almost excelled himself here. Up to now there has only be the one jumps victory but on this showing number two could be just around the corner.

+  Nautical (F): Prior to this she had run in nine chases on soft or heavy, winning three, being runner-up in four and third twice. When she fell there was a bit of work to be done for a success but another place was well on the cards.

x  Black Centaur (5th): Making his handicap debut, he has been beaten by some top notch horses in learning his way to this point, and from the overnight prices the money was coming for him to show his true colours. If he did, the short term future does not look good.

x x  Shintori (4th): We have been rude about him in this slot before and he gave us every excuse to be so again, this time in conditions where he has been coaxed into a certain degree of cooperation in the past – Plumpton with Nick Scholfield riding.

Race 7: Watch Today’s Race Replays On attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Lightly Squeeze     2: Karakoram     3: Shaw’s Cross

Winner owned: J Davies, G Brown & P Govier, trained: Harry Fry, ridden: Bryan Carver

Utter confusion to close the meeting. The usual Plumpton rule of “bumper or 0-100 handicap hurdle” to close a seven race card was ruthlessly pushed aside in favour of a 0-120 handicap. The Plumpton regulars, UK-Jumping included, had no idea what on earth to do with a group of horses that were fairly capable and often in solid recent nick too. For reasons of mental health, this cannot be allowed to happen again. The result was the completion of a hat trick by Lightly Squeeze and the odd thing is that as his rating rises and he is forced against tougher opposition, he wins more easily. That is a defying logic and may be a case of a classic trainers’ cliché of “he is improving all the time” actually being true in this case, rather than just waffling around the fact that the horse is far too well treated for the current handicap methods to catch up with him quickly. Despite Mount Windsor having the form of his second to Highway One O Two thoroughly endorsed and gaining a first time hood, he could not do anything to stop the winner, nor could recent double course and distance winner Scrutinise. Hollywood Ken gave it a bit of a shot but the extra effort was too much and Karakoram and Shaw’s Cross passed him on the run-in.

+  Shaw’s Cross (3rd): His overall career record is not eye-catching but since coming over from Ireland he has been steadily very respectable – the exception being his seasonal debut when the yard was just trying to get out of a quiet spell. Two miles suits better than 2m 3f or up.

x  Mount Windsor (6th): Did not appear to be impossibly handicapped on what he had done so far but disappointed anyway. Perhaps some headgear experimentation will get a better results, perhaps just avoiding the likes of Lightly Squeeze is the answer but for now he is labelled “proceed with caution.”
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