Plumpton, 12/5/19

End of term until September meeting and end of term until September vibe. Unfortunately that conveyed itself into some of the horses. Never mind, there is always next autumn, or next month for the summer jumpers working their way to a peak.

Going: Good, Good to Firm places

Race 1: That Friday-Ad Feeling Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Zamperini     2: Good Time Ahead     3: Sizing Tara

Winner owned: Robert E Tillett, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore
Neat stuff from Good Time Ahead (1) but Sizing Tara might wish to have another, slicker go at this hurdle.

This was a competitive race in the sense that nobody is sending potential star novices to Plumpton in May so the players are not of widely scattered standards. After a sixth at Wincanton in respectable company at the start of the year Zamperini was initially favourite but he ended sharing that role with Andapa, whose support presumably was from people not seeing her get in a right old tizz in the paddock. Zamperini was closely involved all the way and two from home he picked off Sizing Tara and Good Time Ahead, who had taken each other on for the lead throughout. The winner did not exactly brush them aside and Sauchiehall Street also seemed poised to play a bigger part only to not quite see out the race. The final margin was half a dozen lengths, but only eight more split the seven chasing Zamperini home. Sizing Tara has had a wind op and fourteen months off, yet until the money came for Andapa he seemed to be a betting ring positive. It was not a bad run, but a bit more is needed and perhaps it is not there. Interesting note – after meeting on course and distance a month ago, Andapa, O’Rahilly and Singer In The Sand finished in the same order, just not necessarily at the same distances (Mr Preview).

+  Good Time Ahead (2nd): A five time flat winner debuting for Suzi Best and off for the last seven months, this run was a bit impatient yet he would appear to have sufficient about him to be a hurdle winner.

+  Moans Cross (5th): One of the lesser flat runners to line up and also having had seven months absent, he pulled hard and looked as if he would fade away in the home s traight. Instead he stayed in the battle for a place. A flawed run, but not an unfixable one.

+  O’Rahilly (7th): The one horse to come from way back, he was a nose away from sixth and had a shot at fifth as well. He has only had three runs back from a long injury absence and could flourish next season.

Andapa (6th): Undoubtedly talented in bumpers, she fell heavily at the first flight in her hurdles debut and has not been the same horse since. Her pre-race fretting appeared to be at its worst today.
Zamperini (7) pings the fifth hurdle, copied by Hemingway on the near side and Milton on the far side. Andapa and Sauchiehall Street are the ones largely hidden by Hemingway.

Race 2: Happy 30th Birthday Timothy Mellett Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Alanjou     2: American Life     3: Mogestic

Winner owned & trained: Barry Brennan, ridden: Connor Brace

A heart warming tale of a horse making his stable debut and winning for the first time in over four years. There has been the odd close call along the way, but with Alanjou you never really know what to expect on any given day. He and American Life had gone clear on the railway turn and with both proven stayers they had to opt to spoil it if something was to go wrong. Although he acts on all sorts of going, American Life only wins on soft or heavy, so that pretty much put victory in Alanjou’s hands. Mogestic won this last year from a slightly higher rating but he was outpaced most of the way today and only took third because some of those ahead had combined their stamina and speed in an unbalanced fashion, leaving them ripe to be picked off in vain. Handicap debutant Perfect Moment, who ended up fifth, would be the first name springing to mind for that description. The slightly tubby Cintex too, but favourite Sauvignon broke a blood vessel so is excused.

+  American Life (2nd): Well handicapped before this, so potentially able to soak up any rise in the weights, he has capacity for a swan song success next time conditions are soft enough for him.

x  Alanjou (1st): Nothing wrong here, but history tells us to suspect that he will not run two races alike.

x  Marocchino (9th): Seemed to be improving from a very, very low base point in his previous run but this was back to square one.

x x  Bostin (8th): A second consecutive lacklustre run in conditions that seemed ideal for him.
Alanjou is this much quicker on the run-in than American Life

Race 3: Brewers Decorator Centre Cup Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Riddlestown     2: John Daniell     3: Hardtorock

Winner owned: J Ward, trained: Caroline Fryer, ridden: Bryony Frost

This might not have been much of a race in terms of quality, lessened when four timer seeking Waitinonasunnyday pulled up lame, but three horses jumped the last in a row and were split by half a length on the post. What more could the casual Sunday racegoer wish for? At various late stages, all three could be predicted as winners. Hardtorock, who had lost his position in the back straight, pounced again by the station and led into the straight. However he drifted a bit wide and opened up a chance for Riddlestown to regain the lead. Meanwhile, very veteran John Daniell suddenly appeared in the mix and approaching the last seemed ready to overtake. However, he first had to switch right as Riddlestown drifted towards the rails, and then left again as Riddlestown went away from all the white plastic approaching the last. Potentially that cost John Daniell the race, but Riddlestown really stuck his neck out to win (watch the replay – this horse wanted to be first, which is an allegation not always thrown his way at tracks that are not Towcester and Southwell) and therefore we can never know if John Daniell would have matched up to him with a clean run.

+  Riddlestown (1st): Could it be that the very late addition of a visor has made a massive difference to him?

Flashman (5th): Had a big question mark over his stamina for this but as he showed very little enthusiasm from an early stage, it was not conclusively answered.

Race 4: Julie Brown Memorial Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Istimraar     2: Gin And Tonic     3: Golden Cannon

Winner owned: Rio Gold Racing Club, trained: Dan Skelton, ridden: Bridget Andrews

A 0-100 handicap and going through the season just finished to cherry pick the best run or two for each horse made it possible to have hope for every runner. On the day it was Istimraar who was in best fettle and he was so dominant that the biggest risk was of boredom setting in for horse or rider. It seems odd that the Skelton yard could not get a win out of him and sold Istimraar quite quickly in 2016 but now have him 2/2 in his second stint with them – the other a small field chase which was not necessarily a meaningful guide to what he may offer this time around. Gin And Tonic, Golden Cannon, Camaplu and Stormingin finished in a clump behind him, very concerned with each other but not threatening success at all.

x  Camaplu (3rd): Ran two fine races here on soft earlier in spring but has completely failed to develop them.

x  Stormingin (5th): Got a strong mention on here months ago for being set up to have a nice handicap mark and potentially a building up a winning streak. This has not happened and he seems to lack the pace for two miles and connections have had no will to test his stamina for anything else. Two mile chases might redeem him but we are at the wait and see stage rather than invest with blind optimism one.

Race 5: Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Ramore Will     2: Melekhov     3: Mellow Ben

Winner owned: EJ Farrant, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Rex Dingle

Boffins and pundits alike have a consenus that every obstacle misjudged harms a horse's chances of winning the race. Therefore in this twelve hurdle event, Melekhov getting ten of them wrong was a severe hindrance. They were not just mistakes, he also was slow approaching them and getting away as well. To nail his winning chance to a crucifix and have several Roman soldiers jab at it with spears, Melekhov also nearly unseated at the second last. Now, we are not suggesting that Melekhov is the horse Jesus, but it WAS a miracle that he somehow won a respectable looking Exeter race last time out if his effort was any resemblance to what we saw here - the hurdles debut had been a shambles as well. The last two errors here were enough to intimidate pace setting Mellow Ben into not fighting back (Ben was the forgotten apostle) but the Judas that is Ramore Will sneaked up the stands' rail to win by three lengths, when one moderately competent round of jumping by Melekhov would have seen Ramore Will brushed aside. Mick Thonic was bang in contention when he hit three out and was brought to a near halt. As he does not really do winning it is unlikely to have driven the result.

Melekhov (2nd): After his woeful hurdles opener, he had been nursed around Taunton then progressed on that for a win. This was just utterly terrible. All the days that he has done nothing wrong have been on soft or good to soft.

x x M ick Thonic (6th): There may be some people who will talk him up as an unlucky loser. He is now 2/30 in a career that began with a win first time out in France.

Race 6: Backyard Coffee Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Goodthyneaway     2: Well Smitten     3: Hit The Highway

Winner owned: Rio Gold Racing Club, trained: Dan Skelton, ridden: Bridget Andrews

Pretty easy pickings for Goodthyneaway. Well Smitten ensured a strong pace for a three runner race, but he was seen off on the railway bend. There was a quite serious bit of idling on the run-in and a persisting Well Smitten only lost by six lengths with Goodthyneaway pushed along to keep the margin safe. Hit The Highway was not on a going day and accepted third with half a lap going. Commentators need to find a way to mention him without making the name sound like Hitler Highway.
A badly timed picture does have all three in shot but Goodthyneaway is the one least in view at the back. Well Smitten leads Hit The Highway.

Race 7: Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 1.5f]

1: Mount Windsor     2: Lyrical King     3: Richidish

Winner owned: Party People, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Tom Cannon

A small field bumper in which Mount Windsor's form stood out beyond the oppo. However, his two runs were 1m 5.5f around Fontwell, so there was a stamina question to answer. After seizing the lead from Lyrical King turning for home, Mount Windsor did not make it a stroll, so it can be suspected that 2m 1.5f stretched him too far for now, but he should last better in hurdles.

+  Lyrical King (2nd): After being an 89 lengths last of thirteen on his debut he had been off for wind surgery and gained a tongue tie. The result was a much improved effort - now we wait and see if that makes for sustained competitiveness or was it just a symptom of modest oppo.
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