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Plumpton, 16/12/19

This will be famous, for less than fifteen minutes, as the day when all of the favourites won. If we cannot even trust the favourite in the Plumpton novice chase to unseat, the world really is staggering into impending apocalypse. All that is new is the idea that it would be started by bickering between a Turkish German footballer and an egomaniac Chinese fascist president.

Going: Heavy

Race 1: JH Builders Novices’ Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Highest Sun     2: Diablo De Rouhet

Winner owned: Ashley Head, trained: Colin Tizzard, ridden: Jonjo O’Neill jr

Due to only having two runners this race was banished to the start of the card, but with Plumpton having only an hourly train service, many people found it having no effect on the time that they could wander into the track. The pitch was Diablo De Rouhet (four chases, two wins plus two seconds and a sound jumper bar one calamitous error at Perth) had to concede ten pounds to Highest Sun (second and third in his chases, with horses like Pym and Champ ahead of him). The suspicion was that Diablo De Rouhet was more stamina imbued, but when Colin Tizzard starts creeping up the race distances with a horse, you never can tell when it will stop. Highest Sun made all from a point about two lengths up, quickened to double that at the tenth, then held at bay Diablo De Rouhet’s rally off of the rail bend.

x  Highest Sun (1st): Inevitably success led to chat regarding the track’s Cheltenham bonus. After he jinked away from the first fence in the back straight twice and got the fifteenth wrong, thoughts of the hurly burly of the festival might be a bit premature. See how he goes on from here.

Race 2: Hairy Dog Brewery Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Highway One O Two     2: Mount Windsor     3: Cristal Spirit

Winner owned: Anthony Ward-Thomas, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Tom Cannon

In advance of the race taking place there did not seem to be a stand out participant but after Chris Gordon had the first two and Gary Moore had fourth and fifth, there was a sense of proper Plumpton in the air. Meanwhile, Highway One O Two had run the field ragged, and Tom Cannon was in double take mode looking for where everyone else had gone as early as leaving the third hurdle from home. After the race Chris Gordon noted that in bumpers, the horse threatened to be far too headstrong and had to be taught to settle by hook or by crook. It paid off, although when we talk about horses anchored at the back, Mount Windsor comes into the conversation, as he never got much of a sight of his stablemate. A dual bumper winner, he had not flourished in hurdles so far, but seems to going the right way.

+  Mount Windsor (2nd): It might end up being a handicap of modest status, but on this evidence success over hurdles is not impossible.

+  Cristal Spirit (3rd): A winner over two miles on heavy on the flat in his last run he has since changed stables and did not arrive totally match ready here (the new yard is well onto the cold list too). Struggling early on, he rallied in the latter stages and regained a bit of credit for his potential. Longer race? Less testing going?

Race 3: Derek Hunnisett Memorial Auction Maiden Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Top Man     2: Mr Perfect     3: Call Off The Dogs

Winner owned: Broadsword Group Ltd, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Tom Cannon

Only five declared to run here, and it looked to be a fairly ordinary race. The eyecatcher was Imperial Esprit, not for his bumper form necessarily but because he is as big as the average family sized house. Unfortunately at the moment it seems that maybe his metabolism cannot carry his frame and he stopped quickly with a lap to go, eventually pulling up. The market had been in a tug of war between him and Top Man to be the jolly, and Top Man was left with less of a tussle on the turf when Imperial Esprit capitulated. Mr Perfect did give it a shot, and got halfway there, when nosing to the front at the third hurdle from home. That nonsense was ended when Top Man got serious.
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The field take a civilised wander past the stands with a lap to go. Mr Perfect (3) and Call Off The Dogs lead, then come Imperial Esprit and Top Man, with The Honeydipper on rearguard duty.

Race 4: GE White & Sons Agricultural Buildings Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Hard To Forget     2: Reallyradical     3: Clondaw Bisto

Winner owned: Inspire Racing Syndicate, trained: Henry Oliver, ridden: Dave Crosse

Well this was a strange race. In an event where the pace hardly seemed irrational for the conditions, the only two still on the bridle with a mile still to race were Battle Of Ideas and Dylanseoghan. They ended up as the last two, run out of third by the tubby-looking Clondaw Bisto. Reallyradical eventually turned it into one of his better chase runs so far, but it cannot be ignored that Hard To Forget putting in a round of jumping that needs to forget and was, if anything, travelling even worse than the runner-up with a lap to go. A result to handle with the care shown when feeding a coked-up cobra, but it posted a winner for the Mr Miyagi of the weighing room. The trainer’s observation on Dylanseoghan was “he had been acting like an arse all morning” and that posting an off day was not, in the end, a completely amazing eventuality.

x  Hard To Forget (1st): Stable feedback in the morning press was that this was being treated as a trial run to see if course and going suited enough to go for the Sussex National. If the drier weather forecast actually arrives (ha!) then the ground may not be an issue but several jumping errors and the lackadaisical approach to the second mile would be off putting if he did go for the big one.

UK-Jumping picks – Reallyradical (2nd): Is on the list for hurdles and whilst he arrested the decline in performances over fences, the odd nature of the race leaves it remaining to be seen whether it is form to be relied upon as a clue that he is working the new job out.
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Hard To Forget (1) seems to have just guffed. Dylanseoghan in behind him knows it but Clondaw Bisto has caught a strange odour without yet identifying the source.

Race 5: IEP Financial Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Scrutinise     2: Outrath     3: Sixties Secret

Winner owned: Mrs Louise Bowtell, trained: Zoe Davison, ridden: Paghe Fuller

In contrast to his ratty mooded stablemate a race earlier, Scrutinise behaved impeccably and confirmed the impression from last time that he could stay ahead of the handicapper for at least one more race. Hurtling down the outer on the far side to challenge for the lead, he did hit that hurdle, but went on anyway. Between the last two it seemed as if the pack may come to swamp him, but when Page Fuller needed a bit more, Scrutinise had it and gave willingly. Outrath also had an issue with the hurdle at the foot of the hill, completely destroying one section because he really wants to be President of China, especially now that it is a job for life and does not need any phaffing around with token elections. Given the harm to his chances, second place was fine effort, but this is all he keeps managing to post. Sixties Secret was being hard ridden on the rail turn but stuck to her task well and deserved third place for effort, although Hymn And A Prayer may disagree with us on that one. The answer was in his own hands…

Cabernet D’Alene (8th): Has joined a yard not known for first time out winners, although they did have a horse knocking around a little while ago with a habit of bucking the trend, so six months off was a recipe for failure. His effort in the circumstances was not awful and if regaining a modicum of past talents he can have an impact in class 5 races now that he is rated low enough to be in them – just.

x  Outrath (2nd): The places have been racking up since early autumn. There is nothing obviously win shy about his methods, just a knack for finding some genuine reason to stop him in his tracks.

x  Broke Away (5th): She too had been on a streak of getting placed whilst continually annoying connections noting a lack of an actual victory. Sneaking into this weighted at 10-2 was a recipe for more place money and maybe even that elusive success but she was not at her best and the moment may have passed for the time being.

Race 6: New Plumpton History Book On Sale Now Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Flaminger     2: Vicenzo Mio     3: O’Rahilly

Winner owned: Mrs E Avery, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

After his second to Lisp here two weeks back, the concern with Flaminger was that Lisp had been heavily eased and thus beat him more easily than the actual margin, plus the superior hurdler that started second favourite was clearly below his highest standards. Someone must have told Flaminger that because he set about the oppo here with a very big chip on his shoulder. Leading from the off, he went for home with almost a lap to go, extending the lead quickly to fifteen lengths. And by two out it was a much wider margin and the race was done. This is the bit where we do Gary Moore a favour and point out that Vicenzo Mio last won six years ago and O’Rahilly repeated his trick of struggling on the downhill run and then only rallying when having dug himself a hole that could not be filled. Expect an angry Flaminger next time!

+  O’Rahilly (3rd): Looks like he will get there over fences, but Plumpton is not the prime candidate for the venue. Lingfield has its steep descent too, and might he object to the two drop fences at Fontwell?

x  Vicenzo Mio (2nd): He has been around for an eternity but we are not seeing any genuine signs of a reversal of the no-win policy adopted in 2014. Would another general election motivate him? If yes, would the rest of the population tolerate it being run for solely for his benefit. When he becomes Chinese President, could Outrath fake an election to trick him?

x  Minella Voucher (4th): This has not been a bad autumn/early winter for him but he was generally sluggish today and was only in the mix for third due to the ground that O’Rahilly conceded going downhill.

x  The Mighty Ash (jQuery17201475843261143036_1576788032331): Readers with long memories may recall him getting a good mention in a novice hurdle run some time ago. It has not worked out like that and his jumping was not good enough here. Safe, but very time inefficient.

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

1: Mountain Leopard     2: Sei Bella     3: Falberto

Winner owned: The Shantou Partnership, trained: Venetia Williams, ridden: Hugh Nugent

There are some people who just find a Venetia Williams horse in a very muddy bumper totally irresistible and today she offered them a very willing accomplice in Mountain Leopard. He had learned from some naïve moments when third on debut and came around the final turn with Falberto but started to go clear when Falberto faltered. The whole point of this write up was to put those two words together, so it was fortunate that the race events complied to the pre-ordained script. After not making much impact at Huntingdon and Fontwell, Sei Bella would not have been on too many shortlists for this but she relished the staying scenario presented and gave Mountain Leopard fans some worries in the last couple of hundred metres. She was not the best advert for the strength of the form and fourth placed Hewn From Granite had previous looked about as quick as a granite block.
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