Plumpton, 21/10/19

Monday at Plumpton is always awesome, because nothing else that you could imagine doing on Monday can possibly be better than attending jump racing. And when it is drizzly it reminds us that the emergence of old stars and new is just around the corner. Probably not right at this moment (one race held the scope to hide a possible exception). Someone was even giving away free beer samples. In fact the only thing that went wrong was that the lemon sponge in the coffee shop seemed to have totally imploded when cut into slices. The baker said that terrorists had sabotaged it.

Going: Soft

Race 1: Geoffrey Budd Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: War Lord     2: Jackson Hill     3: King Of The Sand

Winner owned: The Wychwood Partnership, trained: Colin Tizzard, ridden: Harry Cobden

Regular readers may have noticed a degree of amazement and irritation having crept in over the tendency of big yards to run transparently decent novice hurdlers at Plumpton, and not just as travel companions for Cheltenham bonus chasing chasers. Well, this was much more like it. There were a couple of modest promise so far that may just improve plenty with time and a couple who were not awful on the flat but faltered on hurdles debut. And a few that can aspire to modest successes at best. A strong pace in the conditions, set by well backed King Of The Sand, made the race very volatile, most of all for himself, as his jumping was a bit ragged and the plan did not work out in a winning way. War Lord only had one run under his belt but that bumper has produced winners and he had the talent to land this, despite spending the final half lap being urged along by Harry Cobden. Jackson Hill, in a first time hood, was well off of the pace three out and still only missed out by a length. It is hard to imagine that he could not have sat a couple of lengths closer and then incredible things may have come to pass. As a 114-rated horse in Nicky Henderson’s yard, Marcel Debruxelles should have enjoyed coming here and not being the resident doofus but he jumped poorly and had given up at the second last. De Barley Basket comes from a successful family, being a full brother to Global Citizen and related in varied degrees to other winners. Being sold for £26,000 after winning a point at the fourth try indicates that plenty of people thought of him as a possible black sheep. Fifth here was not terrible but improvement is required for his siblings and cousins to be impressed.

War Lord (1st): The obvious conclusion is that he will be quite a respectable performer in more slowly run races. Look for a step up in race distance, maybe some cheekpieces as well.

+  Annajemima (4th): Her best bumper run was a head defeat on fast ground and she had pulled up on hurdles debut. Unwisely matching stride with King Of The Sand, she was apparently shaken off on the railway bend, only to come back for another (partial) shot at the win coming towards the last. It is not sure what her ideal conditions are but some raw material is there to mould into shape.

Hackbridge (8th): Sharing a name with a decidedly unscenic part of South London, he came out into the country for a hurdles debut, bringing a flat rating of 79 and three 1m 2f wins with him. Keen early on, he settled when dropped back towards the rear, then rallied at the foot of the hill. It came to nowt but he is worth tracking into handicaps as better would seem feasible.

x  Jackson Hill (2nd): A good show that could have been a winning one, but bear in mind that he had a fair opening effort this time last year and did not go on from it. The first time hood helped – how permanent will the effect be?

Race 2: Nick Embiricos Memorial 2019 Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Wenceslaus     2: Enforcement     3: Code Of Law

Winner owned: Deauville Daze Partnership, trained: David Bridgwater, ridden: Tom Cannon

The theme of this race was to be uncertain that any of them really wanted soft going. The only one that proved himself happy with it was Wenceslaus, who stalked the remaining trio on the outer as they made the final descent of the hill, pounced three out and was not really threatened after that. The margin was six lengths but if Enforcement could have got closer, the winner had something spare to deal with it.

Enforcement (2nd): Got an improved result from his chase debut, notably seeing out the final stages much better. There is probably a 0-100 handicap chase like this lurking somewhere for him to win.

x x  Killabraher Cross (Ref): All in all he was losing but offering up an unusually enthused effort (for these days) when he remembered his role and refused at the last. That saves us from being tempted at long prices next time.

UK-Jumping Selections - Wenceslaus (1st): Met the right conditions as it was two weeks since he last ran and once the ground could not stop him he went on to be a worthy winner.

Race 3: Onethreefivenotout Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Magen’s Moon     2: Coby Nine     3: Outrath

Winner owned, trained & ridden: Phil York

At the last meeting Magen’s Moon won over this distance on good to firm. The exact same tactics were employed on soft – stay wide back straight, attack three out, keep on going at her very modest flat out pace and then win. It was not so easy second time around because Coby Nine, on debut for David Bridgwater, was really quite keen to win it himself. In the absence of a dead heat (by a neck) Coby Nine will have to be patient. What was going on behind them was quite unusual as two horses that had been out at the back for a long way (and at times by a long way) finished with a real rattle. The weird thing was that both had names beginning with O as if some obscure rule was in play. As in O What A (not yet) Night. Outrath, whose only career win was a dismal all-weather bumper, just made the each-way place at the expense of O’Rahilly. The caveat on the race was the lack of proven soft ground performers, which means some follow up evidence is needed that this is a race to follow and that the Flying Os were potentially sweeping by some horses that simply failed to last home in wet ground.

+  O’Rahilly (4th): Has posted the odd interesting effort in the past and is worth a second look when stepping up into a longer race.

x  Outrath (3rd): The bare result is fine, but he did clout a few hurdles en route and it is not difficult to envisage him finding that lack of skill being a block to progress from what was not his first encouraging hurdles spin.

Verbitude (7th): Caught the eye with his comeback run at Exeter until running out of steam two hurdles out but he ran a similar sort of race again. In both he has stopped very sharply and a wind op would hardly be amazing. Until some remedy is tried, try not to be tempted by the good bits of any given day.
Let your mud flow, like a bird on the wing. Outrath at the back and O'Rahilly in the yellow and black striped cap have no urgency yet. Magen's Moon is on the right, also identifiable by a striped cap and Coby Nine carries the fluorescent stuff up front. Andapa (stars, finished 8th) and Chain Smoker (crossbelts, finished eleventh) were the ones who could not progress from this

Race 4: “A Spirit Of Love” Memorial Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Legal Eyes     2: Full Bore     3: Samarquand

Winner owned: OAP Syndicate, trained: Ben Pauling, ridden: Nico de Boinville

Plus side – a nice bunch of potential future handicappers of whom hopefully hardly any will spoil their careers doing something daft. None would be the ideal number but that sort of thing never happens. Down side – six out of seven were making their chase debut, none had run in a handicap of any form before and they needed to prove that the rosy chase future was a real option. It was eventful, most notably when front running Legal Eyes was left in the lead after My Way tipped up at the last. My Way had a slight lead but Legal Eyes was fighting back so the faller would have been odds-on in running but not a certain winner. Once the frontline fight was ended, Full Bore kept on nicely to make sure of second, but it is not certain that first time cheekpieces truly transformed an inconsistent operator – he needs to back up this effort a couple more times.

Legal Eyes (1st): a case can be made to say that he can be followed but really acted like he needs to go right-handed. He made more than one mistake but most notably hung towards the stables both times that he went past them. If he shows the same tendencies going clockwise, then the + is unreservedly withdrawn.

+  Samarquand (3rd): Despite apparently having the time to do so easily, he struggled to avoid the rising My Way at the last and that cost him second. His yard has not been in flying form so this is a performance to build upon. Sharp undulating tracks look like they ought to not be on his agenda.

x  My Way (F): A crunching fall will not have helped his mental state and for all that two Grade 3 second places at Auteuil impress he had previous won none of a dozen races and hit second place a gloomy six times in those losses.

x x  Musical Slave (5th): Ended last season with two wins, including at the Punchestown Festival. That marked him as a fair chase prospect but he hated this and was shaping as an unlikely winner from an early stage.
Legal Eyes is doing his "off to the right" thing in front from Sussex Ranger, who got too irritated with it to persevere. Darlac, My Way and Full Bore are next, with Samarquand bringing up the visible rear - Musical Slave is not in touch

Race 5: SIS Supports Bob Champion Cancer Trust Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Shambra     2: Dan McGrue     3: Rosy World

Winner owned: Pali Pali Syndicate, trained: Lucy Wadham, ridden: Maxime Tissier

This had a cracking finish with the first three less than a length apart at the finish. It could have been a four way event had Sir Ivan not unseated at the third last. Shambra was new to undulating tracks and not especially strong in the betting but she hung on grimly from Dan McGrue, who was upsides for a long way but could not managed a dab a nose in front. What was more amazing was the effort of Rosy World in third. When seeing her in the paddock she just looked fat, and the money that took her into favourite seemed to be way off of the mark. Not only did she refuse to give way when the pace picked up, but she was actually staying on and closing down Shambra on the run-in. A mighty effort that augurs well for when she is fit.

+  Dan McGrue (2nd): Had his struggles last season but a wind op over the summer clearly helped – this was his best run since January 2018. This distance and going were fine, but his best days to date have been at Taunton, so look out for a return to that place.

UK-Jumping Selections - Rosy World (3rd): It is inconceivable that she will not be better for this run, so she ought to have a grand chance if sticking to this level next time.

Race 6: Summertree Novices’ Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Uallrightharry     2: Dont Be Robin     3: Hit The Highway

Winner owned: Mrs S Stanier, trained: Linda Jewell, ridden: Brendan Powell

This was minor shock as although only priced at 7/1 Uallrightharry is one of the most slapdash jumpers around – get most of the obstacles right, then throw in a horrendous mistake when nobody is expecting it. It happens in both hurdles and chases too, proving that he is not discriminating against certain obstacle types. Today he saved the best slliness for last but he was in control when fluffing the final fence. Initially appearing to recover quite well, it had knocked the stuffing out of him on his return from summer off and all of a sudden Dont Be Robin and Hit The Highway were narrowing the gap rapidly. Dont Be Robin had problems getting around the weakening Witches Glen but it probably cost him less than the margin of loss.

Norse Legend (PU): Started a contender for favouritism because nobody really had much of an idea as to who were the likeliest winners. However, his modest hurdles career has gone even worse over fences and he was beaten when a slipped saddle effectively forced him out of the race, although those who loyally supported him would have been mystified at why he ran off at weird angle on the railway turn.

Vetoncall (PU): Had shown nothing in four races under Rules but posted a couple of very respectable Irish pointing efforts. So when the money came for him on handicap debut it appeared that a plot was being unleashed. Perhaps “was being revealed as a failure” sums it up better as he made all the jumping look very laboured until a worse error at fence twelve ended any chance.

UK-Jumping Selections – Witches Glen (4th): A solid chase debut and only lack of fitness cost her second place in the end. She is ready to come into her own.
Hit The Highway (green) wants attention now! Because over fences he does nothing that will earn it afterwards. Norse Legend (left) is in the same (long)boat. Dont Be Robin and Crossley Tender are the ones identifiable just behind them.

Race 7: Josh Gifford Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Jonjoela     2: Luck Of The Legion     3: Chloe’s Court

Winner owned: In The Pink Partnership, trained: Alex Hales, ridden: Harry Bannister

And so we end on a race in which nobody could be sure that any of the runners would do long distance hurdling in the mud. One or tother, not the two combined. With that in mind, Jonjoela went to the front from the off, posted a foot perfect round of hurdling and defied any thoughts that the rest may have had regarding catching her. Despite no wins in 22 earlier Rules races, she started at only 2/1. Even with the mitigation of Jonjoela having changed trainer that was quite a scathing condemnation of the opposition. The in-form Luck Of The Legion did not deal with the soft going as well as she has been acting on good and fast but she has been raised plenty as well.

Chloe’s Court (3rd): Had a couple of decent novice hurdle runs on heavy ground but she had not got her act together at all in handicap company. This effort suggests that in 0-100 company something fun is just around the corner. A slightly shorter race could be beneficial.
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