Plumpton, 22/4

Racecard tipster news – two non-runners, two winners, three losers. Other than that the story was another big crowd and more runners than normal for Plumpton on Easter Monday where dual declarations over the two days tend to thin numbers a bit. The chases did not do so well as the hurdles and the few non-runners meant that the main event trimmed down to a trio of runners and a well funded 0-125 race became a walk-over.

Going: Good

Race 1: JH Builders Juvenile Hurdle [2m]

1: Praeceps     2: Zanzi Win     3: Flaminger

Winner owned: Incipe Partnership, trained: Alan King, ridden: Wayne Hutchinson

In advance this seemed to be a straight pick between Praeceps and Zanzi Win. The betting market gave Praceps a big thumbs up and Zanzi Win got a bit sweaty in quiet fury at the insult. Halfway down the back straight it looked as if the betting clues were going to be horribly wrong as Praeceps was off of the pace of the first pair (Zanzi Win and Flaminger) and not travelling well. However it seems as if the leaders had gone too hard too soon and Praeceps reeled them in eventually, allowing a little time to forge clear on the run-in.

+  Flaminger (3rd): So far in Britain he had been fine as a hurdler but winless. This was hinted in mid-race as being the day he raised his effort, but that did not happen at the finish. The vibe is that he will get there eventually, but do we dare follow him all the way in case the direct route is via a cliff edge?
Flaminger (the grey) and Zanzi Win in control at hurdle five. Unfortunately for them Praeceps knew that there were four more to jump and timed it well.

Race 2: Strong Flavours Catering Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Our Rockstar     2: Tennewrow     3: The Kings Baby

Winner owned: Strutting Cockerels Syndicate, trained: Alistair Ralph, ridden: Lee Edwards

This race ended up being fought out by a pair of stable mates, both of whom had sharply improved in their most recent race. Our Rockstar, a Stratford winner with a bit in hand, came out on top but Tennewrow ran very solidly indeed. The pair of them were going eye-catchingly well down the hill for the final time and once The Kings Baby saw her challenge put to bed, Billingsley bragging rights were all that was left to be settled. Billingsley is in Shropshire but a misprint in the local byelaws states that trial by combat is allowed, as long as it is staged within one railway station of Cooksbridge, Sussex. A local puritan must have taken offence at the original nearer choice of Cockshutt. In the end there were a few runners who should really have been closer but the inclination is to give the benefit of the doubt on a warm day at the end of the season.

+ +  Tennewrow (2nd): Ran well again and must be able to pick the right (i.e. winnable) race soon. Adding the tongue tie has made such a difference that her old yard must be almost regretting not using one. It is unlikely, but theoretically possible, that she responded to being number ten on the racecard.

+  The Kings Baby (3rd): Had not done much of merit since coming over from Ireland but had looked like she was coming to hand recently. This was a pretty fine effort in defeat but she has the looks of a mare to have an impact in mares only chasing soon. The only off putting thing is three previous tries over fences – a head loss then a pulled up and a fall.

x  Perfect Moment (8th): Appeared to have been given a chance by the handicapper with a rating of 97 but failed to be a factor at all. Perhaps giving weight in class 5 level would work better but for now past enthusiasm is on hold.
Introductions first. Readers, this is everyone. Everyone, meet the readers. By everyone we mean the horses – from the front they are Wasdell, The Kings Baby, Ruby Yeats (2), Tennewrow (10), Our Rockstar, Wilde Spirit behind her, Miss Malarky, Fortia, Sixties Secret, Lady Maleficent and Perfect Moment.

Race 3: William Hill Sussex Champion Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Mercian Prince     2: Romain De Senam     3: Militarian

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

Unfortunately fear of fast ground chopped up a workable entry to four declarations and one of them dibbed out due to the ground. For a long while a close race was threatened but Militarian, just looking to be travelling slightly worse than the other two, made a mess of fences eleven and twelve, and when the pressure was put on at about the same time, Romain De Senam did not find as much as Mercian Prince. It was a very game effort by the winner as he had run at both Cheltenham and Aintree festivals and could not have been blamed if he felt that he had earned a rest. He has probably gone home and reflected that the first time cheekpieces was a dirty trick for connections to pull on him.

Romain De Senam (2nd): Is not a complete bounder as he does win some races, and he is best on good to soft so the ground had gone a bit against him here. However, he does leave the impression that he ought to win more, especially in small fields.

Race 4: Harry And Betty Savill Memorial Novices’ Handicap Hurdle [2m 1.5f]

1: Passing Dream     2: Itsonlyrockandroll     3: Midnight Jitterbug

Winner owned: Kingsbere Racing, trained: Seamus Mullins, ridden: Jeremiah McGrath

At face value this race looked as if it was going to be fiercely competitive, but the first three to finish ended up severely dominant – although Midnight Jitterbug opted out of that role between the last two flights of hurdles. Between them they took the “anyone’s game” concept as far as they could, with a few still travelling sweetly coming down the hill. Passing Dream was the one that took it to the nth degree, but had Itsonlyrocknroll jumped the final hurdle cleanly it might have reversed the first two places, so he was at the n(9/10)th degree. Midnight Jitterbug made most of the running but weakened quite tamely once headed. Passing Dream would have been a strong selection if she had not been well below par in her last two races. She at least proved that the visor was not to blame. In fourth was the consistent but non-winning Bolister, who gives the form achieved by the first pair a fairly strong look based on the margin that he lost by.

+  Itsonlyrocknroll (2nd): He did not get the win. He did confirm that he is regaining some of the promise shown in Ireland, helped by a drop in race class. And he handled this shorter distance better than might have been feared, although when the pace picked up on the top bend he did briefly lose a couple of places, as if outpaced. But it could have just been a case of being caught unawares by a relatively early attack.

x  Midnight Jitterbug (3rd): Seemed to have been priming himself for a big run but this turned out to be bee something of a backward step. Maybe it was a tougher race than expected but the way he lost it crushes a bit of the acquired optimism.

Another Go (7th): Although his flat wins are long distant, there had been some signs of going through novice hurdling with no thought other than handicaps to come. He has now tried two of them and been heftily beaten in both. We love it when a plan falls apart.
Angry participants try to set about the photographer recording their presence. Midnight Jitterbug is nearest, with Bolister (hoops) and Golden Cannon (quarters) peering over her shoulder. Thegrey Another Go refuses to be left out and Passing Dream (green) wants to remind us who is going to win.

Race 5: Crystal Services Commercial And Domestic Cleaning Handicap Chase [2m 1f]

1: No No Cardinal     2: Brother Bennett     3: Goonjim

Winner owned: TJC Seegar, trained: Mark Gillard, ridden: Edward Austin

Easter Monday proved to be very much a going day for No No Cardinal. Maybe he does word association far too well for a horse. Brother Bennett was favourite after his easy win here two weeks earlier but if taking the form of a race over course and distance a year earlier very literally, No No Cardinal did have a few pounds in hand on the favourite and he would also have been far better suited by the ground edging into quick territory. The four runners end up coming home in well scattered single file. Goonjim is no more reliable than the first pair and on another day at the same terms, a completely different outcome occurs. Note for seekers of oddity. Thirteen year old Kastani Beach was having his first chase run here since June 2014. He reminded everyone of why it had taken nearly five years to go at it again.

Empire: Brother Bennett (2nd): The ground was turning into an enemy by late afternoon but ultimately a horse that is capable of beating him at the relative weights arrived in the mood to do so. No real excuses and probably the same outcome is witnessed if it had rained instead of shone.
Left to right we have No No Cardinal, Goonjim (more interested in worm charming) and Brother Bennett. Appropriately, Kastani Beach wants no part of this.

Race 6: Extech Cloud-Humanising IT Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Stream Lady     2: The Tin Miner     3: Pray For A Rainbow

Winner owned: K Alexander, trained: David Pipe, ridden: Tom Scudamore

The highlight of the race was a three horse brawl approaching the hurdle at the bottom of the hill on the final circuit, because Stream Lady was stuck against the rails and she was determined not to stay there. Pray For A Rainbow stood his ground but The Tin Miner did get forced out wider than he wanted to be. Perhaps if Stream Lady had no blinkers and saw who she was messing with, the result would have been different. Having got her preferred spot she at least delivered a victory. The Tin Miner was backed into being favourite. He was debuting for Chris Gordon but past history tells us that his make up is of a potentially sound chaser and hopeless hurdler whose chances at both jobs founder on calamitous lack of jumping skills. Pray For A Rainbow weakened late on, just having enough in reserve to hold Marocchino for third.

+  Stream Lady (1st): Up in distance and in first time blinkers, she ran by far her best race since an Irish point win and has more to come.

+  Marocchino (4th): The pre-race note was that he had shown nothing so far, even in first time cheekpieces. This step up in race distance plus a switch to a visor let him be less of a failure and it is worth keeping an eye on what he can do in class 5 staying hurdles – time is on his side.

x  Bostin (6th): It has been the case that when it is 2m 4f or more at Plumpton and the going is getting quick, call for Bostin. Often there would be no response because he was off injured, but if ready he delivered several times. Even after a gently encouraging run last time, nothing much was offered here and it may be that at age eleven he has lost interest in the job.   here.
The end of competition for the day – Pray For A Rainbow leads The Tin Miner (2) and Stream Lady. The chase is sort of going on with Elska, Cockney Seagull (8) and Bonbonniere (7). We can see bits of Bostin and some of tiny Maisy Belle, so it must be Marocchino behind Elska

Race 7: Tie The Knot Wedding Catering Handicap Chase [2m 1f]

1: Darebin

Winner owned: Chris Stedman & Mark Albon, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

A walkover. Bit of an odd one as the non-runner, King Cnut, came out due to the going but has handled fast conditions in the past.
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