Fontwell, 8/5/19

The formula for a well attended evening meeting is a residential/business hot spot right on your doorstep so that people can get there after work and a nice weather forecast. Fontwell does not have the former and the latter was very missing as well. Therefore it was not a massive attendance but it could have been worse.

Going: Good, Good to Firm places (but first it was good, good to firm places being watered, then it was good to firm, good places, then it poured down with rain and was back where it started – so probably too loose for fast ground horses and too solid for softer ground ones)

Race 1: Download The Star Sports App Now! Handicap Hurdle [2m 5.5f]

1: It’s For Alan     2: My Lady Grey     3: Illtellmema

Winner owned: Tony Worth & Vic Bedley, trained: Jo Davis, ridden: James Davies

The most impossible race of the day being 0-100 with fourteen declared, but the course protected our human rights by staging it first so that anyone running late would miss the least appealing experience of the evening. Then circumstance confounded us by throwing out four non-runners, including most of those who could boast some sort of recent reasonable effort(s). One in that category who did stay in was Sergio, but that proved a cause for regret as he fell at hurdle five, bringing down Brown Bear. Brown Bear is a chunky animal and not the sort of thing that you want falling on top of you. This was too early to say what might have happened given that It’s For Alan and My Grey Lady did not have much encouraging history to bring, although It’s For Alan did win a point-to-point when he finally stopped tripping over his own feet. Illtellmema had shown very little in action since a not close second here on hurdles debut. She ended up heading the betting on her first start for Gary Moore but was let down by her jumping and got into the frame by outplodding some slow horses. Eye-catching handicap debutant Test Ride was dropping to the rear by the fifth, flattened the sixth and was thereafter a non-factor. First time cheekpieces were not a help here.

+  My Grey Lady (2nd): Finished less than ten lengths back in her previous run and improved a bit in first time cheekpieces. She could be closing in on a victory. Clobbering hurdle nine (the third last) might have been the what stopped it happening here.

+  Big Picture (4th): From a yard well onto the cold list, he was the paddock pick pre-race. A good performance ensued and he weakened from the second last as his stable mates have been tending to do in recent weeks. A better outcome might be just around the corner. This was also encouraging in that it was his first race after falling on chase debut and no signs of mental discomfort were shown.

Race 2: Sabin Deboo Maiden Hurdle [2m 1.5f]

1: Some Day Soon 2    : Iconic Muddle     3: Redemptorist

Winner owned: Ogilvy, Shaw, Morley & The Racegoers Club, trained: Jamie Snowden, ridden: Gavin Sheehan

And now the moment he has all been waiting for. The day in which Some Day Soon got that golden opportunity to win after five second places and no wins so far. How soon is now? Now! Keeping the faith involved ignoring some shortish priced losses, but today it all came good. In the commentary box Simon Holt was trying to generate some suspense that the runner-up was generating a threat but Some Day Soon was being a bit lazy when clear in front and it never genuinely seemed as if the gap would be closed. Iconic Muddle ran an interesting race. He and the winner had hurdling experience missing in four of their rivals and they put those horses to the sword, although Iconic Muddle did it sneakily with a stab in the back. He had been too hyped up going to post so was steadied at the back for much of the race. Late on he swept through the field but it was a little surprising that he kept chasing the leader once having achieved second and did not just live with best possible finishing position.

+ +  Iconic Muddle (2nd): A likeable grey – as opposed to a cantankerous prima donna of one – his two previous runs had been at Newbury on very different going to this but the second of them had been progression from the debut and with him meeting lesser opposition it was no surprise to see him placed for the first time, no matter what the betting suggested. He will make a chaser.

+  Redemptorist (3rd): Got a rating for Irish flat racing that did not seem in tune with the results but on his British debut he had been a one length runner-up in a small field. Connections were not tempted to try again and sent him here for his hurdles bow. It was not a terrible effort with him finishing it off in decent style and a smidgeon of improvement would make him a factor against weaker enemies than Some Day Soon.

x  Lily The Pink (4th): Won her only point-to-point and did a good job in bumpers. This was not a very impressive hurdles debut considering the expectation that her past may have justifiably sparked. The finish was notably weak and her final hurdle error was not the first posted. That said, she did lose by barley ten lengths to a 127-rated winner…

Race 3: Handicap Chase [3m 2f]

1: Kings Temptation     2: Stormy Milan     3: Desert Sensation

Winner owned: Lady Jane Grosvenor, trained: Ben Case, ridden: Kielan Woods

This was a tricky event to deal with. The six that eventually took part could all be seen in a generous light on their best days but they all had some question marks looming to leave the pessimists in their comfortable place when judging them. The favourite was Desert Sensation who has been going steadily well lately as far as results are concerned but not always performing willingly en route – all if the form coming in hurdle races. The fact that after his moderate chase debut in Autumn 2017 connections had not given it another go was a big vote of no confidence. Stormy Milan turned up on the back of a Huntingdon 2m 7.5f win with a tongue tie now added. Maybe it was to aid his unproven stamina but it did come over like a slap on the wrist for not doing the last race easily enough, for which he could defend himself by saying that he was protecting his handicap mark. Being raised five pounds makes it a partially accurate argument. He got outstayed here by Kings Temptation, fresh from a tune up at Market Rasen last month. After the win, connections were asked to explain the improved run and simply stated the obvious – fitter horse this time. It would be equally valid to note that his inclination to knock a hole in one fence per race was resisted here and he was handicapped on the day only two pounds above his sole other career triumph.

+  Kings Temptation (1st): Has never been easy to win with but since going chasing he has looked as if that could be cured with a series of blemish free rounds – he needs to be Cillit Bang! spot on. This might be the introduction to that phase of his career.

+  Stormy Milan (2nd): It would be no surprise to see him in a slightly shorter race next and do better for it.

x  Desert Sensation (3rd): Got a more or less uncontested lead but still ran in snatches, although he soon responded each time that Daryl Jacob stirred him up. Should he be seen again in a chase, opposing him is the plan. The only concern is that Richard Newland finds a muppet race that can be won despite the flaws.

x x  Royals And Rebels (4th): He has raised the game to be far a moodier operator than Desert Sensation but on the odd going day he shows that the raw ability has not gone. Today he travelled more sweetly than usual but offered nothing in the final three furlongs.

x x B ells ‘N’ Banjos (PU): Lost his way suddenly for his old stable and a move has not yet cheered him up. The last five runs have now featured four pulled ups. 
Having slowed to watch a replay on the big screen, Kings Temptation (right) dashes back to allow some time for extended mockery of Desert Sensation. At least Daryl Jacob found it witty

Race 4: Download The Star Sports App Now! Novices’ Handicap Hurdle [3m 1.5f]

1: Buster Edwards     2: Et Moi Alors     3: Gambling Gamut

Winner owned: Jonathan Williams & Partner, trained: David Pipe, ridden: David Noonan

A semi-mysterious half dozen contested this, mostly because stamina was unproven. With the exception of Ringmoylan they were a fairly undersized bunch, so the chasing futures would appear to be limited. The favourite was Et Moi Alors, who has been a bit inclined to pull hard in his races and thus had the potential to spoil his chances without help from the enemy. He was steadier today but Buster Edwards, who looked particularly well, proved just a bit too good for him when it was time to push right to 100%. Gambling Gamut travelled sweetly through the race and then did a very good impersonation of a non-stayer. He ended up third, when better seemed probable until the run between the final two obstacles.

+ Buster Edwards (1st): No world beater, he had been runner-up in a five horse 2m 7f maiden hurdle at Worcester that was described on this site as one of the worst ra ces of 2017 and it has lived down to billing. He had eighteen months off in the aftermath but when he finally made it to handicaps he found his level and introducing cheekpieces with tongue tie put the cherry on the cake. He is capable of winning again for the honour of that Worcester race.

Gambling Gamut (3rd): His best run, last time out, had been second over 2m 7f at Exeter, after which connections were happy to step up further in trip. That ploy failed and a return to shorter surely beckons. The one concern is that when the long steep finish at Exeter is assessed, was this race over only a quarter of a mile further really a much greater stamina test?

Robinesse (PU): Her recent runs were not lacking in promise, including an eight lengths third around Hexham in a maiden hurdle. She did not show much interest in repeating that here, which is either a sign of a flawed attitude or dislike of the going. With her bumper win being on good ground, the latter is open to debate. 
Buster Edwards not mocking Et Moi Alors post-race because someone previously explained schadenfreude to him.

Race 5: Call Star Sports On 08000 521 321 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle [2m 3f]

1: Soulsaver     2: Magical Thomas     3: Twenty Twenty

Winner owned: RJ Matthews, trained: Anthony Honeyball, ridden: Rex Dingle

The first event to be run at an obviously fast pace (Desert Sensation in the staying chase was “as fast as possible” which did not amount to rocket-like), Our Three Sons threw down the gauntlet to challenge the rest. They responded positively and he ended up in fifth. The horse shaping best after the second last was Magical Thomas. He has been interesting to monitor in his career as he spent a long time being apparently useless before becoming a mini-winning machine, who brought to the evening a Fontwell record of 1131. The effort was trumped by Soulsaver whose two course wins from six tries looked positively feeble in comparison. The difference is that Soulsaver wins at 2m 3f or more, whereas Magical Thomas finds this at the very edge of his stamina limits and in a speedy race that made the difference – the winning margin was a fraction over three lengths. Twenty Twenty, lurking at the foot of the weights thanks to a four year olds weight allowance and a rider claiming eight pounds, had won here last time out to make his course record 1341. The other two were just too nippy for him on the day, but the combined now eight time course victors cleared daylight to the remainder. Mr Jack has run well several times without finding the magical ingredient to turn decent into successful. This experiment on ground better than good to soft was not the answer.

+  Soulsaver (1st): He is bit of a “So What?” horse. Despite the record here and the only thing to count against him being a below par run last time, it was really hard to see a scenario in which at least one horse did not have his measure. Never underestimate the power of being underestimated as a weapon. But then if you do that, nothing is ever underestimated. An existential conundrum.

+ Magical Thomas (2nd): Does not look well handicapped, but his only two losses here have been this by three lengths and another by under a length. So were he to r eturn at 2m 1.5f or so, it would be brave to ignore him.

+  Our Three Sons (5th): Before today his record on sharp, level tracks was three wins, eight seconds (five at Fontwell), a third and two fifth places. He acts on good going, but is very consistent on good to firm. So there is a good formula for when to be onside, but upping the strike rate from 20% is desirable.

Our Three Sons (5th): Given the above, should he be sternly lectured for not winning often enough?
Soulsaver in typical not-standing-out pose

Race 6: Watch The Bettingpeople Videos Mares’ Handicap Chase [2m 5.5f]

1: Annie Angel     2: Lee Side Lady     3: The Kings Baby

Winner owned: George Materna, trained: Amanda Perrett, ridden: Leighton Aspell

The history of the runners suggested that they were mostly bombproof to going changes but in some cases a touch more resistant to the winning concept (Ruby Yeats and Foxy Lass in particular). What we actually saw was a strong candidate for both the luckiest and tubbiest winner of the season. This was because Annie Angel looked too fat to win without divine intervention (people who had seen her two earlier chases observed that Annie Angel had looked even less fit for those). The build up to this happening was fascinating. Foxy Lass has been problematical at the start in the past, so rider Jamie Bargary dismounted there until the last possible second and trainer Alex Dunn was on hand to lead her in. Once off and running she was a very enthusiastic leader but the distress signals were out approaching the third last. The threat was Ruby Yeats, cruising along well in her comfort zone. We have seen that many times before but it really did seem that today was her day. Until Foxy Lass fell three out and brought her down. With Mrsrobin hampered as well, this left Annie Angel to hold off half pint sized mare Lee Side Lady for the win – the fences must look like mountains to the latter. Life was also easier for the winner because The Kings Baby had been noodling along nicely at the back but when she tried to close on the leaders she instantly dropped in a terrible blunder at fence twelve and never recovered.

x  The Kings Baby (3rd): Raw ability fine, the finesse skills still to be sorted. One day she may well get it all smoothly together, but in the mean time we cannot keep forgiving her the errors.

x  Ruby Yeats (BD): Her inability to transform interesting efforts into win is becoming locally infamous, so the fact that she seemed very likely to win this is not any form of guarantee for next time out.

Race 7: First For Industry Jobs Visit Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 1.5f]

1: Marilyn Monroe     2: No No Maestro     3: Trafalgar Boy

Winner owned: Some Like It Hot, trained: Anthony Honeyball, ridden: Anthony Honeyball

Originally ten were declared, but three dropped out blaming the ground and one due to having raced a day earlier. From the original set it was a race with potential to be much better than the average May bumper at Fontwell, and even the half dozen that remained included close relations to Coneygree and Earth Summit as well as one that was a half-brother to a French Grade 3 winner. They made a good race of it, although with the first trio all coming over to the stands rail, it was the sort of event that flat fans would say was ruined by a draw bias, due to not accepting that they might just have been the best horses on the day. The one that stayed on the inside line, State Vision, had set the pace and attacked off of it early, so he really undid his own chance trying to outwit the rest and not fooling them. Marilyn Monroe improved on her British debut at Plumpton, sticking on with newcomer No No Maestro and Kempton fourth Trafalgar Boy breathing down her neck.

+ +  No No Maestro (2nd): Fit and ready to go for this racing debut, he went down by less than a length to a more experienced opponent. A very encouraging start.

+  Marilyn Monroe (1st): Her Irish point win did not work out too well and contesting bumpers here and at Plumpton could lead to her being underestimated in hurdles.

+  Trafalgar Boy (3rd): Got more wound up in the prelims than any opponent but he settled better on the course and is going the right way.

State Vision (4th): Tried to win this the difficult way and failed but not in an excessively worrying manner.  here.
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