Fontwell, 8/9/19

What a pleasant afternoon in the wilds of Sussex. Not too hot, nor too cold. No rain. Not excessively crowded for a family fun day. This Sunday racing would catch on if it was always like this.

Going: Good, Good to Firm places

Race 1: Download The Star Sports App Now Conditional Jockeys’ Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [2m 5.5f]

1: Skewiff     2: Prettylittlething     3: Westerberry

Winner owned: Mrs Janet Davies, trained: Evan Williams, ridden: Isabel Williams

Only four turned up for this but it still left a trappy affair, in which Skewiff proved to be popular amongst punters. Ambling around in rear for a long time, Skewiff made progress exiting the far turn but front running Prettylittlething proved rather determined to stay where she was. Skewiff added to her looming woes by drifting right after the last hurdle but once on the rail she got a bit more forward drive and her enemy had finally had enough – in the end the margin was an unlikely length and a half. Westerberry, who was running from out of the handicap, put up a good show until approaching the final hurdle. Silk Run is back to her last winning rating (approximately) so her first to crack, last to finish outcome was not great but her jockey has having his first ride, which is very rarely helpful for the horse.

+  Westerberry (3rd): On this evidence she is poised for a big run back at her own level (class 5) but before getting too carried away, do bear in the mind that the slow early pace that allowed Prettylittlething to endure for so long also flattered her involvement.
In this picture it looks as if Skewiff is sneaking up the inner to deprive Prettylittlething, but implies intent and nobody watching thought that it was Isabel Williams’ idea to be just here.

Race 2: Juvenile Hurdle [2m 1.5f]

1: Zeb Spirit     2: Local Affair     3: Glutnforpunishment

Winner owned: Kate & Andrew Brooks, trained: Olly Murphy, ridden: Gavin Sheehan

This is not the time of year for expecting wonderous performance from our juvenile hurdlers (or our weather forecasters, so the young horses need not take all the flak) but the world went wild for Glutnforpunishment, who started well odds on and was backed into 4/11. The pun writes itself as he put up a shoddy round of jumping and gave up any hope of victory before the final hurdle. Having set the pace, Zeb Spirit just kept going and did not greatly bat an eyelid when getting the last wrong. He is a tall, lanky horse and dwarfed runner-up Local Affair who worked her way into second thanks to the cunning tactic of jumping the hurdles efficiently. None of the other six had totally committed to that policy. Perhaps they learned something from what they witnessed here.

Zeb Spirit (1st): Had three unplaced flat runs in Ireland last year but on this visual evidence racing as a two year old was a total waste of time. With his size he could mature into a better horse than just a late summer juvenile hurdler. He made two mistakes, four out and the final hurdle, the latter of which was a sign of him just getting a bit tired.

x  Glutnforpunishment (3rd): Ringleader of the clumsy gang, he has four flat wins this year (one a two horse race) so we know that he can raise a gallop. All that will be gone, like tears in the rain, if he does not work out the skill element.

x  Everyone bar Local Affair: Until they have proven themselves to have brushed up their jumping ability.
Zeb Spirit takes them out for two laps of sunny Fontwell. Glutnforpunishment is secondish (something is hidden behind him), followed by Big Ian and Arbuckle.

Race 3: Read Silvestre De Sousa’s Exclusive Blog Handicap Chase [2m 2f]

1: Pointed And Sharp     2: Thomas Blossom     3: No No Cardinal

Winner owned: Tony Staple & George Giles, trained: Philip Hobbs, ridden: Micheal Nolan

And so, thanks to another ten pound rise in the handicap, No No Cardinal’s implausible reign of terror for the summer comes to an inevitable end. We shall not see the like again and he can go back to treating us with all the respect due to a concussed ant. His conqueror was Pointed And Sharp who used to get too stewed up to win races, then got too clumsy, although one of his ‘falls’ was a violent mid-air assault by a wayward rival. Since the tongue tie was fitted he has two runs, a good a second and this easy win. More ought to be possible. The erratic Thomas Blossom divided them, briefly threatening the winner between the final two fences and then realising that he had bitten off more than he can chew this time.

+  Pointed And Sharp (1st): Risks a proverbial handicapping crucifiction for this but did not have to work too hard and is a very dangerous opponent if he can get a run in before his new mark cuts in.

+  Thomas Blossom (2nd): On his good days a mark of 89 as he had this time looks as if it can be very helpful but he cannot summon up the consistency to track him co nfidently. When it is good or quicker ground and right-handed things are edging in his favour, and one or two front runners to set up the race for patiently ridden horses is ideal as well. And still we might be disappointed but he has at least won a couple of times to show what is possible.

Race 4: Download The Star Sports App Now Handicap Hurdle [2m 3f]

1: Chapmanshype     2: That’s A Given     3: Constancio

Winner owned: The GD Partnership, trained: Jamie Snowden, ridden: Gavin Sheehan

When she won in May at Ffos Las it seemed like time for Chapmanshype to go on a winning run, but it was a false dawn of sorts. She was back on the straight and narrow here last month and this time did double up. In fact she did it all rather too easily and with no imminent entries on her agenda she can expect to competing against a higher class of horse next time – and this bunch were not exactly shoddy when in form. That’s A Given struggled to get on terms due to some hesitant jumping but he seemed to sense that the end of the race was near and showed a bit of urgency from two out. He had first time cheekpiece on today and it would be interesting if different headgear was in play next time. After doing all of the donkey work, Constancio deserved to hang on for third, but only just managed it.

+ +  That’s A Given (2nd): Has an excellent record when having had a few months or more off before a race, which means that unless your note making system is supremely efficient he wins just when you have forgotten all about him.

UK-Jumping Selection – Asylo (6th): This is not his optimal sort of course and when the pace quickened three hurdles out he was soon exposed as being out of his element. However, he has shown in the past that he can be better than this when losing on sharp tracks so it was a bit disappointing.

Race 5: Call Star Sports On 08000 521 321 Novices’ Hurdle [2m 1.5f]

1: Archimento     2: Pagero     3: Twasn’t The Plan

Winner owned: Forever Optimists, trained: Oliver Sherwood, ridden: Leighton Aspell

When the kids put up a bad display of jumping skills in race two a couple of horses here took that as a cue to raise lack of agility to a whole new level. And the most guilty pair, Archimento and Pagero, still somehow ended up as the first two. Archimento had shown the gap in his attributes here last month, so seeing him clatter through most of the obstacles was about as surprising as seeing a millennial sharing a factually inaccurate story on social media. He got away with it because Pagero was just as awkward, but in his case he may have been unnerved by a very awkward landing at the first hurdle. At least Pagero did not try to blame his competence shortfall on Vladimir Putin. Twasn’t The Plan has been gently progressing in small fields but found this a bit harder to handle from the front and did not move on again.

Twasn’t The Plan (3rd): He is worth keeping an eye on for handicaps but until he proves otherwise concentrate on smaller fields.

Almazhar Garde (4th): So far he has only shown a whiff of promise and was appearing here after four months off. He did not finish very close but was not asked to do a great deal and may have more to offer in longer races.

x  Archimento (1st): Having actually won this, people are likely to go back to loving his high flat rating but with two consecutive displays of poor jumping, he is one to be taken on.

Race 6: First For Industry Jobs Visit Handicap Chase [2m 5.5f]

1: Downloadtheapp     2: Invincible Don     3: Code Of Law

Winner owned: Gerard Burrow, trained: David Bridgwater, ridden: Brendan Powell

Hat trick completed, and whilst this looked to be the best opposition that Downloadtheapp had accounted for in the process, the best of them opted not to show it in the race. Invincible Don, a recent winner on stable debut, went around early on as if he had forgotten how to jump or gallop, but the amnesia wore off with six to jump and a fantastic effort from Jonathon Burke in the saddle got him challenging the winner with just one to jump. However, Downloadtheapp had saved up extra energy to download as well and had command on the run-in. Code Of Law was not at his peak either, but his trough is very surly finishing and he was not as dismal as that today. What comes next is fun to guess.

x  Code Of Law (3rd): Seemed to be having a good day and then lost interest after the third last. That has become his normal way of doing things this summer.

Write It Down (5th): Could not cope with the fences on chase debut and the same was true again. Definitely one to shun over fences and he did not do much as a hurdler either – working to get a handicap rating for chases may have been a factor.
Downloadtheapp has become blasé about post-race adulation

Race 7: Matthew Kemp Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 1.5f]

1: Shantou Sunset     2: Libbdan     3: Rosie Picture

Winner owned & trained: Chris Down, ridden: Page Fuller

A modest mares only race that only needed a flash of inspiration to pick up. Shantou Sunset had it, although when she planted herself on the way to the start, that outcome was hard to predict. The retrospective verdict was that she was staging a protest that bumpers could be up to 2m 0.5f and not a yard more. Having backed down from that stance, in the race she surged clear between the final two sets of hurdle wings and made the defeated look like a bunch of plodders. As they were mostly newcomers from yards not associated with bumper wins or mares that had been losing summer bumpers, the possibility is real that they were actually just a bunch of plodders. Libbdan was a debutante for Neil Mulholland and did OK in the circumstances but Rosie Picture’s two previous efforts looked OK and a thirteen length loss was a definite regression. Tactically, sitting her at the back and then dashing up to second on the last time around the stands’ bend could be questioned. Tongued tied Irish pointing recruit Miss Mondito was stuffed comprehensively.

+  Shantou Sunset (1st): Ran like a stayer more than a speedster but even if having a low opinion of the oppo, she appears to have some tools to use as a hurdler.     here.
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