Fontwell, 22/8

Easy winning today – just keep piling onto number four. Somehow you needed to know this in advance. No advice is offered here on how to accumulate that advanced knowledge.

Going: Good to Firm, Good in places

Race 1: Yeomans Honda Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle [2m 5.5f]

1: Black Anthem     2: Brown Bear     3: Desert Roe

Winner owned:, trained: Richard Newland, ridden: Charlie Hammond

This ought to have been a fairly competitive race even when allowing for the recent improvement of Black Anthem. That horse had not been informed of the specifics of the situation and stepped up a touch more to win this quite comfortably. The only horse to have finished ahead of him in four runs this season is Champagne Chaser. On that day something must have going horribly wrong. Desert Roe has racked up some impressive pointing results this year, but behind the numbers he is usually pitched in with only one or two opponents. He set a modest pace and then had his limitations exposed when it got serious, losing second late on.

+  Brown Bear (2nd): Pops up to win every now and then – hurdles much preferred – and might have another around the corner if this run is a good guide.

+  Mount Vesuvius (4th): Is getting on a bit and has not been in amazing form but he is well handicapped now and suggested here that he might have a swansong win to deliver. Look for it to be on good or faster ground.

x  Desert Roe (3rd): The wins have been racking up in points but he is now 0/18 under Rules and the way that the race was run, gifted a gentle time in front, was probably flattering.

Race 2: Peter Cooper Volkswagen Electric Gold Novices’ Hurdle [2m 1.5f]

1: Prancing Oscar     2: Archimento     3: Thaqaffa

Winner owned: Robert Brinkley, trained: Ben Haslam, ridden: Richie McLernon

In advance this appeared to be a better than average race for August. After one non-runner it was left inhabited by two decent flat handicappers and two lesser flat talents who had implied in their early hurdling experience that they might turn out to be better suited by jumping. Such a flourishing burst of optimism did not survive the race. Prancing Oscar did win readily enough, although he hung right on the flat and probably would have done so a lot more given the chance. Archimento jumped three out and the next dramatically to his right and then gave the final hurdle a simple old fashioned clout. Thaqaffa was readily outpaced from the third last and Highland Bobby, the pace setter, stopped quickly in the home straight. Thus everyone has something still to prove. Just to clarify – Prancing Oscar was labelled as in the pair of modest flat horses who seem to have relished hurdling.
x  Archimento (2nd): Took a while, and a change of stable, to move from his first hurdling try to his second and on this evidence the impression is that this discipline might not be his forte.

Thaaffa (3rd): Looked like he was going to be making a go of his new career, but the two previous runs were on good and good to soft. He might be able to blame this weak showing on the going but in flat racing good to firm was no problem for him.
Prancing Oscar delighted to win. Richie McLernon bemused. On the run-in it was the other way round.

Race 3: Netbet Sport Handicap Hurdle [2m 3f]

1: Gateway To Europe     2: Melody Of Scotland     3: Shiroccan Roll

Winner owned: A Whyte, K Loads & G Stevenson, trained: Neil King, ridden: Bryony Frost

Dedicated solely to bumpering in Ireland, Gateway To Europe came here with four shots at hurdling in Britain and ran well in all, despite losing each one. What he got here was that slightly wobbly set of opponents that gave him a chink of light to aim for, and that meant he needed only fractional improvement for his first handicap run. Melody Of Scotland found herself outpaced from the third last hurdle and posted only a partially committed fightback. In contrast Shiroccan Roll was cruising all over the oppo two hurdles out and found far, far less than was needed. Both also got a touch sweaty before the race. Sizing Tara flopped on handicap debut, but he has had one wind op already and could be in need of another variant. The inclination is to give Gateway To Europe a bit of a thumbs up for the near future but this the iffy efforts of the placed horses mean that it could easily be deemed a more glowing display by the handicapper than the UK-Jumping verdict.

+  Gateway To Europe (1st): He has been a steady hurdler and if the rise in the ratings can be kept to only a handful of pounds, retain some faith in him.

x  Melody Of Scotland (2nd): Won twice this summer and is now handicapped beyond dynamic contribution.

x x  Shiroccan Roll (3rd): He has developed the style of a shirker and the absence of wind op or tongue tie implies that connections believe him to be making a conscious decision rather than not being unable to contribute more.

x x  Royal Irish Hussar (7th): Became a right old trouble maker for Nicky Henderson and since moving to a new stable he has been even worse.

Race 4: Novices’ Handicap Chase [2m 5.5f]

1: Downloadtheapp     2: Ballyjim     3: Goldslinger

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

A race that could potentially take little winning, and Downloadtheapp was able to follow up success in a weak Stratford race. The job was done readily enough because the enemy all demonstrated their supporters’ worst fears, unless the worst fear happened to be the sky falling on our heads. Ballyjim would move heaven and earth to avoid winning point-to-points (he failed to lose once) and when he had a chance to pressure Downloadtheapp for the win his reaction was to almost let in Goldslinger for a rally into second, despite that horse not really staying this far. Taafes Castle repeated his tame effort at Huntingdon when last seen and Black Lightning had a mediocre chase debut – possibly ground related, possibly ongoing wind problems based on his most recent couple of runs. Willyegolassie made a couple of early mistakes and could not improve from the back. And finally Shimba Hills unseated at the first fence.

+  Goldslinger (3rd): The bare result is poor and still failed to prove what his ideal distance actually is but the signs are that he has learned things from his couple of chases and Gary Moore could well root out something feeble for him to win soon.

Taafes Castle (4th): Appeared to finish his last run with an injury and did not sparkle on this return to action after three months off, despite appearing to have no fitness concerns. Before that previous run he posted two close second places but it is not obvious that he is poised to repeat them.

x Ballyjim (2nd): In pointing he was the expert’s expert at losing winnable races and despite a cunning use of novice hurdles to get a chase rating he seems to have brought the old tricks with him into the professional game.
Downloadtheapp has won two in a row so is twice as pleased as Prancing Oscar earlier.

Race 5: Sheik Persad Novices’ Hurdle [2m 5.5f]

1: Noble Glance     2: Danboru     3: Win My Wings

Winner owned: Southdowns Racing, trained: Camilla Poulton, ridden: Mattie Batchelor

With it being ladies night, there were furtive glances and salacious ones, but this was definitely the only noble glance. Only three took part but it was eventful. Danboru set the pace, odds-on Win My Wings tracked him and Noble Glance sat at the back. Nobody was surprised when 33/1 Noble Glance started to struggle after an error at hurdle eight, but there was still a long way to go and he had time to edge slowing into the deficit. Meanwhile Danboru and Win My Wings were ignoring him and having their own scrap at the front. Initially Win My Wings was going by far the best but she did not find much under pressure and Danboru would have thought he had got the win. However, by the second last Noble Glance was only two lengths down and a neat dive up the far rail nicked the win to a surprisingly raucous reception from the crowd. In such a weird tactical race no finger pointing is necessary but before this Noble Glance had given us hints of handicap potential. Beating horses rated 119 and 126 might have ruined it.

Win My Wings (3rd): This race may not be the (aerial) vehicle to assert it, but the form of her recent runs has not really turned out to justify her 126 rating. Therefore starting at about 1/2 against Danboru was overstating her chances. That might happen again.
Noble Glance is not sure how to deal with success, so he dashes back to unsaddle before anyone catches him out.

Race 6: Netbet Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap Hurdle [2m 2f]

1: No No Cardinal     2: Diligent     3: King Cnut

Winner owned: TJ Seegar, trained: Mark Gillard, ridden: Fergus Gillard

The time has come for this madness to stop! When the Empire’s Brother Bennett was defeated by No No Cardinal in May at Plumpton it was all a bit of a deflating experience as it was only No No Cardinal’s fourth win in sixty-three starts. This race took his winning sequence to four, which is all a touch silly really. Diligent is not really the type to put his foot down and bring us into reality and King Cnut is too high in the handicap. Behind them we saw Code Of Law, who looked to have made a winning attack three fences out but changed his mind on it and Camaplu appeared to hate the ground. That said, the classic model of No No Cardinal would have easily found the path to defeat despite all that. One day we shall wake from this nightmare.

+  Camaplu (5th): Her chase form before this read F1. The “never travelling” element could easily be due to quick ground never officially contested before, but she was quite hesitant at the two downhill fences on both occasions they were jumped. Thus even if finding her on good or good to soft, look for a course where the obstacles are all jumped on a dead level section. Also of note is that the explanation to the stewards was that she did not like the figure of eight layout, by which we presume they meant the dominant right-handed section as she has only raced left-handed vbefore today.

x  Diligent (2nd): He has not won since his French days and losses like this make a change in tack unlikely.

x  Code Of Law (4th): When things fit his agenda perfectly he can win races – three times so far in chases. More often he gets turned over in dubious company.

Race 7: Finesse Hairdressing Sponsored By T.I. Engineering Crane Services Handicap Hurdle [2m 1.5f]

1: Chapmanshype     2: Rakhine State     3: Skeaping

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

One early non-runner followed by another withdrawn at the start due to a lost shoe meant another five runner race, and the Rule 4 deduction lowered the already unholy shortness of Chapmanshype in the betting. He lived up to it quite readily as whilst the winning margin was not vast, Chapmanshype had all of his rivals beaten or struggling with a fair way to go. To his credit Rakhine State, in his first post-Gordon Elliott run and not at all well handicapped, showed a good spirit in vain and ensured that Chapmanshype did some work for the prize. Skeaping was on his second run since leaving Gordon Elliott with a modest winning percentage, and did well considering the absence of the usual tongue tie. Putting it back hardly ensures success.

Chapmanshype (1st): Experimented without a tongue tie last time and lost. It returned and appeared to again be a difference maker. He has had a good summer and there will still be winnable races for him before the winter horses emerge to swamp him.

+  Rakhine State (2nd): Made a sound stable debut and as long as his good form of 2019 does not start to fade he might pinch a small field race where tactics and other factors outweigh raw handicapping. Or he could go over fences.

See below for evidence that sunset racing is fun - and in the flesh more visible than the photo suggests...
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