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Lingfield, 4/1/19

It was never going to be possible to be present for all of this card, but fearing that the first three races would be missed proved unfounded as the second race was finishing just after getting there. This is not a tribute to our mighty rail system as the schedule improved by abandoning it in favour of bus and car.

Going: Soft (that was official, but reports were that it was riding stickier than that and not much fun for mudlarks nor any that wanted better conditions)

Race 1: starsports.bet Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m, all weather]

1: Arkyn     2: Millers Bank     3: Soyouthinksoagain

Winner owned: J Law, trained: Alan King, ridden: Wayne Hutchinson

To offset the insult of running in races like this, Playing Games has at least got a good name – she is by Pastoral Pursuits, out of Flirtatious.

Race 2: starsports.bet Novices' Hurdle [2m 7f]

1: Geordie B     2: Samburu Shujaa     3: Chinensis

Winner owned: Boultbee Brooks Ltd, winner owned: Venetia Williams, ridden: Aidan Coleman

.Word on the street was to keep a future eye out for Duarigle, who had a very genteel amble around for fifth in this race.

Race 3: Dominic Monaghan Memorial Novices' Handicap Chase [2m]

1: Waikiki Waves     2: Hint Of Grey     3: Upham Running

Winner owned: Heart Of The South Racing, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

At the declaration stage Gary Moore had three of the six runners, but it seemed off kilter that 10 lb claimer Niall Houlihan was on the lowest weighted of them, not Hint Of Grey, lumbered with 12 stone 7 pounds. There was a whiff of plot when his horse was a non-runner and he did end up on Hint Of Grey after all but it was a misdirection as the race ended up won by the other Moore entry, Waikiki Waves, who was debuting over fences. It was a race of the type he found hard to track down over hurdles - opponents less agile and/or determined than he has proven to be. His win also undermined the idea that the ground was soft, as Waikiki Waves hates that. Hint Of Grey has not taken 100% to chasing and it can be argued that Upham Running has not taken 100% to winning as way of life. Bear in mind that Dalkadam, who is 0/15 in chases now, started at 15/8 and the modest nature of the race is seen.

x  Hint Of Grey (2nd): Seems a bit intimidated by fences and this was more of the same.

x x  Upham Running (3rd): His hurdle win was out of character (we now know) and in one of the easiest races to have come his way he could only plod on slowly from the second last.

x x  Dalkadam (4th): His chase form can be cherrypicked to find the odd encouraging day for races like this. He has failed too many times for optimistic viewpoints to be sustainable.

Race 4: starsports.bet Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Arthington     2: Clayton     3: The Game Is A Foot

Winner owned: Chris Baldwin, trained: Seamus Mullins, ridden: Daniel Sansom

This was an interesting race to watch. After a lacklustre comeback run despite a decent first time out record, Clayton was much livelier today and forced a reasonable pace. A mistake three out hinted at fatigue cutting in and at the second last Arthington went to the front when Clayton made a bigger mess of the obstacle. At this point the question was whether The Game Is A Foot would catch Clayton for second. Then it was all change and Arthington was not strolling to the most straight forward of successes. Arthington idled badly on the run-in and a rallying Clayton gave him a scare. Initially the thought was that Arthington was going to hold on but by a reduced margin. In the last hundred metres he had slowed up quite dangerously and the final margin was less than a length.

+  The Game Is A Foot (3rd): For a twelve year old high in the weights returning from an injury setback, this was a decent enough run.

+  Tara Bridge (5th): Although a fall terminated last season a little early, his niche for racing is small field chases, and he has yet to win a hurdle race. So this result was not hugely relevant for his area of expertise.

x  Arthington (1st): As the world and his wife noticed, he was back in a realistic level after some below par runs, but he did his best to give away first prize. Tread carefully with him.

Race 5: starsports.bet Novices' Chase [2m 7.5f]

1: Rio Quinto     2: Lovenormoney     3: Bastien

Winner owned: Mrs Diana L Whateley, trained: Olly Murphy, ridden: Aidan Coleman

A result that was a bit of a surprise. What we knew from hurdles was that Bastien and Lovenormoney were capable of running a little bit faster than Rio Quinto. For his chase debut (and second run after a wind op) the betting market roundly endorsed this viewpoint and in the ring Rio Quinto could not be given away for love nor money (ha!). Putting in a good round of jumping at the front, he put pressure on the two main rivals and they failed to handle it. He won fair and square but see below for a case against the handicapper relying on the form. Outsider of the four This Is It did not go unsupported in the betting but this was not it at all and he was tailed off after two miles.

+  Rio Quinto (1st): Could get snookered by the handicapper but he certainly knows how to jump a fence, which is an avenue to coping with a hefty rise.

x  Lovenormoney (2nd): Finished twelfth of sixteen in a beginners' chase on his fencing debut. A lack of efficient jumping here got him under pressure soon after halfway and whilst he never stopped trying (second was regained on the run-in), he has a lot to figure out about fences.

x  Bastien (3rd): On his first go over fences he got beaten for pace which was hardly a shock as his rating is 134 and the first two in that race were on 151 and 149. However, the form of the race is not working out and he made his own contribution to that with a sluggish effort throughout the final half mile.

Race 6: Follow Us On Twitter @starsports_bet Handicap Hurdle [2m 7f]

1 Bonza Girl     2: Big Man Clarence     3: Bact To Black

Winner owned: GT Lever, trained: Jeremy Scott, ridden: Rex Dingle

With a duel up front between Court Master and Kerisper, the pace of this race was not designed to take prisoners and neither of the first pair lasted it out. Kerisper's fourth place was not an awful run in the circumstances and with his stable on about thirty winless runs. To deal with what was thrown at them needed a horse that was on very good terms with his or her self. The first candidate was Big Man Clarence, a runner-up at Ascot on his handicap debut recently. In form yes, totally bomb proof? No. He hung off to the right in the latter stages and opened the window for Bonza Girl to storm through and complete her four timer.

+ +  Bact To Black (4th): Lost a 2m 7f Exeter race on heavy by a neck in April but did not sustain it for his next race and was quite ordinary on his return last month. This was much more like it, and he should do a job over fences as well.

+  Big Man Clarence (2nd): Looks perfectly capable of winning races and is lightly raced enough to improve as much as he is raised for this.

Race 7: starsports.bet Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase [2m 4f]

1: Goring One     2: Big Time Frank     3: Monet Moor

Winner owned: George Goring, trained: Anna Newton-Smith, ridden: Rex Dingle

This had been an eventful card and as rosy red sunset splayed over Lingfield the meeting was not fading out quietly. The race looked as if it was going the way of the suddenly improved Big Time Frank only for the fourteen year old Goring One to get a typically Lingfieldian late charge on the stands rail. There did not seem anything abnormal about it, as the slightly crooked chase run-in often allows a struggling horse to perk up rapidly in the latter stages as the rail on the stands side comes to meet the horse. And then there was a stewards' enquiry. It took a while but the placings predictably stayed as they were. Turning from home Brother Bennett made his move from the back but failed to last out the race and Monet Moor, who had failed badly to handle the turn into the home straight, put her innocuous trundle to work getting up for third.

+  Bonds Conquest (4th): Finished last season with a win but had not raced since and the ground had gone against him. Should do better if it ever rains again.

Big Time Frank (2nd): Is in the form of his life. He has also run well and failed to win three times now, which is not a good sign as his connections have found the right races.

x  Hurry Henry (6th): Is not the biggest and he continued his inability to cope with chase fet shrternces.

Empire – Brother Bennett (5th): Jumped less fluently than usual on the ground but simply did not stay the distance. The encouraging race over a little bit shorter at Plumpton had wrong footed us.
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