Lingfield, 12/11/19

Racegoers were shortchanged a bit here as the six race card included an all-weather bumper, which the attendees are just as indifferent to as UK-Jumping. However the meeting proved to be more riven with talking points than was forseeable and the wins were spread around six yards that are regulars on the small southern jumps tracks circuit.

Going: Heavy

Race 1: Arthur Joyce Acii Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m]

1: Northern Poet     2: Global Harmony     3: Copperless

Winner owned: The Hope Springs Syndicate, trained: Nick Gifford, ridden: Leighton Aspell

Usually in these races one horse sprints on from the home turn, sometimes another nearly keeps tabs on it. Today it was Northern Poet who did the job, providing Nick Gifford’s third recent bumper winner. The job of nearly keeping tabs remained vacant.

Race 2: Chris Young Memorial Novices’ Hurdle [2m 3.5f]

1: Up The Straight     2: Cat Tiger      3: Go Whatever

Winner owned: The Forever Partnership, trained: Richard Rowe, ridden: James Davies

This should have been a procession for Cat Tiger, winner of two Auteuil Grade 3 chases and only beaten five lengths in a Grade 1. Instead it became a procession for Up The Straight, beaten in all five Irish points and not overly impressive when he managed to get placed until seen off by only half a length in his final try. The race was blown apart early when Keep Rolling went well clear of the pack and was still there climbing the hill. By the time they had applied the Grand Old Duke of York factor and gone down it again, concerns that Cat Tiger had given Keep Rolling too much headway were gone as he had caught the leader. Unfortunately, he had himself been caught and passed by Up The Straight who just forged clear, winning by too far to simply blame race tactics for Cat Tiger’s demise. Go Whatever finished neatly for third, having never got in the race.

Up The Straight (1st): Appears to be greatly more suited by two and a half mile hurdles than Irish points and ran as if he could deliver again under a penalty.

+  Go Whatever (3rd): Had a win and two close places in Irish points, appearing to be a lot sharper than Up The Straight. However he was well beaten on hurdles debut in a longer race and he was not close again, but this time showed something to work on for the near future.

+  Flagrant Delitiep (5th): A smashing but ginormous leggy grey, he failed to make the places in two French bumpers and repeated the dose on hurdles debut. Give him time to revise that.

x  Cat Tiger (2nd): Beaten fair and square, it just opened the door to doubt as to how well he will adapt to British racing. Maybe this was just an off day.

Race 3: Phoenix Aerospace 25th Anniversary Novices’ Handicap Chase [2m 7.5f]

1: Pres     2: Ballyart     3: Colonel Keating

Winner owned: The Pres Partnership, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Leighton Aspell

Whilst Ballyart set off in front, by the third fence Pres found his patience wearing thin and took it up. And there they stayed, bar a threatened intervention by Colonel Keating, who ran out of puff before the last. Ballyart made an interesting chase debut in the spring on ground not soft enough but has not really improved when pres-ented with mud to love. Pres himself was not proven on the distance and going and after some novice hurdle promise he had not oved forward in his handicap debut. This was very much a case of getting his act together at the right time, act and a bit together if he credit Ballyart with a better run on the prevailing going. There was a bit of a problem with Pres jumping right (who might have expected it?) but it was not dramatic and the nearest challengers tended to follow his lead anyway.

+  Colonel Keating (3rd): Making his chase debut after a wind op, his encouraging novice handicap hurdle run was over half a mile shorter and on good to soft. This was a good run for 2m 5f so whilst he might come on for the run, a slightly shorter and/or less muddy race could be helpful too.

x  Fenlons Court (PU): Did not begin too badly when switched to fences but each race has seen him get a little worse and this time his fencing skills were not up to scratch.

UK-Jumping selections: Bact To Black (6th): Failed to fire on chase debut and was a dud again here. Getting over the obstacles was very laboured, resulting in him tending to run in snatches. Time to think of him as hurdles only?

Race 4: Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow Novices’ Handicap Chase [2m]

1: Song Of The Sky     2: Elisezmoi     3: Gregarious

Winner owned: Stg Racing Partnership, trained: Charlie Mann, ridden: Harry Bannister

A second novices’ handicap chase on the spin and despite fewer runners, it was a harder one to fathom. Four of the six were in their chase debut, but it was the slightly more experienced Song Of The Sky who dashed clear on the run-in to improve on the short head Wexford second that had been his past peak over fences. Elisezmoi held on for second having blown all his energy making the running but it was stablemate Espion De Saflo who committed tactical suicide. Instead of pulling like a train, he pulled like he was trying to pull a train around, and had 12-5 on his back to deal with anyway. A few early mistakes – guess what, his concentration was diverted away from the fences a little – did not help and in the end he finished surprisingly close in fourth, just behind Gregarious.

Espion De Saflo (4th): The return to two miles was a plus and if he got all of the excess adrenalin out of his system with this ferociously futile style of racing, he is one to keep an eye on for imminent runs. A word of warning, he pulled just as hard in a couple of hurdles last season, so this getting him to settle objective may take time.

Gregarious (3rd): In race that was hard to pick a winner, he sort of inherited market prominence for no obvious reason - perhaps it was mistaken identity. The outcome was just a confirmation that chasing is not his thing.     h
Ruacana surprised to be in the winner's slot but altogther not displeased with the outcome

Race 6: Compares Bookmaker Sites At Handicap Chase [2m 4f]

1: Kingston Mimosa     2: Dont Be Robin     3: Tanrudy

Winner owned: S Garnett, trained: Mark Gillard, ridden: James Davies

With some illustrious horses in the list of Irish pointers that beat him but a Rules career blighted by wind problems, Tanrudy had come good last week at Market Rasen. The ideas that all was now well in his world were not shared by the general betting public and they were correct as he set the pace but faded into third once the field had turned for home. Coming from a less prominent position the historically and hysterically win averse Kingston Mimosa (we assume he is not referring to Kingston upon Hull) swept through the leaders to finish the sport for the day on a bewildering note and a 441/1 double for James Davies. Dont Be Robin has two good efforts and an early unseat lately - he needs to strike whilst the iron is hot.

x  Tanrudy (3rd): A completely reformed horse he is apparently not - even though this may have come too soon after last week's win.
Elisezmoi has built up a less than vast advantage after three fences, from Song Of The Sky and Gregarious. Espion De Saflo is being daft in fourth. Super Snipe and Sunday At Augusta were never a greater factor

Race 5: Weatherbys Racing Diaries Handicap Hurdle [2m 3.5f]

1: Ruacana     2: Potters Hedger     3: Reve

Winner owned: Vaughan Lewis, trained: Zoe Davison, ridden: Page Fuller

An odd race as of the eight runners, seven were sporting colours of mostly blue or grey, or even both. Had the common limited Lingfield late afternoon visibility applied, only Potters Hedger would have been identifiable. It all happened at the final hurdle this time. Barntown, who had cruised effortlessly through the race nosed ahead between the last two flights of hurdles, which came as an unwelcome culture shock to front running Never Equalled. At the final obstacle, Barntown reached for it, caught the top awkwardly and came down, hampering Never Equalled, who unseated. He may have been more tired than it looked and misjudged the jump or perhaps was going too easily and got complacent, but until Barntown has his own blog, we shall never know the true reason. This left the race at the mercy of Ruacana, who was a little wider on the track and avoided the bedlam due to that. First impression was that Barntown was odds-on in running but on subsequent review (replay in the bar, not out in the chilly drizzle) Ruacana had worked up quite a head of steam and Barntown would have needed to pick up well to retain first.

Ruacana (1st): Has relatively few wins and is getting on a bit, but he won a Finale Hurdle in barely raceable going many years ago and a change of yard does appear to have freshened him up.

+  Barntown (F): Showed a pinch of talent in Irish bumpers but had lost all three novice hurdles by 20-25 lengths. This was more serious and he has a very workable handicap mark on 106.

Never Equalled (UR): There were many positives about the conditions here but he has never run well first time out and although he may not even have held third if staying upright, by his standards it was an extremely encouraging return.

Tazka (5th): Since his decent show to be third at Newbury in March he has now run three disappointing races. The distance was not the problem here. The heavy ground may have been but his run on soft last December was a good one.
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