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Penshurst, 14/4/19

In one sense it was a disappointing meeting with five contested races only having fifteen participants and a walkover to close the day. The latter made it easy to make a more rapid getaway than usual for the course as not that many people were savvy enough to be monitoring the declarations. As far as the total number of runners was concerned, with the south-east very short of horses in general this season and recently just as short of rain, it would have been naive to assume that any more would be present at a time in the season when there are five meetings in four weeks. A rain shower and hailstones during race one was taking the mickey though.

As usual when numbers are sparse, every horse that turned up gets a mention.

Going: Good to Firm, Good in places

Race 1: Montreal Estate Open Maiden

1: Uknowwhatimean     2: Monmouth Hill

Winner owned: Green Hedges Racing Club, trained: Cynthia Woods, ridden: Will Hickman

Uknowwhatimean: He had finished third in a small field Irish bumper, amongst some misadventures as well. For the first British run he fell late on in a modest Higham maiden when in with every chance of success but failed to look the part at Godstone when pulled up afterwards. This time it was effortless stuff and he appeared to be taking command when the favourite came down two fences out. Given the very patchy state of local Restricteds he can win one that lacks foreign intervention but with his non-steady history he could give away a bad one as well. Monmouth Hill: Finished second here last time out but was beaten a long way, as was true with his one run last season. Making a mess of the downhill fence (numbers 7 and 14) both times was not a great aid to improvement and third place was inevitable when when he inherited second. He was eased on the run-in, ensuring another broad margin loss. Might Flight: Travelled to this corner of the land in search of easy pickings after pulling up in his debut runs two weeks earlier. After setting a sedate pace he had been headed by Uknowwhatimean when stumbling and tipping up on landing at the second last. He perhaps showed that fast ground is not to be feared but being a leggy horse without much physical substance he is not going to be as resistant to immovable objects as would be preferred. 
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Blue sky in the distance but it is hail and rain at the racing. Might Flight went most of the way about this far ahead of Monmouth Hill, but it was Unknowwhatimean, currently third, who was doing the clever stuff.

Race 2: Warners Solictors, Tonbridge Conditions

1: Platinum Ben     2: Ballygrooby Bertie     3: Lickety Split

Winner owned: Executors of th late Mrs PA Wilkins, trained: Cynthia Woods, ridden: Charlie Marshall

Platinum Ben: Although he got his maiden win over three miles, he had mostly not finished races well at that distance and his Restricted triumph over 2m 4f at the last meeting here seemed to be a big clue as to where things had tended to go wrong. With his biggest danger departing a lap out, he got away with the extra distance. From the third last he seemed set to go clear of the front running Ballygrooby Bertie but never quite managed to do so and in the end he scraped home by only half a length. Expect more effort to go into finding shorter races or courses that pan out short of three miles in future, and be prepared to oppose him when that plan fails. Ballygrooby Bertie: He has been in good form of late, a really good effort at High Easter seeing him unjustly (in the spirit of competition, not due to nefarious deeds) deprived of a place. He offered up a good show here but just lacked the zip of Platinum Ben or experience in the saddle - rider Luke Humphrey may still be seeking a first winner. Lickety Split: Like the winner he is one to be happiest with in two and a half mile races and he ran a very similar race to Platinum Ben, beaten by the three or so lengths that he conceded to that horse from the start. Hindsight is marvellous, is it not? But if he had taken the first furlong quicker by one second, would he have had the energy late in the race? Actually perhaps yes on this going. Le Fou Royal: Stays three miles well, has won an Intermediate on this track and acts on fast ground. Everything was going utterly perfectly until he fluffed the eleventh fence and unseated.
Description
Ballygrooby Bertie usually makes up for his silly name by front running (not sure of the logic, ask a horse). He is chased approaching the twelfth by shadowy Lickety Split and shy Platinum Ben.

Race 3: Complete Land Management Ladies Open

1: Ni Sin E Mo Ainm     2: See You Jack     3: Start Royal

Winner owned, trained & ridden: Alexandra Bell

Ni Sin E Mo Aimn: He looked a little bit tubby for this seasonal opener, but he was taking on a fourteen year old and a fifteen year old, so should have been able to deal with them barring accidents. And also barring normal behaviour of Ni Sin E Mo Ainm. He can go well fresh, or not go well, he can win good races and lose weaker ones and any time that he lines up, nobody knows what sort of place his brain is sitting in. It cannot help but be thought that five wins in fifteen is underachievement by him, but offered a slighly scatty animal that would give them that, most owners would take it with barely a second thought. See You Jack: Made an interesting seasonal debut here recently when almost convincing Glint Of Steel to dog it and hand him the race. Then again he has shown his own predilection for second place in recent years. With one extra runner involved and a front runner for them to aim at he could not do the same to Ni Sin E Mo Ainm, although it appears that the winner was just on a going day and not for being conned into defeat at all. Start Royal: As noted a couple of weeks back, he is being hit by his age but Alan Hill can still root out the odd winnable race and as he beat Ni Sin E Mo Ainm on fast going at Bratton Down last June, this would have seemed like one of them. It was not to be. 
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Start Royal in front, and of the duo about level in second, See You Jack is nearest and the winner again stays camera shy

Race 4: Brian Perring Memorial Mens Open

1: Conkies Lad     2: Quick Oats

Winner owned: Glebe House Racing Club, trained: Charlotte Marshall, ridden: Alfie Marshall

Conkies Lad: With Conkies Lad it is all about his jumping. Once he hits one, he seems to lose respect for the fences and happily knocks holes in them just to antagonise the course builders. With a debutant rider that may have seemed like asking for trouble, but Alfie Marshall is more usually seen in eventing and he thus should be quite stickable if the horse gets a bit harem-scarem. Conkies Lad belted fence four but was uncharacteristically sane after that aberration and with Quick Oats eased after the second last, the race was won comfortably. Quick Oats: UK-Jumping has an arrangement with him that he only wins when we are not present, apart from a couple of times when he had only one and two opponents. That does not mean he is unbeatable when we are elsewhere, nor that he cannot find an unlosably bad race. This was well below par, presumably the going being a bit too quick for him. Adept Approach: Not known for poor jumping in the past, he fell at the twelfth today, the third time in three runs this season that he has parted company with his rider. 
Description
Fourth time lucky, with Conkies Lad (2) visible and vahuely in focus. Adept Approach leads, Quick Oats is rounding up the non-existent stragglers.

Race 5: Oriental Club Restricted

1: Desert Retreat     2: Pinsandneedles

Winner owned: Graham Henderson, trained: Alan Hill, ridden: Jack Andrews

Desert Retreat: Faced with a fourteen year old as an opponent, he just went through the motions and after unseating last time he took no daft risks. Gambles were not needed to get victory here. Pinsandneedles: In recent years completions have been sparse, and he pottered around behind the careful winner and then adopt a policy of doing whatever it took to complete when Desert Retreat upped the pace slightly.

Race 6: Shepherd Neame Veteran & Novice Riders

1: Gingili

Winner owned & Trained: Johnny Farrelly, ridden: Luca Morgan

Gingili: A walkover, which was a shame as the entries were a fairly well matched bunch on pointing form and if a couple more had shown up a decent contest was on the cards. Although Gingili was a 132 rated staying chaser, his pointing form of 221U this season should have persuaded people that he was worth taking a shot at. 
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