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Penshurst, 24/3/19

Old Surrey, Burstow & West Kent

As far as south-east pointing goes, the first Penshurst is the true indicator of spring. The sun comes out, the crowds emerge in numbers and unfortunately the number of runners can begin to dry up. This time it looked as if a small crowd was due but they must have left it late to leave the pub decide to attend as by race one it was decent, if not Penshurst max. The runners stood up as well, with two (from four entries), eight, eight, seven, six (from seven entries) and eight here to run.

Going: Good, Good to Soft patches

Race 1: Tim Lyle Memorial Members

1: Glint Of Steel     2: See You Jack

Winner owned: Mrs Patricia Wilkins, Philip Hall and James Etheridge, trained: Cynthia Woods, ridden: Charlie Marshall

The race was run in memory of the man who owned land on which the course sits and who ran almost everything about the meeting for about the last 150 years. He would be delighted to see everything still proceeding as normal, including the fact that by combining the Members with the Southdown & Eridge and Mid Surrey Farmers Draghounds, the post-race presentations descended into a gently confused anarchy, despite only two runners taking part. Would we want it any other way? As for the race, Glint Of Steel’s two defeats this season were not really that bad and he was unbackably short to win this. Anyone who pitched in had a few scares because the pair went round at a genteel pace together and any time that See You Jack edged ahead, Glint Of Steel had a bit of a sulk. He won by a length and a half but it was highly unimpressive and gave future opponents a recipe to mess with his mind, even if we give See You Jack, no mug in his youth credit for a battling seasonal debut. When he showed a great deal of reluctance to leave the paddock the spectre of a walkover loomed, so well done See You Jack for at least leaving us a race to watch.

Race 2: The Oriental Club Restricted, 2m 4f

1: Platinum Ben     2: Shanoule Wood     3: Bluebell Sally

Winner owned & trained: NW Padfield, ridden: Will Hickman

In past interfaces with Platinum Ben he has not been flooded with compliments on UK-Jumping, especially in regards to finishing weakly. The finger of blame had been pointed at his brain or his breathing, but there was a possibility that it was stamina just not quite handling three miles that has been the problem. The way he won this with comfort did point to the stamina issue as his tying up on the run-in is something commonly seen here, the route from the dip after three out to the finish line being deceptively stiff. Shanoule Wood travelled all over southern England getting places before his maiden win last time. The alarms have been turned off and normal service was resumed now that he is promoted to this level. After winning a Larkhill mares only maiden, Bluebell Sally was favourite for this and turning towards the fourth last she was looking a hot property. Then her fuel emptied in a few strides. A horse that got home from the dip at Larkhill should not have struggled to stay, so the interpretation is that the race won might not have been terribly good. Clondaw Sam ran a very similar sort of race to Bluebell Sally but ground to a complete halt and pulled up two out. Dontdillydally was not out of it when falling at fence eleven but there was too far to go to predict what she may have achieved, although with only three finishers, completing the course should have had her battling for third as the worst case scenario.
Description
Bluebell Sally (2) leading Platinum Ben (2) and Shanoule Wood, with Dontdillydally almost dillying or dallying at the back. Clondaw Sam is the one behind the leader sporting a noseband for the gothically inclined. 

Race 3: John Coldman Ladies Open 

1: Top Smart     2: Le Fou Royal     3: Goodnight Vienna 

Winner owned: Mrs Susan E Busby, trained: Jenny Pidgeon, ridden: Izzy Marshall 

This took a bit more winning than the average Penshurst Open, and Top Smart had to pull out all the stops to take it, despite being on a bit of a winning streak. Three fences out he was part of the leading group but in need of some persistent urging to keep with it. Once over the second last and turning towards the winning line, a second wind came and he got in front of Le Fou Royal – shook him off would be exaggerating but control had been seized. It is hard to know what to predict for Le Fou Royal as he is seriously inconsistent but when he does have a good day the form tends to stand up to analysis. He was not prominent in the betting here, which will not be true next up, assuming that he will be exploiting the sudden rush to crush half of the south east season in the space of less than four weeks. A flop is possible. Third went to Goodnight Vienna, who sadly collapsed after the race. The other three finishers trundled home in their own time. 
Description
Left to right by jockey head position the rank with a lap to go is Provincial Pride, Letskeepit Simple, Goodnight Vienna and Top Smart. Just hidden is Le Fou Royal and toiling behind must be Golden Crisp.

Race 4: RH And RW Clutton Mens Open

1: Local Show     2: Cloudy Bob     3: Sentimentaljourney

Winner owned & trained: Sue Humphrey, ridden: William Humphrey

A good win for a novice rider here, as Local Show, having a busy and effective season, stalked the leading quartet a couple of lengths off of the pace and pounced on them at fence fifteen to make it four and counting this term. He did not surge clear of them as seemed an option but he was never shaping as if Cloudy Bob or the 2018 winner Sentimentaljourney were going to wear him down. Cloudy Bob had started pointing with a fall and a pull up but he was much nearer to his old self this time and he is capable of winning in the area – connections have just got to pick the right race. Sentimentaljourney had also not made an exciting start to this season and the improvement now is encouraging for the spring. Betting wise Conkies Lad was prominent, having finished second in a hunter chase this season. Since the 2015 season UK-Jumping had seen him race a dozen times and win four but he had unseated in three and looked to be on the downgrade last pointing season, despite a late season success in our absence. He won this race in 2017 and the Ladies Open in 2016 but what we had here was reminiscent of his off days last term so the Lingfield hunter chase is a form guide to be very careful with. Pointing newcomer Applaus had achieved a reasonable rating as a handicapper but bad jumping led to him being hard ridden and then pulled up by halfway. As a two miler under Rules, perhaps the jumping errors were irrelevant to his final non-completion. 
Description
Maintaining the theme of concentrating on the horse with saddlecloth number 12, Sentimentaljourney is in the foreground, with Cloudy Bob on the rails and Conkies Lad trying to split them. Local Show is playing his own game, which worked quite well.

Race 5: Connollys Red Mills Intermediate

1: Streets Of London     2: Florella     3: Stage One

Winner owned & trained: Tim Underwood, ridden: Phil York

With Maiden and Restricted success already this season, Streets Of London was the form horse and when he nosed ahead going well two out, it seemed like game shot. Well let me tell you something to make you change your mind. Florella, with nothing to tempt her into trying to run out (as per Godstone) really got stuck in and was only fended off by half a length in the end. She was exploiting an interesting blip in the race conditions. Any horse that had won an Intermediate, Open or race under Rules was excluded. At Godstone she won a Conditions race which was almost an Open with virtually unlimited qualification. The spirit of the rules would imply that should eliminate her from running in Intermediates. Stage One was a little disappointing, having won a Members to warm up for this. He had every chance two out but ran wide on the final turn and let the first two up his inner and then he ran out steam sufficiently to make that not matter. All six finished but the remaining trio had run out of steam and not in the competitive picture in the final stretch.

Race 6: The Chiddingstone Castle 2019 Literary Festival Open Maiden

1: Twist On Ginge     2: Monmouth Hill

Winner owned & ridden: Jamie Neild, trained: Kate Bandey

Only two finished this, which is not uncommon for Penshurst maidens. There are one or two tricky fences for the less confident maiden runner and the rise to the finish persuades plenty of jockeys to take the sensible option and pull up before the second last. A variety of placed runs by Twist On Ginge made him a strong candidate and he was so totally dominant that the prospect of his owner-rider claiming a first success and getting excited too soon was not an issue. Poetry Emotion would have been a big threat but the impact of no runs since 2017 hit him hard before two out and he was pulled up before the final fence, leaving Monmouth Hill to complete for a not very encouraging second – although he was debuting for the season and only has one previous race under his belt. The paddock pick was Flaggan who has had his moments, but his race was done after two laps, that still being further than most.
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With no number 12, the next highest number is tracked, which fortunately turned out to be Twist On Ginge. Poetry Emotion is still heading him at this stage – one lap left. Flaggan (3) and Monmouth Hill are part of the action.
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