Plumpton, 2/12/19

Free mince pie and mulled wine or mulled cider on arrival. Molto bene. When getting the obvious train before racing the wine had been consumed by the earliest arrivals (clearly very thirsty people), but the cider was much appreciated.

Going: Soft, Good to Soft places

Race 1: Strong Flavours Catering Maiden Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Oscarsman     2: Bean In Trouble     3: Laurie Come On

Winner owned: D Harrison, J Logan, J Rimmer & S Smith, trained: Suzy Smith, ridden: Micheal Nolan

In advance we had no reason to suspect that this race was anything out of the ordinary, and the most eyecatching record – played one, won one, in relation to Bean In Trouble in a bumper – was left with a question mark because he had immediately been sold after it. However, Oscarsman, with three runs since October, albeit of nondescript type, had a fitness edge over Bean In Trouble bringing his eleven month break to Plumpton. And that was worth more than the half length that Oscarsman won by. The pair were well in front of Laurie Come On, who got a bit outpaced three out then rallied to steal fourth from a deserving Vital Sign in the shadow of the post.

Bean In Trouble (2nd): Did nothing especially wrong and is capable of winning hurdle races. Whether they are ones of a standard expected of a bumper winner is less certain.

Laurie Come On (3rd): Caught the eye before in a less than frantic experience around here, and although he was working late on today, it was his own fault that he got in that position. Big improvement in handicaps remains on the cards.

Race 2: Download The Racing Post App Novices’ Chase [2m 1f]

1: Lisp     2: Flaminger     3: De Plotting Shed

Winner owned: Mr & Mrs R Kelvin-Hughes, trained: Alan King, ridden: Tom Bellamy

With course affinity in the book, beating the decent Knocknanuss in a novices’ hurdle, and a promising chase debut recently made behind the comparably rated Torpillo and Mister Fisher, Lisp was a warm order for this race, supported from 1/4 to 2/13. However, we have seen some short priced novices fail to get their head around Plumpton’s inclines and fences in recent years (often Nicky Henderson ones!) so he was a risky prospect. Five minutes after the start he had popped round neatly and won by a wide margin. With De Plotting Shed not travelling all that well, Espion De Saflo was en route to second when he fell three out, hampering De Plotting Shed and opening the door for Flaminger’s gentle meander for a chasing education to produce second place.

+  Lisp (1st): Nice jumping skills on show, which could take him further up the chasing ladder than his hurdles career went.

x  Espion De Saflo (F): After his rather brainless first mile at Lingfield, he settled and jumped much better this time, but ironically found his only mistake of the day, lesser than at least three at Lingfield, ending his race. The slight bias towards optimism from last time has now tilted against him but it is a fluid opinion.
Lisp making it look easy. Actually, not making it look easy, making it actually easy

Race 3: Tysers Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Miss Tynte     2: The Wicket Chicken     3: Ding Ding

Winner owned: Nick Shutts, trained: David Pipe, ridden: Tom Scudamore

The theme of this race was horses that threaten to stay 3m 1f but only appear to resolutely do so when facing comparably uncertain stayers. This time we had a good landmark in The Wicket Chicken who is proven to go 3m 1f and would probably appreciate not being in a chase, as she has found that job to be somewhat over complicated for her skills. That augurs well for Miss Tynte, who had been a two and a half miler up to now but travelled well throughout and showed The Wicket Chicken what for (the “for” being mostly letting us all down when on the site list to follow) at the business end. The speedier types relegated The Wicket Chicken out of the places in the back straight but fighting back to take second from Ding Ding, Longhousesignora and Jully Les Buxy showed a decent attitude.

+  Miss Tynte (1st): She is here not just for petty reasons of vengeance but because proving herself as a staying hurdler opens a whole new book of opportunity.

x  Jully les Buxy (5th): As with The Wicket Chicken she has had a year on the site list in the past but he wondrousness then was limited and since that she has looked quite a difficult to catch right – and lots of courses, distances, goings and tactics have been tried.
Miss Tynte showing us that she will maintain her concentration all the way to the line

Race 4: IEP Financial Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Adicci     2: Neff     3: Midnight Sonata

Winner owned: Mrs Siobhan McAuley, trained: Jonjo O’Neill, ridden: Jonjo O’Neill jr

A race with a little more depth than the opener, without reaching great heights. The first pair again went clear, further this time, and in the end a nip and tuck finish was decided because Neff had a seven pound penalty for his Fontwell win and Jonjo jr claimed three pounds off of Adicci as well. Neff’s unrelenting trundle has a function in the racing world, but Adicci (narrowly beaten in his three unexceptional bumpers) was not going to fall for that. Midnight Sonata stuck with the main two until there was half a lap to go and then was quickly dropped.

+  Midnight Sonata (3rd): Did not do too much wrong and was ridden to confirm third from the railway turn. There is handicap potential.

+  Cogital (4th) & Endlessly (5th): Two ex-flat horses who were new to jumps, rated 69 and 76 respectively, they were both well beaten in the end, but neither experienced the hardest day’s work of their lives and might well have more to offer fairly soon. Cogital only won once in seventeen flat tries (a two miler, so watch for being dropped into a longer race), so may not be the easiest ride but Endlessly is not in that category at all.
Adicci (2) and Neff keeping it a 50/50 race until as late as possible

Race 5: Tysers Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Tzar De L’Elfe     2: Tractor Fred     3: Kiwi Myth

Winner owned: Lord Clinton & Captain Adrian Pratt, trained: Richard Rowe, ridden: James Davies

When using the phrase “epic finish” in conjunction with Tzar De L’Elfe it usually is searching for new adjectives to describe how he has avoided victory on any given day. This time he really did stick his neck out and won by a nose – not the sort of outcome expected of a horse with one triumph from forty-two past tries, plus eleven second and third places. His other win was by a neck, so he can do this battling thing when he wants to. Coming up the home straight some efficient jumping by Tractor Fred looked set to help him hang on against such a hero of known reluctance. So much so that even when the photo appeared to show Tzar De L’Elfe nicking it, we did not believe our eyes and guessed that it must somehow be an optical illusion. Given the way that the finish unfolded, it would appear that Uallrightharry would have had a golden chance to take this race, but he disposed of his rider at the last fence – not the first time he has shown late jumping frailty. He survived a last fence error when winning here in October and fell in two out of three hurdles. A bad habit to have got into.

x  Uallrightharry (UR): He continues to be one that cannot depended on to get the jumping right, despite having landed two staying chases this year.

Mystical Knight (4th): Since last successful, from a much higher mark, he has done plenty of things wrong, and the drop into a lower grade of race plus being first time out (which usually helps) was ominously ineffective today.

Race 6: Sussex National 5th January Handicap Chase [2m]

1: Scrutinise     2: Sadma     3: Shimba Hills

Winner owned: Mrs Louise Bowtell, trained: Zoe Davison, ridden: Page Fuller

The betting said that this race would likely be won by a horse who had a name beginning with S. As they made up seven of the nine runner field, this raw info was hard to put to good use. A change of stable and wind surgery had produced a first ever placing for Scrutinise at Market Rasen last time, beaten narrowly after he only realised what he is capable of from the second last. This time there was half a circuit to race when Scrutinise, Sadma and Shimba Hills had gone clear, and he stayed on the bridle as Shimba Hills and Sadam in turn where unable to stick into their comfort zone. By the spring this little assemblage could still be toting around Plumpton, collectively referred to as the usual suspects.

+  Scrutinise (1st): Seems to have a bit of mischievous streak but when in the mood he also is ahead of the handicapper, so more wins are perfectly possible.

x  Stormingin (5th): Thirteen months ago he ran a neat and gentle race to end up fourth over course and distance in novice company. This site assured everyone that success was just a handicap away, but he has gone 0/6 in that sort of race since, never repeating a close third at Fakenham. As he has won on the flat in that time, it might be necessary to accept that jumping is not his favourite thing.
Scrutinise and Page Fuller - united in satisfaction at a job well done. Sadma is a bit jealous.

Race 7: Sky Sports Racing Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 1.5f]

1: Kilconny Bridge     2: Annual Invictus     3: Bring The Bacon

Winner owned: Potwell Racing Syndicate I, trained: Anthony Honeyball, ridden: Aidan Coleman

Unfortunately it was not possible to stay for the bumper. Five of the nine runners were completely new to racing but there were a couple of interesting pointing winners in there too and they dominated. Kilconny Bridge won the race a by quite a wide margin and Annual Invictus held off the best newcomer, Bring The Bacon, for second place.
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