Plumpton, 4/11/19

Bee in the bonnet for today – Racing Post stats and website. The website performance is awful due to all the marketing and data mining crud on it. And the stats have declined into nonsense – a trainer with runners today had gone 56 runners without a win and that was not deemed worthy of being on the cold list. As it happened that yard spoiled the point by having a winner here, but the point is still valid and there were other yards on alarming but slightly lesser losing streaks in the same boat.

Going: Heavy, Soft places

Race 1: That Friday-Ad Feeling Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Calva D’Auge     2: Fuseau     3: Touchthesoul

Winner owned: Owners Group 040, trained: Paul Nicholls, ridden: Harry Cobden

The first of two sensibly populated hurdles for the youngsters. Touchthesoul was expected to head the market after a very good display at Kempton last month, but he did not finish that race off ultra powerfully and the heavy ground caught him out here. Calva D’Auge represents the big-spending (and big charging!) ownership group that debuted Getaway Trump here last season, but this horse did not bring inspiring form over from France. He beat the fast finishing Fuseau but dreams of the big spring festivals would seem to be premature. However, Calva D'Auge got a bit sweaty in the prelims and he may progress mentally more than he will physically. Although he ended up beaten by about thirty lengths, give some proper credit to Dapa Lad for a decent show with no past racing experience. Now we wait and see if he thinks lobbing around in muddy Sussex clay is a fool's errand.

+  No No Maestro (4th): Got a plus for his bumper debut in June and gets one for his hurdles debut too. Weak in the betting on very different conditions, he was to the fore and only got run out of a place two hurdles out. It is hard to say if he needs further and drier or something like this with the benefit of exercise and experience, but the overall impression is good.

+  Free (12th): A French flat winner, she ran solidly on hurdles debut in Britain but got tailed off next time. She was never put in the races this time and everyone should be on red alert for her handicap debut, especially if it it mares only. She will be alright then.
On a day when the five minute showers coincided suspiciously with the start of each race, some racegoers where prepared to get close up and wet, but they thinned out as the day went on. Touchthesoul leads Calva D'Auge with a lap to go. No No Maestro, UAE Soldier, That's A Shame amd Fuseau do "stay prominent" with Forget You Not leading the final echelon - Free in is in green and yellow, white cap.

Race 2: Heart Turn Up The Feel Good Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Penny Mallow     2: Outonpatrol     3: At First Glance

Winner owned: Kate & Andrew Brooks, trained: Venetia Williams, ridden: Daryl Jacob

The favourite for this was Get The Appeal, who had won a weak Wincanton small field race on fast ground. She failed, unamazingly, to deal with heavy ground this time around, and was well beaten. Paul Nicholls got a summons from the stewards but this look to be one of those where the market had it wrong. What the alternative was lacked clarity. Bee Crossing - a bit exposed and not brilliant first time out? Cast In Grey - also meeting very different ground to when placed. Hawthorn Cottage - also first time out? Turned out it was Penny Mallow, yet another changing going conditions dramatically. She was chased home by Outonpatrol (Alan King) and At First Glance (Jonjo O'Neill) - both of whom showed dramatic improvement and rewarded people who like long priced each-way picks from the bigger yards. Ground derived? So many questions.

+  Hawthorn Cottage (4th): Finished second here in a bumper but ran better when winning at Cheltenham and when third at Huntingdon. She was found out in graded races at Aintree and Punchestown but should make her mark on a less tight track now that she knows the jumping game.

Race 3: Revived Inns Novices’ Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Crossley Tender     2: Tommy The Rascal     3: Tzar De L’Elfe

Winner owned: Hawkings, Harding, Pearson, Pyatt, Willis, trained: Paul Henderson, ridden: Nick Scholfield

A nice win for Crossley Tender because he failed to jump like he had his legs tied together but his success does not amount to much. Runner-up Tommy The Rascal had won a staying hurdle in the past but was 0/16 chasing and most recently posted form of FPPP and a tailed off. He was more than a stone out of the handicap here. Tzar De L'Elfe is second place prone, almost unseated four out and also is not a first time out horse. In fourth was Seaston Spirit, who makes jumping fences look like terribly hard work for no obvious reason. As it is safe labour he started favourite, which will probably be a rare honour in his career. Only Mab Dab and Seaston Spriit were from yards on a losing run of less than twenty.

x  Tommy The Rascal (2nd): Provided a throwback to an ancient day of glory but he will probably revert to type from here.

x  Tzar De L'Elfe (3rd): Did land a 2m 4f novices' handicap hurdle, but is far from easy to win with.

x  Hit The Highway (6th): Seemed to liven up his chsing ideas over course and distance on soft two weeks ago but was back to normal this time, and normal is not in his case going to get wins.
Crossley Tender gets over the last with Tommy The Rascal more or less accounted for. Tzar De L'elfe was fading but not fast enough to get third for Seaston Spirit.

Race 4: John And Jean Taylor’s Diamond Anniversary Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Dan McGrue     2: Acey Milan     3: Theo’s Charm

Winner owned: Mr & Mrs PK Barber, D Bennett, D Martin, trained: Paul Nicholls, ridden: Harry Cobden

A valuable 0-140 handicap that attracted some rising forces rather than exposed older timers looking for an easy payday. This is Plumpton on heavy – there is no easy payday. Recent course form stood up. Dan McGrue was pipped over course and distance at the last meeting but made identical tactics work this time around. His main victim was Acey Milan, who has had a wind op over the summer break but may not be the sort to be at his very best first time up. A bigger concern would be Theo’s Charm, who looked fit and well and has a historical bias to going well fresh, so may not be able to afford to left Dan McGrue and Acey Milan potentially ruin his season. However, he too has had a wind op, so perhaps things will be different this season. Next in a very orderly queue at the vet was the appropriately named Air Horse One, whose poor form last season left him looking very threatening if the surgery worked. He did not travel too well and the jury remains out. Fourth place went to Mr Pumblechook who posted some decent form as a novice last season, but with one exception did so in defeat. Might that be his unlucrative style?

+  Acey Milan (2nd): The combination of match fitness and wind surgery may well not peak until his next race. This may have spoiled the chance of nabbing a nice price, but watch out for his next stop anyway.

Air Horse One (5th): No positive signs from the wind surgery here, although there is a slight caveat that many of Harry Fry’s horses have seemed to need the first run back this autumn.
The stewards failed to inform the horses that they were not supposed to race in a threatening manner. Left to right the bad guys are Air Horse One, Dan McGrue, Mr Pumblechook, Trans Express and Sizing At Midnight. Acey Milan is tucked in behind the winner, with Theo's Charm on his right (blue cap).

Race 5: SW Catering Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Shintori     2: Lickpenny Parry     3: Ballyantics

Winner owned: Mrs R Vicary, trained: Jack Barber, ridden: Nick Scholfield

It is nothing personal, but Shintori is an incredibly annoying horse. He took some while to win a race, and even after he had done so (with an intent to repeat the experience) he showed a willingness to dog his way to defeat for apparently random reasons. Shintori will flirt with getting dangerously detached even on an enthusiastic day and here the field came back to him in plenty of time, with five horses all in the mix approaching the second last. Stuck in a crowd, Bad Boy Du Poldu unseated, the bunch split apart in terror at this previously unrevealed risk and when Shintori wafted through the space left, only front running Lickpenny Larry tried to go with him.

Empire – Brother Bennett (4th): Only really stays this far in a slowly run race, which is always a possibility when others are cautious in the mud at Plumpton. This was run at a normal rate for the conditions, so fourth, involved until two out was as decent effort as could be expected.
A picture flawed in many, many ways, but it does show the typical Shintori tactical deployment - not quite in the picture. Shimba Hills (red jacket) leads, alongside Lickpenny Larry.

Race 6: Tie The Knot Catering Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Poucor     2: Sir Egbert     3: Fresno Emery

Winner owned: Derek and Jean Clee, trained: Mick Channon, ridden: Marc Goldstein

A strangely uninvolving race possibly because it was a the poor relation of the valuable hurdle that was race four but also too serious to compare with the fun of the bottom tier card closer. Featuring the day’s only non-runner did not make it more jolly, and of the remaining sextet, three dashed clear of the others with half a lap plus still to handle. Sir Egbert was making up into an interesting chaser last season but for some reason he has suddenly adopted a policy of running his races as near to sprint pace as possible. He is not defying history yet and making that approach work but there was a bit more patience today, whilst still front-running, and maybe the balance is coming right. He fought off Fresno Emery well only to get stung by Poucor, who cannot win flat races but now has two over jumps and shows no sign of a losing attitude.

+  Fresno Emery (3rd): Came with what was shaping to be a winning challenge only to run out of steam approaching the last. He improved on his return race due to the softer going and there must be something coming up that he can think about winning.

Deputy Jones (5th): Needed the run and has not been campaigned as if connections believe him to be a two miler, so a step back up in race distance next time would be an encouraging action.

Race 7: Book For Christmas At Plumpton Now Handicap Hurdle [2m 4f]

1: Two Sams     2: Talkingpicturestv     3: Adrakhan

Winner owned: IF Gosden, trained: Jeremy Scott, ridden: Nick Scholfield

A winner of an Irish point, due to no others finishing, Two Sams had posted some abject form under Rules - but not in excess quantity. On his debut for Jeremy Scott the monetary support flowed and he was a surprise favourite. He did not win as if defeat was inconceivable, but the victory was there and taken. He was most threatened by Talkingpicturestv, who ran extremely well considering connections past aversion to ground softer than good. For quite a while it shaped as if Adrakhan’s front running may pay off, but a mistake at hurdle nine harmed his chances. He fought back heartily but that error had done the damage.

+ +  Two Sams (1st): The weight of betting support suggests that someone believed him to have improved for the change of yard by far more than he actually won by. That would suggest that further victories should follow. If he stalls early, beware the possibility that he works rather better than he races.

+  Adrakhan (3rd): Had his only win in 2015 but showed improvement in a first time visor recently, then stepped up a tad more in first time blinkers today. The losing run is too long to get madly excited, but his turn could be coming.

Empire – Pete’s Choice (PU): Ran a stinker on heavy ground for his first run last year, leading to the addition of cheekpieces. He hated the ground here and was poor again – seems that we may have underestimated the impact of the Sandown rain and mud.
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