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Plumpton 5/11/18

At the entry stage this threatened to be an impossibly difficult card, but the fields cut up enough to make the meeting have a familiar tinge. And then we had one very, very familiar Plumpton result which stirred the crowd into life. Presumably they then all went off for a bonfire related riot in Lewes.

Going: Good, Good to Firm places

Race 1: Sky Sports Racing Launching January 2019 Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Zoffany Bay     2: Marettimo     3: Mach One

Winner owned: Mrs Margaret Kidger & Geoffrey Bishop, trained: Ali Stronge, ridden: Adam Wedge

As Plumpton novice races go, it was as they should be, with horses known here and at best likely to be regular visitors to the smaller tracks in their future careers. The betting sprang a surprise as it forced the fantastically one-paced Marettimo into be favourite, just ahead of Zoffany Bay. The latter was a neck second on his hurdle debut and rated in the low 70s on the flat with two wins to his name. Even the neck loss had been unlucky as he might have won had Richard Johnson not commissioned an assassination attempt on him from Earth Moor at the final flight. On that comprehensive and neutral evidence, which one would you wish to be on. Zoffany Bay? Right. And he was a comfortable winner. Mach One was a comparable flat horse to the winner, but on his hurdles debut he was a bit laboured in the finish, although he just held third from another horse with a low 70s flat handicap mark – Stormingin.

+ +  Stormingin (4th): On his hurdles debut he was not placed, but lost by a very manageable margin, and he had the same again here without being subject to a vigorous ride. Much better is anticipated when he gets a handicap mark.

+  Venetian Proposal (9th): Ran well in two unexceptional races like this in the spring, but avoided a summer of nonsense in flat racing and needed this run. She should be in much better fettle next time.

Further North (PU): A racing debutant closely related to a bundle of winners, he was nowhere near fit enough to make a contribution here, and was too mentally green as well. He is worth tracing as dramatic improvement is very possible. His best hurdling relation was a three miler, so he might need a lot of time spent pursuing him around the jumps tracks of Southern England.
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Zoffany Bay looked enough like a winner to get a photo before the race had even started

Race 2: Jumps Season Ultimate Guide At attheraces.com Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Kentford Mallard     2: Roses Poses     3: We’llcwhathappens

Winner owned: DI Bare, trained: Seamus Mullins, ridden: Kevin Jones

Ahead of the race this seemed to be a choice of Roses Poses and Andapa, but after a break since falling at the first hurdle jumped in public, Andapa was not fit enough to do herself justice. Thus a golden opportunity for Roses Poses went begging as Kentford Mallard took flight in a fashion that she had not previously appeared capable of. She emerged at the second last as a threat and got a nice run up between Roses Poses and Irish point winner We’llcwhathappens as the latter drifted gently right late in the race. Dancecraft in fourth will come on for the run, but there were a few in here who just appeared to need time for fitness and experience and were happy to let

We’llcwhathappens (3rd): Debuting for a yard that often fields Irish point winners from the lesser races there, she put up a far more prominent show than expected, and had she had a prep run may well have seen it out in victorious fashion. It is possible that this was not much of a race once Andapa became a non-factor, so indeed We’llcwhathappens from now, but it could be good things.

+  Andapa (6th): Looked handy in her first bumper and when she got dismal oppo in the second she proved herself by dismissing them easily. After her hurdles debut mess, she needed to prove her skill and confidence, but she did seem to need the run and having put in a clear round whilst getting an unexciting result, she has lots of scope for improving on it.
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Roses Poses is working it out from the front for now, harried by Dancecraft. The next rannk of five, left to right, are Spring Storm, We'llcwhathappens, Windy Bottom, Andapa and Amethea

Race 3: Download The Free At The Races App Novices’ Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Sweet Destination      2: Between The Waters     3: Cintex

Winner owned & trained: Garrett Ahern, ridden: Danny Mullins

Another race where the collective betting brain shrivelled up like a fallen autumn leaf. At the last meeting here were had a four horse staying chase consisting of one that had not taken to fences and three that were unlikely to last 3m 1.5f without stopping for a rest en route. The two that managed to be outstayed in that race not only came back for another go, but were very prominent in the market. Shared between Between The Waters and Diplomatico you had about half of the betting percentage for the race on horses that could not be fancied at all. The problem was, name the alternatives? The winner had come on a day out from Ireland, was well backed and won by a mile as Between The Waters predictably failed to last home. Sweet Destination may have had a threat from Presenting Berkley, but at the fourth last Between The Waters veered left and crunched him against the landing side rail. Presenting Berkley had jumped well before then and was blameless in his departure. Meanwhile Sweet Destiny trundled on, allaying concerns that the ground was too fast or that her past winlessness reflected a belief that success and ambition are vulgar traits. Cintex made an unimpressive chase debut under top weight, but before hand there was a concern that this was the wrong course and distance.

x  Between The Waters (2nd): Is not a horse for 3m 1f, and probably not for 3m either. Anything shorter is still up for grabs.

Diplomatico (PU): Lasted worse than Between The Waters two weeks ago and trying to set the pace here was not helping his cause at all. Again, he appears to need a rethink on distances just below three miles.

Race 4: Free Tips Daily On attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Ding Ding     2: Lovato

Winner owned: Ian Poysden, trained: Sheena West, ridden: Marc Goldstein

Four were declared for this, and any result was possible. Unfortunately Ramore Will was a non-runner, but we still had three in it. After the second hurdle we were down to two as Royal Hall blundered and threw Jamie Moore over his head. The rider’s reaction is not printable, but the popular acronym is FFS, although what Franz Ferdinand and Sparks were supposed to do to help is anyone’s guess. From then on, Lovato went around in front with local heroine Ding Ding on his heels. Lovato was first to be ridden on the railway turn, but an error two out by Ding Ding appeared to have handed back the initiative. With the sort of resolve that has won over the locals completely, Ding Ding got back up to win by a length. How on earth she was allowed to start outsider of three is a mystery, as her last run, a non-stayer at 3m 1f here, was pretty decent in the circumstances.

Royal Hall (UR): This is a speculative x. Before this season he was seen as a bit of a law unto himself, with no clues as to whether he would bother or not. This autumn had brought out his warm side, contesting three hurdles and winning them all, without any luck or threat of meltdown. Is he a permanently reformed character, or might this set back get to him in the brain cells?

Race 5: Follow At The Races On Twitter Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Turban     2: Chasing Headlights     3: The Tin Miner

Winner owned: The Ray Of Hope Partnership, trained: Paul Henderson, ridden: Tom O’Brien

When Turban won at Fontwell in late summer, the stewards enquired into improved performance and instead of noting that his rating had slumped from a peak of 150 into double figures and that the oppo rolled over and gave up after about half a mile (so improved result did not necessarily equal improved form), his trainer stated that Turban enjoyed being able to dominate. That was strange for a horse that only occasionally made the running, but he met exactly the same circumstances today – no serious threat from his rivals and getting to the front helpfully early. And Lo! The outcome was the same. Chasing Headlights had livened up as a hurdler last time when using cheekpieces for the first time, and whilst they helped him progress on bad past chase efforts, he was never a danger to Turban. The Tin Man had been absent more than a year after unseating at the last here when about to win. He had a fall and an unseat in a four race hurdling career as well, so his sloppy round of jumping on the comeback was not a shock.

x  The Tin Man (3rd): Gives the impression of having an engine, but the coordination to get his jumping correct is rather lacking. Expect fitness to progress after the time off, without that being enough for wins to be imminent.

Race 6: Watch Today’s Race Replays On attheraces.com Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Youknowell     2: Lamh Ar Lamh     3: Jonjoela

Winner owned: JP McManus, trained: Paul Webber, ridden: Richie McLernon

A different sort of confusing closer for Plumpton – it was still a 0-100 but they are not usually over this far or for mares only. At the third last flight six of the seven were in a bunch, and it looked that after she got tight for room and ran out in her last race, having Lamh Ar Lamh two or three lengths back was a tactical choice. She barged her way into prominence on the railway bend (another lesson learned from her previous race?) but thoughts of victory were brief because it was soon apparent that Youknowell had not yet got out of third gear. Youknowell had lost her handicap debut heavily, but she never raced beyond two and a half miles and had never tried a left handed track, so there a couple of good reasons to explain to the stewards why a horse that had shown absolutely zero since her Irish pointing days suddenly popped up and won with a ton in hand. Mac Bella and Sixties Idol were both taking a step up in trip and did not help their chances by getting into a scrap for the lead. Sixties Idol can be given a second chance, but Mac Bella never finds much under pressure, so she is less trusted to find a way to make staying races work for her. Despite a complete lack of understanding about jumping over stuff, Jonjoela did win a maiden point at Northaw, so having a clean round and ending up third is not necessarily a bad form guide.

+  Youknowell (1st): The handbrake is off and she stays well, so further success should be on the cards

+  Lamh Ar Lamh (2nd): The ran out on her record will sit there glowering like an angry firefly, but she stood up for herself under pressure today and should be able to find a race over three miles or more.

x  Mac Bella (6th): Weakened badly late on, as mentioned above a more patient approach might have helped. However, she now habitually finishes her races weakly, so different tactics or distances should not be a source of sudden optimism.
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