Plumpton, 7/1/18

This could have a been a nice winter afternoon out, but there was a rather vindictive north (roughly) wind out and about to savage racegoers and when the weather is coming from that direction at Plumpton, there is no shelter without failing to watch the racing. Of course, we have had much worse at this meeting, much worse. But is that not what Plumpton is all about – the potential for things to be much worse. Perhaps the big race should be sponsored by Kim Jong-Un.

Going: Heavy – but the wind was drying it out and the track was not nearly as tough going as is usually associated with Plumpton heavy.

Race 1: Download At The Races App Novices’ Hurdle [2m]

1: Jaisalmer     2: Miss Adventure     3: Paddy’s Poem

Winner owned: The Jeremy Partnership, trained: Mark Bradstock, ridden: Nico de Boinville

Having won an Irish point and a Chepstow novice hurdle, then finished fourth in Grade 2 company at Sandown, Marley Firth was all the rage for this, but he set the tone for the afternoon by offering up a poor performance. Favourite backers would, as predicted above, find that things could get much worse. The horse able to exploit the jolly’s failure was Jaisalmer, who has been plugging away at hurdling for one year and three days, doing enough to say that he earned this, although success had seemed more likely to come in the handicap sphere. Miss Adventure was an overpriced 20/1 shot here, with the betting over reacting to her drubbing in her last race – that was 2m 5f at Towcester, and the drop back in distance proved to be a big help, even though an interim distance would have been a more promising option prior to the outcome. She did fluff the final flight, but Jaisalmer had her measure anyway (probably). Paddy’s Poem finished third for the third time in five races. He is getting there.

+ +   Rebel Collins (5th): For the second race in a row he caught the eye for a having a light run around towards the back, this time passing a couple late on, when no handicap damage was to be done. It is hard to hide a strikingly pale grey like this in his races.

+   Miss Adventure (2nd): She has now run well more than once, and should be capable of winning a handicap or one of the more genteel mares only novice races around.

+   Paddy’s Poem (3rd): Having already turned seven and having plenty of size to work with, it would be no surprise to see him into novice handicap chases after getting himself qualified for a rating here. Slightly longer ones, probably.

+   Age Of Wisdom (7th): Debuting over hurdles after a flat career that includes a French win and a couple of all-weather two mile places in Britain, he seems the type that would need further on better going, so this seventh place will be a useful educational tool for when conditions are better suited.

x   Marley Firth (6th): Getting beaten was not unforeseeable, but to surrender as feebly as he did was not good at all. The most likely scenario is that he picked up a knock along the way, but a bad attitude is possible. Too soon to give up on him, but caution is required.

Race 2: Read Barry Geraghty’s Blog On Novices’ Chase [2m 1f]

1: San Pedro De Senam     2: Gregarious

Winner owned: Mrs Jane George & Mrs Helen Shelton, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

Two discussion points here, as a two finisher race with nigh on fifty lengths between them is not much to work on. Firstly a lesson in probability. Rather Be was the best horse in the race by some margin, but was hovering around 1/7 at the off. The chase career had been a win at Towcester, noted as jumping well, but also in a small field. The beaten horses were better than today’s oppo, but the question is whether one swallow does a summer make? Traditionally not, it is at least three required, and it seems daft to assume that the Towcester jumping skills would certainly be repeated, especially on a trappy track like Plumpton. He unseated at fence three. Secondly, the Cheltenham bonus scheme at Plumpton seems to have run its course. In the past the curse of small fields were alleviated by some genuine top class contenders, but now it only seems to attract second tier performers, and the fields are still short of runners. For the record, a below par Gregarious meant that San Pedro De Senam could have a glorified schooling session and earn over £7,000 for it.
Rather Be (stage left) weighs up San Pedro De Senam and Gregarious, concluding that he had best bail out at the earliest safe opportunity

Race 3: At The Races Sky 415 EBF Novices’ Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Game On     2: Larry     3: Glen Rocco

Winner owned: Personal Racehorse Owners 5, trained: Lucy Wadham, ridden: Leighton Aspell

There were some sturdy chasing sorts taking part in this, and Glen Rocco, having shown promise in his two previous runs, is an interesting yardstick for those ahead of him. It looks good for the first three, although all have done enough to have a handle on them already. Game On was rated eleven pounds below Harefield by the handicapper, although at this stage the difference seemed to underrate Game On a little, plus he did not have a winner’s penalty to lug around. The two approached the final hurdle with not much between them, but Harefield looking to be travelling slightly less briskly. He dived at the flight and came down, leaving a clear win for Game On from Larry, who had run a blinder until being very one-paced in the home straight.

+   Larry (2nd): Won a weak bumper on debut, but has not quite got going as a hurdler. However, apart from an unseat at Fontwell, he has not lost by any further than eighteen lengths, and the feeling remains that there is a distance and going combination for which his 112 rating will prove very suitable. What that actually is remains obscure, but good to soft or perhaps better going could be the key. Maybe some headgear as well.

+   Ballintara (4th): Only got run out of third very late on, but had really excelled himself until losing touch with the leading trio on the railway turn. The hurdle debut at Lingfield in November went well until the top of the hill, so it does seem that there are some parts waiting to be assembled into better results. Handicaps would be more feasible than novice hurdling.

x   Cintex (PU): An ineffective but not disastrously awful bumper horse, he seemed to make a big step forward on his hurdles debut in the summer, but both runs recently here have gone very poorly. At present, the Uttoxeter effort is the abnormal.

UK-Jumping Selections: Glen Rocco (3rd): Inherited a position at the final flight, producing a place pay out for those not so cynical as to expect another less than urgent amble round. Fortunately for the future, he was far enough behind not to allow the impending handicap mark to get out of hand.

Race 4: Download The At The Races iPad App Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Jully Des Buxy     2: Café Au Lait     3: Tzar De L’Elfe

Winner owned: MS Rose, trained: Nick Mitchell, trained: Nick Scholfield

Another rank farce at Plumpton with eight of the twelve hurdles omitted. Races like this should be void for betting purposes as there are significant changes to the race conditions made after 95% plus of bets have been placed and with the bettors having no time to change or cancel their wager. It is significant as the race being run over the wrong distance, or a horse missing declared headgear, neither of which are permitted. An equivalence would be playing a game of cards and after the hand is dealt and stakes placed, only then being told that all the sixes, nines and jacks have been removed from the pack. Or playing Mahjong with only half of the tiles. Or betting on a football match where Mike Dean is littering it with random decisions. Even perhaps Twister, with no yellow on the spinning board.

Race 5: At The Races Sussex National Handicap Chase [2m 4.5f]

1: Vinnie Lewis     2: Shanroe Santos     3: Frank N Fair

Winner owned: The Racing Demon Partnership, trained: Harry Whittington, ridden: Harry Bannister

And so to the main event. This looked like all sorts of the right race for Vinnie Lewis, who has improved no end since losing by fifteen lengths in an Irish point to a horse left phaffing around in the absurdity half an hour earlier. The one concern was that he had over exposed himself (oo-err) with his comprehensive success at Sedgefield in November. If you were taking him on, no such luck, as the win seemed more authoritative than the six lengths official margin. Shanroe Santos plugged away at him manfully but a couple of errors soon after the two mile mark did not help, although in the end they probably cost him no finishing positions. In an attempt to get a promotion from Duchess of Plumpton (because the Rodneys are queuing up, God forbid) to Queen, or even Empress, Frank N Fair ran a good solid race for third, and is on a rating where she can still return to lesser opposition – the first pair did not fade in the manner that she is accustomed to her enemies doing.

+   Vinnie Lewis (1st): Will go up in the weights again but has the vibe of a horse that adapts to carrying a low weight in higher grade marathon chases when it is foist upon him.

+   Leo Luna (4th): Seemed set to be involved in the finish with a mile or even less to run, but dropped away from the fourth last. The longest race that he has done well in is 3m 1.5f, and even that was in small fields – three miles looks the limit in this sort of bigger line up.

x   Coolking (7th): Attracted support at long prices, presumably because he is rather hit and miss, and people felt that he was being underestimated – he had pulled up in the last three runs, but won the three previous ones. This was a finish, but not a very inspiring one, which is worrisome given that he is back on a rating that should be functional for him.

UK-Jumping Selections: Shanroe Sands (2nd): Loved the distance, but is less likely to win going this way round than right-handed. However, it looked as if Vinnie Lewis was in the mood to see him off whatever the circumstances here.
Coolking is in the process of failing to dominate the event, from Leo Luna. Vinnie Lewis is the next rank behind Henri Parry Morgan. Shanroe Santos is behind Clondaw Cian.

Race 6: Visit Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Bramble Brook     2: Whispering Harry      3: Ramore Will

Winner owned: Brocade Racing, trained: Colin Tizzard, ridden: Harry Cobden

Although Vinnie Lewis provided some relief, this meeting had been all about kicking favourite backers in the groin. So how would it go now? Two non-runners left only four to contest this and it was won by a well-backed horse that is both ungenuine and from an out of form yard. Naturally it would. Bramble Brook might be as nice as pie when he is in his stable, but going to racecourses tends to bring out the dark side in his character. His help today was that Whispering Harry has been in terrible form and is about a week away from taking his losing run to three years. He also does not appreciate undulating courses. Ramore Will jumped too ponderously so was always hovering about four or five lengths off of the pace without being able to get closer. And finally Sir Hubert made a right pig’s ear of the ninth and was afterwards only able to prevent the margin from getting any worse – until his rider eased off two fences from the finish.

x   Sir Hubert (4th): He is developing a cult following for his repeated Plumpton failure, one as dark but not as evil as Bramble Brook. However, this looked like a golden opportunity to dismiss the cynics with all three opponents in various states of beatability. That went out of the window at fence nine, preventing us seeing what other disasters he had up his sleeve should he be bang in contention on the railway bend.

x x   Bramble Brook (1st): Beat a horse in totally the wrong place by a neck. Expect normal non-service to resume shortly.

Race 7: Free Race Replays On Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Not Never     2: Tara Bridge     3: Soul Saver

Winner owned: Hall Sargent Evans, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

Plumpton traditionally closes with an impossible to predict 0-100 handicap, but this was a 0-110, had only eight runners (as opposed to the dozen or more in typical cards) and whilst choosing a specific confident selection was very tricky, racegoers at least had a chance. It was even easier if prepared to commit to just one of Dan Steele’s three runners, with the presence of Richard Johnson on Landscape being a bit of a clue where to look there. The other pair started quite slowly, confirming the idea that Landscape was number one, but a slow pace ensured that they were in touch before halfway. From the middle of the back straight the field was gradually whittled away from serious involvement, and the three in control on the final turn were Tara Bridge, Not Never and Soulsaver, although all were being ridden with still a long way to go. Soulsaver cracked first (the tongue tie has transformed results, but he really needs good or good to soft ground) and any chance to revive ended in mistakes at the last two hurdles. Tara Bridge, who was inclined to jump his hurdles a bit big throughout, could not get away from the last one as quickly as Not Never, and that was the difference in a race decided by half a length.

+   Not Never (1st) Last ran in the summer and the ground was a big doubt about his chances. As it happened, by this stage of the afternoon it was probably not at all heavy, but he had no problems with what he encountered.

+   Tara Bridge (2nd): Ran well in his first race for ten months, but he does tend to go well after a break. A bit more slickness in his hurdling technique should bring about victory. Just after he has exited the UK Jumping selections list.
Starting to get a bit dark as Landscape and Tara Bridge show the way, from Soulsaver. Briac and Not Never (3) are middle for diddle, chase by Atlantic Storm, Tee It Up Tommo and Hold The Bucks
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