Plumpton, 10/2/20

The weather may be foul not fair on an extended basis but in this day and age we can rely on Plumpton to be on, usually. Possibly it is mistrust of this country’s hopeless rail companies and road system, but not all of the Monday regulars made it to the track. They missed a good meeting, and one where the horses that got good results largely did so by replicating what were there proven strengths. Innovation not needed right at this point in time.

Going: Heavy

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

1: Calva D’Auge     2: Fraser Island     3: Hewn From Granite

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

All the evidence available to work with said that this was Calva D’Auge versus Fraser Island. The former had to concede sixteen pounds by way of penalties and age allowances to the latter. Fraser Island kept on well enough but the energy wasted dragging two handlers around the paddock was not enough to bring Calva D’Auge to a halt. He appears to enjoy a stiff breeze. Ballydoyle, a newcomer to hurdles, threatened to make it a slightly surprising three way battle but did not last the race, which was a bit of an odd way to fail for a sturdy and mud compliant German staying flat horse,and it allowed Hewn From Granite to edge him out of the places in the last few yards. If Hewn From Granite lived up to his name he would have sunk into oblivion long before then, so well done to the horse for not taking himself too seriously. Or something. And as for Ballydoyle, it is too soon to give up but now both he and us need to take a pause and see what he is going to excel at.

+  Ardbruce (5th): Ambled around well at the back before creeping closer from about half a mile out. The staying on effort caught the stewards’ eyes but it was uncertain to have cost him any places, more likely margin of defeat. One for handicaps.

+  The Topp Notes (6th): Made an earlier move than Ardbruce and had a chance of fourth when he faltered approaching the last, running right to left across the final hurdle before eventually jumping it awkwardly. This was his hurdles debut after two most nondescript bumper tries and he too will be worth a look in handicaps.

x  Fraser Island (2nd): Despite two losses since a successful hurdles debut, he does not appear to have done much wrong. However, he is hardly the greatest of all flat horses to pass through Nicky Henderson’s welcoming front door and there is a risk of him being underpriced in the near future. That negative vibe may be less ominous if he were to stick to four year olds’ hurdles.

Race 2: SW Catering Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Colorado Doc     2: The Flying Sofa     3: Moabit

Winner owned & trained: David Brace, trained: Connor Brace

In point-to-points Colorado Doc won six out of ten, a proper pick’n’mix that included a Maiden, a Restricted, an Intermediate, a Conditions, a Confined and an Open. Three Rules runs, two hurdling, had all seen him finish second but with encouragement to the fore. He popped round very efficiently and held of a trio of flaky opponents at arms length with ease. The Flying Sofa can lose to anyone when he puts his mind to it but was not too bad today considering that whilst he has the odd close call on soft or heavy, the ground was not ideal. Moabit was a chase flop in two tries back in 2017. He looked a bit surer here but fifteen months off and a history of being a two miler combined to stop him towards the end of the back straight and his jumping was sloppy when tired. Despite having won a chase when in first time cheekpieces, this is not a job that Breaking Waves looks at home with at all and his market popularity was one of several mysteries lurking around the course today, such as “where had the chili chips gone?” and “where is the heavy rain that was promised?”

+  Colorado Doc (1st): A bit of common sense from the handicapper and he should be up for more wins. This defeated are easy not to be impressed by so a small rise is a viable option.

x  The Flying Sofa (2nd): He was not at his “turned over at long odds-on worst” but whatever the race, he is risky proposition.

x  Breaking Waves (4th): Is not a fluent jumper and will be one to keep opposing as a chaser.
Fence 2 and Colorado Doc (far side) just shades Moabit, who is actually quite aerobatic here. The wings hide most of Breaking Waves and The Flying Sofa.

Race 3: Extech Cloud – Humanising IT Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Hawthorn Cottage     2: Sirop De Menthe     3: Darkest Days

Winner owned: Melbourne 10 Racing, trained: Amy Murphy, ridden: Lucy Barry

An interesting finish as despite a pace that did not look horribly excessive all of the runners finished very tired, even the pair that ended up clear of the remainder. Hawthorn Cottage, an easy Doncaster winner four weeks earlier if you ignore the persistent nagging of the close up second horse, seized the advantage first, then Sirop De Menthe took it after the second last getting a couple of lengths clear, only to lose it again with a leftward drift on the run-in. At various stages of this the victory did seem set to go in the direction of Darkest Days but when it became really tough going (an escalation from dashed difficult) he did not really find anything to pressure the first two. In the conditions, he can be forgiven.

+  Shaw’s Cross (4th): Slipped on landing after the fifth hurdle and lost position at a key point in the race. He only staged a minor recovery but it was enough to think that another heavy ground win is possible to add to the pair he has in hand.

x  Sirop De Menthe (2nd): Winless for over three years, he really did give this one away and despite the conditions being difficult, they were for Hawthorn Cottage too.

Marmont (7th): A perennial favourite of the site he has shown nothing in two post-wind surgery runs. Not good but perhaps heavy ground is still too much for him.
Hawthorn Cottage (3) and Chill Factor (1) dominate a lap out. Well, let's say lead undominately*, followed by Marmont (7), Darkest Days (green cap) and Paricolor (white cap). * Newly invented word but one the English language needed.

Race 4: Crystal Services Commercial And Domestic Cleaning Handicap Chase [2m 1f]

1: Finnegan’s Garden      2: Skipping On

Winner owned: Kenny Corke, trained: Zoe Davison, ridden: Page Fuller

Nobody in their right mind would have described Finnegan’s Garden as well handicapped before this race but he loves sharp, left-handed, undulating courses, the extremely testing ground offset the shorter than ideal distance and all nine previous wins were in fields of six or fewer. Not only did a non-runner bring this line-up down to six, but the one that went overboard was serious danger Wenceslaus. With a sluggish start and a first fence unseat, Away For Slates made it seem even more spacious. After that the race sort of fell apart around Finnegan’s Garden, with inexplicable favourite Le Couer Net not in the mood (again), Elisezmoi pulling too hard (and possibly not having gained anything from a wind op) and Tara Bridge also starting slowly and jumping badly before pulling up just after halfway. Skipping On is well treated on old form and was the only other finisher but he was quite easily brushed aside, despite the winner fluffing the third last just as he went for the jugular. That reflected Skipping On’s modest recent performances but at least this was largely a step on the road to redemption.

+  Skipping On (2nd): Is getting onto a very appealing mark and is certainly closing in on become competitive again – albeit at a snail’s pace.

x Tara Bridge (PU): Did not look too keen from the start and might be destined for a further look at hurdling options.

x x  Le Couer Net (PU): Losing comes very easily to him and a second career win last time was possibly the biggest negative for his chance. Excel twice in a row? Not on your nelly (or is it netty?). He could have been third but declined to jump the last well adrift of the two that took the money.

Race 5: Strong Flavours Catering Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Age Of Wisdom     2: Velvet Cognac     3: Little Boy Boru

Winner owned: The 1901 Partnership, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Niall Houlihan

This was a brave display by Age Of Wisdom as whilst he was appealingly handicapped and in reasonable recent form, he was stepping up in distance and taking on plenty of proven stayers. There was no room for error but Niall Houlihan rode him with great confidence in his stamina and the inevitable fatigue only cut in between the last two flights, when the remainder had been left to look like also rans. Obviously a chance for a comfy stress-free second was not going to be turned down by runner-up par excellence Velvet Cognac but he did have a late scare when Little Boy Boru stormed up the stands rails and only lost out on second place by half a length. And fourth placed Crossley Tender sat right on their heels too, the trio motivating each other to close the gap on the winner. In vain.

+  Age Of Wisdom (1st): Stamina proven, new world of opportunities opened for him – despite the fact that it has to be referenced to it “only being Velvet Cognac in second.”

x  Velvet Cognac (2nd): Since shockingly winning a hurdle in November he has gone right back to the old trouble maker that we know and love.

x  The Tin Miner (PU): After a surprisingly dynamic win at two and a half miles last time, this distance should have been right down his mine shaft but he was a disappointment. It should be noted that heavy is the one going that he has not proven himself on, and was given to the stewards as a cause for the flop.
Age Of Wisdom has gone from storming home to clinging on but he is at least doing the latter successfully. The indistinct pursuit is Velvet Cognac (red & yellow), Little Boy Boru (light lue & yellow) and Crossley Tender

Race 6: Sky Sports Racing Mares’ Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Amlovi     2: Shadow’s Girl     3: Monty’s Angel

Winner owned: SR Whistance, trained: Adrian Wintle, ridden: Ben Poste

The pre-race comment about Amlovi was that she had shown nothing so far but has plenty of time to improve. It was a surprise to see her open as short as 6/1, yet the market was not wrong. Heavy ground and a drop to two miles was the magic formula. She easily beat Shadow’s Girl, an exposed mare who did at least seem to be well handicapped, which very often goes with a horse being recently below their best historic standards. The result was affected by Sixties Idol falling three out when in with every chance and handicap debutante Dylan’s Sea Song not really rising to the occasion before she unseated. Montys Angel ran well until the second last, livelier than recent traces.

+ +  Amlovi (1st): Now a good sort of circumstance has been established she could well follow up as this was quite comfy stuff.

Montys Angel (3rd): She is certainly looking to be of interest each way in the near future, but she is owned by the China Racing Club and races in red with a yellow star, so anyone who supports her is indirectly showing approval for Xi Jinping’s megalomaniac repressive distatorship. Do you want to be a supporter of tyranny and the elimination of basic human rights? Well, do ya?

Lady Chartreuse (4th): Might have been expected to improve for fitness after her drubbing on the comeback from a long absence but not for the first time she was badly let down by her jumping.
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