Plumpton, 13/5/18

The final Sunday at Plumpton before the summer break saw no outbreak of brawling, presumably because if you are noisy, brainless attention seeker, being a nuisance at Ascot or Goodwood brings you that greater degree of attention. There was the odd squabble over rights to a bench, and as ever here, there is always someone who wants to sit in a gap in the crush barriers on the terracing and then cannot understand why so many people want to come through that gap. The human race will probably never be cured of lack of common sense. A moderately interesting aside was that two races on the day were won by favourites that had not got a single selection in the Racing Post Tipsters' selection box. That must be quite rare.

Going: Good, Good to Firm places

Race 1: Cumnor House Sussex - Where Children Flourish Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Crushed     2: Gothic Empire     3: Venetian Prosposal

Winner owned: Wright, Jervis and Whitestonecliff Racing, trained: Alan King, ridden: Wayne Hutchinson

Sometimes the old jokes are the best, and in this instance the purveyor was Jumping Jack, who tried to run out and unseated Tom Cannon at the second last. He had been wayward last autumn when in front and the inclination came back to him here, with Crushed and Gothic Empire keeping on but not obviously looking like they were doing so fast enough to change the result. Venetian Proposal, who has progressed through her three hurdle races now, finished strongest of all and was only pipped for second. Crushed was a reasonable handicapper on the flat and although genuinely crushed on his jumps bow, he lost a shoe there and the improvement can be attributed to going without that aggro. Gothic Empire was a comparable flat horse, but was best at seven furlongs and up until now attempts to build up his stamina did not seem to be working. Quicker conditions are certainly in his favour.

+   Crushed (1st): As noted above, he has the profile to progress further on this success.

+   Venetian Proposal (3rd): Ran well here when fifth last time and repeated the effort. She could win a genteel mares only race but a handicap mark just over 100 can be expected and be workable.

x   Romanor (4th): Got off to a poor start as a jumper, but last time showed an apparent greater understanding of what was being asked of him. This was a big step backwards and a very sluggish effort in a race that should have suited him.

x x   Jumping Jack (UR): A couple of times last autumn he showed himself to be something of a rogue, but in recent runs he just looked like a bit of a non-stayer. Fortunately old certainties returned to remind us why he should be avoided - he has started favourite in the last two races contested.
This jump really did not help Gothic Empire's chances, but Crushed went away well enough for it not to have decided the result. Jumping Jack is having a good giggle at us on the far side.

Race 2: Free Alerts With The Timeform Tracker Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Mogestic     2: Keep To The Beat     3: Now Listen Here

Winner owned: Mrs JC Scorgie, trained: Seamus Mullins, ridden: Jeremiah McGrath

This was all about trying to upstage the eventful finish to the opener. Coming into the last Good News was in front and his enduring trundle was challenging Mogestic to do something dynamic to win the race. Next thing we know, Jack Sherwood was on the floor, and the race was in Mogestic's safe keeping. Initially it seemed a bit of a soft unseat with not much of a jink, but when the loose horse was caught, we could see that the saddle had slipped, possibly when he jumped right at the second last, so any deviation was doomed to beget shambles. Behind them it was all quite ragged as of the ten runners, five had never tried this far and only one of them really inspired much confidence of finding it suitable. Keep To The Beat, who has as many foals as wins (one each) stayed on to inherit second, helped by but not entirely due to her avoiding Good News better than Now Listen Here was able to. Sweet'N'Chic ran OK to be left in fourth, but probably wants a little bit of ease in the ground, which was not present here.

+   Mogestic (1st): Is very well handicapped on what he has done in the past and he has won in class 4 races, so he is capable of surviving when the handicapper forces him into that level imminently.

+   Good News (UR): There have been signs in the past that he could win a feeble staying hurdle, and it was pure bad luck that stopped that happening here - he was not certain to win but surely odds-on when the tack went haywire.

x   Keep To The Beat (2nd): She ran well enough here, and is well treated on past pinnacles, but with a career of thirty-five races limited to one success, it is never time to presume that she has another just around the corner.

Race 3: Bet Better With The Timeform App Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: The Fresh Prince     2: Darebin     3: Ballycoe

Winner owned: Trevor Hemmings, trained: Oliver Sherwood, ridden: Conor Shoemark

Only four took part in this, but it was very competitive stuff. The market went for Ballycoe, in defiance of him having fallen in his last two races (the first a hurdle). Totally unamazingly he was a bit of a hesitant jumper at the back in the first half of the race, and whilst he gradually warmed to the job, he was too far behind to fix the damage. At the front, The Fresh Prince made a couple of errors, but mostly jumped very efficiently and was able to keep Darebin at arms length. The last runner was Red Hanrahan, debuting for Suzi Best after six months off. He did a solid mile and a half and then gradually drifted out of the race.

  Red Hanrahan (PU): Did better for a long way than merited a non-finish, and it looked like a nice warm-up run. The trouble is that he was very inconsistent for Paul Nicholls and could be quite a slow and cautious jumper on off days, so when and where he comes good is not easy to predict.
The Fresh Prince has an early edge on Red Hanrahan, with Ballycoe looking uncertain in rear. Darebin seems to have briefly acquired an invisibility cloak.

Race 4: June Brown Memorial Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Gin And Tonic     2: Royal Hall     3: Briac

Winner owned: The Gin & Tonic Partnership, trained: Michael Wigham, ridden: Wayne Hutchinson

Thirteen went to post for this, and they made up a fairly motley bunch. Four of them did not even bother with jumps in the most recent season. For a low level 0-100 race, the pace appeared to be quite sound, yet winner Gin And Tonic was to the fore througout and still managed to quicken away from the pack on the railway turn. Royal Hall went with Gin And Tonic and only was beaten by a neck - an error two hurdles out was quite expensive. Briac, who has been in form over hurdles, got caught out for pace by the railway station, but did rally to make certain of third once facing the winning post. Course and distance winner Austin Friars has not been doing so well on the flat and on this evidence he was not tuned up to improve when back to the scene of his crime.

+   Gin And Tonic (1st): In the past he has wins from ratings in the 90s twice and 101 once. So having nabbed this from 79, it would be hoped that he has the fizz to repeat this outcome even after the handicapper has had a rethink on ratings.

+   Royal Hall (2nd): Got his first shot at good ground in Britain and for the first time did well. His only French hurdle run was a second place on good, so this is not an unrepeatable performance.

Race 5: Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Brave Eagle     2: Mellow Ben     3: Whoshotwho

Winner owned: Robert Kirkland, trained: Nicky Henderson, ridden: James Bowen

In this series final the winner has often tended to be a rider just below the top tier of conditionals, so it was a surprise to see James Bowen winning both the points series and the final. But he had really met the qualification of less than twenty winners by the end of September. For this, he was teamed with Brave Eagle, who is a slight class above the rest of the runners and therefore conceded plenty of weight. In his first four races only one horse finished in front of him - Speredek as he embarked on his winning spree - but in two big field races at Cheltenham the best of Brave Eagle had not been seen. The choice was whether he had done enough for the season or would he appreciate the less challenging level. It was the latter, but he had a right old scrap with a rather animated Mellow Ben, who led until they turned for home and began to fight back well at the last, briefly leading thanks to outjumping Brave Eagle. It was not enough. The late market movement was for Whoshotwho, but the others left him for dead from the third last hurdle.

+   Brave Eagle (1st): Should make a reasonable novice chaser and by not being in Nicky Henderson's top band of hurdlers, he can be imagined being pitched at some lesser prizes.

  Whoshotwho (3rd): He has finished second or third in six of his seven races for Richard Newland, and before the race the note was to question if he was a bit flaky under pressure. The first two certainly pushed the right button here, but he may also need soft ground - his bumper win on good was not the most difficult challenge thrown at him.

Race 6: Bluebell Vineyard Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: King Cool     2: Roparta Avenue     3: Flugzeug

Winner owned: P Mott, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: James Bowen

Before the start this was the sort of race to avoid getting involved in. The nine runners all met one of the following categories: Not A Chaser, Does A Job But Not On This Ground, Totally Unreliable. Needless to say, it was won by a horse that was in the Not A Chaser tendency, with an added relish of Stable Out Of Form. What made the difference was an inspired ride from James Bowen. In the first two laps King Cool stayed at the back, and even if wanting to make up some ground, indifferent jumping prevented it, and the odd reminder was needed. Then the rivals began to falter one by one and King Cool's jumping was ceased being actively harmful to his chances. There is quite a long run from the third last to the line here, and when Roparta Avenue kicked on King Cool went with him. He edged in front on the run-in after Roparta Avenue jumped right (as he had two out) and an unlikely success was sealed.

+   Massinis Adventure (4th): He had not raced since September when he won a staying at Wexford and flopped at Clonmel. With this pipe opener done, and maybe another one, he can be a contender in 0-100 staying chases.

+   Remember Forever (6th): Jumped well in or around the lead, until his known lack of stamina cut in, and he also finished lame. Two and a half miles is his trip and he at least has a valid excuse for failing, which not all of the others can boast.

x   King Charlie (PU): Twice he has finished second in running well by the standards required for this level of race, but when he is not tip top, he is really poor. This was another instance of that, and the bad days are becoming statistically too dominant for comfort.

Race 7: Visit Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 1.5f]

1: Andapa     2: Harrier     3: Presentedwithwings

Winner owned & trained: Mike Roberts, ridden: Harry Reed

A massive 50/1 upset ended Plumptons autumn to spring season. Andapa had not raced before, showed some greenness in the paddock and looked the least fit horse in the race. She won fair and square, kicking on off of the final bend and keeping up the gallop. Harrier, also in his first race and a more obviously ready contender, emerged from the pack to take second place, at the expense of the two paddock picks - Presentedwithwings (4th at Ludlow first time) and Represented (winner at Taunton on debut). The latter was favourite and although not overly big, he looks like we would expect of a proper racehorse, so perhaps this was just a youthful anomaly. El Hageb Rose, yet another newcomer, looked very dangerous on the railway bend but was unable to sustain a straight line gallop after that. He was beaten ten lengths but has a great deal of potential to improve.
Halfway through and the front rank (left to right) is Musical Stardust, eventually eighth, Andapa and Roe Mill, finished ninth. Which is another compliment to Andapa's effort. Row B is Invisible Clouds, Presentedwithwings and Milldean Silva.
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