Plumpton, 14/5/17

Ladies Day at Plumpton. As usual for these events UK-Jumping invited some expert comment on the topic, this time in the person of Emanuel Santos, who has achieved cult status in the world of art and style for his work on the bust of Cristiano Ronaldo. His disappointingly terse report was as follows.

“Prints were very much in. But as we know about failing to please Greeks and Trojans, you cannot win trying to describe them. Flowery was a consistent part of it, but where some might use words such as ‘bold’ and ‘eye-catching,’ others would say ‘garish’ or ‘retina damage.’ Neither did Jesus please everyone, and whilst I did see a couple of horrendous outfits, this is a matter of taste, so not so simple as it seems.”

There you have it. It seems that we will have to revert to disgraced Chinese generals next time. As for the racing, the ground was definitely fast, but it was absolutely fine for the right horses, as shown by the fact that after the usual minor burst of non-runners on a Sunday morning, there were no further withdrawals after connections had seen the track and got jockey feedback.

Going: Good to Firm (Good places)

Race 1: Plumpton Rugby Club 50th Anniversary Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Knocknanuss     2: Mamoo     3: Rasasee

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

A nice challenge for punters to open the day. Do you go with the quality form of ex-Irish pointer/bumperer Knocknanuss, despite fast ground and twenty-two months off, or do you see tribulation in all directions and oppose him, with even money looking a short price? The answer was the first option, as Knocknanuss dismissed the opposition quite readily. They were not the greatest threat in the world, and the winner looked very fit, so it is not clear if he improves to live up to past potential, but the initial signs were promising. In behind it was all a bit of a mess. The two horses with the best recent form, Jackblack and Sixties Idol both gave beating the jolly a shot but tied up and were run out of the places by Mamoo (a fifteen race maiden on the flat making his hurdles debut) and Rasasee (a higher rated and less busy flat maiden that jumped badly on his only past hurdle race) after the four of them jumped the last almost in a line. The inclination is not too get too impressed by what the placed runners managed.

+   Knocknanuss (1st): Sadly for the fans Simon Holt managed to avoid any awkward tongue twisting of his name. This was not the greatest test for him, and he passed easily. Better is possible in the future.

x   Sixties Idol (4th): Ran a pretty good race at Kempton two weeks ago, and failing to be placed was a flop, especially as she seemed the sort of filly to glide over this ground.

x   Jackblack (5th): Overall his hurdling form looks very solid for races of this standard, so he is another who can be seen as a failure by being unplaced. It might get his handicap mark of 113 down a bit.

Race 2: Julie Brown Memorial Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Bostin     2: Kayflin     3: Phare Isle

Winner owned & trained: Dan O’Brien, ridden: Thomas Garner

This was run at a painfully slow pace for the first mile and three-quarters, leaving the half dozen runners with a speed figure after fast ground adjustment that should thoroughly embarrass them. Funnily enough, the tactics did not prevent one of the obvious picks from winning. Bostin kicked on entering the back straight, and was only briefly threatened by Kayflin after. The winner is not known for prolific success, but Kayflin is even worse and also unproven beyond 2m 5f, so the gap was widening again at the end. Phare Isle, the guilty party for the pedestrian rate of running, got outpaced three hurdles out and then stayed on to just hold The Game Is A Foot for third.

+ +   Bostin (1st): Most people would look at his overall career and be dismayed. However, he now has four races on good to firm and won three of them. Despite one or two media assertions otherwise, he did have previous positive form at three miles plus, including a length loss over course and distance, so we know when to take notice of him.

+   Oliver’s Island (5th): Making his handicap debut, he had not raced over further than 2m 0.5f before and failed to stay this distance, even with them going quite slowly for most of it. However, he was right in contention at the third last, and the possibility of an improved result at something between 2m 4f and 2m 6f should not be ruled out.

x   Kayflin (2nd): Since showing the odd bit of promise between 2012 and 2015, she has often flattered to deceive, so do not get too excited about this second place.

x   Romeo Americo (6th): One of three last time winners – which is rare in a 0-100 race – he was the one to end up favourite, despite that being his first success for four and a half years. What transpired was the worst case scenario, but one easier to foresee than the betting implied.
A lap remains and Bostin (6) has moved from the back to prepare his surprise for Phare Isle (1). The next line, from the far side, is Oliver’s Island, Romeo Americo and The Game Is A Foot. Kayflin thinks she has them all covered, but is only 80% right.

Race 3: Follow@Plumptonracecourse On Instagram Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Royals And Rebels     2: Roparta Avenue     3: Flugzeug

Winner owned: The Neardowners, trained: Charlie Mann, ridden: Gavin Sheehan

In contrast to the preceding staying hurdle, this chase was run at an intimidating pace. The two horses that were responsible endured mixed fortunes. Royals And Rebels successfully shed the attentions of his rivals, whereas Killabraher Cross put in some hair raising jumping, especially at the fence by the stables, and fell at the fourteenth when already on the retreat. The winner has now posted a score of 211 at this course this near, but split them with stinky efforts at Warwick. Passing the railway station it looked as if Roparta Avenue would be a big danger, but whilst he has managed to snap out of the worst of his form since winning here in spring 2016, he is not finishing off his races that well.

+   Flugzeug (3rd): This course, distance, going and general race conditions all were in his favour, so a plodding along in well beaten third is at face value a disappointment. However, his last race (a win) was only nine days previously and his record has no good coming from quick reappearances, so the failure is forgiven.

x   Killabraher Cross (fell): Came into this having been below the good performances shown when first coming to Britain, and with big doubts regarding distance and going. The innovation that he offered was a very sketchy display of jumping skills, and the daft negatives are building up.
In the past UK-Jumping has been very ready to describe starts here as “general aimless milling about.” So credit where it is due, this is all quite organised, if a bit more scattered than ideal. In starting order it is Killabraher Cross, Royals And Rebels, Flugzeug (almost totally hiding Roparta Avenue), Frank N Fair and Smart Catch.

Race 4: Sash Window Specialist Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Too Many Diamonds     2: Water Willow     3: Taurian

Winner owned & trained: Dan Skelton, ridden: David England

Last time he ran, Too Many Diamonds finished eighth in a selling handicap hurdle (just behind Taurian, who started second favourite here) and was claimed by Dan Skelton. For a stable that is generally looking to be a player on the bigger stages, the idea of acquiring a horse with forty-one races and no wins, boasting(?) a flat rating of 42 and a hurdle one of 72, seemed like an odd way to go forward and upwards. However, the possibility to wring a little bit of improvement out of him and find a really bad race could at least recoup some cash. The market made it even money that this speculative theory would pay off, and it did. The inability of Taurian to worry him was a disappointing element of the race, but the only other horse of the half-dozen priced below 20/1 was Osgood, who is well handicapped, and unlikely to exploit it when in weak recent form and not visored. Like today.

+   Too Many Diamonds (1st): Did not have much to beat here, yet we have to respect his chance of adding a win or two more, as there is a very realistic scenario that people will fear that his new yard has improved him and shy away from taking him on.

+   Water Willow (2nd): Showed raw ability in modest bumpers for Harry Fry, then went on to be woeful flop as a hurdler. A tongue tie on her handicap debut proved to be of no help and she was moved on after that failure. Debuting here for Bill Turner, she did manage a small degree of recovery, which is worth keeping track of in the coming months.

x   Taurian (3rd): Won a four runner race on hurdles debut, but it turned out to be a bad one, and it has been all regression since. This performance gave no signals that she is planning to revise the policy.

x   Osgood (6th): Continued a disappointing spell, despite being appealingly handicapped. He would get an extra cross were it not for the chance that he perks up when the visor comes back.

Race 5: Olivia Mellett 18th Birthday Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: I See You Well     2: Ossie’s Dancer     3: Miss Crick

Winner owned: AA Goodman, trained: Seamus Mullins, ridden: Daniel Sansom

This race used to be a series final with hefty prize money, but it looks as if the series has been discontinued. However, 0-135 races with £10,000 prize money are not ten-a-penny for conditional riders, and the turnout was quite solid. Coming around the railway bend, it had really become a two horse race. Ossie’s Dancer, winner of the 2015 version, was trying to prove the theory that he had come right after slow progress on return from nineteen months off. However, I See You Well, stepping up from two miles for the first time, refused to join in with the sentimental outcome. Miss Crick, the one runner known to certainly go on good to firm, had a bit of a question mark over her ability to handle an undulating track. She struggled with the downhill stretch both times, then stayed on to pinch third – beaten only eight lengths but never catching the eye as a threat.

+ +   Ossie’s Dancer (2nd): Ran off of 112 here, having won from as high as 126 in the past, and an improved show took his record on left-handed, sharp, undulating courses to 53112. It does rather look as if a win might be just around the corner.

+   I See You Well (1st): Did not look especially well handicapped after winning a twenty runner race a Naas and finishing fourth at Sandown late last month. The goalposts were moved as the longer race turned out to be a much stronger benefit than expected. More patient tactics helped and if that policy continues, he can win some more.

x   Sunnytahliateigan (4th): Won his first two handicaps, appearing to put to bed ideas that he was not too keen on horse racing as a career. What he got here that was new was a) undulating track, b) good to firm ground and c) much better opposition than those beaten. The main cause of defeat was c). Retain an open mind on a) and b).

  Prouts Pub (PU): Finished second by a length to Sunnytahliateigan last time, breaking a spell of dismal efforts with a new jockey (Lizzie Kelly) and new headgear (blinkers). Leading most of the way, he went out like a light after the third last. It would appear that shock of the new had a very brief shelf life, although he could have made life easier by front running in a more patient style.

xx   Baratineur (6th): A French bumper winner twice, he has been a huge disappointment as a hurdler, winning one iffy race. As time goes by he seems to be less inclined to settle, but he was a bit more amenable to restraint today. This did not produce any improvement in the result. l
I See You Well is moderately well seen landing the prize from this camera angle. The other one is Ossie’s Dancer, who is clearly not dancing.

Race 6: Swift Bedding Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Perfect Timing     2: Gores Island     3: Little Windmill

Winner owned: The Mogg Familiy Racing Partnership, trained: Neil Mulholland, ridden: Noel Fehily

Once a highly suspect operator in the fundamental skill of jumping fences, Perfect Timing has totally sorted himself out in that part of the job, and was not too pushed to complete a hat trick here. Those who had not memorised the colours would have wondered whether the horse in second might produce a turn up as they turned for home as it appeared to be travelling more sweetly than Perfect Timing. People who knew that it was Gores Island were not expecting any fireworks at all, and as usual he found little when the chips were down. The inconsistent Little Windmill had previously posted form of 11U on good to firm. Today was not his day and a blunder three out killed off what chance he had.

+   Perfect Timing (1st): Already raised sixteen pounds for two wins, this is going to get him up even more. However, some of that is absorbed by much improved jumping technique, and he now has a record on good to firm of 14111. On quick conditions he should continue to find small field where bad handicap ratings can be defied.

xx   Gores Island (2nd): A prolific winner over hurdles, he took his chase record to two wins from thirty-one tries, and he often runs well enough to remind us that the ability is not really lost, just disinclined to be used. At Plumpton he has gone F271222, so do not necessarily leave him out of your Placepot.

Race 7: Tie The Knot Wedding Catering Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race [2m 1.5f]

1: Madam Anna     2: Rebel Commander     3: Cintex

Winner owned: Tony Betteridge, trained: Linda Jewell, ridden: Jack Sherwood

There was not a reason to think that this bumper would be of any great significance in the long term (Plumpton, late spring, quick ground is a triple header of bad omens) but the way that it panned out was slightly more intriguing than expected. Firstly the market was mostly correct in that the first two in the betting were placed, and Madam Anna showed sparkle in sprinteing away from them. Cintex had been second to and ahead of subsequent winners in an Irish point, although not super fit here and suffering a bit of sympathetic naivety when debutant Honey P took totally forgiveable pre-race exception to a wittering dolt on the stage set up on the inside of the course. Rebel Commander did have a race under his belt, but proved a bit difficult when asked to quicken up late in the race, and fourth placed Waikiki Waves had been third in a weak bumper on debut. All in all - well done Madam Anna.

+   Madam Anna (1st): Representing a yard not known for winning bumpers, and rarely treating them as an important part of a horse’s career, she did really well in her first ever race. Perhaps even with better on the way.

+   Cintex (3rd): Not likely to be a world beater, he will probably turn out to be better than the bare result here suggests.

x   Rebel Commander (2nd): Let himself down a bit when the pressure was on. At this early stage of his career, it is impossible to be sure whether it was inexperience or a seething resentment that prevented him knuckling down and chasing the winner, opting instead to look at everything going on off to his right. Being a Nicky Henderso horse, the market may be a bit too optimistic when he next appears.
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