Plumpton, 19/11/18

The weather had taken a fair turn for the colder and bleaker since the previous day at Fontwell. And in a sense it made the whole experience seem more genuine. The slight anomaly was winter weather and good ground at Plumpton. The two totally lack compatibility.

Going: Good

Race 1: Strong Flavours Catering Maiden Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Getaway Trump     2: Talktomenow     3: Saturdaynightfever

Winner owned: Owners Group 023, trained: Paul Nicholls, ridden: Harry Cobden

There were four in this with apparent potential to be above Plumpton standard and one more who has not got that worked out yet, but might be a typical Tizzard slow developer. The main four finished first to fourth, and the latter was in fifth, but what was strange was the huge distance between Talktomenow and Saturdaynightfever. It would certainly lead to the conclusion that Getaway Trump was extremely impressive (barring a mistake two out that would have had his numerous connections thinking of the significant error that ruined his hurdles debut) and that Talktomenow must surely find a novice hurdle as after setting a good pace, he did not exactly fold and wave Getaway Trump past at the final hurdle. Despite the drubbing received, Saturdaynghtfever and Go Forrit are worth keeping track of.

+ +  Talktomenow (2nd): Won his only British point-to-point by a head, but apppears to have progressed a bundle since then, and there should be plenty of winning opprtunities for him. Nobody is likely to get rich chasing him in the betting.

+  Saturdaynightfever (3rd): Boasts some handy unsuccessful bumper form, such as six lengths fourth to the promising Kateson, so it would have to be hoped that he can do better than this result.

+  Go Forrit (4th): Contested bumpers maybe a level down from Saturdaynightfever, but he did well in them including a two lengths loss to a subsequent dual hurdle winner. On hurdles debut he lost by eight lengths to a horse that has since won a Grade 2 novice, so he sets a fair benchmark for the hurdles talent on show. If he ran up to that level here, the first two are wonder horses. Let us assume that he did not hit his best.

Empire: Pete's Choice (6th): Proved much more competitive in cheekpieces and with things to jump over - finishing in the vicinity of Saturdaynightfever and Go Forrit was a very encouraging step forward. He really wants a longer distance race, but the entire south of the country is not staging any, apart from a listed race at Newbury, which is a bit beyond his talents.

Race 2: Heart, Turn Up The Feel Good Novices' Limited Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Mister Malarky     2: Risk And Roll     3: Chosen Path

Winner owned: Wendy & Malcolm Hezel, trained: Colin Tizzard, ridden: Tom O'Brien

For most of the race this was quite uneventful, with the talking points being Chosen Path not taking to fences as well as might be hoped and being in a permanent state of hurry up as a consequence, whilst Risk And Roll was looking like the proper chaser that he had completely failed to be in two previous tries, leading to the rare Plumpton event of a chase where the Paul Nicholls runner was the outsider. In the home straight it all changed. Larry fell at the second last fence after going off to the right in his approach. Risk And Roll then started to look a bit tired himself and Mister Malarky reeled him in despite not getting the last fence spot on. After all this, the toiling Chosen Path was only beaten about five lengths so 10/10 to him for trying. Given the way the last stages unfolded it will be wise to pause, take a deep breath and have a moment of quiet contemplation before trusting the form to be significant.

+  Mister Malarky (1st): Might not be the best chase winner seen in recent years at Plumpton, but on this showing he will not lose races for lack of trying.
Larry (F): Made mistakes late on when debuting over fences at Ascot, and with additional evidence from today, he seems not to have worked out jumping under pressure.
Risk And Roll (pink cap) hangs on to a slight hope of holding Mister Malarky at bay on the run-in. Chosen Path must have selected his route especially well to keep this to a five lengths loss.

Race 3: Celebrate Christmas At Plumpton Handicap Hurdle [2m 1.5f]

1: Golden Cannon     2: Brother Bennett     3: Kristal Hart

Winner owned: MJ Hills, trained: Sheena West, ridden: Marc Goldstein

This race changed in the blink of an eye. Six runners had gone clear in the back straight, led by Ermyn's Emerald. He fell at the third last, bringing down Gannicus, who did just enough to knock Gavin Sheehan off of favourite Top Rock Talula. Golden Cannon and Kristal Hart avoided the bedlam by sticking to the rail, and a moment of sharp anticipation by Tom Cheesman saw Brother Bennett go to that side in his evasion plan - to have been tempted by the wide open spaces to his right would have been race over. From this point Golden Cannon saw out the race well, whereas Kristal Hart faded late on, which was unexpected for a horse that has recently won at 2m 3f. This allowed Brother Bennett to pinch second in the shadow of the post. Golden Cannon is the sort of horse that looked like she might one day be a Sheena West special around here, and as she was bang in contention when the trio departed, who is to say that she would not have won anyway?

+  Top Rock Talula (UR): Making her handicap debut after two races in juvenile hurdles, she was heading for serious involvement in the finish when her luck ran out.

Ermyn's Emerald (F): Had the odd jumping wobble in his early days, but he has now picked a fight with a hurdle two races in a row and been knocked out of the race. Be wary of him as he seeks an unwelcome hat trick.

Empire: Brother Bennett (2nd): Lost less than he was beaten by at the third last, but kept on willingly to grab second place. Considering that he was supposed to be in a chase at abandoned Leicester today, this will do as an outcome for Plan B.
Reservoir Horses, look out for the remake of a classic remake in cinemas soon. Mr Maroon (9) is Ermyn's Emerald, whose blunder brings down the whole operation. Mr Yellow (spots as well) is Gannicus. Mr Maroon & Yellow (see where the plan falls down here?) is Kristal Hart. Mr Dark Green is Zante, Mr Blue with stars and hoop is Dream Baie and Mr Pink is Highly Likely.

Race 4: Plumpton Racecourse Twinned With Pompadour Racecourse Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Winter Spice     2: Sackett     3: Acaro

Winner owned: Mrs Elizabeth Heal, trained: Johnny Farrelly, ridden: Luca Morgan

Winter Spice was battling to head the betting market with Sackett, and the race panned out the same way. Having made the running, it appeared on the railway bend that Winter Spice had taken his rival's measure, but began to idle and supporters of Sackett (one for Theresa May fans to be coincidence betting?) had their hopes raised as he began to close again. A couple of reminders for Winter Spice woke him up and from the last he went away again. Come to Plumpton to see satire on the current political situation played out by amateur riders via the medium of horse racing. This does not imply that Winter Spice or Luca Morgan are corrupt alcoholic Luxemburgers who were wearing odd shoes.

+  Winter Spice (1st): Is yet to run a bad race over hurdles, and whilst a bit prone to late mistakes (refer to the second last on this occasion), he is probably not done winning for this season.

+  Sackett (2nd): At home with the drop down in distance, he was not certain to handle the sharp turns and definitely looked happier in the straights than taking the bends. Watch for him improving on an easy or galloping track.

Zephyros Blue (4th): This was a bit of a waste of day for him as he needs soft ground and galloping tracks, rather than good and tight (oo-er!) that he met here. Other occasions will see him show more.

Race 5: Sky Sports Racing Launching January 2019 [2m 3.5f]

1: Dr Dunraven     2: Boy In A Bentley     3: Mister Mister

Winner owned: Peter Bowen Racing Club, trained: Peter Bowen, ridden: Sean Bowen

In advance this promised to be a competitive race, but on his debut for a new stable Dr Dunraven turned it into a bit of a cakewalk. He did tie up a little late on to see the margin cut to five lengths at the finish, but his main threat, Mister Mister, had already hit his own limit and was in the process of losing second to Boy In A Bentley - a horse who collects second places with relish. The mystery package was four year old filly Ortenzia. She had looked suited to the job when winning her chase debut but wobbled a bit when third next time up. Her little game was stumped at the fourth when Leg Lock Luke jammed on the brakes and she unseated as she clobbered into the back of him.

+ +  Mr Raj (4th): A handy pointer on his day, this was his first race in more than eighteen months, when he was winning a couple of hunter chases, and he did a decent job without ever threatening the winner. Despite having run out twice in the past (one was his racing debut) he has the skills to pick up handicap chases this season.

+  Dr Dunraven (1st): Representing a new yard, he was racing over a quarter of a mile further than in the past and on an undulating track for the first time. He rather enjoyed the variety.

Ri An Rian (PU): Won his final Irish appearance and has other form there which is interesting at this level (0-115 handicaps) in Britain. However, two runs since moving here have both been well off of his game.

x x  Boy In A Bentley (2nd): Two wins in late summer 2017 seemed to have snapped him out of his insistence that second place is best, but he his original personality has regained the upper hand and now he has finished runner-up in ten of his twenty-four runs.

x x  Leg Lock Luke (5th): Has recently been mixing terrible runs with decent shows in bad races but today he lost interest totally from about fence three and in the short term it seems he is hinting that a winter break is wanted.

Race 6: Free Tips Daily On Handicap Chase [3m 4.5f]

1: Cheque En Blanc     2: Bermeo     3: Rogue Dancer

Winner owned: Mrs Elizabeth Kiernan, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

Staying chases down at 0-105 level are quite rare, which is ironic as horses at this standard are usually being blamed for lack of speed, not stamina. Hence when Plumpton schedules this, they get a good response, although two of the dozen declared withdrew. The win went to the least experienced chaser in the field, Cheque En Blanc. He had made his chase debut six weeks back and lost by one hundred lengths, so he was not a blindingly obvious choice under any selection process that may be applied. But he did stay well over hurdles, and after the odd error en route, he trundled on past pace setting Rogue Dancer at the final fence, which he got spot on. He did not make things easy for himself... Bermeo was a popular favourite due to winning his last three races and only being raised nine pounds for it. It was not weight that beat him here, it was lack of jumping fluency, but like the winner he pulled himself together enough to reel in Rogue Dancer, who had dealt with the undulating track better than expected, but ran out of staying power with the line in sight.

Snowball (5th): Came here after ten months off and with a record after three or more months break than read 7P6854. He was much closer today than in any of those runs and that came on ground not as soft as he likes. Wins are not common in his life but perhaps one is due this season.

x  Itoldyou (7th): A past Sussex National winner about to become a teenager, he could not sucessfully apply a much reduced handicap mark here, and despite a very poor first time out record, hope that he will improve enough for a farewell success seems a bit forlorn, unless Plumpton make low grade marathons a regular occurence.

x  Cruising Bye (PU): Another with his thirteenth birthday looming, he has already won this season, and if given carte blanche to design the perfect race for himself, it would look very much like this one. Therefore, a slugggish and disinterested display was very disappointing.

x x  Royals And Rebels (6th): Hung on for longer than of late before needing vigorous encouragement, but he has become very apathetic about racing and this was a race that should have suited him well.

Race 7: Watch Today's Replays On Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Balkinstown     2: Lamh Ar Lamh     3: Welluptoscratch

Winner owned: Colleen Ford-Ellis, trained: Robert Stephens, ridden: Craig Dowson

Four of the seven runners last appeared a fortnight ago, and the Hereford faction came out on top, with Balkinstown first and Welluptoscratch third. From the Plumpton wing, Lamh Ar Lamh repeated her second place, but Jonjoela regressed to sixth. Balkinstown has been in form since the spring, with plenty of runs and no bad losses, but counting against him was a feeble record on sharp tracks, the absence of a visor and a career of one win in thirty-two past races. Today the thoughts of Chairman Balkinstown on these issues were, in order, no longer bothered, so what, don't do numbers. Lamh Ar Lamh gave it a good shot but just came up short. On the other hand, Welluptoscratch was anything but dynamic in what looked an ideal race for him. However, thoughout his career there have been other runs where optimism was justified and he ran much worse than expected. He needs to learn some perseverance.

+  Lamh Ar Lamh (2nd): Losing to a horse with Balkinstown's record is not a good sign, but for a youngster she seems to last this well, and it ought to be possible to find a staying hurdle for her.

x  Balkinstown (1st): Won fair and square here, but history tells us that a follow up is not the most likely of outcomes.
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