Plumpton, 21/4

A momentous day at Plumpton, an achievement that few will have seen, or even have the opportunity to notice. There has been reference on this site to a running joke regarding the hapless exploits of the Timeform tipster in the racecard. It had reached the stage where people seriously had to consider not going ahead with a bet if he had selected it – although his uncanny knack for seeking out non-runners did save his loyal followers something. Today there were two non-runners, but all five of his other selections won. Any fool could have picked The Flying Sofa at odds of 2/7, but the other four (Jot’Em Down, Istrimaar, Kereman and It’s Got Legs) were not straight forward no-brainers. Expect a blank on Monday…

Going: Good

Race 1: Core Spreads Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: The Flying Sofa     2: Coal Stock     3: Mach One

Winner owned: Galloping On The South Downs Partnership, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

This was a race that appeared to have been predestined for bedlam. The long odds-on favourite was The Flying Sofa, tamely swept aside at odds of 1/3 in his previous run. At the start Duhr, who had taken a prominent enough position as they lined up, made a last second policy u-turn and in almost refusing to race managed to obstruct a few others and leave the field instantly scattered. Then we had horse/jockey interface failures at both hurdles one and two. In the end congratulations to The Flying Sofa for redeeming his reputation without too much stress, although it will not have cushioned the blow much for those who invested at Wincanton two weeks ago. Mach One had travelled well for most of the race but he dropped away very sharply after the third last, leaving Coal Stock to be second, without giving The Flying Sofa much to worry about from the final bend.

Coal Stock (2nd): Although stuffed on debut, his follow up sixth involved only being beaten by five lengths and he repeated that effort here. With the winner having a rating of 121 he should not be rated impossibly high in the handicap now he has had his three hurdling spins to get a mark.

Mach One (3rd): So far he has been a disappointing recruit from the flat and a summer wind op would not be a surprise. If one does not occur, he should be treated warily until putting one whole race together competently.

x x  Duhr (5th): Inauspiciously marked his jumps debut by trying to delay it to another day then ambled through far from serious interest in the race result.

Race 2: Core Spreads Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Mister Mister     2: Don Des Fosses     3: Belmont Park

Winner owned: N Sander, trained: Dai Williams, ridden: Charlie Todd

Only three took part but they spent most of the race in close proximity and each made their share of jumping mistakes, which gave anyone who had backed one of them the sort of emotional rollercoaster that can only be soothed by bucket loads of chocolate. How fortuitous that it was Easter Sunday. Mister Mister made his decisive move at the same time as he hit fenced twelve, but daylight was soon made back to the other pair and whilst he was running out of puff late in the race, he was beyond recall. His other win was when beaten but left in front by a faller, so hopefully he enjoyed the experience here of being the fastest horse in the race. For Don Des Fosses everything that has ever happened since his bumper debut seems to be classed as “beyond recall” in his own mind but at least today there were no antics at the start. For Belmont Park it had seem that early jumping skill shortages had been cured, but we got a nostalgic flashback from him today.

Don Des Fosses (2nd): Made sure the losing run continued and showed that he does not have to rely on blowing at race at the starting line.

Race 3: Core Spreads Novices’ Handicap Chase [2m 1f]

1: Istrimaar     2: Babytaggle     3: Templier

Winner owned: Rio Gold Racing Club, trained: Dan Skelton, ridden: William Marshall

This looked on paper the sort of race that was a betting option if one dependable participant could be found. Instead it was a terrible event that took almost no winning. Istrimaar was starting a second spell with Dan Skelton, having quickly been sent packing in the first one. He had also been absent for twenty-one months and had one win from thirty-one hurdle races, compared to seven seconds. His only awkward moment was at fence one and after that he was able to gallop on better than the nondescript competition. Babytaggle has at least seemed to have been trying to be a capable chaser, but he has been losing in some very dodgy races. Templier could have been interesting because he has bumped into some fair opponents for his level in chases so far and there was the chance that a more manageable enemy could help his jumping be less wayward. It did but he still lost comfortably. Sadma has been quite bad at chasing as well but this time a slipped saddle caused him to pull up early, although it was a mistake that caused it. And finally Dreyfus, a well named son of Notnowcato, who was making his chase debut after a wind op and with no experience going left-handed or on undulating tracks. He was soon distracted by a blind man with a minkey and failed to be a factor.

+  Babytaggle (2nd): It is hard to say there is not a 0-100 somewhere in which the wings of desire will carry him to eventual success. It might be costly following him to it.

x  Istrimaar (1st): His record including in the current stable, a short time with Nicky Henderson and a longer spell with Alex Dunn would lead us to suspect a repeat effort is far from certain.

Templier (3rd): Not really a chaser, and failure in this race, even from top weight, leaves few appealing options.

Race 4: Core Spreads Sussex Champion Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Fiesole     2: Legal History     3: Leapaway

Winner owned: LF Infrasructure Ltd, trained: Olly Murphy, ridden: David England

A race with £50,000 prize money attracted thirteen declarations, but four were non-runners at an early stage of the day when there were only five on the card in total. Is it too cynical to believe that they were never really intending to turn up unless the race cut up badly at the declaration stage? The betting was dominated by front-running course whizz Brandon Castle and the progressive Legal History (never out of the first four over hurdles), sitting at opposite end of the weights. They were trumped by Fiesole, who extracted a fairly comfortable success from a competitive race. Legal History was his main danger but ran out of steam after the second last and whoever was in front, Leapaway was struggling to close up on them from patient early tactics. After being overtried in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Brandon Castle had a taste of what happens when you charge off in front only to find that the enemy can actually keep tabs on you. There was probably some in-race horse to horse mockery going on.

Mister Universum (6th): Last won from a mark of 125 and was eye-catchingly on 124 this time. Caught flat footed at hurdle seven, he kept on neatly but not rapidly from the final bend and might be ready to go one better next time – he had come here on the back of four months off.

Fiesole (1st): Never quite hit a winning run in Ireland and this was his first place in four runs since joining Olly Murphy. It was a convincing win and absolutely devoid of luck or flukey elements, but it is not possible to imagine him as a horse suddenly going to go from strength to strength.

Race 5: Core Spreads Novices’ Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Jot’Em Down     2: Tzar De L’Elfe

Winner owned: Simon Hunt, trained: David Bridgwater, ridden: Daniel Hiskett

On his chasing and handicap debut Jot’Em Down got away with it from a friendly handicap mark but it was not all plain sailing. His jumping was not of optimal fluency, although only at the sixth and three out did it threaten to be dangerous. He had also been brought to a near stop when Winter Soldier blundered badly and unseated at fence ten – Bobonyx also suffered. In the back straight with half a mile to go Magic River was travelling best but Jot’Em Down launched a surprise attack entering the railway turn and got the lead facing the home run. Magic River then fell two out, when he was still no more than a couple of lengths down but entering the red warning zone as regards stamina. Tzar De L’Elfe did not have a going day but picked up a second place just by prioritising completion.

Jot’Em Down (1st): He will need to brush up his jumping, although this is a trappy track for a chase debutant and getting round in victory is not to be sniffed at. The message is not to pitch in at short prices, especially on a more crowded field.

x Tzar De L’Elfe (2nd) & Bobonyx (PU): Between them they have contested 74 races now and whilst picking up six and five second places each, the Tzar’s Sandown hurdle win just over a year ago is the only success. They cannot afford to be failing in races like this as well.

Race 6: Core Spreads Novices’ Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: It’s Got Legs     2: Prabeni     3: He’s A Goer

Winner owned: Galloping On The South Downs Partnership, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

Only four runners for this, but a case could be made for any of them, so there was plenty of potential fun to be had from it. Having turned the corner from Defeat Street to Victory Way in his last race It’s Got Legs kept up the good work. He was stuck in a flat spot after a mistake at hurdle seven until they had rounded the top bend but once back on an even keel he stayed there. Three from home Prabeni appeared to be travelling best of all but he jumped left at the second last and suddenly looked quite drained. This was a drop in grade from the Cheltenham Festival and Newbury in his last two runs but it did seem that he got no help from first time cheekpieces. He’s A Goer chucked in another weak finish and a blunder at the third last knocked Francky Du Berlais out of contention, although he did weaken ominously quickly from that point – as if fatigue begat the blunder and not vice versa. Before this he had not lost a hurdle race by further than seven lengths, so perhaps this was one race too many for the season.

+  It’s Got Legs (1st): Has found a progressive groove and is one for fences next season

He’s A Goer (3rd): After doing well in bumpers and initial hurdling tries he went off of the boil. Blinkers were added and a mini-revival came but efforts like this make it seem as if he is no longer inspired by that headgear.

Race 7: Core Spreads Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Kereman     2: Age Of Wisdom     3: Cintex

Winner owned: Stirrups Racing, trained: Dan Skelton, ridden: William Marshall

Another race that panned out less competitively than expected, with the first pair leaving the remainder scattered all over the few parts of Plumpton not full of cars. Kereman and Age Of Wisdom did have a proper scrap between the two of them and had Age Of Wisdom not been hampered when Buckeye Shan fell at the ninth, it might have been a different result – although he had ample time to recover. Kereman is now two out of two since wind surgery, but Cintex came in here having been stuffed in both runs since his own op. This was definitely better for a while, although he faded out of a winning challenge even earlier than he was inclined to do before the vets got involved. It is not all plain sailing to improvement when they get involved. Perhaps the uphill finish counted against him, were it not for the trouble beginning at the top of the hill. Ex-pointer Bouggietopieces ran OK here to be fourth, just like he had done at Taunton last time. The first time blinkers were not convincing as being a raging success.

+  Kereman (1st): Got handicapped in some very modest early season juvenile hurdles in 2017 and then had a combination of wind surgery and eighteen months off. He won on comeback and doubled up here, but it is plausible that he is still ahead of the handicapper’s opinion.

+  Buckeye Shan (Fell): Has been out of form for three years and is now 0/17 under Rules, but this was his first run for Peter Bowen and he is just the sort of horse that the yard can transform. It is not necessarily done instantly. Keep an eye on him, although he was an implausibly short price here, as if too much optimistic guessing had already been made.   here.
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