Plumpton, 22/10/18

The fields were not too inspiring at first glance but on the prevailing quick ground they were competitive, which is all that can really be asked for. Some Placepotters ended up getting a nice dividend on the back of outcomes that were hardly impossible to forecast.

Going: Good to Firm, Good places

Race 1: Geoffrey Budd Partnership Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Jumping Jack     2: Kapdad     3: Shanroe Smooch

Winner owned: Broadsword Group Ltd, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Tom Cannon

A fascinating way to begin the card, with Jumping Jack and Kapdad going off joint favourites in a three horse race. Kapdad had achieved a reasonable level of form in four defeats last season, all of which were on soft or heavy going. Would the other extreme be what he needed? Jumping Jack is, as regular readers will recall, completely loopy, and as soon as any pressure is applied, his brain departs his body and lets the physical form continue in common sense-free fashion. The race stayed close all the way, and Jumping Jack managed to keep the damage to a minor late wobble, which Kapdad could not exploit. Shanroe Smooch had won a minor Irish point at the fourth try and finished last of seven on hurdles debut – but not disastrously so. He gave up this job suspiciously early, but it was very feasibly a case of nursing him round for some prize money on going that he hated, rather than just blatant non-trying.

x x  Jumping Jack (1st): It is extremely unlikely that this is a sign of him being a reformed character, unless there has been a glitch in the matrix which cannot be fixed.
Jumping Jack wins. Expecting to see this again? Do not hold hour breath

Race 2: Jeremy Kyle Josh Gifford Memorial Handicap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: King Cnut     2: Baily Sunset     3: Remember Forever

Winner owned: DS Dennis, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Tom Cannon

Thought for the day – how much ego does it take to put your name in the title for a memorial race related to someone else, even if sponsoring it to quite a generous degree? The race was a win for the four year old King Cnut, which can be attributed less to the hefty weight for age allowance received and more because he was the only one with the formula of chasing competence plus acts on the ground plus is race fit. Tom Cannon did not blow the rest away with a charge around the final circuit, but once he kicked on leaving the back straight, the tide had clearly turned in King Cnut’s favour. Baily Sunset led the vain pursuit and his past form over fences of a pulled up and a fall in Ireland, then a tailed off in Britain puts in perspective what the others did – not a great deal of merit. One jotted note, barely legible, seems to read “in Iceland single file for five min.” That could have been a coded message from an FSB handler, or have something to do with how the race was run. Answers on a postcard…

+  Remember Forever (3rd): Has won three chases in recent years around the south-east, but lacks any sort of delivery first time out. This pipe opener was needed again, and there is a solid chance of another bottom tier win at some stage this season.

x x  Britanio Bello (5th): Did not do much hurdling, but in eight tries over fences he has regularly failed to finish, and been tailed off when struggling to the line. To be completely avoided as a chaser.

x x  Mr Mulliner (6th): As for Britanio Bello, so for him. Irish chase form read 685P. In Britain it is PPU6
King Cnut finishing clear, and full of energy

Race 3: Coral Backing Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre Novices’ Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Wenceslaus     2: Kristal Hart     3: Maratt

Winner owned: Deauville Daze Partnership, trained: David Bridgwater, ridden: Daniel Hiskett

A surprisingly interesting wee race in which Wenceslaus proved that sudden step up in performance at Bangor last time in first time cheekpieces was no fluke. Brightly did shine the moon that night, but he was gaining victory here in the mid-afternoon sunshine, so do not assume kingly displays – good has already been achieved. Travelling sweetly throughout, he got a free run up the inside turning for home and quickly took a decisive edge from the hat trick seeking and pace making Kristal Hart. The latter was not totally inconvenienced by dropping to the minimum from wins at 2m 3f and 2m 4f, but it is entirely possible that it was the difference between first and second. Maratt was the poor man who came in sight, but having also posted his best performance last time, over course and distance, he lacked the little bit of additional progress that Wenceslaus demonstrated.

+  Kristal Hart (2nd): She has left it late in life to flourish, but if she goes back to two and a half miles (approx) a third win is not out of the question.

Boychick (6th): Got stuck with top weight, before his rider’s five pound claim, and in a consistent summer he has shown no reduced performance on good to firm ground. The worry was posting several solid efforts without managing a win, and he showed more of the same here – nothing obviously done wrong, but he was proven on distance and going when others were not, yet no advantage could be taken from that.
A genuinely rapt crowd watches Wencelaus account for Kristal Hart and Maratt

Race 4: Gerald Karn-Smith Memorial Novices’ Limited Hanidcap Chase [2m 3.5f]

1: Vivas     2: Call To Order

Winner owned: Nigel M Davies, trained: Charlie Longsdon, ridden: Jonathan Burke

Another three horse race. The one that failed to get round was Knocknanuss, who looks like he is built for a plough through the mud but actually seems to work with any conditions. This was his chase and seasonal debut and he was ridiculously over enthusiastic about it. Pulling hard in front, he flung himself at the first few, then the combination of the downhill run and first fence at the bottom of it caught him out completely, to the surprise of nobody. Not a good start, but if it has served to calm him down, there may be some benefit to come from it. Call To Order had seemed to take well to chasing this summer with a couple of close places and a narrow victory over the suddenly success compatible Elkstone. He gave this a good try but Vivas was toying with him up the home straight. That manner of winning was perhaps forced upon Jonathan Burke as Vivas had won his recent chase debut despite being a bit flaky in front, and not leading too soon was clearly part of the plan. The final fence was inexplicably omitted the last two times that they should have jumped it, and not having that possible pitfall made managing Vivas’ fussy side a bit less challenging.

Vivas (1st): If he is destined to mess about when in front throughout his career then some winnable races will surely be misjudged and lost – determined leader proving harder to pass than expected, or higher quality opponents retaining a turn of foot. However, he has taken well to the chasing job, so all other parts of the equation are fitting in to suggest more success is possible.

Race 5: SIS Supports Moorcroft Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Royal Hall     2: Exitas     3: Bugsie Malone

Winner owned: GL Moore & Ashley Carr, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

Normally the good thing about Plumpton staying hurdles is that the hilly layout increases stamina demands and thus a nice and tidy shortlist of contenders can be built. Not this one. Proven stayer Bugsie Malone set the pace, and whilst he needed a reminder passing the stables for the final time he was far less reluctant than he has been when tackling the top bend at Fontwell. However, doing the donkey work made him vulnerable, and whilst not all of his less durable brethren got past, Exitas and Royal Hall did. This was Exitas’ first race beyond 2m 7.5f (which was a very narrow loss) and he appeared to get home, just not as well as Royal Hall, who has turned a winless flat career from twelve tries into a played nine, won three strike rate jumping, as he will grind the oppo into the dirt if they let him. The words “quicken” and “Royal Hall” are less comfortable bedfellows, but the big thumbs up that he has given to hurdles is to his immense credit.

+ Royal Hall (1st): Although he had not raced over this far, adapting to it was no shock on what we have seen to date, and there is probably more to come in this sort of race.

+  Exitas (2nd): Unembarrassed in being beaten, he can cope with going left-handed, but historically thrives better on a right-handed course, so if the right race is picked next time, he looks ready to go one better.

x  Ding Ding (4th): Did not look a three miler in the past and wilted from a properly challenging position at the second last. So she still does not look like a three miler.

x  Vaniteux (5th): Once a handicap chase winner from a rating of 153, he was on 128 here and continued the lacklustre form shown since joining David Pipe. He does prefer cheekpieces to the blinkers used here, so if returning to that gear and still failing, it may be time to think that he has given up for good.

Race 6: Hunters Estate Agents Supports Moorcroft Novices’ Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: River Of Intrigue     2: Between The Waters     3: Diplomatico

Winner owned: Oscar Singh & Miss Priya Purewal, trained: Fergal O’Brien, ridden: Paddy Brennan

The third small field of the day, and it was quite a tight contest in the betting. The big challenge for those desperate to wade into that swamp was stamina – or possible lack of it in 75% of the line up. Apachee Prince had proven that he would stay, but was not a convincing jumper of fences before now (a recent change of stable might have seen that worked upon). Between The Waters was looking like a non-stayer beyond three miles but the evidence was not totally conclusive. River Of Intrigue had three attempts at three miles or more and folded late in each of them – feel free to draw the obvious conclusion. Diplomatico had never raced further than 2m 5.5f before today, although he did at least project a vibe that trying further might favour him. The quick ground was a bit of help in stringing out finite stamina and a relatively slow pace helped, so they went round in group until there was half a mile remaining. Apachee Prince was first to crack, but after being outpaced in a jot, he lost no further ground and was not that far back by the line. Diplomatico and Between The Waters appeared likely to push River Of Intrigue off of the boat at the second last, but Diplomatico failed to see it out and Between The Waters found less under pressure than River Of Intrigue. It is not wise to treat this as evidence of enhanced stamina in any of the first trio.

+  River Of Intrigue (1st): Since switching to fences he has upped his productivity and the unconvincing aspects of this win, e.g. only one totally at home on the going perhaps, are not necessarily to be held against him in future adventures, especially in the 2m 6f/2m 7f region.

+  Diplomatico (3rd): Looks like there is a race in him, but it is getting frustrating in trying to work out what it is. He generally jumps soundly and his hesitation and veer right at the final obstacle was probably down to tiredness. The next obvious stop would be something around 2m 7f or 3m, and maybe that will be the magic ingredient.
Between The Waters and River Of Intrigue try and keep the name coincidence thing in play at the front. Apachee Prince and Diplomatico are working something out along similar lines in third and fourth

Race 7: Pacha Du Polder Seeking Third Foxhunters Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Mount Vesuvius     2: Rasasee     3: Chasing Headlights

Winner owned:: Rob Henderson, trained: Paul Henderson, ridden: Tom O’Brien

The real title for this race is “Pacha Du Polder Should Have Been Seeking Fourth Foxhunters, If Only The 2016 Race Had Not Been Thrown Away On A Desperate Attention Seeking Publicity Stunt. Handicap Hurdle.” Being the traditional 0-100 handicap finale for Plumpton, it is unlikely that Pacha Du Polder himself was paying much attention to what went on. Which is a shame for Mount Vesuvius to not get the approval of his superiors as he made a pleasing to the eye dash around the outer on the turn for home and it proved to be a decisive attack. The move worked because behind him was a connoisseur’s festival of one-paced finishing. Rasasee, the well supported favourite, had been hard ridden passing the station and drew the brief (and still legible!) note “going nowhere” – just like a Southern Railways passenger. However, sticking to the inside line paid off and he stayed on dourly all the way to the line, with the pack breathing down his neck, holding off the never previously placed Chasing Headlights for second.

+  Rasasee (2nd): Beaten for toe in a very weak race is never a good advert for a horse’s talent, but he did shape as being nicely persistent and there are races where that will be enough.

Inspireus (5th): Carried topweight, and owned a good chunk of the most encouraging runs in the race. He did not own a magic staff of consistent performance however, and ran rather flatly here. The new experience of quick going could have been to blame.

x  Sea’s Aria (6th): Joint topweight and possessor of those quality historical efforts not sitting with Inspireus, he has in the past been rated higher than this grade, but dropping through the levels is not seeing any signs of adding to his tepid score of 1/12 on the flat and now 0/23 jumping.
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