Plumpton, 23/10/17

It is a special treat when you can squeeze in an afternoon of racing at Plumpton and a rare British gig by elite Norwegian prog trippers Motorpsycho on the same day. Clearly the gig was going to have the edge when it came to lunacy, but Plumpton had quite a unusual day of racing events. Alas for the track, Motorpsycho won out in the respect of offbeatness due to the projected animations in the backdrop, culminating in a kid swimming backwards through the digestive system of a giant sea(?) monster. The sea monster had earlier been pipped for a place in one of the handicap hurdles. Far out, man.

Going: Good to Soft

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

1: Highway One O One     2: Cohesion     3: Trust The Man

Winner owned: Anthony Ward-Thomas, trained: Chris Gordon, ridden: Tom Cannon

By Plumpton standards, this novice hurdle appeared to have strength in depth, although without a top end pot hunter that can sometimes appear here. Two of the first four were long priced outsiders, but one of them probably should not have been so readily dismissed, leaving the suspicion that the other surprise contender did genuinely post a greatly improved performance. In the interest of future opportunity for racegoers in attendance on the day, all of these horses need to remain anonymous. Except where listed above or below.

+ +   Highway One O One (1st): An unexceptional Irish pointer, he had won a small field bumper by a wide margin on Rules debut. That effort could easily be treated with indifference, but he landed this in the style of a good horse.

+ +   Cohesion (2nd): Won three flat races and got himself a 104 rating there. Other than get comfortably beaten, nothing went especially wrong here, and as long as the winner confirms the impression created, he should make a career of jumping.

+   Trust The Man (3rd): Absolutely from the bottom drawer on the flat, he had raced twice for his new yard and been tailed off in both. Things on this hurdles debut were a vast improvement, and no obvious fluke factor was involved.

+   Pivotal Flame (4th): The 200/1 price for Trust The Man was understandable, but 66/1 was available for this horse, who had been certain to be in the frame when unseating at Kempton in the spring and run pretty well on her return at Huntingdon recently. Stable form is currently bleak, but she has now shown hurdle ability three times, and was just ahead of a 120-rated horse this time.

x   Lexington Law (7th): Never won on the flat, but has been placed in seven of eleven tries. His first hurdle run was not good, but progress was evident in the second. This was a big step backwards, and perhaps history is telling us that these are just the rules that he plays to.
Highway One O One shows the way in front, although Jersey Bull (probably) is behind him, being shy. Cohesion is also making the picture incohesive, but Trust The Man (10) and Pivotal Flame (12) are happy to show their face.

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

1: Stoical Patient     2: Mrs Burbidge     3: Venetian Lad

Winner owned: Westbourne Racing Club, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Jamie Moore

The record that Stoical Patient has for Gary Moore, after showing nothing in two other yards, is played two, won two – he added a visor to her kit, pointed her in the right direction, and off she went. It had been nearly fourteen months since that worked for the first time, and her keenness here was a potential weakness. However, the two most realistic rivals were also a bit too fizzy and they both fluffed the fifth last, at the top of the back straight. Remember Forever never looked like falling, but was immediately scrubbed along and losing touch. Money For Nothing did come down there. Aggressive tactics? That ain’t working. With Stoical Patient in complete command, Mrs Burbidge had a slow motion plodding contest for second with Venetian Lad, and winning it narrowly was her first sign of comfort in chases so far. A fidgety comfort, but something to get her teeth into.

+   Venetian Lad (3rd): Struggled home a bit disappointingly after his admittedly laboured third place last time. His yard has been winless for a while and when it livens up, he is now realistically handicapped (i.e. into class 5 level) for his advanced years.

+   Remember Forever (4th): Won first time last season, then added two more later on, but she ran as if not entirely ready on this occasion – although she looked fine. The handicapper was far from harsh for the three chase successes, and she is capable of finding winnable races over the winter.

Race 3: Retirement Villages Novices Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Kenyan     2: Cheltenham De Vaige     3: Cheque En Blanc

Winner owned: Ownaracehorse Ltd & Miss Sam Beddoes, trained: Seamus Durack, ridden: Conor O’Farrell

There were two notable plunges in this race, both on horses debuting for new stables. The huge smash was on Cheque En Blanc, having his first outing for Gary Moore. He was well handicapped on the basis of one performance last January, but the more numerous failures should have tempered the raging optimism. Turning for home it looked as if he had the measure of front-running Kenyan, but did not find nearly enough when the pressure was on. Subsidiary to that gamble was one on Cheltenham De Vaige. He was always making harder work of it, but did see out the race to the end, just not quite zippily enough to outstay the Kenyan, who benefitted from a very well judged ride.

+   Cheltenham De Vaige (2nd): Ran very well, all things told, but it could be significant that his two previous near misses were on heavy, over further and right-handed (2m 3f at Towcester and 2m 4f at Wincanton). Looking out for mud now.

+   Jebs Gamble (4th): On the railway bend he cruised into second place and put the fear of Jeb into Kenyan. From then on he did not find much for pressure, but had not raced for five months and is in a stable not known for first time winners. Next time will be excuse free, as long as no “needs further” nonsense is entertained.

x   Rob Robin (8th): Won at Fontwell a month ago, but offered a very uninspired effort this time. Maybe softer ground did not help, based on a little past evidence, but a livelier defeat could have been expected.
Heading off into the clouds, like some form of four legged Inca emperors. Kenyan’s yellow star is just visible in front, but Cheltenham De Vaige is missing. Cheque En Blanc is in the local famous green and grey diamonds.

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

1: Ridgeway Flyer     2: Resolution Bay     3: Theo’s Charm

Winner owned: AJ Norman, trained: Paul Nicholls, ridden: Sam Twiston-Davies

A race contested some nice chasing type horses, and approaching the railway station after the third last fence, all seven were in contention. Seven burly chasers all in a heap on an important turn is not normal for Plumpton and a serious barging match ensued. Weakening pace-setter Addrastos pulled up soon after and the also fading Apple Of Our Eye ended up on the ground at the next fence. All of the sudden the group had scattered and Resolution Bay was heading for home. He got there, but just after Ridgeway Flyer, who had been forced wide into the straight but rallied stoutly to pip the runner-up close to the post. There was likely some post-race further brawling in the stables. They seemed that sort of bunch.

+   Ridgeway Flyer (1st): Came into the paddock seeming ready to fire, but got more and more worked up as time passed. When he guessed at the first, the suspicion was that he had stewed himself up too much, but things picked up from there. With the over excitement out of his system, it is possible that he improves a great deal on this. A move in the other direction is also possible, but gut feeling is inclined towards optimism.

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

1: Oh Land Abloom     2: Linguine     3: Night Generation

As a spectacle what more can you ask for than Oh Land Abloom and Linguine in a massive eye-to-eye duel over who fails to win. Oh Land Abloom (two wins, seven seconds over hurdles) came alongside approaching the last, nosed ahead at it, then let Linguine back in front and found himself tricked as the runner-up conceded late on. Linguine (one hurdle win, seven seconds of his own) actually did not convince with his stamina when he tried this course and distance on better ground, so maybe it was his cardiovascular construction that cost him the win here, rather than the more commonly observed mental implosion. Night Generation must have come on for the debut British run, as his endurance did not black out totally this time, although when you are only making minor inroads into Oh Land Abloom and Linguine, the forward momentum actually being generated has to be questioned.

+   Invicta Lake (7th): Returned here from a year and three-quarters off and was not fit enough to run a big race. He has been given a chance by the handicapper, so merits another chance or two to show that some ability is retained.

x   Oh Land Abloom (1st): Absolutely cannot be relied upon to replicate this performance, or rather the part in the last half mile.

x   Linguine (2nd): See the entry for Oh Land Abloom! Although the inclination is to view him less harshly than was the case before the race was run due to his unproven stamina and aggressive tactics.

x   Clondaw Bisto (4th): Created a regressive profile for himself last season but was allowed to start favourite for his seasonal comeback. He did run better for much of the race, then finished rather tamely. Lack of stamina? Or is he a horse that can be ignored after his first run or two, and the previous brain fade will return?

Race 6: Ian David Ltd & Canisbay Bloodstock Novices’ Handicap Chase [2m 1f]

1: Saffron Prince     2: Crafty Roberto     3: Barney From Tyanee

Winner owned: Mrs JA Chenery & RJ Chenery, trained: David Bridgwater, ridden: Callum Mackinnes

Normally this is the sort of race where a bit of chase experience counts for plenty. In this instance, that was not something that could be predicted with confidence. Three had raced over fences before. Flashman had won once in ten chases, Saffron Prince had won once in thirteen and Crafty Roberto had no successes in eighteen chases. Two wins from forty-one tries is no reason to get excited, especially as they only had one failure to finish each. It was not going to need too much genius from Barney From Tyanee (well backed) or Glimpse Of Gold (a bit more wobbly in the betting) to foil the chase “proven” three – Lady Jameson was outclassed.

+   Glimpse Of Gold (4th): Disappointed without doing anything obviously wrong. His jumping was not an issue, he had the benefit of a tune-up hurdling spin and probably had no real excuse with the ground. It might just have been one of those days, and the inclination is to offer another chance.

x x   Crafty Roberto (2nd): Let this one go. He won once on the flat and three times over hurdles, but for his owners, nineteen chases without success, including eight seconds and three thirds is all rather horrific.

Race 7: Hugo’s Restaurant Barbados Supports Moorcroft Handicap Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: Smart Boy     2: Bennachie     3: Homers Odyssey

Winner owned: P Barfoot, A Cooper, Webber & Greenway, trained: Jack Barber, ridden: Ian Popham

In the aftermath of this race, it was impossible not to feel sorry for Bennachie as despite finishing quite tired he ended up trouncing eleven opponents, but still was beaten thirty lengths by Smart Boy. The winner had finished second in a maiden point after being imported from Yorkshire. It was feasible that a move would refresh him mentally, just not to the degree that was shown. The race was between the first three with almost a mile still to tackle, so a gothriller in the mist it was not.

+   Homers Odyssey (3rd): Lost a class 5 race by 42 lengths, which is near to being as low as it gets, but when he stays in this company, he can make some progress now that he has an exercise run under his belt.
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