Plumpton, 29/1/18

Gary Moore trebles at Plumpton come around at regular intervals, and one was about due so it happened here. The real story of the day was of two excellent winning rides on tricky front-runners. Firstly Harry Reed delivered on Ballyheigue Bay, who has to lead but as a result can be inclined to charge off at an unsustainable pace. Today it was all spot on. Then, one race later, Joshua Moore had to work treble overtime to keep Leo Luna more or less in front despite several attempts by the oppo deny him daylight ahead. Leo Luna then won by a neck (but going away inch by inch!) after being scrubbed along for the best part of two miles.

Going: Soft, Heavy places

Race 1: Free Tips Daily On Maiden Hurdle [2m]

1: Distingo     2: Paddy's Poem     3: Weebill

Winner owned: Alan Jamieson Site Services Ltd, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

This was not an especially strong maiden hurdle, but it was competitive and the more busy participants gave a good handle on what it took to win it. The answer proved to be a horse that could win French flat races and then get placed in the lowest tier at Auteuil. This was Distingo's first British run, and getting different conditions (damp, but on clay) did not phase him at all. He made his move from midfield on the railway bend and took the lead between the last two hurdles. All was done and dusted from there, seeing off Paddy's Poem who again ran well in defeat. Weebill dropped away from the main pair a bit weakly, but once beaten he was not threatened for third, so took things quite easy after misjudging the last. It could really be argued that he wobbled but did not fall down. Racing debutant Inspireus stayed on for fourth place - a very solid debut effort. The exposed and not greatly talented Walk Of Gleams (official rating 72) was in the first three as late as passing the station, which is not a good indicator for the form.

+ +   Thames Knight (UR): An 82-rated flat handicapper with four wins to his name, he has been awful over hurdles so far, and shedding his rider at the first hurdle did nothing to enhance his slumping reputation. However, when the going is better and he gets into a handicap, there is potential for great improvement. Interestingly (or not) he seemed a bit fed up in the paddock but completely perked up when going to post. Perked up too much perhaps.

+ +   First Quest (8th): A fair flat handicapper, he started out jumping badly over hurdles, but did better at that job when fifth at Kempton last time. After being hampered (by his stablemate!) at the first, he was not really that fluent again here. He can do better in handicaps – once he can jump more skillfully on a permanent basis.

+   Distingo (1st): Played his hand on British debut but can win more if sights are not set too high.

+   Inspireus (4th): Made a very respectable start to his racing career and the one axe reflects only that he might not be one for instant dividends.
Paddy’s Poem in front just before halfway, chased by Walk Of Gleams (Sparky’s Spirit is behind him). The rest are tracking First Quest, who is in turn concealing Distingo.

Race 2: Download The Free At The Races App Novices' Handicap Chase [2m 1f]

1: Le Coeur Net     2: Money For Nothing     3: Sir Hubert

Winner owned: The Potwell Optimists, trained: Anthony Honeyball, ridden: Noel Fehily

A busy chase by Plumpton standards, with ten horses taking part. For the conditions the pace set by Money For Nothing was very strong, but by fence four the rest of the line-up decided to let him dash off and make a fool of himself. Wrong. Only Le Couer Net managed to reel him in, and he travelled so smoothly that it would be rash to blame the tactics of Money For Nothing for the loss. The runner up has compiled a record of no wins in thirty using other strategies, so what/where next for him? Sir Hubert is working hard to chase down Money For Nothing’s losing stretch, and he also litters his attempts with teasing moments of promise.

+   Two Hoots (4th): Failed to enjoy the pace on this chase debut and could not get involved in the important stuff. Having been kept apart and led around at the start, the fear is that there are other things that he does not enjoy and that they are critical elements to success. He did, however, seem to jump solidly enough, so a chance may come his way in a small field.

x x   Money For Nothing (2nd): Other than a two horse race, ideas as to what can make it work for him are now lacking quite seriously. x x Sir Hubert (3rd): As mentioned above, he is developing a good technique for not winning whilst avoiding being a lost cause. In his three chases he has shown jumping frailties that are making life even harder than hurdles - getting adrift to a degree that he lacks the pace to make up.

UK-Jumping Selections: Le Couer Net (1st): He was selected as a staying hurdler, and before now short chases hardly seemed to fit his needs. It all fell neatly into place here, so connections will presumably persist with two milers.

Empire: Brother Bennett (6th): Suffered another breathing problem - a displaced palate - and had to ease down from the third last. Sigh.
Money For Nothing (6) is keen to get on with things, as are stripey King Cool (departed early), someone behind him and then Brother Bennett. Hab Sab is right in front of the camera, with the blue silks of Le Couer Net in his vicinity. In a late policy change, Two Hoots is being sensible at the back.

Race 3: Read Barry Gearghty's Blog On Novices' Hurdle [2m 4.5f]

1: My Dance     2: Puppet Warrior     3: Flemenskill

Winner owned: PA, trained: Anthony Honeyball, ridden: Noel Fehily

A bit of a non-event of a race, although tighter than it might have been. My Dance made all and the habitual runner-up Puppet Warrior did not jump fluently enough to frighten her into doing something silly. Flemenskill had his moments in bumpers but has regressed since going into hurdles, and Don't Tell George ended up fourth, although far closer (until the second last) than his very weak bumper debut may have hinted was possible. They finished in starting price order, shortest to highest. Everyone congratulates the handicapper when a bunch of horses finish in a heap, but nobody lauds the bookmakers when the betting ring is spot on.

Race 4: Follow Attheraces On Twitter Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle [3m 1f]

1: Ballyheigue Bay     2: Sandhurst Lad     3: Plantagenet

Ballyheigue Bay threw down the gauntlet, and the others considered picking it up, but did not - perhaps the gauntlet had a dubious smelling/looking substance on it. Every challenge was repulsed by the leader and Ballyheigue Bay gained his bizarrely coincidental third win when having exactly twenty-three days gap between races. Let us hope that connections have the sense of humour to target a fourth. He was hotly pursued by Sandhurst Lad on what appeared to be (for him) a hopeless combination of distance and going, but in first time cheekpieces and tongue tie. Those two bits of kit worked quite well. Next up was Plantagenet, who was also far from certain to handle these going conditions, but got stuck in quite well until the trundle wad deflated from the second last.

+   Sandhurst Lad (2nd): Met conditions that he was apparently proven to struggle with, but found the new headgear enlivening his contribution. He has had few races and there is room for significant improvement and expanding of horizons.

x   Clondaw Bisto (6th): Wind op. Ran worse than before it. Would have been a contender on previous form. Just sayin... although he may have needed the run if connections had been careful with him in the two months since last in action.

x   Saucysioux (8th): After three wide margin wins she had gone up plenty in the handicap, but she also seemed in a foul mood going to post. A slow start was recovered from, but when she stopped, it was a very quick dismissal. Clearly her spell in the sun has passed.
Ballyheigue Bay on the charge, with No Buts (1) and Sandhurst Lad (6) up his alley, plus Jully Le Buxy putting her head in shot. The next row are Clondaw Bisto (cheekpieces), Plantagenet (noseband) and Tambura. That means Sauxysioux is at the back – of course.

Race 5: At The Races Sky 415 Handicap Chase [3m 1.5f]

1: Leo Luna     2: Act Now     3: Invicta Lake

Winner owned: PB Moorhead, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: Joshua Moore

As referred to in the introduction, Leo Luna had reservations about the benefits of winning this, but Joshua Moore did not, and eventually he persuaded Leo Luna to give it a try - there was plenty of time to discuss the pros and cons afterwards. He had never won a chase without a tongue tie before, but one was missing when Leo Luna was fourth in the Sussex National three weeks earlier, but that had also been his first Plumpton run, and whatever failures he has had in the past, this showed a receptiveness to new experiences. Act Now improved massively on her timid chase debut and should be able to work onwards at this job. Recent wide margin winner Clondaw Rigger was not at all in the same form this time around, as good as pulling up at the last.

+   Act Now (2nd): She was the lowest rated horse in a novice race on her chase debut (not by far enough to justify the thrashing that ensued), but this was much better. Her inability to get past the labouring Leo Luna was not ideal, but she now has a course record of 1122, so opposing her at Plumpton is a brave call. She might even migrate the efforts to other sharp, undulating, left-handed courses.

x   Clondaw Rigger (5th): Beat some bottom tier opposition in a stroll last time, a result that he had been building up to. Being raised fourteen pounds was not the harshest thing that could have happened, but he was clearly in lesser form on the day here. It is possible that the undualting track got a thumbs down.

x x   Howlongisafoot (PU): Devoid of form all winter, he flopped here despite the yard being in belting form. The race distance would have been an problem, but scrappy jumping had knocked him out of contention after a mile. Has he given up totally?

Race 6: Free Race Replays On Handicap Hurdle [2m]

1: Argyle     2: Upham Running     3: Sixties Idol

Winner owned: NJ Roach & Gary Moore, trained: Gary Moore, ridden: William Clarke

The notable feature of this race was Argyle cruising through this without showing any sign that the oppositions would provide him much running and commentator Richard Hoiles trying to tactfully imply that there was some suspense remaining in what the result would be. His jockey entered in the spirit of things by miming a hard working conclusion. The reality was that Argyle was worth much more than the two and half lengths that he won by. There had been a couple of decent efforts lately and a win was on the cards – even his weight above twelve stone was offset by William Clarke being able to claims ten pounds back. It is interesting that the conditions at the end of the card allowed for the two of the three lowest weighted horses to be the ones chasing him home, both defying some unpromising recent form – Upham Running’s win at Fontwell in December 2014 was the last time that he was not beaten by twenty plus lengths (and before he had the same sort of results, one bumper loss excepted). The most fancied horses fared really badly. Be Daring and Drive On Locky both unseated, Blue April was last of the nine finishers, which, from a recent duel, was a bad omen for what may have happened to Be Daring if staying upright, and Brother Norphin (also recently up against Be Daring and Blue April) was beaten on the railway bend, ending up sixth.

+   Argyle (1st): With the narrow winning margin he may not be asked to rush out and win with a seven pounds penalty, but if he does, this win would have been worth the whole extra weight.

x   Flanagans Field: Was not actually in this race, but watching from home and seeing the three that beat him last time all eclipsed cannot have helped his confidence. Brother Norphin, Blue April and Be Daring get an x by association with each other.
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