After 6mm of overnight rain the clerk of the course Mark Cornford changed the going description to good with good to soft places on the hurdles track and good with good to firm places on the chase course. The going stick reports were 7.5 on the hurdles and 8.2 on the chase. A bright, sunny day gave way to plenty of cloud cover before steady rain arrived after the four o’clock contest. A light breeze blowing across the course prevailed throughout the day.
The opening maiden hurdle over two miles caught punters’ out when the 25/1 chance Four Nations provided trainer George Baker with a first winner at the track. He was brought into the race rounding the home turn and was vying for the lead at the final flight before quickly putting the race to bed with a good turn of foot to see off the joint favourite Somchine and the long time leader and 100/1 shot Rachels Ruby by six lengths and one and three quarter lengths. The trainer’s representative commented post race on the horse’s performance. “ He’s a bit quirky and had a nice confidence booster at Chepstow last time. He was suited by the drop of rain we had overnight and hopefully he can go on from this”. This was not a strong event and although Western Prize ended up a well beaten fourth, he could be the one to take from the race as he was the clear paddock choice and may be a little bit weak at present.
The staying handicap hurdle was proliferated by some moderate or disappointing types and when Rocky Ryan crashed out at the first hurdle it continued the Lewes trainer’s Jim Best unfortunate run of form. Marico from the Tom Symonds yard went on to take the prize after being produced with his run entering the home straight and asserting before the final flight. A bad error at that obstacle did not interfere with his momentum and he soon went clear to record a decisive first victory under a good ride from Felix De Giles. Mumbles Pier, the favourite, cruised into the lead on the crown of the home bend but when pressed by the eventual winner found disappointing little. The form of this race looks decidedly moderate.
The staying handicap chase that followed at three o’clock was run at a good pace with the lead changing hands consistently throughout the first two circuits. Sea Cadet was kicked into a clear lead as they went down the back straight for the final time and maintained that lead running into the wings of the final fence. He was being chased by the eventual winner Franklin Roosevelt who had hampered his chance with some sloppy jumping whilst tracking the leader at the fourth and third last. However he picked up steadily from the second last and ran on under a strong drive to claim Sea Cadet with under fifty yards to run in company with the similarly strong finisher and top weight Leg Iron, who had been well backed through the morning. Franklin Roosevelt has a pedigree which suggested this decent ground would suit him and in winning maintained David Pipe’s excellent record here at Plumpton. Only seven, staying is obviously his forte and as he matures he should progress further and it is likely he can pick up another staying event or two during the course of the summer. Old Dreams was disappointing under a waiting ride in rear and was being ridden throughout the final circuit and was never able to get involved or even improve her position. Lajidaal ran better for the application of a visor but still gave only the faintest of hope of being able to win in the near future.
There was a very popular local winner in Hawk Gold in the two mile handicap hurdle for the local Lewes yard of Michelle Bryant. He was given a fabulous ride by young Conor Shoemark and provided Michelle with a welcome winner. Michelle, who also rides on the flat, expounded the virtues of the young jockey afterwards. “I told Conor to leave him (Hawk Gold) alone and let him creep into the race. The horse is a great jumper and loves this good ground. Conor has ridden an excellent race and I think he’ll do really well as a conditional. I was worried with the rain overnight but the horse has done us proud. I’ve only a couple in training so this was great”. Hawk Gold was produced on the run in and just did enough in another tight finish with the heavily backed Ullswater who had gone into the lead at the top of the home straight after seeing off Drawn Free who had been up with the pace for the whole of the final circuit. This form is only moderate, but that will not bother Michelle Bryant and everyone at her Lewes base who reflect the great enthusiasm of the Sussex racing fraternity.
The feature event on the card was the final of the Racing Excellence Conditional Jockey’s Training Series and the win for Jack Sherwood aboard top weight DrumValley meant he lifted the trophy for the leading rider in the series. DrumValley is only small but showed a determined attitude on the run in after being briefly headed by the mare Va’Vite on the run in and also being run down by the fast finishing Sir Fredlot. Afterwards the owner’s stud manager David Fitch-Payton spoke of DrumValley’s likeable attitude. “He’s a very strong, tough little horse and that’s a nice way to finish his season. This was his ideal trip and the little bit of rain helped his chance”. This was a competitive affair on paper and so it proved to be with just a head and a length separating the first three home. DrumValley did well to defy the weight here and I think in time he will get further but his size tempers enthusiasm for a career over fences.
Brody Bleu was solidly backed during the morning but drifted on course in the face of support for Adrenalin Flight. The morning money was proved spot in with Brody Bleu showing a really nice attitude and an aptitude for jumping that was too much for his rivals. There will be a reaction from the handicapper for this five length success but he is the sort of horse who will pay his way down the years when the right opportunities come his way. The performance of the second home Chestnut Ben appears to hold the form down a little.
The final bumper saw a plunge on the locally trained Jim Best runner Bugsys Girl who was supported from 12/1 into 6/1 and despite veering off of a true line on the run to the final furlong or so, Tom Scudamore soon got her straightened up and she ran right the way to the line to win by four and a half lengths. Jim spoke post race of his pleasure at the debutants performance. “She’s still quite weak. What she’s done at home has been good but she hasn’t done that much and she was probably only 60% ready for today. As you could see she’s still green and Tom (Scudamore) said she gave him a great feel. She showed plenty of speed here and could be a nice mare”. This was a nice winner for the Best yard who have not had the sort of prolific season one would normally associate with the trainer. This was not a great bumper but nevertheless bearing in mind the trainer’s comments she should be progressive. Steel Summit was one of the paddock choices prior to the contest and travelled really well to the crown of the home bend before failing to pick up when his rivals quickened. He is very stoutly bred and may be one for the future when set a stiffer stamina test next season in novice hurdles at a small track.
Some good, exciting spectacles for the good crowd to enjoy on Plumpton’s last meeting until September.