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PLUMPTON, 16th April 2017

A few non-runners on the first day of Plumpton's two-day Easter fixture because of the going, but the condition of the ground in the home straight suggested that the course had done a good job with the watering.

Only four went to post for the opening 2m4f114y novices' hurdle after the withdrawal of Black Anthem and the one-two as expected according to the betting duly filled those places; hurdling debutant Cap Horner appeared to shape well in third.

Peak To Peak, a chasing type in appearance, didn't walk well in the paddock but overcame early keenness and hitting the sixth, moving best on the home turn and asserting from the second last. He'll be over fences next season, but needs to settle better.

Our Reward, narrow-framed and looking well, was struggling from the third last and briefly looked third best, but kept on from the second last, giving his running on better going than at Newcastle the start before this, when he was well below form.

Cap Horner, about medium height and sparely made, looked well for his hurdling debut and ran better than expectations, making a mistake at the eighth, close enough with three to jump but outpaced when the winner went on, sticking to his task in the straight.

Modest sport in the 2m3f164y 0-100 handicap chase, but the first two served up a good finish.

Remember Forever was the paddock-pick and wasn't out of the first two, leading at the sixth, headed three out and driven, staying on from the second last and leading close home.

Code Of Law didn't take the eye and is only smallish in stature. Having fallen the time before, he had every chance this time but made noteworthy mistakes at the second and ninth, and couldn't hold on to the lead he'd taken at the third last, no extra after the last.

Rude And Crude was the tallest horse on show here, well made with it, but his ability doesn't match his looks and it's hard to see him winning anything on this evidence, held up and making headway from the tenth, making a mistake three out and ridden and outpaced from the second last.

Flashman's pulling up weakened the 2m1f 0-105 novices' handicap chase, but he would have struggled to contain the ready winner Lake Chapala, who on this evidence we'll see more of.

Lake Chapala, not the biggest (only workmanlike), has joined the in-form Chris Gordon stable and was the pick of the paddock. He was the only one winning this from the third last, travelling strongly until shaken up going to the second last and just pushed clear for a decisive success with something in hand. He's likely to win again, possibly in a better grade than this.

Lovely Bubbly (workmanlike, close-coupled, swished his tail in the paddock) was tapped for pace from the third last, only taking the runner-up spot going to the last; both sides of his pedigree scream longer trips (his dam Champagne Lil was a fair staying hurdler) and he's one to note when he gets to run over 2m4f to three miles.

Give Him Time forced the pace from the sixth to the third last but jumped right throughout, and faded out of second in the straight, while Flashman (medium height, well made), who didn't impress in appearance, was headed at the sixth, ridden two fences later and, having weakened, was pulled up and dismounted on the home turn (the veterinary officer reportedly found no abnormalities after examining him post-race).

On to the feature, the 30,000-added Sussex Champion Hurdle over officially 1m7f195y, the richest race ever run at Plumpton; it drew a good field, perhaps not as good as it might have been after the 150s-rated L'Ami Serge came out at the declaration-stage, but there was still Song Light, who'd been placed in two of the top 2m handicap hurdles, the Greatwood at Cheltenham and Betfair at Newbury, and Tommy Silver who'd been down the field in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on his last start. Several front runners combined to set a suicidal early pace, beating themselves, then Song Light went to the front too soon, and it all dropped nicely for Tommy Silver, who was clear and safe at the last.

Tommy Silver was very much the paddock pick, both in terms of wellbeing and as a physical type. On and off the bridle from halfway, he gradually closed on the leaders, and wasn't going as well as Song Light on the home turn but stayed on well to lead at the second last, and went clear by the last. He has the potential to take high rank among two-mile novice chasers next season, but before that he could turn out quickly in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr on April 22nd.

Song Light didn't turn up in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival when last seen out, finishing 18th, but returned to the form of his placed efforts in the Greatwood and Betfair, yet left the impression he could have done better here. Normally held up, he moved closer to the pace from the third, was ridden after a mistake at the sixth and led three out, travelling best turning in but unable to find extra when Tommy Silver's stamina kicked in. He was put into the race much earlier than he normally is and could better this effort if taking his chance in the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock in May.

Regulation is likely to be going for the big Summer handicap hurdles at Market Rasen and shaped well with those races in mind, but won't be coming down the handicap - which he probably needs to - after a good show here, taken off his feet with the pace and making a mistake at the fifth, pushed along and closing on those ahead, moving into third but well held by the first two from the second last.

Excellent Team (biggest odds seen 13/2, shortest 5/1), only workmanlike in appearance, looked well (sweating under the saddle) but failed to settle and contested the overly-strong early gallop, up with the pace till headed after a mistake and going left at the third last, and weakening further when making a mistake at the last. He needs to calm down a bit, or the potential he suggested with his Stratford novice hurdle-win will remain untapped.

Bleu Et Noir (leggy and well shaped) is a front-runner who needs to dominate, and there was no chance of that when he couldn't get the lead until the second, losing his place halfway and pulled up with three to jump, while the twice Jersey Champion Hurdle-winner Rossetti didn't want to know and dropped himself out from the third, and Hint Of Mint had already begun to struggle when unseating at the fifth.

A promising type won the 1m7f195y maiden hurdle; both the first and second in this are chasing types, but on the evidence of this race, the winner is the better prospect.

Adrrastos (5/2 to 15/8), a rangy, unfurnished five-year-old, made all and did much the best round of jumping, pressing on from the third last and clear when making his only mistake at the last. He should be some chasing type when he fills his frame.

Since winning a Sandown bumper Bardd (4/9 to 4/7) has been a disappointment since sent over hurdles, finding little when he should have won at Uttoxeter the outing before this, and he pulled hard and barely got a hurdle right here, fighting a losing battle when he was all over the place at the third last. He's a chasing type, tall and well made, but the way he jumps hurdles doesn't augur well for when the time comes to make the switch.

Hurdling debutant Zephyros has the size for it, medium to tallish and light bodied, and shaped quite well, tracking the pace most of the way.

There isn't much for the future coming out of the 3m1f152y 0-105 novices' handicap chase, the runner-up Lord Aldervale most interesting going forward (as long as he gets to race right-handed); the first and second pulled clear from the 14th.

There's next to nothing of Little Windmill, but he's clearly effective over 3m+, and he was never out of the first two here, ridden from two out and clear at the last. Clearly he won this well, so hopefully he won't have been set back by running here the following day in a 2m3f164y handicap chase, beaten and tailing off when unseating three out in the race won by Perfect Timing.

Lord Aldervale (angular, deep girthed), a point winner, was running for the first time under Rules for 707 days. He looked well and made some of the running, jumping right throughout, and pulled clear with Little Windmill from the 14th, but couldn't go with the winner from the second last. He could do with a right-handed track.

The card finished with a 2m4f114y 0-100 handicap hurdle, chock full of exposed types, three of which filled the places.

Romeo Americo was the pick of the paddock and the ten-year-old won a race for the first time since November 2012, held up last before making good ground with three to jump, moving best turning out of the back straight, leading at the second last and two lengths up last, ridden out.

Cosmic Statesman (tallish, workmanlike) is an exposed maiden hurdler but he ran up to his best here, always up with the pace and leading three out, headed at the next and sticking to his task in defeat. This one's dam is the Musselburgh hurdles specialist Cosmic Case, who won at 3m, so maybe going up in trip is worth a try here.

Definite Ridge is also exposed, but won a chase at Cartmel over 3m1f107y in July off 84, so in theory he ought to be able to win over hurdles off a lower mark (81 here). He had his chance at the third last having come from midfield, but lacked the pace of the first two, while the in-form Shaddaii might be worth another chance in the short term - he was doing okay chasing the leader when unseating his rider at the seventh.

Horses to take out of the meeting
Peak To Peak
Cap Horner
Lake Chapala
Tommy Silver


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