The newly-instigated stop-race flag was called for and utilised with maximum efficiency as the Download The Star Sports App Maiden Hurdle at Plumpton was declared a void race.
It was the first time in more than 40 years that it has happened at the course.
Wudyastopasking was fatally injured after breaking down approaching the final flight down the back straight on the first circuit – and was still being attended to by vets and ground staff when the field came round again, led by odds-on favourite Dorking Lad.
Clerk of the course Mark Cornford was quick to activate the stop-flag, while commentator Simon Holt equally swiftly announced that the race had to stop and would be voided.
Cornford said: “The route through was where the horse was being attended, and you couldn’t be sure the horses could go round it.
“Of course thoughts are with connections in these circumstances.
“There was a lot of staff that needed to be there, to try to shield the scene, and we had quite a number of runners in the race approaching quite fast.”
Chief Steward Richard Westropp said: “Unfortunately the horse injured himself approaching the hurdle and veered towards the bypass area, meaning there was nowhere for them to go.
“Both the clerk of the course and the racecourse vet were quickly on the case. All the jockeys obeyed the instructions to the letter, and it worked really well. It had to be done because the ground staff were quite spread out, and would have been at risk as well.”
Jockeys were united in their views, and Jamie Moore on Dorking Lad said: “Harry (Skelton) was shouting that the new stop-race flag was out. It was unfortunate for connections of the stricken horse, and there will be another day for mine.”
Sam Twiston-Davies agreed, and said: “They had to make a quick call, and it can be quite tricky.”
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Natural History could be bound for Sandown’s Imperial Cup after a resounding success in the R.A.B.I./Joan Collinson Memorial Handicap Hurdle for Gary Moore and son Jamie at Plumpton.
Joining stablemate Goshen as a horse with a big target later in the month, the former smart Flat performer looked right at home on the drying ground as he kicked 15 lengths clear of Mystic Dreamer.
He might not have that class edge of Champion Hurdle prospect Goshen, but Moore had to admit that off a mark of 116 the 8-13 favourite – who holds a County Hurdle engagement at Cheltenham – was not badly treated for this first run in a handicap.
The trainer explained: “This has opened things up because we now know soft conditions are not essential for him.
“I’d like to think that must be a very good horse (Lucky One, trainer Paul Nicholls) that beat us 20 lengths at Wincanton, and now let’s see what the handicapper does.
“I’m easy about where he runs next, but the owner is quite ambitious and would like to have a crack at the Imperial Cup. He’ll need a substantial rise if he’s to get into it, and to be honest I won’t be crying if he doesn’t.”
Andy Irvine enjoyed a birthday winner after Dylanseoghan held on in a desperate finish to the Howden Sport And Equine Insurance Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.
Under Page Fuller the veteran resisted What A Moment and the strong-finishing Tzar De L’elfe by a short head and a neck, and the winning jockey said: “Coming into the last I wasn’t sure that I was on a stride, but he winged it and was a lot happier back on good ground.
“You never know how the long-distance chases here are going to pan out, but he stayed on all the way up the straight. I’m delighted for Andy.”
Irvine was equally thrilled, and commented of the 12-1 winner: “I think a combination of a change of headgear and the better ground helped him. He got stuck in the mud last time.”
The drying ground played to the strengths of Fairway Freddy (7-2) who apart from one minor error put in a superb round of jumping to land the horseracingbetting.co.uk Handicap Chase by four and a quarter lengths from Flaminger.
His trainer Nick Gifford said: “He loves this ground and has won three times on good/good to firm. This is his cup of tea, and he was so well at home I’m not surprised he’s won like that.”
Ayr Of Elegance (100-30 favourite) landed some good bets to come home a cosy winner of the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Mares’ Handicap Hurdle for trainer David Jeffreys and jockey Kielan Woods.
Woods said: “When we tried cheek pieces it didn’t work, but she ran off the end of the gallop the other day and she never does that, so we knew she was super well.”
The market told the story in the Call Star Spirts On 08000 521 321 Handicap Hurdle as 13-8 favourite Midnight Aurora gained an effortless 12-length success over First Assembly and One For Dunstan.
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Monday’s scheduled jumps meetings at Plumpton and Carlisle were both abandoned as the forecast freezing temperatures began to take hold in Britain.
Both cards were subject to early-morning inspections, and neither passed – with Carlisle frozen, and the frost at Plumpton compounded by a covering of snow.
In Ireland, the Monday card at Fairyhouse did pass its morning inspection – but it was announced at the same time that Wednesday’s scheduled meeting there will not take place, because the inside track set to be used then is waterlogged.
The racing week is therefore set to start with Fairyhouse’s surviving jumps meeting, for which the ground is heavy – while in Britain, a jumpers bumper meeting at Newcastle and an all-weather evening Flat card at Wolverhampton remain scheduled.
A raft of further inspections are already in place for the remainder of the week, and more appear inevitable, with the freezing temperatures forecast to be unrelenting.
At Carlisle, a 7am Twitter update confirmed the abandonment and described the course as “frozen on the morning of racing”.
Plumpton’s official account was also able to make an early announcement.
It read: “We’ve had to abandon today’s fixture due to frost in the ground and snow on top, with no prospect for improvement.”
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Jumps tracks are bracing themselves for another week of inspections and abandonments due to the continuing cold snap.
Sunday’s card at Musselburgh survived a morning inspection, but fixtures remain under threat in the coming week.
A poor weather forecast has prompted Plumpton to call an inspection at 8am on Monday to determined prospects for that day’s card.
Light snow is forecast with temperatures down to -2C overnight and not expected to rise above freezing.
Frost sheets were deployed on landings, take offs and vulnerable areas on Friday.
The prospect of a sharp frost on Sunday night has forced Carlisle to hold a precautionary inspection at 8am on Monday ahead of the same day’s meeting.
There is currently no problem with waterlogging, but there is a chance of snow on Monday.
Taunton are to inspect at noon on Monday to assess prospects for Tuesday’s card.
The course was free from frost on Sunday morning, but it is set to get colder overnight with temperatures forecast to drop to -2C on Sunday and -4C on Monday night. Daytime temperatures will struggle to get above freezing.
An precautionary inspection is also set for Market Rasen at noon on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s fixture due to the potential risk of snow and frost.
Wednesday’s meeting at Fontwell has been abandoned following an inspection on Sunday afternoon.
The course was found to be waterlogged in places and unraceable.
An inspection is set for Huntingdon at 4pm on Monday ahead of Thursday’s programme as the course is waterlogged.
The Alconbury brook has burst its banks and areas of the home straight are flooded.
Friday’s jumps card at Kempton is also in doubt due to the lake bend being waterlogged.
Officials are expecting up to 25 millimetres from a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. Minimum temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday could go down to -5C, with a maximum temperature of +2C.
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Plumpton’s effort to stage racing after a sharp overnight frost was rewarded after three inspections just 20 minutes before the start of the first race on Monday.
Trainers and jockeys were split 70/30 in favour of the decision to go ahead. Although temperatures rose to 6C, opinion was divided about an area on the far side on the hurdles track which some felt was too bare. However, most of the riders described the going as “tacky but safe to race.”
But one trainer completely happy in more than one way was Seamus Mullins, who took Sheldon out of the opener but was comfortable to allow I See You Well (3-1) to participate in the Buy The Plumpton History Book Now Handicap Chase.
The course specialist overcame a mistake three out to rally and deny Cheque En Blanc by half a length under Kevin Jones, with Young Turk a further length and a half behind.
Mullins said: “Mark Cornford (clerk of the course) and the executive have made the right call to race. I walked the course four times and only pulled mine out of the first because he’s a nice horse and I wanted to be perfectly happy that it was OK.
“Kevin missed the third-last, otherwise it would have been more straightforward. As Kevin said it’s dead ground, as you would expect for Plumpton in January.”
Nicky Henderson’s withdrawal of Ahorsewithnoname in the opening Strong Flavours Catering Maiden Hurdle meant a total of seven scratchings for the race – six of them on account of the ground, with favourite Natural History already in the paddock when Gary Moore took him out.
Moore said: “I was quite happy to run but fully understand that the owner wasn’t, as he lost a horse here last season. As far as I’m concerned the ground is fine.”
The race went to Khan (5-1), who under Harry Reed outstayed long-time leader John Betjeman by half a length.
His trainer Milton Harris said: “He won a Group One at Cologne and was sourced by Christian Von Der Recke, who finds a few for me. He’s still an entire and this will have done him the power of good.”
But there was an unfortunate incident at the fourth flight where Glass Of Bubbles was fatally injured, with his jockey, 5lb claimer Tom Buckley, appearing to escape serious injury.
The four-year-old’s trainer Charlie Longsdon said: “It was one of those horrible things that can happen in racing.
“Luckily, Tom is all right. That’s the most important thing. He got knocked out, but he’s OK.
“They had a lot of inspections, but they obviously deemed it was fit to race. It’s one of those things, it’s horrible, but it happens.”
The Moore stable enjoyed a winner with Zhiguli, who always travelled best under Niall Houlihan in the Download The tote App Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
The 5-4 favourite readily pulled four and a quarter lengths and a head clear of Poker Play and Northern Poet.
The West Sussex trainer said: “He’s a horse I like a lot and is improving with age. He will have to step up (in class) now as the handicapper will have his say.”
Houlihan completed a double with a poignant success on Mr Jack (3-1) in the Strong Flavours Catering Handicap Hurdle.
The nine-year-old had won over the course and distance three weeks ago the day his trainer Zoe Davison sadly died after a long illness. Her husband Andy Irvine took over the running of the East Grinstead yard and this was his first winner.
“It really is an emotional time. We buried Zoe yesterday. It was a difficult day and a lovely day at the same time,” he told Sky Sports Racing.
“We brought her home and she’s buried on the gallops where she wanted to be buried so we had a nice service up there with the family. It was really special.
“This means the world to everybody. This horse has been great for us and he’s done it well in the end.”
Houlihan’s brother, Sean, got in on the act when steering En Coeur (11-4) home to give Mullins a brace in the Visit attheraces Novices’ Handicap Chase.
Mullins said: “He has a history of wind problems, but is getting his confidence now and enjoying his racing.”
Conditional Lewis Stones had an armchair ride on 1-8 favourite African Dance in the tote.co.uk Novices’ Hurdle, in which the three runners jumped one hurdle twice, the others having been removed due to low sun.
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Seaston Spirit could head straight for the Midlands Grand National following his victory at Plumpton on Sunday.
Reverting to the larger obstacles after a 21-length success over hurdles at Ffos Las in November, Oliver Sherwood’s charge produced a career-best performance to land the Sussex National and claim a fifth win from his last six starts.
“I’m well happy with him. He’s a tough horse – he’s extraordinary,” said the Lambourn handler.
“Leighton Aspell (retired jockey) actually sent me a message of congratulations after the race and reminded me that he’d won on the horse just over a year ago off a mark of 98. He’s now won a Sussex National off 125.
“He was entered at the sales not long after Leighton won on him, so he was literally in the last-chance saloon. He obviously heard about it as he’s taken off since!
“He can still make the odd mistake, but we expect that and he’s going the right way, obviously.”
Sherwood hopes there is more to come from his charge, who may not run again before bidding for big-race honours at Uttoxeter on March 20.
He added: “The Midlands National would be the ideal race for him. I don’t know what he’ll go up for winning at Plumpton, but I think it should get him in off a low weight at Uttoxeter.
“I’m not entirely convinced he’s ready for Newbury or Sandown or somewhere like that.
“I’m going to have no choice but to go for those kind of races because of his mark. Whether he’ll go to Uttoxeter without a run, I don’t know, but my feeling is he probably will.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2.57370773-1-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngGeegeez News2021-01-04 14:48:562021-01-04 14:48:56‘Extraordinary’ Spirit could chart direct route to Midlands National
Tributes were paid to Zoe Davison on Sunday as the trainer lost her long battle with cancer on the day her family-run yard registered a double at Plumpton.
Brown Bullet and Mr Jack were the poignant winners before Davison, 60, sadly died at her Shovelstrode Racing Stables in East Grinstead, Sussex.
Her husband Andrew Irvine – whom she married in 2018 – was by her side, with her family around her. The couple have two teenage daughters, Charlotte and Harriette.
He said: “She was the most wonderful, incredible person. I am blessed to have spent the last 24 years of my life with her.”
Gemelle Johnson, assistant to her mother, who has another daughter, Georgie, said: “I just feel a bit numb inside because of everything.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed we’ve had a double for mum. Hopefully we have made her proud. It’s surreal.
“Our team is a family business and we put everything into it. She will be thoroughly missed as she is the glue that holds us together.
“We’ve had a few winners around here and it is one of our local tracks. It means everything to us as we want to do her proud.”
Jockey Page Fuller has a long association with the stable and should have ridden Mr Jack, but had been stood down from an earlier fall.
She said: “You couldn’t have written it any better today. She was just a kind and genuine person who was a real horsewoman. She loved her horses and did her best by them.
“She has been struggling for a long time, but fortunately her strength has rubbed off on to everybody else and they showed that by sending out the winners today.
“It has been a great team effort and it is great she has gone out like that. I don’t know anybody who would have a bad word to say about her – she was just one of those really nice people.”
For all the success that Fuller, who joined Davison just before turning professional in 2018, enjoyed with the Sussex handler, it is her association with stable stalwart Finnegan’s Garden she is most proud of.
She said: “Zoe was a real key supporter of mine just as I was turning professional. She has been very influential on my career and many other jockeys.
“We had lots of good days together, but I suppose Finnegan’s Garden is the one we had some of our best days together with.
“We have won six races together around the likes of Plumpton, Lingfield and Fontwell, including a double at Plumpton in April 2019 with Brother Bennett.
“She will be sadly missed by everyone, but I’m sure the team will continue to do her proud.”
Simon Clare, close friend and part-owner of Brown Bullet, hailed Davison, who sent out her first winner, Sails Legend, at Towcester in November 1997 and enjoyed her best season with 15 winners in the 2017/18 campaign, a “fantastic person and horsewoman”.
He said: “Zoe was just the most wonderful human being imaginable; kind, generous, ludicrously hard-working, single-minded and stubborn when she wanted to be, and the very best fun to be around.
“What she didn’t know about horses wasn’t worth knowing. She was quite brilliant with them
“It was so desperately unfair for Zoe that after beating breast cancer nearly two decades ago, it returned four and a half years ago.
“The bravery and positivity that she has displayed in her battle against this awful disease has been an inspiration to everyone around her.
“The fact this battle coincided with her most successful period as a racehorse trainer was testimony to her amazing work ethic, and commitment to her horses.
“She was so incredibly well loved and will be desperately missed by everyone who knew her.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2.25004279-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngGeegeez News2021-01-03 18:04:202021-01-03 18:04:20Tributes paid to Zoe Davison on emotional day at Plumpton
Seaston Spirit showed an abundance of stamina to maintain his unbeaten record this season in the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National Handicap Chase at Plumpton.
After winning three of his final four starts of the last campaign, the Oliver Sherwood-trained eight-year-old followed up his facile success over hurdles on his return at Ffos Las in November with victory in the extended three-and-a-half-mile prize.
Working his way steadily into contention the 6-1 shot moved into a lead he would hold all the way to the line under Aidan Coleman jumping the fourth-last.
Despite coming under pressure from favourite Special Acceptance on the run down to the final fence, Seaston Spirit continued to find plenty in front before prevailing by two lengths to give Coleman his 1,100th British winner.
Coleman said: “He was very tough, as the first mile and a half I couldn’t let up at all as I wanted to be handier but they went quite quick early.
“I was niggling him a lot, but to be fair once there was any slowing of the pace he was bang there. I know he has got blinkers on, but that is a good example of sharpening a horse up.
“It is a great training performance by Oliver to get him to win a good pot at Taunton last year and then bring him back over hurdles and bring him back here.
“The last time I rode him I think I had 10st so I had to miss a couple of meals – it was nice to have a bit more weight today. That’s a good prize today so we are delighted.”
Assessing future plans Coleman believes Seaston Spirit could be the ideal type to take aim at the Midlands National at Uttoxeter.
He added: “I do think one of those tracks would suit him better than here. At the same time though his last two big wins have been around Taunton and Plumpton which are tight tracks.
“I do think he deserves to have a go at a race like the one at Uttoxeter or something like that.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2.57370773-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngGeegeez News2021-01-03 15:05:282021-01-03 15:05:28Seaston Spirit claims Sussex National glory
Oliver Sherwood has Sandown’s European Breeders’ Fund Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final in mind as a long-term target for Little Awkward, following his victory at Plumpton.
The four-year-old made a successful jumping debut when making all to win unchallenged in the Derek Hunnisett Memorial ‘National Hunt’ Auction Maiden Hurdle on Monday.
Sherwood is not getting too carried away just yet, because it looked a moderate contest, but he was delighted with the manner of the performance.
“It was a pretty average race, with due respect to the others, but I was more pleased with the way he jumped and travelled,” said the Upper Lambourn trainer.
“He’s a cracking little horse. I wasn’t sure – I normally hate going two and a half (miles) first time, and he’s always shown a lot of speed.
“(But) I’m delighted – he did it very well.
“He needs a bit more experience. I’d like to get him qualified for the EBF final. That would be my ultimate goal, possibly.
“We’ll try to run with a penalty somewhere and go for an EBF qualifier and the final, I would think.”
Stablemate Sevarano may bid to take his 100 per cent record over fences to three at Newbury on December 29.
Sherwood is eyeing a novice handicap chase over an extended two and a three-quarter miles for the seven-year-old, who has won his first two starts over fences at Sandown and Exeter.
“He’s probably going to go for a novice handicap at Newbury between Christmas and new year,” he said.
“Touch wood, he’s been very good. I’ve been very happy with his jumping. He’s been a total natural.”
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Harry Cobden celebrated the 400th winner of his career as Amour De Nuit defied a 617-day absence to make a winning return to action at Plumpton.
The 21-year-old, who has been tipped by some to secure a first Jump Jockeys championship this season, reached the milestone with victory aboard the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding in the Follow At The Races On Twitter Handicap Hurdle.
Cobden, who currently sits second in the title standings behind reigning champion Brian Hughes, picked out two winners which stand out in his career haul so far.
He said: “I’m delighted – I didn’t realise it was my 400th winner, but that’s not bad for a little boy!
“I suppose Topofthegame winning the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival (in 2019) was one I loved – then there is my first Grade One at Newcastle in the (2016) Fighting Fifth on Irving, because I was still a claimer.
“There have been lots of moments – I’m in a good position to ride those good horses.”
Despite 8-1 shot Amour De Nuit eventually proving three-quarters of a length too strong for Buckhorn George, it was a success which took Cobden by surprise.
“He has had a long time off, but Paul has done loads of work with him,” he said.
“He hasn’t galloped him overly hard, but he has done lots of steady work.
“He has travelled well and jumped great – and you have got to take them when they are there. I was surprised, because I thought he would need it more than he did.”
Amour De Nuit’s victory followed a fine weekend for Cobden and Nicholls, for whom Cyrname secured the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby to set up a second attempt at Kempton’s King George VI Chase next month.
Cobden added: “I was delighted with Cyrname. He jumped well, travelled great – and we learnt that he can go left handed.
“He didn’t have hard race, which is exactly what we wanted. All roads will lead to the King George now, I suppose.”
Elsewhere on Plumpton’s card, the application of blinkers had the desired effect on Un Beau Roman – who gained his first victory in four years when making all to land the Free Tips Daily On attheraces.com Handicap Chase by two and three-quarter lengths.
Trainer Paul Henderson said of his 18-1 winner: “He used to be a keen at home, and I had to put my strongest lad on.
“But Georgina Price, who rides him now, switched him off – and I think it made him go to sleep in his races.
“He had the blinkers on for the first time, and that did the trick. We usually hold him up, but I said to Nick (Scholfield) ‘fire him out in front’ – and he gave him a great ride.”
Tom Bellamy had to sit tight at the last on the Alan King-trained Midnight Glance (11-2), as he completed a double with a length-and-three-quarter victory in division two of the attheraces.com breederscup Handicap Hurdle.
Bellamy said: “It’s been too long since I had a double – I think it must be at least three years since the last one.
“I wanted a big one at the last to seal the deal – it was probably a tough question to ask him on that ground, but luckily he found a leg and picked up.”
Aughnacurra King (16-5) got the ball rolling for Bellamy when running out a 12-length winner of the Watch Plumpton Replays On attheraces.com Novices’ Handicap Chase for trainer David Jeffreys.
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