Posts

Late call sees Plumpton given go-ahead 20 minutes before racing

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.

Kevin Jones clear the last fence on their way to winning the Buy The Plumpton History Book Now Handicap Chase
I See You Well (left) and Kevin Jones clear the last fence on their way to winning the Buy The Plumpton History Book Now Handicap Chase (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

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.”

Trainer Charlie Longsdon
Trainer Charlie Longsdon (David Davies/PA)

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.

Niall Houlihan and Zhiguli clears the final flight on the way to winning the Download The tote App Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Plumpton
Niall Houlihan and Zhiguli clears the final flight on the way to winning the Download The tote App Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Plumpton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

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.

Mr Jack on his way to landing an emotional success in the Strong Flavours Catering Handicap Hurdle at Plumpton
Mr Jack on his way to landing an emotional success in the Strong Flavours Catering Handicap Hurdle at Plumpton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“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.”

Sean Houlihan and En Coeur jump the final fence in style to land the Visit attheraces.com Novices’ Handicap Chase at Plumpton
Sean Houlihan and En Coeur jump the final fence in style to land the Visit attheraces.com Novices’ Handicap Chase at Plumpton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

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.

Tributes paid to Zoe Davison on emotional day at Plumpton

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.

Mr Jack made it a poignant double for the Zoe Davison yard under James Davies
Mr Jack made it a poignant double for the Zoe Davison yard under James Davies (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“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.

The James Best-ridden Brown Bullet was the first leg of the Zoe Davison team's double at Plumpton
The James Best-ridden Brown Bullet was the first leg of the Zoe Davison team’s double at Plumpton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“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.”