By Richard Hoiles
No doubt about my highlight of the week, the ride of Josh Moore to get Leo Luna home yesterday at Plumpton.
While most of racing’s attention was focused on events at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Fairyhouse over the weekend it was the more down to earth squelchy Monday afternoon at the Sussex track which played host to one of the best rides of the jumps season so far.
Leo Luna is talented on his day but largely through lack of application those days are becoming fewer and further between.
Right from the outset he required persuasion to gather momentum and then to compete for the lead with Clondaw Rigger, who for the vast majority of the race jumped and travelled a stride better than the constantly hassled Leo Luna, who kept being pushed back up to dispute the lead, only to continually forfeit momentum and ground at the fences.
However, even Leo Luna seemed to realise that he had met his match in a rider who was not prepared to let him shirk his duties.
Having forced Clondaw Rigger into submission Leo Luna still looked highly likely to be beaten only to keep responding to his riders relentless urgings and repel Act One.
The lemon had nearly been squeezed dry by the time the post was reached but just enough juice remained to see him over the line, a testament to the fitness and perseverance of his rider, not least in also remaining within the whip guidelines.
As clerk of the course Mark Cornford, one of the few who goes back further than me in his Plumpton memories, remarked “it was just like watching his Dad” in the days when Gary booted around horses for Charlie Moore in the late 70’s and early 80’s. A ride to make the whole family proud.
Newcastle in the mud suits Sue Smith’s charge down to the ground with his past two victories coming at the track.
The most recent of these was a novice hurdle but before that he won a handicap chase off a mark of 130.
That success was over 2m 4f and the longer trip here is a slight concern for the general 3-1 chance.
However, he is likely to get a soft time on the front end and this is the first time he competed in a 0-130 since that chasing victory.
After a barren run the Tony Carroll yard has several horses who now look well treated given the yards recent return to form.
Kings Cross is not the most reliable conveyance but his record at the track is a good one and that could be significant in suggesting this as a possible target.
One thing is for certain, if he has a going day then he is very well treated of a mark of just 93 and the heavy ground is not a concern. Market support would be a plus.
The ability to travel well is crucial on races on the Fibresand where events often unfold pretty slowly and horses who are off the bridle early can take a long time to make ground.
Horses on the front end with a good cruising speed can often outrun their usual trip and this could be the case with Tagur here if sent forward over 7f.
He saw the trip out fine when held up at Newcastle but ridden more aggressively he could well prove hard to catch.
Chris Gordon’s horses are flying this month and Tara Bridge is a confident selection to give him another winner in this handicap chase.
He went like the best horse over hurdles last time before getting worried out of it near the finish and has form over fences and hurdles at the track including on heavy ground.
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