It has been a fantastic season at Plumpton, with all 17 racedays producing their own unique storylines. We hope you enjoy reminiscing on the action at the foot of the South Downs over the past eight months and we look forward to seeing you back here in September for the beginning of the 2022/23 season!
The season kicked off on September 19 with a very special Family Day fixture as we welcomed crowds back to Plumpton for the first time since the initial Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020. Unfortunately, the British weather rained on our parade slightly, but we saw some top-class racing which was headlined by the Tom Lacey-trained Glory And Fortune, who kicked off his seasonal campaign by landing our feature Class 3 Handicap Hurdle. Glory And Fortune was rated 130 that day and a remarkable season has followed – including a Grade 1 second to Epatante in the Christmas Hurdle, a win in the £150k Betfair Hurdle and a fifth to Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle – resulting in him rising to his current mark of 153. September 19 also saw the Nicky Henderson-trained Impulsive One impressively land our only juvenile hurdle of the season, and he has since gone on to score at Listed level and notch a third in a Grade 2. Two impressive pieces of Plumpton form!
Up next was the Bob Champion Cancer Trust Charity Raceday on October 18, where Up The Straight bolted up in the feature in impressive style for Richard Rowe, while Royaume Uni also impressed for Gary Moore and owner/Plumpton Annual Member Liz Avery. Both were ridden by Moore’s conditional jockey Niall Houlihan, who notched the first treble of his career at this meeting. A fortnight later Champagne Well – a three-time Grade 2 runner-up – returned to form when landing the 0-140 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle for Fergal O’Brien and Connor Brace, defeating The Bomber Liston by a nose in one of the finishes of the season at our Jump Season Preview Raceday.
🔈“They’re gonna hit the line together!” A nose separates the front two as Champagne Well holds on in the £21,400 Trevor Shearly Memorial Handicap Hurdle for @OBMRacing @Conbrace01 #BraceForBrace https://t.co/d5bLfG1uMp
— Plumpton Racecourse (@plumptonraces) November 1, 2021
Annual Invictus landed our first Cheltenham Bonus Series Qualifier of the season on November 15, comfortably defeating Dino Velvet, but unfortunately he didn’t go on to line up at the Cheltenham Festival and was pulled up in the Sussex Champion Chase on May 8. Light N Strike also bolted up at this fixture and scored a Plumpton double for the season when easing to victory again on Easter Monday, meaning his combined winning distance for those two wins was 33 lengths.
A four-week gap followed ahead of our Christmas Raceday on December 13 and there was a brilliant atmosphere at the track as racegoers got into the Festive Spirit. Our second Bonus Series Qualifier of the season was won by For Pleasure, who was a well-backed 7-1 shot in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham in March but failed to finish under Harry Bannister. Crowd favourite I See You Well scored the fifth Plumpton win of his career for Seamus Mullins, while Aucunrisque was beaten a nose by Stream Of Stars on his hurdles debut – little did we know what a season he was about to have!
Some uncertainty around Covid-19 case rises meant our final fixture of 2021 on December 21 had a more subdued atmosphere than its Christmas counterpart eight days earlier, but on the track the racing more than delivered, with strong performances from the Harry Fry-trained On My Command, Bonus Series Qualifier winner Pasvolsky and Moroder, who kicked off a winning sequence of four with his success over 3m1½f.
The Sussex National Raceday kicked off 2022 at Plumpton and Aucunrisque made amends for his narrow second three weeks earlier by easing to a seven-length win over Mark Of Gold for Tom Cannon and Chris Gordon. The Colin Tizzard-trained Elixir De Nutz narrowly defeated Nassalam in our final Cheltenham Bonus Series Qualifier of the season but failed to fire at the Festival and, along with For Pleasure, was pulled up in the Grand Annual. Fifteen runners went to post for the Sy Sports Racing Sussex National and it went they way of Go Whatever, who produced a sublime performance to notch his first win over regulation fences for Gordon and Cannon. After a solid downpour at the track, the day finished with Nashville Nipper landing the inaugural running of the Zoe Davison Memorial Handicap Hurdle.
Following his second to Aucunrisque on January 2, Mark Of Gold stole the show two-and-a-half weeks later by landing the Betgoodwin Maiden Hurdle for owner Stevie Fisher, who has had locked-in syndrome since suffering from a stroke in 2014. The win sparked emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure as Fisher returned to join in the celebrations. Mark Of Gold’s win also provided legendary local trainer Gary Moore with his 200th Plumpton winner – a fine achievement! The David Dennis-trained Innisfree Lad landed the feature contest on the day before heading up to Newcastle and finishing third in the 4m1½f Eider Handicap Chase.
This is what racing is all about ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Vu7iJDYnlf
— Plumpton Racecourse (@plumptonraces) January 19, 2022
Hecouldbetheone was an impressive winner of the Novices’ Hurdle at our next meeting on January 31 which provided Jamie Moore with a birthday winner, while Scarpia picked up the feature Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle for Nicky Henderson and Nathan Brennan. Nick Scholfield landed his 600th career winner as he road Global Wonder to glory in the final race of the day. Love was in the air for our following raceday on February 14 when Mark Of Gold cruised to another Novice Hurdle win and the Neil Mulholland-trained Chinwag ran out a comfortable winner of the feature 0-135 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase. There was also a heart-warming success for the Tizzard family, as trainer Colin’s grandson Freddie Gingell landed the Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle aboard Landspark which brought up Gingell’s second win under rules.
Minella Hub was the next to score a Plumpton double for the season a fortnight later as he bolted in over 2m1f to make it two from two over fences. Len Brennan ran out an impressive winner of the feature and Ruby Yeats won the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle to complete a 409/1 double for Josh Moore, who earlier won aboard 40-1 shot Storm Hill for Paul Henderson.
We had a brilliant turnout for our Cheltenham Preview on the eve of the Festival and on the preview panel was Tom Cannon, who rode Edwardstone to victory in the Arkle the next day. Before that, however, he got his Festival week off to a flyer in our opening contest of the day when scoring aboard exciting prospect Unanswered Prayers in a thrilling photo finish with Hecouldbetheone. Also on March 14 On My Command completed a Plumpton double for the season with victory in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, and 13-year-old Kansas City Chief bolted up in the feature under Victoria Malzard, whose Mum was a part-owner.
A week later the Nicky Henderson-trained Fishcake – a half-sister to four-time Grade 1 winner Monkfish – got off the mark in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and looks one to keep an eye on heading into next season. I See You Well won the feature Handicap Chase to make it two Plumpton wins this season and six course successes overall for Seamus Mullins, who recorded a double on the day with Morfee also scoring.
Sussex Day on April 3 was next and it was a special occasion at Plumpton as we hosted the inaugural Lunch with the Moores, which raised over £50,000 for the Sussex Cancer Fund Charity. The jockeys wore pink breeches to raise awareness of breast cancer and Tom Cannon was clearly a fan as he notched a four-timer with successes aboard Alto Alto, Hiway One O Three, Good News and Presenting A Queen. We were also joined by a special guest in 2014 Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy, who paraded for racegoers before the first race and throughout the afternoon.
The big one was up next and it was amazing to welcome crowds back to Plumpton for our flagship Easter meeting, which saw just shy of 10,000 racegoers come through the gates across the two days in glorious spring sunshine. Aucunrisque stole the show on Easter Sunday by landing the £50,000 Betting.Bet Sussex Champion Hurdle by a nose over the David Pipe-trained Bashful Boy for Chris Gordon and Harry Cobden. Bourbali – a winner here on April 3 – scored again to notch a hat-trick of wins, while Jony Max made the journey from Wales to Sussex worthwhile for Christian Williams by landing the 3m1½f Handicap Chase. Gordon saw more success on Easter Monday, notching a treble thanks to Sami Bear, Blade Runner and Blame The Game. The feature race – the £50,000 Betting.Bet Sussex Champion Chase – was declared void due to the fatal injury suffered by Golden Boy Grey.
The Sussex Champion Chase was rescheduled to a sunny Ladies Day for the same level of prize-money and Tamaroc Du Mathan prevailed in a pulsating finished for Paul Nicholls and Lorcan Williams, defeating 2019 Champion Chase winner Mercian Prince by a length, with another head back to Mahler’s Promise in third. Among the other highlights from our seasonal finale, Blame The Game scored for the second successive meeting, Sophosc produced an impressive performance on his hurdles debut when winning comfortably despite being badly hampered in the home straight, and Thibault comfortably took the Class 3 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. But stealing she show on Ladies Day was our fantastic entrants to the Best Dressed Competitions! There were some brilliant outfits on show and it was great to see so many people dress up for the occasion.
If you’ve made it this far, we hope you’ve enjoyed reliving an excellent season, which was enhanced by all 17 meetings going ahead as planned. We can’t wait to do it all again next year, so have a great summer and see you in September!