A sigh of relief as Plumpton delivers for Mullins and Harris
It's a pig of a drive from Wilsford near Larkhill to Plumpton in East Sussex - only 113 miles but for anyone who's visited the picturesque Sussex course, a hard-won journey unless coming by train from London to the station at the bottom of the course.
And when the 8am inspection became a 10am inspection, I'll wager Seamus Mullins was cursing that the Clerk of the Course might just have got it wrong. When the third inspection passed muster just 20 minutes before a first race already delayed by 25 minutes, everyone gave a huge sigh of relief. In fact, this is one reason why the role of Clerk can be such a stressful job for those looking after winter courses. I mean, who needs a job like that in weather like this?
However, Seamus was one of two Wiltshire trainers with good cause to celebrate and thank clerk Mark Cornford for persisting. The two chases of the day both went to him, through a narrowly held 1/2l in the handicap chase by I See You Well, and a comfortable margin in the Novices Handicap Chase an hour later with 11/4 favourite En Coeur . Mullins is enjoying an excellent run of form from his string, which by his own admission, are hardly Saturday horses. Not every Mullins is operating at the very top of the sport.
One other man clawing his way back is Milton Harris, who with every withdrawal from the first race on account of the ground was able to give a little cheer. Seven of the 12 declarations were withdrawn, allowing German-bred Khan to open his Jumps account on only the second time of asking. This was his tenth winner of the season in a best season for several years. Half the stable's runners have returned a winner or placed, which is an excellent sign.
I'm often surprised that German horses do not figure more frequently in our Jumps horse population. Whilst there is little Jump racing over there (see Hessen image beneath), German breeders have solid claims to be masters of the staying horse. You won't find any sprinters in Germany; they are specialists of middle and longer distance horses. There must surely be room for an enterprising bloodstock agent to develop a market here without taking away from breeders' Flat reputations.
Vorsprung durch Unternehmungsgeist, nicht wahr?