AROUND two and a half thousand people braved some atrocious weather conditions to be at Plumpton on Sunday for their first race meeting since the spring.
Many of the additional events and attractions that the Plumpton executive had arranged to supplement the day’s racing were compromised by the persistent rain that fell during the day.
But the racing itself provided some exciting spectacles for the hardy crowd to enjoy – and one performance stood out above all. A classy type on the flat with Listed wins to his credit as well as some solid performances in Group class, Once More Dubai was always going to be difficult to beat if he took to his new trade.
After travelling and hurdling fluently, the John Ferguson-trained seven-year-old quickly put his stamp on the two-mile novice event in the home straight, drawing clear effortlessly to make it one win from one run over timber.
It was the style and manner of this success that suggests Once More Dubai will be likely to have his sights set on a bid to follow up at one of the premier National Hunt tracks this autumn, and his connections have good reason to be optimistic that the US bred son of E Dubai will have a successful winter
That view was supported by the comments of his trainer, John Ferguson, post race.
“He’s done everything on the bridle at home and has never schooled on the grass before so I’m delighted with how he jumped,” said John.
“He has talent and he’s enjoyed it – that’s the key. If we can keep him happy I think he will be a nice fun horse.”
Elsewhere on the card, the winning performance of Juno The Muffinman in the opening juvenile hurdle will have given his new trainer Tim Vaughan plenty to look forward to.
Passing the stands for the first time, his supporters would not have been overly confident about his chance as he was off the bridle and his hurdling to that point had been a little scruffy.
The three-year-old gradually warmed to his task and by the time the field reached the home turn he was travelling fluently again and was right on the pace.
Juno The Muffinman had got on top of his rivals by the final flight and the manner in which he was going on at the finish strongly suggested that a more galloping test may ideally suit the horse in the future.
He was the first leg of a double for his trainer and also for his rider, Richard Johnson, who gave his account of the debutant’s effort.
“He was very keen running down the hill first time and he left his legs in a couple early on.
“They weren’t sure about his attitude on the flat but he’s really picked up when I’ve asked him and toughed it out. He’s jumped the last three especially well.”
So, looking forward, a couple of interesting prospects to take from the Plumpton meeting – and also a quick mention for the local trainer Gary Moore, who will be hoping that his promising two-year-old Dutch Masterpiece will get back on the right trail at Chester tomorrow after not handling the undulations of Goodwood last time out.