APRIL 2009



Thursday 30 April 2009

This is my last blog of the month, and it has now been running for 6 months …


Choc rode at Huntingdon this evening and this is how he fared:

Sam Lord finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (5 ran).  Alan King’s other runner in this race, Unanswered, finished 4th.

Portside also finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

Patton was pulled up in the last race on the card, another Handicap Hurdle (6 ran).

All 3 had been fancied, with Patton going off as favourite for his event but, having followed the progress of these horses during the past year, I wasn’t particularly hopeful for any of them.  But disappointing none the less.


Three of Martin Keighley’s horses ran at Hereford today:

Sarrococco was pulled up in the Claiming Hurdle (10 ran).

PonchaTrain finished 6th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

Silent Affair finished a disappointing last in the NH Flat Race (12 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be at Punchestown in Ireland:

18:05 Trenchant - Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (Alan King)

Another English raider in this particular race is Bouggler for trainer Emma Lavelle and jockey Jack Doyle.


Copper Bleu for trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson goes in the Novice Hurdle off at 18:40.


In Choc’s column in this week’s Horse and Hound he mentions that he is aiming for 50 winners by September this year.  Last season his target was 30 by September – which he reached on 02 September 2008.


And I have now finished my first Aintree diary – for Friday 3rd April - and have uploaded it this evening.  Just 3 more diaries to finish before I’m up to date again!


Wednesday 29 April 2009

A busy day at Southwell for Choc, where he had 5 rides booked (I mentioned only 4 yesterday … I’m far too eager to find out his rides for the following day that I sometimes check too early, before all the jockey bookings have been finalised!).  Anyway, this is how he fared today:

Gaye Starlet became tailed off and was pulled up before 2 out in the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (12 ran)

Don’t Tell Louie also tailed off and was pulled up before 2 out in the Mares’ Selling Handicap Hurdle (15 ran)

In the 16:45, a Handicap Hurdle, Choc rode Take Me There for trainer John Berry – he finished 4th (14 ran). 

Dammam finished 4th in the Maiden Open NH Flat Race (Div I) (11 ran)

Shilpa finished 3rd in the Maiden Open NH Flat Race (Div II) (11 ran)


Martin Keighley’s Won More Night ran well and finished 3rd in the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle at Southwell.


With so many rides, Choc must be very keen to get the season off to a good start and return to his rightful place near the top of the Jockeys’ Championship Table, especially with his friend Richard Johnson getting such a flying start on everyone.  


Tomorrow evening Choc is scheduled to ride at Huntingdon:

18:10 Sam Lord – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

18:40 Portside – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

20:10 Patton - Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)


Martin Keighley’s horses have 3 engagements at Hereford tomorrow:

15:30 Sarrococco - Claiming Hurdle.

16:40 PonchaTrain – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

17:15 Silent Affair – NH Flat Race


I gather Choc will be travelling to the Punchestown Festival for rides on Friday and Saturday.  At present Trenchant has an engagement on Friday; and Santia, Silk Hall and Nenuphar Collonges have engagements for Saturday.


And finally a Very Happy Birthday to tennis star, Andre Agassi who is 39 today.  It’s now less than 3 weeks until my friend Denise and I will be visiting Wimbledon to watch the celebration exhibition tennis matches to mark the completion of the new Centre Court roof. 


Tuesday 29 April 2009

So how did Choc fare at Wincanton today:

Rhinestone Ruby finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle, beaten a mere ½ a length (14 ran).

Calaficial finished 5th in the Novices’ Hurdle (13 ran).  And Richard Johnson rode the winner of this race, his 5th of the new season!

Fire and Rain finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (9 ran).

But … (fanfare) … Coq Hardi won the Novices’ Chase, giving Choc his 1st winner of the 2009/2010 season! That’s a fabulous result. (7 ran.)


Tomorrow Choc is scheduled to be at Southwell, where he has 4 rides:

15:35 Gaye Starlet – Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

16:10 Don’t Tell Louie – Mares’ Selling Handicap Hurdle (Keith Reveley)

17:20 Dammam – Maiden Open NH Flat Race (Div I) (Alan King)

17:50 Shilpa – Maiden Open NH Flat Race (Div II) (Alan King)


Martin Keighley’s Won More Night is also engaged in the 15:35 at Southwell.


I’ve looked at the Trainers’ Championship Table and at the end of the first 2 days of the new season Martin Keighley was sitting at the top of the list following 3 winners and 2 third places during Sunday and Monday!  The Trainers’ Championship Table is calculated using prize money figures, but he also had the highest number of winners too. 


A work colleague, Ruth, phoned me today to say that her mum’s horse won the Novices’ Hunters’ Chase at Chepstow last Friday evening. Her mum is 90-year-old Edna Hussey, and the horse’s name is Bob Bites Back, he is trained by Robert Scrine and was ridden by Rhys Hughes.  Ruth is going to let me know when and where the horse will have its next racecourse outing. 


The Racing Post is reporting that the Order of Merit concept is to be reviewed.  The purpose of the series is to increase the number of runners in races and to raise the profile of jump racing. 


There is also news today that Nicky Henderson’s Punchestowns won’t be travelling to Ireland this week for the Punchestown World Series Hurdle having been found to be slightly unsound yesterday evening.  That’s a shame, as I think he has become my favourite Lambourn-based horse following my trip to the Open Day earlier this month. 


And, on TV, I’ve just seen Master Minded win the Kerrygold Champion Chase at Punchestown.  He only just held on to win from Big Zeb.  The latter made a few blunders (no surprise there then) including at the last, otherwise would probably have won.  But it has been a long season for all. 


Monday 27 April 2009

No opportunity for Choc to kick-start the new season with a winner today as his one intended mount, Shilpa, was withdrawn from the Mares’ NH Open Flat Race at Towcester.


After yesterday’s winner, it was another very good day for the Martin Keighley yard:

Badly Bruised won the Claiming Hurdle (and a 2nd win of the season for Warren Marston)

And new acquisition, Wolf Moon, won the Novices’ Hurdle (so a 3rd winner for Warren!)

Ponchatrain was withdrawn from the Handicap Chase

Mr Newton finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle

Hopefully I’ll have time to watch the video of the races tonight, along with starting the final proofing of my ‘missing’ diaries!  All 4 have been written in draft, I just need to check them.


AP rode his 2nd winner of the season at Towcester.

But at Plumpton, Richard Johnson retained the lead with his 4th winner of the season!


Tomorrow afternoon Choc will be riding at Wincanton:

14:20 Rhinestone Ruby – Handicap Hurdle (Neil Mulholland)

14:55 Calaficial – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:30 Fire and Rain – Handicap Chase (Emma Lavelle)

16:05 Coq Hardi – Novices’ Chase (Peter Bowen)

And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Choc can ride his first winner of the new season very soon J.  The first of many I hope.


Sunday 26 April 2009 – Day One of the 2009/2010 Season!

So how did Choc fare today:

Noticeable finished 2nd in the Claiming Hurdle – the horse was running for a new stable today (Andy Haynes) but Choc’s services had been retained for the ride (12 ran).  I know it was the Golf Club Claiming Hurdle, but I presume they weren’t expecting the 2 loose horses to go careering across their golf course, with the rider-less How’s Things slipping up on the inside track – but luckily the horse appeared to be okay afterwards. 

Greenbridge fell 4 out in the Novices’ Chase, but was under pressure at the time.  Fortunately both the horse and Choc were fine after their mishap.  (8 ran)

Porters War finished a tired 5th of the 6 finishers in the Handicap Chase (9 ran).


Richard Johnson rode 3 winners at Ludlow (in the first 2 races – both for Alison Thorpe and in the last for Henry Daly) and AP McCoy also had one victory.


Martin Keighley news:

At Wetherby, Hareem finished 3rd to the 2 runaway horses who took up an early lead and fought out the finish between them.

Better news for Palmers Peak, who triumphed in a Handicap Chase.  The commentators weren’t very complimentary about the standard of the race, but a winner is a winner and no doubt will be very welcome, especially as it kicks off the new season.  So Warren Marston has ridden a winner too.


Just one ride for Choc tomorrow, at Towcester:

17:10 Shilpa – Mares’ NH Open Flat Race (Alan King)

And currently 4 runners at Towcester for Martin Keighley:

14:40 Badly Bruised – Claiming Hurdle

15:10 Wolf Moon – Novices’ Hurdle

15:40 Ponchatrain – Handicap Chase

16:10 Mr Newton – Handicap Hurdle


More reflections on last season ...

My favourite racing moment was when Choc won the Melling Chase aboard Voy Por Ustedes (for the 2nd year running), and I was there to see him do it.  A close 2nd is Choc riding 4 winners on a card, his first ever 4-timer, when he completed this feat at Fontwell Park on 27 March. 


The first winner I saw Choc ride ‘live’ was at Stratford last June, when he won a Handicap Hurdle race aboard Iffy, the last was his Voy Por victory at Aintree, a very fitting climax to my season. 


I saw Choc ride a treble at Huntingdon on 05 November – aboard Cosmea, Divali Princess and Whistlejacquet.

He rode a total of 6 trebles last season – Hexham (07 June), Exeter (21 October), Haydock Park (06 November), Folkestone (18 November), and Doncaster (18 February) being the 5 other occasions.  And there were lots of doubles too!


The other ‘live’ winners I saw were Southern Regent, Levera (x 2), Maslak, Tuanku, Saticon, Nikos Extra, Lake Legend, Rustarix (x 2), Junior, Araldur, Midnight Sail, Medermit, Karabak, Walkon, Santia, Voy Por Ustedes (at Ascot too), and Trenchant.  That’s 24 winners, aboard 21 different horses – that’s 20.17% of his winners, just slightly better than his ride/winner average.


But, unfortunately, I’ve also seen him fall off too many times ... more than on average would be expected – I hope I’m not bringing bad luck with me when I go racing.


Saturday 25 April 2009

It was a lovely Spring day at Sandown Park, although it did feel very ‘end of term’. 


We were treated to the Parade of Champions: Kauto Star, Big Buck’s, Denman, Mon Mome and Voy Por Ustedes taking part.  Then we had the annual prize giving – Order of Merit winner (Sir Robert Ogden’s Voy Por Ustedes), Top Trainer (Paul Nicholls), Top NH Jockey (AP McCoy), Top Owner (JP McManus).  Aidan Coleman (Top Conditional Jockey) had to accept his prize later in the afternoon, having been delayed in a traffic jam. 


Anyway, this is how Choc got on today:

Carlitos Spirit finished 7th in the Flat vs. Jump jockeys Handicap Flat race (12 ran).  This year the race was won by Twilight Star under Darryll Holland, Ruby’s mount was 2nd, Sam Thomas 3rd, and Richard Hughes 4th.

Rear Gunner was pulled up before the 2nd last in the Handicap Hurdle (15 ran).

Andreas finished 5th in the Celebration Chase (7 ran).  Twist Magic won the race under Ruby Walsh.

The Bet365 Gold Cup was won by the Carl Llewellyn trained Hennessy, ridden by AP McCoy.


And Alan King’s Awesome George won at Market Rasen today.  His usual pilot, Charlie Huxley, rode him to victory.  And Jack Doyle rode stable-mate King Troy to victory too.


Tomorrow, Choc will be at Ludlow for day 1 of the 2009/2010 season:

14:00 Noticeable – Claiming Hurdle (Alan King)

14:30 Greenbridge – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:40 Porters War – Handicap Chase (Alan King)


Time for a few reflections on the season just ended:

Choc finished with 119 winners, beating last year’s previous best by 14.  And he would have ridden more had it not been for the 2 big freezes in January and February.  He finished in 3rd place in the Jump Jockeys Championship, the same position as last year, behind AP McCoy and Richard Johnson.  After a disappointing Cheltenham Festival, he won the top jockey award at Aintree having ridden 3 winners there.


As for me, I’ve just counted up the number of days I went racing this season ... and it was 50!  My highpoint of the season has to be meeting Choc and walking the new course at Cheltenham with him last December ... he’s so lovely!  And my low point was when Choc got hurt during the Queen Mother Champion Chase, when he was kicked following his fall from Big Zeb. 


National Hunt racing will now take a back seat until October ... although not with me!  Besides I just can’t get enthusiastic about flat or all-weather racing.  The only problem is that the fixtures I can attend are few and far between during the summer months – as there are lots of evening fixtures or they are too far distant.  Newbury, Sandown and Ascot have been turned over to the flat, Kempton will be all-weather, Huntingdon is almost finished for the summer, although Towcester has a few more fixtures.  Stratford Upon Avon will be fine, and I must return to Worcester, Plumpton and Fontwell Park.  Uttoxeter is difficult because it involves too much motorway driving, Market Rasen is a very far away (although I have been there twice), and I’ve never fancied going to Southwell.  Oh well, we will see ... 


Friday 24 April 2009

I was caught out today, as Choc must have picked up another ride at Chepstow (I did check the cards but perhaps I did it too early yesterday):

Original Thought (trained by Ben de Haan) was pulled up in 18:50 Handicap Hurdle (18 ran).  My TV was on at the time, and tuned to the At The Races channel, but I wasn’t paying particular attention until the commentator said ‘Robert Thornton’ - and I thought ‘Oh! He’s not supposed to be riding in this race’.  But there he was, as I’d know him anywhere, front view or rear!  So I checked the race-card to get more details. 

And China Gold won the ‘NH’ Maiden Hurdle (10 ran).  Choc beat Ruby in a driving finish, giving him his 119th winner of the season.


A year has now passed since I attended my first ever race meeting – The mixed card on Bet365 Gold Cup day … and, you’ve guessed it, I’ll be off to Sandown Park again tomorrow – although I may need my raincoat this year … last year I got a little sunburnt!


Choc has 3 rides scheduled at the Esher course on the last day of the 2008/2009 season:

13:00 Carlitos Spirit – Flat vs. Jump jockeys Handicap Flat race (RD Millman)

14:05 Rear Gunner – Handicap Hurdle (Mrs D M Grissell)

14:35 Andreas – Celebration Chase (Paul Nicholls)


And, from Sunday, all the NH jockeys start the 2009/2010 season with zero winners …


Thursday 23 April 2009

Happy St George’s Day.


Choc had 3 rides at Fontwell Park today, and this is how he fared:

Alflora Dora finished 2nd in the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).

Inner Voice finished 5th in the Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran).

And High Gales finished 2nd in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (9 ran).

So a touch of ‘seconditis’ today.  I was thinking that 121 is a nice number, but with only 2 more days until the end of the season, perhaps that’s just a winner or three too far now ... and he has already attained his highest ever total.


Just 1 ride for Choc tomorrow, at Chepstow’s evening fixture:

19:55 China Gold – ‘NH’ Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)


It appears that Choc will be at Sandown Park on Saturday, as he is listed to ride in the Flat vs. Jump Jockeys race, the first on the card.  The jockeys taking part are:

Jump Jockeys: Sam Thomas (last year’s winner), Ruby Walsh, AP McCoy, Richard Johnson, Jamie Moore and Choc.

Flat Jockeys: Jimmy Fortune, Alan Munro, Ryan Moore, Richard Hughes, Darryll Holland and Dane O’Neill.

Choc’s mount is No.3 Carlitos Spirit trained by Rod Millman.


Master Minded has a supplemented entry at Punchestown, so is unlikely to race at Sandown as there are concerns about the firmness of the ground at the Esher track.   


Wednesday 22 April 2009

It’s back to business tomorrow afternoon, when Choc has 3 rides scheduled at Fontwell Park:

14:20 Alflora Dora - Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

15:20 Inner Voice – Novices’ Hurdle (JJ Lambe)

17:25 High Gales – Standard Open NH Flat Race (JJ Lambe)

Typically, the current weather forecast for the southeast is for beautiful weather up to and including Friday ... then heavy showers on Saturday and some lighter rain showers on Sunday.  L

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Nothing to report today, as Choc’s only ride of the day was withdrawn.

No scheduled rides for Choc tomorrow either, therefore he has 3 racing days remaining to the end of the 2008/2009 season and his winners tally currently stands at 118.

Monday 20 April 2009

It’s a pity it was a work day today, as the weather was beautiful again.


And how did Choc fare at Kempton Park this evening:

Kahrayn was pulled to before 2 out in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (18 ran).

Sea the Light finished 6th in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

Hong Kong Harry stayed on at the end to finish 3rd in the Maiden Open NH Flat Race Div I (13 ran).


Tomorrow Choc has one ride at Towcester’s evening fixture:

19:00 Itea de Fau – Mares’ Novices Hurdle (Alan King).


It’s going to take time to get used to watching ‘live’ horse racing on TV in the evenings, although I did it throughout last summer.


Sunday 19 April 2009

Another lovely Spring day. 


A better day for Choc, as he rode a winner today:

Midnight Sail won the Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran).  Choc’s 118th winner of the season. Rodney’s Pillar was a non-runner.

Choc pulled up Kelrev before the last obstacle in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

Charmaine Wood was pulled up before 3 out in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).


There were a number of jockeys taken to hospital following falls at Wincanton today – Robert L Butler, Charlie Wallis and Mattie Rowe.  So I wish them a speedy recovery, as do I Wayne Kavanagh, who was injured at Bangor on Dee yesterday.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Kempton Park’s evening fixture:

17:00 Kahrayn – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

18:05 Sea the Light – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

19:10 Hong Kong Harry – Maiden Open NH Flat Race Div I (Alan King)


And Monday is a work day for me.


Saturday 18 April 2009

Spring may have finally arrived, as it was a sunny and warm day, everywhere.  I had a prior engagement this afternoon, so only managed to watch the first 3 races from Ayr on TV before I went out, so was hoping I’d have a nice surprise when I got home with perhaps Choc riding a winner or two ... but it turns out that he’s had a disappointing day L.


Evidently Saticon was playing up in the paddock before the race (as he did at Aintree) and could only finished 3rd in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (4 ran).

Turkish Surprise, wearing cheek-pieces today, finished 5th (and last) in the Novices’ Chase (5 ran).

Medermit finished 5th in the Scottish Champion Hurdle (14 ran).

West End Rocker was pulled up before the 22nd fence in the Scottish Grand National (17 ran).  The event was won by Hello Bud trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by Paddy Brennan.

Nikos Extra finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Finally Rustarix finished 3rd in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (7 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be at Stratford Upon Avon, where he has 3 rides for Alan King:

14:30 Midnight Sail – Novices’ Hurdle.  Wayne Hutchinson rides Alan’s other representative in this race, Rodney’s Pillar.

15:30 Kelrev – Handicap Chase

16:00 Charmaine Wood – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle


I hope Choc has a better day tomorrow and, with 7 days to go to the end of the 2008/2009 season, adds to his tally which currently stands at 117.


Friday 17 April 2009

Another dreary April day, and it looked overcast and damp at Cheltenham yet again (as it was here in Hertfordshire too).   However, Choc had a better day, as he rode a winner:

The very promising Bensalem won the Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran), giving Choc his 117th winner of the season.  Bensalem will now go Novice Steeplechasing next season.

Blazing Bailey finished 4th in the Hurdle event, with stable-mate Franchoek probably making his best effort of the season when finishing 3rd in same (5 ran).

D’Argent was pulled up in the Handicap Chase, and Stolen Moments fell, but both horse and rider (Wayne Hutchinson) were okay (8 ran).

D’Argent, at the age of 12, now heads off into hopefully a long and happy retirement – I gather Michael Tucker will be taking charge of him as his new hunter. 


Tomorrow is Scottish Grand National day, so Choc heads off to Ayr, where he has 6 rides for Alan King.

13:45 Saticon – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

14:20 Turkish Surprise – Novices’ Chase

14:50 Medermit – Scottish Champion Hurdle – a limited handicap

15:25 West End Rocker – Scottish Grand National

16:00 Nikos Extra – Handicap Hurdle

17:05 Rustarix – Novices’ Handicap Chase

There are 8 races on tomorrow’s card.  There were concerns about the ground at Ayr today, following 2 equine fatalities and a fall on the flat during the first race of the day, but these seem to have been unfortunate accidents rather than a problem with the going.


Choc will be at Stratford on Sunday, but I’ll give details of his rides in tomorrow’s blog.


Thursday 16 April 2009

Weatherwise, it was mainly miserable and wet at Cheltenham today, although the sun did put in a fairly brief appearance halfway through the card – I know because I was there!


Unfortunately Choc fared not much better than yesterday:

Enfant de Lune finished 4th in the Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran).

Tarotino was withdrawn.

Over Sixty finished 7th in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle. Alan King’s other representative, Santia, finished 4th under Wayne Hutchinson (12 ran).

Pennek came to grief at the 6th flight in the Handicap Hurdle.  Choc took a while to get to his feet, but fortunately he was fine.  The horse was okay too.  (24 ran)

Anadama finished 4th in the Mares’ Open NH Flat Race Div II (12 ran).


Tomorrow Choc returns to Cheltenham for Day 3 of the April meeting, and the first National Hunt evening card of 2009.  He has 3 scheduled rides for Alan King, the first is upon one of his best future prospects, and two aboard old friends!

17:35 Bensalem – Novices’ Hurdle

18:45 Blazing Bailey – Hurdle.  Stable-mate Franchoek is also engaged in this event, ridden by AP McCoy.

19:20 D’Argent – Handicap Chase.  Stable-mate Stolen Moments runs too, under Wayne Hutchinson.


And it’s back to work for me tomorrow.


Wednesday 15 April 2009

No winners for Choc today, as this is how he fared:

Balzaccio finished 4th in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran).

Trigger the Light was pulled up before the 4th last obstacle in the Handicap Chase (12 ran).

Pur De Sivola was pulled up before 2 out in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran).

Ouzbeck was pulled up before 3 out in the Limited Handicap Chase (9 ran).

And Long Hop finished 16th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (17 ran).


Tomorrow is the 2nd day of Cheltenham’s April meeting, and Choc is scheduled to have 5 rides, all for Alan King:

14:10 Enfant de Lune – Novices’ Hurdle

14:45 Tarotino – Limited Handicap Chase

15:20 Over Sixty – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

15:55 Pennek – Handicap Hurdle

17:35 Anadama – Mares’ Open NH Flat Race

And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Choc will have a better day tomorrow.


Tuesday 14 April 2009

So how did Choc get on at Market Rasen today:

Sassanias finished 5th in the 3 mile Handicap Hurdle (6 ran).

Pagano was pulled up in the 2 mile 1 furlong Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

Wind Instrument finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (6 ran).  Having made the running it looked like he would hold on to win, but was tapped for speed after the last.

Springfield Raki, which was brought down when Choc’s mount, Calaficial, fell at the last meeting, gained consolation when winning the 15:00.


Very bad news for Hayley Turner today.  Her licence has been rescinded until the first anniversary of her accident, which is early March 2010, to give her time to make a full recovery.  I know it’s of little consolation, but I’m sure she’ll find lots of media work to occupy her time.


Tomorrow is the start of the 3-day ‘end of term’ Cheltenham meeting, and Choc is scheduled for 5 rides, all for Alan King:

14:10 Balzaccio – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

14:45 Trigger the Light – Handicap Chase

15:20 Pur De Sivola – Handicap Hurdle

15:55 Ouzbeck – Limited Handicap Chase

16:30 Long Hop – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle


And the very good news is ... I have permission to take Thursday off, so will be heading for Cheltenham, regardless of the weather conditions, which are forecast to be rather wet!


Monday 13 April 2009

Well, the sunshine did put in an appearance today – although it was an intermittent visitor – just lunchtime and evening.  What a dull and dreary Easter weekend!  My first task of today was to wash my car – it was filthy following my visit to Lambourn on Friday; although it had been very blotchy since before my visit to Aintree – as I’d tried unsuccessfully to wash off dust caused by a neighbour’s building works.


So how did Choc fare at Chepstow today:

Quizzene finished 4th in the Claiming Hurdle.  Martin Keighley’s Sarracocca ran well for a long way and came in 5th, less than a length behind Choc.

Double Pride finished 3rd in the NH Flat Race Div I

And Mail de Bievre was a non-runner in the NH Flat Race Div II


Whilst watching today’s racing on TV, I saw Big Zeb win a hurdles event at Fairyhouse, successfully reverting to the smaller obstacles following his recent mishaps. 


The Irish Grand National was won by English raider, Niche Market, trained by Bob Buckler and ridden by Harry Skelton (son of international show-jumper Nick Shelton).  Sadly 2 horses lost their lives during the race, the Jonjo O’Neill trained Cheltenham winner Wichita Linesman which took a fatal fall at the first obstacle, and the Tony Martin trained Cheltenham runner-up Drumconvis which had to be put down.  Poor Jonjo is having a torrid time at the moment.


Choc will be travelling across to Market Rasen tomorrow, where he has 3 rides for Alan King:

14:00 Sassanias – Handicap Hurdle

14:30 Pagano – Handicap Hurdle

16:00 Wind Instrument – Novices’ Chase

Back to work for me tomorrow L and I’ve not seen Choc ride ‘live’ this weekend L.  But as mentioned yesterday, I have plans to attend Sandown Park on the 25th of this month. And there is always Cheltenham on Thursday, if I can obtain permission to take the day off. 


Sunday 12 April 2009

The weather didn’t improve overnight in the southeast, and it has been cloudy and damp again (for the 3rd day running), so I passed up the opportunity to go to Plumpton today, although I definitely want to go there again at some stage.  Staying at home has given me the opportunity to work on my Aintree diaries, which are now well underway.   I’d love to go to Cheltenham next week ... work commitments permitting!  Alan King appears to have a number of runners scheduled to take part in the 3-day meeting, but heavy rain is currently forecast for the Gloucestershire area on Wednesday.  So perhaps Thursday might be best - am I getting soft in my old age?  The racing on Friday takes place in the evening, which would also make it difficult for me.  Presumably Choc will be travelling to Ayr early Saturday (he took a flight from Stansted to Ayr last year).  I hope to go to Sandown Park on Saturday week, for Bet365 Gold Cup day.


But I got to watch highlights of, and tape, Choc (accompanied by fiancée Meally) at the Lesters Awards, which were shown on At The Races earlier today.  Choc went on stage twice, as he also collected an award on Ruby Walsh’s behalf.  Choc wore a dinner suit – was this the suit he took delivery of at Cheltenham recently? (Now, where did I read that?)


So how did Choc fare at Plumpton today:

Sam Lord won the Maiden Hurdle, giving Choc his 115th winner of the season (11 ran). Choc had to push his mount to keep on terms around the home bend, but once he’d taken the lead he won well.

Tyrrells Wood won the Novices’ Hurdle, Choc’s 116th winner of the season (9 ran). Again Choc had to fight to keep his inside berth around the final bend, but the horse won well once he’d got his head in front.

Leo Tolstoy finished 6th in the Classified Hurdle (11 ran).  Choc’s mount couldn’t keep up with the pace, but stayed on at the end. 


At Towcester, Martin Keighley’s Custers Last Stand finished 11th (last, as 2 were pulled up); Palmers Peak finished 4th (last, 3 having been pulled up); and Hareem 7th.  Tor Sturgis’ Tranvestite finished last (15th) in same.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Chepstow, again too far for me to travel to the course, although I hope to go there one day.

15:00 Quizzene – Claiming Hurdle (Alan King). Martin Keighley’s Sarracocca also goes in this race.

17:20 Double Pride – NH Flat Race Div I (Alan King)

18:00 Mail de Bievre – NH Flat Race Div II (Alan King)


I’m led to believe Hertfordshire might finally get some sunshine tomorrow, but I’ve got no plans to go out anywhere – never mind, I shall enjoy working on my Aintree diaries and watching Choc on TV. 


Saturday 11 April 2009

Congratulations to Choc for winning the Lesters Award for the National Hunt Ride of the Year – having been nominated for his ride aboard Nenuphar Collonges in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.  It is a ‘people’s award’ – votes having been cast by members of the public through the At The Races website – and I am one of those who voted for him! J


The Hairy Lemon finished 9th in the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle (13 ran).

Norman the Great finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Minella Four Star was a very convincing winner of the Handicap Chase, giving Choc his 114th winner of the season.  (9 ran).  There was a nasty incident during this race, when the loose horse tried to refuse and, as a result, brought down Ballygalley Bob (who I believe I saw at Oliver Sherwood’s yard yesterday).

Sovereign King finished 4th (last of the finishers) in the Novices’ Chase (6  ran).

Avanos finished 7th in the NH Flat Race (16 ran).


Tomorrow Choc is scheduled to ride at Plumpton:

14:00 Sam Lord – Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

15:00 Tyrrells Wood – Novices’ Hurdle (TG Mills)

17:00 Leo Tolstoy – Classified Hurdle (JJ Lambe)


Martin Keighley has 3 scheduled runners at Towcester tomorrow:

15:10 Custers Last Stand; 15:40 Palmers Peak; 16:10 Hareem.  Transvestite also goes in the 16:10 for Tor Sturgis.


I’m not sure what I’m doing tomorrow ... the forecasters say it’s going to be nice weather in the south-east (and it has to be an improvement, as it was mainly wet today).


Friday 10 April 2009

Lambourn Open Day 2009

Punchestowns red.jpg




 (Nicky Henderson)





Zaynar red.jpg




(Nicky Henderson)



punjabi red.jpg




(Nicky Henderson’s

Champion Hurdler 2009)



Maderson Blue red.jpg



Maderson Blue (Roger Curtis)

– check out the horse’s blog!






Airforce One red.jpg



Air Force One (Charlie Mann).





Afternoon entertainment red.jpg



Afternoon entertainment:

Left the right –

John Francome, Dane O’Neill,

                            AP McCoy, Eddie Ahern,

Sam Thomas and Carl Llewellyn



As you can see, I decided to go to the Lambourn Open Day, and I’m pleased I did.  I started off at Nicky Henderson’s yard at Seven Barrows, then visited Roger Curtis’ yard as I wished to see Maderson Blue.  Unfortunately, Tor Sturgis’ Transvestite wasn’t on show today, although I did visit one of her yards.  I also visited Carl Llewellyn’s yard at Weathercock House, saw Jamie Osborne’s horses on the gallops, then on to Charlie Mann’s yard, back to Brendan Powell’s yard, and finally Oliver Sherwood’s yard. And somewhere along the way I had a very quick look around Mike Blanshard’s yard and Stan Moore’s yard too. 


The afternoon’s entertainment started with the Vine and Craven foxhounds, followed by a sheepdog display.  After that were 2 heats of the Shetland pony Grand National and an Equine Heroes parade – including Punjabi, Zaynar, Barbers Shop, Arctic Call, Looks Like Trouble, Large Action and Deeno’s Beano.   Following that was schooling over hurdles on the fibresand gallop by top jockeys – Sam Thomas, Noel Fehily, AP McCoy, John Francome, Wilson Renwick and Robert L Butler.  We then returned to the ring to watch a jumping competition (competitors as photographed above) - it was won by Eddie Ahern.  The last event was the final of the Shetland pony Grand National and then it was time for me to head home.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Haydock Park:

14:25 The Hairy Lemon – Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

15:30 Norman the Great – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:40 Minella Four Star – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

17:15 Sovereign King – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

17:45 Avanos – NH Flat Race (CA Mulhall)

Unfortunately Haydock Park is too far away, so I’ll have to mull over whether I should go to Plumpton on Sunday, and Choc appears to be triple booked for Monday – Plumpton, Huntingdon and Chepstow!  So I’ve got no firm plans this weekend.


And last but not least, a very happy birthday to my nephew James, who is 14 today.


Thursday 09 April 2009

No winners for Choc today, and here are details of his rides:

Grand Article finished 5th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (18 ran).

Alflora Dora came in 4th in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (13 ran).


As it’s Good Friday tomorrow, there is no racing in England.  However it is the Lambourn Open Day.  I went to the Open Day in 1990 – and I’m still mulling over whether I should make a return visit tomorrow ... I’ll have to make up my mind very soon, as it will mean a very early start.  


Normally I’d go rambling on Good Friday, but have no-one to walk with tomorrow L. I can recall some fabulous Easter walks I’ve had in the past – there was the 13 mile walk starting at Ayot St Lawrence which took us out through Knebworth Park, another year we did a walk around the beautiful Chiltern valleys near Stonor, and in 2007 it was a Cotswolds walk starting from Bourton on the Water, going out through Lower and Upper Slaughter, then on to Naunton before returning along the Windrush valley to Bourton and a pub lunch. 


Anyway, wishing everyone a Happy Easter and I’ll be back on line again tomorrow. 


Wednesday 08 April 2009

So how did Choc fare today:

Noticeable finished 4th in the Novices’ Selling Hurdle (14 ran).  Appropriately there was a horse called Hot Choc competing in the same race, and that finished 7th.

Greenwich Meantime finished 5th in the Maiden Hurdle (16 ran).


Martin Keighley’s horses still have ‘seconditis’, as Mr Newton finished 2nd in the 15:10; stable-mate Heezagrey finished 6th in the Conditional Jockeys’ event.  Hopefully Martin will have another winner soon.


Tomorrow Choc is scheduled to ride at Wincanton:

13:50 Grand Article – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (PE Cowley)

15:50 Alflora Dora – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


And I wonder if I’ll have an outing or two to the races this weekend, we shall soon see ...


Tuesday 07 April 2009

It appears that Choc is continuing to aspire to multiples when it comes to winners ... as he rode 2 at Fontwell Park today:

Call Me A Legend finished 2nd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran)

Porters War won the Handicap Chase, giving Choc his 112th winner of the season (6 ran)

Then Greenbridge won the Novices’ Chase (3 ran).  Choc’s 113th winner of the current campaign.

Dormouse finished 3rd in the NH Flat Race (12 ran).

And I wonder if Choc enjoys riding at Fontwell Park a little more now, as he has certainly been having a lot of success there recently.


Tomorrow he’s off to Hereford, where he has 2 rides for Alan King:

14:40 Noticeable – Novices’ Selling Hurdle

16:40 Greenwich Meantime – Maiden Hurdle

I notice that Martin Keighley’s Mr Newton will be running in the Handicap Hurdle at 15:10, the horse having had a very promising come-back run when finishing 4th at Huntingdon last time out.


Monday 06 April 2009

I forgot to mention that I won 40p on the People’s Race at Aintree, having backed Craig Brown each way!  He was my only win of the day.  Craig is the landlord of Choc’s favourite hostelry, The Plough at Ford, and was put forward for the event by Martin Keighley’s wife, Belinda.  Coincidently, the jockey competitors in this race were walking the course as I crossed it to reach the grandstand, and I recognised Craig immediately. 


Notanotherdonkey finished 2nd for Martin Keighley in a hurdle race at Southwell yesterday.  His second runner, Master Alfredo finished 6th in the NH Flat race, staying on it said – so I presume that is very promising for a horse having its first run! 


4 rides for Choc at Fontwell Park tomorrow:

14:30 Call Me A Legend – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:00 Porters War – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

16:00 Greenbridge – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

17:00 Dormouse – NH Flat Race (Mrs A L M King)

And it’s a relief to know he’s okay following yesterday’s nasty fall.


I think I also forgot to mention that I walked around the Grand National course on Saturday morning, as the general public are permitted to follow a route around the in-course road prior to racing (and I’ve still got a very painful blister on one of my toes to prove it!)  It surprised me that a number of the fences were still being repaired late Saturday morning, having been damaged during Friday’s Topham Chase.  Becher’s Brook appears a shadow of its former self, having been modified with the welfare of the competitors in mind. 


Sunday 05 April 2009

Choc had a disastrous day at Market Rasen, when he had a stomach wrenching fall from Calaficial in the second race of the day. L Unfortunately Springfield Raki then came down almost on top of him too as he was brought down in the incident. L It makes me feel sick just thinking about it.  After a delay, Choc was able to walk to the ambulance but was stood down for the remainder of the day.  He was so fortunate not to have suffered a very serious injury.  As he’s not engaged at any fixtures tomorrow he will be able to take some rest and recuperation.  Poor little Choc. L


Dominic Elsworth took over on all 3 of Choc’s remaining rides, but was unseated from Rustarix when 3 of the 4 runners in the 15:30 fell at the first obstacle.  Amateur jockey Andrew Kinirons was not so fortunate, as he suffered a suspected broken leg when Stagecoach Opal fell in this accident packed steeplechase.


And finally some good news.  Many congratulations to my friend Angela and her hubby Alex, who yesterday (04 April) became the proud parents of Rebecca Anne, weighing in at 7lbs 8oz.


Saturday 04 April 2009

I’m back from Liverpool, and I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 days at Aintree.  I got to see Choc ride Voy Por Ustedes to victory yesterday, and he won the Top Jockey award too, having ridden 3 winners.  His prize was presented after the final race today, and he invited his parents to go up onto the podium with him too, which was really nice.


Voy Por Ustedes’ victory has taken him to the top of this season’s Order of Merit.


Choc’s results for today are:

Saticon was pulled up in the Novices’ Hurdle, having been very much on his toes today.  Stable-mate Trenchant, under Wayne Hutchinson, finished 4th (17 ran). 

Katchit finished 12th in the Aintree Hurdle.  Stable-mate Franchoek (Barry Geraghty) came in 14th (16 ran).

In the Grand National, Choc pulled up L’Ami before the last obstacle, but the main thing is that he returned safe and sound.  The race was won by 100-1 shot Mon Mome for trainer Venetia Williams, and jockey Liam Treadwell who was having his first ride in the race.  Both Comply or Die and Butler’s Cabin needed oxygen to be administered after the race, and sadly Davy Russell’s mount, Hear the Echo, collapsed and died from a heart attack on the run-in.

Choc finished 2nd in the NH Flat race aboard Lidar.  Stable-mate Whistlejacquet finished 6th (19 ran).


Tomorrow Choc is riding at Market Rasen

14:30 Calaficial – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:00 Patton – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

15:30 Rustarix – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

17:00 Shilpa – NH Flat Race (Alan King)


I’m very tired, having driven 200 miles to Liverpool early yesterday, then I didn’t sleep particularly well last night, and now I’ve driven back this evening arriving home at 10:30!  So rest and recuperation tomorrow, pictures to load, and diaries to write! 


Thursday 02 April 2009

And Choc’s mount in the Grand National is ... L’Ami.  AP has decided to pilot Butler’s Cabin again this year, and Noel Fehily will be aboard Can’t Buy Time.  Let’s hope Choc has a safe ride, unlike Mick Fitzgerald last year L.


Wayne Hutchinson, Choc’s worthy deputy, has also picked up a ride in the Grand National - Darkness.  Charles Egerton has decided to offer the ride because Dominic Elsworth, his intended jockey, is recovering from an injury sustained last week, and Charles feels he can’t take the risk that he’ll have no jockey come Saturday.


So how did Choc fare today:

Walkon won the Novices’ Hurdle (13 ran).  Choc’s 109th winner of the season.

Albertas Run finished 3rd in the big Steeplechase (10 ran).  The race was won by Madison Du Berlais, Denman taking a crashing fall at the 2nd last obstable.  Although Denman sustained a bad cut, he is expected to be okay.  Sadly, Exotic Dancer who finished 2nd, suffered a heart attack and died after he’d returned to the course stables.

Oh Crick won the Handicap Chase (17 ran).  Choc’s 110th winner of the season.

Ouzbeck finished 5th in the Novices’ Chase, but last of those which finished (8 ran).

Eleazar finished 10th in the Handicap Hurdle (22 ran).


Isn’t it weird that, recently, Choc seems to be riding either doubles, or trebles, and of course a 4-timer? (Although that was his first 4-timer ever!)


Tomorrow Choc’s rides are:

14:00 Silk Hall – Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 2 (Alan King)

15:10 Voy Por Ustedes – Melling Chase – Grade 1 (Alan King)

17:30 Polly Potter – Mares’ NH Flat Race – Grade 2 (Alan King)


And the mystery of the tail-less horse has been solved (aka Walkon) – evidently he rubs his tail off in the stable!


Unfortunately I cannot report any news tomorrow as I’m off to Aintree myself – leaving home at around 06:00 – I know that’s very early but I cannot bear to be late!


But currently Choc’s rides on Saturday are:

14:50 Katchit – Aintree Hurdle – Grade 1 (Alan King)

16:15 L’Ami – Grand National – Grade 3 (Enda Bolger – Ireland)

17:35 Lidar – Champion NH Flat Race – Grade 2 (Alan King)

And, by tomorrow, there may be others too.


Wednesday 01 April 2009

My first blog of the new month. 


No rides for Choc today, so nothing to report on that front (contrary to yesterday’s blog – my excuse is that due to pressures of time, I didn’t cross-check Choc’s ATR race entry listing against the actual race entries – and that is despite knowing they are often inaccurate!)


But I have cross-checked the following, so here are details of Choc’s rides at Aintree tomorrow:

14:35 Walkon – 4-year-old Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 (Alan King)

15:10 Albertas Run – Steeplechase – Grade 2 (Alan King)

16:20 Oh Crick – Handicap Chase – Grade 3 (Alan King)

16:55 Ouzbeck – Novices’ Chase – Grade 2 (Alan King)

17:30 Eleazar – Handicap Hurdle – Listed (Lucy Wadham)

It looks like a fabulous day of racing, with many notable horses competing, including Denman, Exotic Dancer, Lough Derg, and Big Buck’s to name but a few.  I see AP is scheduled to ride Hills of Aran in the opening event - I personally would have stuck with Choc, especially after his brilliant ride aboard the horse at Fontwell Park last Friday.


I’ve selected my outfits for Friday and Saturday, with additional clothes too just in case I change my mind – I’ll be taking the proverbial ‘kitchen sink’ as usual!  I thought I’d make a list of everything I think I’ll need and I can’t believe there are so many items on it ... especially as I’m only away for two days and one night!




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