APRIL 2012

 

 

Monday 30 April 2012

With the recent monsoon conditions, there’s not much happening on the racing front.  No riding engagements today for Choc, with Towcester having been abandoned. And none at Exeter tomorrow either; with the fixture still not certain to go ahead anyway. 

 

Wednesday?  Who knows!  Nothing for Choc on Thursday or Friday as he’s going to be serving a 2-day suspension incurred for careless riding at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago. 

 

News today, in Alan King’s website blog, that West End Rocker will never be visiting Aintree again; in future he will stick to running in staying chases at tracks such as Newbury and Warwick. 

 

I have been devoting time to my outstanding diaries whilst recuperating from my recent sinus operation and, at last, have finished one!  Like last year, I’ve split Grand National day into two instalments:

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

Saturday 28 April 2012

Today Choc was at Punchestown and this is how he fared:

Balder Succes (Alan King/Choc) blundered at the first flight which resulted in Choc being unseated & Secret Edge (Alan King/David Casey) finished 5th in the Champion 4-Year-Old Hurdle (Grade 1). (13 ran)  It’s been an inauspicious trip to Ireland.  Oh dear ... what a disappointing end to the season.  L

 

Meanwhile, there were a couple of runners of interest at Sandown Park too:

West End Rocker (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) ran very disappointingly despite the soft ground and was pulled up with one circuit to travel; in contrast, Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) put in an excellent effort to finish 3rd in the bet365 Gold Cup Chase (Whitbread Gold Cup as was).

 

The feature race was won by the enigmatic Tidal Bay, under top weight; he simply trotted up.  More

With Sanctuaire winning the Celebration Chase and Tidal Bay winning too, Ruby Walsh should have heeded Paul Nicholls’ advice and gone to Sandown Park instead of remaining at Punchestown!  The stable’s second jockey, Grand National winning Daryl Jacob was the beneficiary of Ruby’s decision. 

 

Paul Kealy, tipster in the Weekender, selected Tidal Bay to win; he also mentioned that West End Rocker has been beaten out of sight both times he’s tried going right-handed over fences! 

 

Aidan Coleman won the Jump Jockeys vs. Flat Jockeys Handicap race run at Sandown today.

 

And at Market Rasen:

Junior Jack (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (8 ran).

Ukrainian Star (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase (6 ran).

 

With the end of the National Hunt season today, Choc has finished 16th in the Jockeys’ Championship; having missed two months mid-season due to his broken arm.  Click here to view more details.  Here also is my statistical overview of his season.

 

Tomorrow’s fixture at Wetherby has been abandoned due to water-logging; Choc has no riding engagements at Ludlow.  The weather is forecasted to be abysmal tomorrow, with heavy rain and gale force winds ... probably best to stay in bed!

 

I have been working on a couple of my outstanding diaries (Aintree), although the technical problems I’ve been encountering this past week have severely affected my resolve!  I have five more days before I return to work although, having said that, my department won our Head Office’s Award for Excellence and our reward is a day out at Jean-Christophe Novelli’s Cookery Academy.  This takes place next Friday, the day I’m due to return.  So, I guess, there’s no proper work for me to do until the Tuesday following the May Day Bank Holiday. 

 

This morning I decided to sort through a pile of recent Horse and Hound magazines, to enable me to file copies of Choc’s column before disposing of the unwanted pages.  I then discovered the 09 February 2012 issue tucked away between storage boxes; I have no idea why it had ended up there, nor was it an issue containing Choc’s fortnightly column.  However, upon flicking through it, I noticed an ‘Early Lessons’ feature; it included a photograph of young Choc jumping a cross country fence aboard his favourite childhood pony Cass.   

 

Below I have reproduced the text which accompanied the photograph:

 

Jump jockey Robert “Choc” Thornton’s favourite childhood pony was similarly independently minded. 

 

“Cass was my second pony.  The first was a 12.2hh we had on loan for a short time so Mum could check I was really serious about riding.  I was eight when we got Cass and he stayed with us until he was put down aged 26”, he reveals.

 

“Cass was a grey 13.2hh Connemara-cross and I adored him.  He had a huge personality.  When he’d had enough out hunting, he’d jump away when he saw the road.  Similarly, if he fancied coming back in when he was turned out, he’d pop over the rails.

 

“I remember getting him ready for a show, coming inside to have breakfast and returning to find an empty box.  Cass was in the field, caked in mud and munching merrily,” remembers Choc.

 

“I jumped my first gate on him when I was nine.  He had amazing scope and liked to trot up to his fences.  He wasn’t push-button, but because of that he taught me a lot,” he says.  “Once you got him going forward, you let him sort himself out over a fence and that’s still the way I like to do things today.”

Friday 27 April 2012

Today, Choc was at Punchestown and this is how he fared:

Kumbeshwar (Alan King) fell at the last when beaten in the Ryanair Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (7 ran).  It was a nasty looking fall, but Choc seemed fine, and the McNeill’s Racing Manager, Iain Turner, tweeted to inform everyone that Kumbeshwar was fine too; ATR also confirmed it.  Very relieved as would hate injury to befall my favourite jockey or one of my favourite horses either.  The race was won by Lucky William.  More

 

Alan King also ran Golden Electra in the Fillies’ Premier Bumper, ridden by Mr JT Carroll (in Ireland, bumper runners are always ridden by amateurs) and they finished a tailed off last (23 ran).

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be remaining in Ireland to ride at Punchestown:

16:30 Balder Succes (Alan King/Choc) & Secret Edge (Alan King/David Casey) – Champion 4-Year-Old Hurdle (Grade 1).

 

Meanwhile, there are a couple of runners of interest at Sandown Park too:

15:10 West End Rocker (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) - bet365 Gold Cup Chase (aka Whitbread Gold Cup as was).

 

And at Market Rasen:

14:10 Junior Jack (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

15:20 Ukrainian Star (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase

 

It’s the last day of the 2011/2012 season tomorrow and I’ve only made it to Sandown Park once this term, that’s a shame, as it’s my favourite local racecourse.  Now expecting a number of weeks without going to the races L, but it will enable me to pay off my credit cards having completed the most expensive phase of my year and, perhaps, investigate the possibility of upgrading my laptop ... before saving up to purchase tickets for next season’s Festival events!  

Thursday 26 April 2012

Sorry I’ve been offline since 21 April ... I’ve definitely not given up my website ... unbelievably it has been because my broadband has been out of action since that date. 

 

Initially I spoke with my internet service provider (ISP) who confirmed there was no reported problem at my local telephone exchange and they suggested I should speak with BT as there was interference on my phone line (despite a filter being fitted) which might affect my internet connection.  But BT tested the phone line and claimed there was no problem. 

 

I then spoke again with my ISP and after ‘walking’ me through a variety of procedures they sent me a new router, which fortunately they didn’t charge me for as it was within the warranty period of the current one which had been replaced last August.  It arrived yesterday but, after installation, I still couldn’t obtain an internet connection. 

 

All along I had been convinced that the problem lay outside of my home, especially as having been promised a new router I even linked up the original Sky router (the one which was replaced last year) and it demonstrated exactly the same malfunction as the one which appeared to go wrong on 22 April.  When working correctly, the internet light is supposed to flicker amber and then turn solid green – instead it flickered amber and then remained solid amber.  I had replaced the original one because the power supply had become faulty, hence the reason it was still usable.  And three apparently faulty routers are too much of a coincidence!    

 

Having spoken with my ISP again yesterday afternoon, their Tech Support team still couldn’t sort it out for me so they have booked me another call within 72 hours.  However, I continued to persevere with the router and, shortly before midday today, broadband returned, although a little slow!  They will still call me back though, as I’ve since been advised that there are errors on the line.

 

And, as I don’t own a smartphone, I’ve been unable to follow Choc on twitter either.  It’s been a nightmare ...

 

I really didn’t need this stress whilst recuperating!

 

I’ve actually been okay following my sinus operation – which was a septoplasty, BACP and BAWO.  That would explain why my upper front teeth having been feeling a little numb too!  Also stated on the medical form is Outfracture and SMD to inferior turbinates.  More  Post-op has been similar to having a cold but being unable to blow one’s nose in case it causes further bleeding!  Oh well, it’s over and done with now and hopefully I’ll feel an improvement in the airflow over the next two or three months.

 

I’ve tried to keep abreast of Choc’s riding engagements during the time I’ve been unable to update my website files.  In order to do this, I’ve been taking a stroll down to my nearest supermarket to purchase a copy of the Racing Post and watching the racing coverage on TV!   

 

Choc had one riding engagement at Wincanton on Sunday 22 April and this is how he fared:

Ata Boy (Richard Phillips) was pulled up before 2 out in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).

 

On Tuesday 24 April Choc was at the Towcester evening fixture, where he had 2 riding engagements:

Way Back When (Alan King) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (5 ran).

Magic Moon (Alan King) finished 10th in the Maiden Open NH Flat Race (12 ran).

 

On Wednesday 25 April Choc was due to have one riding engagement at Hereford but the meeting was abandoned due to water-logging.

 

Choc has flown over to Punchestown today, hoping to ride Kumbeshwar in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novices’ Chase at 18:40; however, with the appalling weather conditions prevailing in Ireland too, the chases have been postponed again today.  As I write this, the race is due to take place at 16:55 tomorrow, Friday.

 

Whilst I was reading through the Racing Post I also noticed that Choc has incurred a 2-day riding ban, Thursday 03 May and Friday 04 May.  He therefore must have been ‘naughty’ when riding at Cheltenham on Thursday 19 April.  And here it is, from the BHA website:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into possible interference approaching the final furlong. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race they found that TICKITY BLEUE, placed second, ridden by Robert Thornton, had interfered with KAYFLIN (FR), unplaced, ridden by Leighton Aspell. The Stewards found Thornton in breach of Rule (B)54.1 and guilty of careless riding in that he had manoeuvred right handed. They suspended him for 2 days as follows: Thursday 3 and Friday 4 May 2012.

All being well with my broadband, normal service will continue tomorrow!

Saturday 21 April 2012

Today Choc was at Ayr and this is how he fared:

Lidar (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Future Champion Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (6 ran).

Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) won the Scottish Champion Hurdle (Grade 2 Limited Handicap) (10 ran). Choc’s 51st winner of the season. J

Walkon (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up & Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 8th in the Scottish National (Grade 3) (24 ran).

Habbie Simpson (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Oh Crick (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Handicap Chase (9 ran).

 

Here is a report about Raya Star’s victory today.  More

 

And news of Merigo’s second victory in the Scottish Grand National, having also won the race in 2010.  More

 

Choc has one riding engagement tomorrow, at Wincanton:

14:10 Ata Boy (Richard Phillips) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

 

As promised, here is an overview of Choc’s most recent Horse and Hound column.

 

This week’s column is headed ‘Nothing wrong with the National’.

 

Choc begins by stating that it’s a pity that the overreaction to the death of two horses overshadowed the achievement of Paul Nicholls and Daryl Jacobs in winning the race with Neptune Collonges.  He says that Paul is very lucky, because the only way he was going to beat Nicky Henderson to the trainers’ title this year was by winning this race, and he did.

 

Choc suspects that his views about the National may not be popular with some people, but he strongly believes that there was nothing wrong with the race 10 years ago and there’s nothing wrong with it now.  In fact he attended a fixture at the course after last year’s race and begged the organisers not to change a thing.

 

He says it is sad when horses die, but if you enjoy equine competition, you have to accept that there will be risks involved.  It was bad luck that the two horses the BBC focused on most were the two which died.  Choc thinks that the furore, particularly on twitter, would not have been so great had the fatally injured animals been lesser publicised horses.

 

Choc believes the whole of racing, and equestrianism for that matter, should stand united against the animal rights do-gooders.  He thinks that, in addition to wanting to see the end of the Grand National, they would like to get rid of all National Hunt racing.  He saw the same thing happen with hunting and it breaks his heart to think that it could happen again.

 

He says where there is life there is death.  It may be a harsh way of looking at things but most of the people involved in looking after working animals – racehorses being working animals not pets – accept that there will be accidents and some will die before their natural lifespan is up.

 

His views don’t mean that he doesn’t love horses; he has spent his whole life looking after them, riding them and thinking about them.  But he says that sentimentality doesn’t improve an animal’s lot in life. 

 

Choc believes the fences don’t need changing, the number of runners doesn’t need reducing and the speed of the race doesn’t need controlling.  If there are things that could be introduced to make it safer, such as getting loose horses caught quicker, then he’s all for it.

 

Most of all he doesn’t want the Grand National to become just another ‘bog-standard’ handicap chase.  That would kill the race, people would lose interest, they won’t go to Aintree, they won’t watch it on TV and they won’t bet on it.  All things that produce revenue which goes back into racing.  He says be careful what you wish for.

 

On a more cheerful note Choc mentions that he had a good first two days of the meeting, although he was disappointed that Smad Place unshipped him in the first race because he’d definitely have finished second to Big Buck’s. 

 

He almost thought ‘oh no not again’ during the next race when Donald McCain’s horse sadly broke a leg and he smacked into the back of it aboard Grumeti, losing six lengths and momentum.  As a result he was off the bridle midway down the back straight and not wanting to use up too much petrol to catch up.  But he says that Grumeti battled well to beat Countrywide Flame.

 

The next day he couldn’t believe that he won a second Grade 1, this time aboard Lovcen; the horse didn’t travel at any stage and Choc was working harder than the horse was.  It was only at the last flight that he thought he could win.

 

He had another winning chance in the Mares’ Bumper but Call Me A Star got worked up and got rid of him on the walkway under the stands [yes, I know, because I heard the commotion and saw it happen], bursting out through the rail.  That having occurred, Choc just wanted to give her as good an experience as she could have.  Choc says she tried hard and finished second – a lovely mare with everything in front of her.

* * * * *

 

I still have a sore throat and croaky voice ... so not feeling great.  And, of course, my nose is still weeping.  Nice!   

Friday 20 April 2012

Yesterday Choc was at Cheltenham and this is how he fared:

Tante Sissi (Alan King/Choc) finished 9th in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed) (11 ran).

Tickity Bleue (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd & Shady Lane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 11th in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (12 ran).

 

Today, Choc flew up to Ayr with colleague Barry Geraghty, and this is how he fared:

Dineur (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (8 ran).

Bar De Ligne (Steve Gollings/Choc) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Torphichen (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

 

Meanwhile, at Fontwell Park:

Hurricane Milly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran).

Midnight Sail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Novices’ Chase (6 ran).

 

Tomorrow, Choc will again be at Ayr:

14:15 Lidar (Alan King/Choc) – Future Champion Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)

14:50 Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) – Scottish Champion Hurdle (Grade 2 Limited Handicap)

15:25 Walkon (Alan King/Choc) & Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Scottish National (Grade 3)

16:00 Habbie Simpson (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle

16:35 Oh Crick (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

 

Sad news that Great Endeavour has suffered a fatal injury whilst on his summer holiday. More

 

I underwent my long awaited sinus operation yesterday, at 15:00.  I’m reliably informed that there was a thunderstorm overhead at that time ... I didn’t hear a thing!  I was kept in overnight; something to do with being older!  My companion in the ward, who was probably in her early twenties, underwent a similar operation at noon yesterday and was released by 21:30.  I didn’t get much sleep though, my second wave of unconsciousness being interrupted by the nurse wanting to take my blood pressure, pulse and temperature.  I couldn’t get to sleep after that.

 

The nose ‘tampons’ were removed this morning, both together ... ouch!  I now know what an embalmed pharaoh must have felt like having their brains pulled out through their nose although, of course, I’m still alive!  Shortly afterwards I felt nauseous and hot, so I pressed the emergency button.  However, the nurse was attending to someone else, and by the time she’d reached me I’d fainted on the floor.  Having helped me back to bed, oxygen was administered, after which I felt much better.  I was released from hospital at 11:30. 

 

I have a sore throat and a croaky voice and, every now and then, I can feel blood dripping from my left nostril into gauze taped below my nose ... nice!  There’s no bruising around my eyes, but my nose is a little swollen.  Oh well, no pain no gain.  I also have a long list of do’s and don’ts ... and, having been signed off work for two weeks, I am sidelined for next weekend’s Sandown fixture and an intended trip with my friends Fay and Lesley to see another friend Angie in Eastbourne on 01 May.  Damn. 

 

Choc’s latest column appeared in yesterday’s Horse and Hound; however, as I don’t want to overdo it today, I’ll endeavour to write an overview tomorrow.

Wednesday 18 April 2011

There were a number of runners of interest at Cheltenham today, and this is how they fared:

Medinas (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran).

Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the Handicap Chase [3 miles 4½ furlongs] (14 ran).

Jetnova (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up & Court In Session (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was a non-runner in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Twentyfourcarat (Ian Williams/Choc) was a non-runner in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Teshali (Martin Keighley/Willie Twiston-Davies) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys & Amateur Riders) (11 ran).

A number of non-runners today, as Cheltenham decided to water to ensure good safe ground, just in case the rain didn’t arrive ... but it did, and the course got a double-dose!

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be at Cheltenham once more; hopefully one of the ‘ladies’ can produce that elusive first Cheltenham winner of the season for him:

15:10 Tante Sissi (Alan King/Choc) – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

17:30 Tickity Bleue (Alan King/Choc) & Shady Lane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

There are just 10 days of the current season left.  Choc has ridden 50 winners so far, two fewer than in 2010/2011; both seasons having been interrupted by serious injury. 

 

Here is a link to an article on the At The Races website regarding the loss felt by the connections of Synchronised. Well worth a read.  More

 

There will be no blog tomorrow evening, as I’m scheduled to stay in Hospital overnight following my long awaited sinus operation.  Fingers crossed that normal service will resume on Friday.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Kempton Park

Quotica De Poyans (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) fell 2 out & Ruling Party (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Novices’ Hurdle (15 ran).

Dona (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) finished 13th & Andhaar (Richard Phillips/Choc) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (20 ran).

 

Exeter

Spring Moon (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase having suffered a tendon injury (9 ran).  Martin tweeted ‘fingers crossed’ he’ll make a full recovery. 

 

Tomorrow there are a number of runners of interest at Cheltenham; I’m hoping Choc will ride a winner there during the next two days, as he’s drawn a blank at the Gloucestershire track so far this season and this fixture is his last opportunity.

 

14:00 Medinas (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:35 Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase [3 miles 4½ furlongs]

15:10 Jetnova (Alan King/Choc) & Court In Session (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle

16:20 Twentyfourcarat (Ian Williams/Choc) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

17:30 Teshali (Martin Keighley/Miss Gina Andrews) - Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys & Amateur Riders)

 

I’ve been catching up jockey Dave Crosse’s ‘Love the Races’ column and, in his latest blog, he’s revealed this year’s Da Jesters nominees.  Choc has one nomination, for "Twitter Prat of Da Year" ...

Nominations are: Paddy Brennan, Will Kennedy, Choc Thornton, Seanie Quinlan and Paul Struthers

 

Tomorrow is the ‘follow-up’ digital retuning day in my area.  Let’s hope it is less stressful than it was on 04 April!  

Monday 16 April 2012

Tomorrow there are a number of runners of interest:

 

Kempton Park

15:20 Quotica De Poyans (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Ruling Party (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

16:50 Dona (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) & Andhaar (Richard Phillips/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle

 

Exeter

15:30 Spring Moon (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase

 

The post mortem on Saturday’s Grand National continues.  I encountered a number of ignorant and negative responses to the race at work today, including ‘I hope two jockeys die next year’.    

 

Greg Wood has written a fair article in the Guardian.  Click here to read. 

 

Trainer Malcolm Jefferson, who lost According To Pete on Saturday, has defended the race.  More

 

I confess that the race has already changed considerably from that which I remember as a child.  Choc, during our Newbury course walk, accused me of being from the ‘Ginger McCain’ school of racing!  I feel it is at risk of being totally ruined as the spectacle it once was. 

 

I’m becoming a little nervous about my sinus operation this Thursday.  I’ve been lucky, as I’ve only had two minor operations, one under general and one under local anaesthetic, but don’t recall worrying beforehand.  Is it because I’m getting older or, perhaps, because this operation is related to my breathing? 

Sunday 15 April 2012

Choc has posted a lovely photograph on Twitter of himself and William about to enjoy a late lunch today.

https://twitter.com/#!/Choc_Thornton/status/191561678566080512/photo/1

 

70,441 attended yesterday’s Grand National, another sell out crowd.  Hopefully the quality of Aintree’s printed tickets will be better next year; the bar code on both my tickets could not be read by their ticket machine!  They knew there was an existing problem, as my tickets were swapped immediately for test ones; I was annoyed because I like to keep them as a memento.  I had purchased ticket number 0001 for the Earl of Derby Stand Terrace on both days.  But at least I still have my badges. 

 

The provisional dates for next year’s Aintree Festival are Thursday 04 April to Saturday 06 April; I notice that Premier Inn has already marked up all the rooms in the Liverpool area as unavailable for that particular period.  It happened this year, with the hotel chain putting up their prices by around £25 a night before releasing rooms onto the market at a later date!  Very sneaky ...

 

I went to a Travelodge this year; poorer quality than Premier Inn but cheaper.  However, I shall wait for a while and no doubt rooms will be available at some point in the future.  I noticed that there were still a limited number of rooms available at my chosen Premier Inn just a few days ago. 

 

No National Hunt racing tomorrow.  I’m returning to work for 3 days; I’ll be having my sinus operation on Thursday, staying in overnight and being released from hospital on Friday, I’m told.  Then signed off for a week in total.

Despite not getting to bed until around 02:00 this morning, I awoke at 06:45.  No wonder I now feel tired.  However, I have spent time today uploading the photographs I took at Aintree.

Friday Races 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6

Friday Race 5

Friday Race 7

Saturday Races 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 & 7

Saturday Grand National

Saturday 14 April 2012

Choc had two riding engagements at Aintree yesterday and this is how they fared:

Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 2nd in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) [3 miles 1 furlong] (5 ran).

Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) won the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles ½ furlong] (19 ran). Choc’s 50th winner of the season.

Call Me A Star (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd & Flementine (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 6th in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race [2 miles 1 furlong] (20 ran).

 

There were 2 runners of interest at Aintree today:

Arabian Heights (Alan King/Adrian Maguire) finished 6th in the Charity race (12 ran).

West End Rocker (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) fell at the 2nd fence in the Grand National (40 ran).

 

Today’s Grand National was totally marred by the death of two horses, including Gold Cup hero Synchronised.  Without the assistance of the TV links when at the racecourse, it’s impossible to discover news; I didn’t know that two horses had died until I phoned my mum before I set off for home (she likes to know I’m safe ... even at my age ... she’s a worrier).  It later transpired that the green screens at fence 5 were for the injured Noel Fehily, not for an injured horse; the jockey has a suspected broken ankle.  Synchronised got up following his fall at Becher’s and galloped after the other runners; did he damage a hind leg when clambering over the 11th fence?

 

The other fatality, According To Pete, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, breaking a leg when being brought down by On His Own at Becher’s second time around.  The ups and downs of racing ... trainer Malcolm Jefferson celebrating Cheltenham/Aintree doubles with both Cape Tribulation and Attaglance; but then losing his Grand National horse today.

 

West End Rocker went missing for a while ... Wayne walked back to the grandstand bend, where he met up with Alan King, and Travelling Head Lad, Matt Howells.  They were glancing up and down the racecourse, trying to spot Rocker.  Matt then set off towards the first fence and, shortly afterwards, could be seen leading the horse back.  Mind you, they had a lot of difficulty unsaddling Rocker, he wouldn’t stand still and was kicking out too; I wonder if his girth had been forced back when he struggled over fence 3, the open-ditch, when loose.  As that will irritate him.  

 

I’m pleased that Grand National winner, Neptune Collonges, is to be retired following today’s race. 

 

Amazingly, I actually backed both Seabass and Cappa Bleu each way ... winning bets made by myself are almost as rare as hen’s teeth! 

 

Choc was at Chepstow and this is how he fared:

Tell Me Y (Jonjo O’Neill) finished 6th in the Novices’ Hurdle (15 ran).

Draco Boy (Tony Carroll) was pulled up in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

Upthemsteps (Ian Williams) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 3½ furlongs] (7 ran).

Walden Prince (Tony Carroll) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (15 ran).

Brunette’sonly (JW Mullins) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [3 miles] (12 ran).

Mister Newby (Richard Phillips) was a non–runner.

Turn Over Sivola (Alan King) finished 4th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race Div II (15 ran).

 

No specific runners of interest tomorrow.

Too tired to upload my photos now ...

It may have been Friday 13th yesterday but it wasn’t unlucky for me because ... I ‘accosted’ Choc on his way back to the Weighing Room to offer congratulations on his wins aboard Lovcen and Grumeti; I got to kiss him on the cheek and ... I hugged him too!  J  It was also a hug because he’d not got a ride in the Grand National ...

Thursday 12 April 2012

As I’m writing a blog today, you will have gathered that I didn’t attempt a last minute extension to my trip to Aintree.  I didn’t realise just how much preparation I had still to do ... so I would have been awake for most of the night trying to get everything ready!  Nor would it have been conducive to a 200 mile drive to Liverpool, when I need to set out at 05:30 in the morning, which means an alarm call at 03:30!!!  Everything being well, I hope to make it a 3-day trip in 2013; and, perhaps, my friend Lesley will join me on Grand National day next year, if not before.

 

This is how Choc fared at Aintree today:

Smad Place (Alan King) fell (according to ATR’s site) or unseated (according to the Racing Post) 4 out in the Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles ½ furlong]; it was such a bad blunder that, regardless of the description, it was impossible for Choc to survive the mistake (8 ran).  In fact only 5 finished, with Restless Harry falling, bringing down Won In The Dark earlier in the race.

Grumeti (Alan King) won the Anniversary 4-year-old Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) [2 miles ½ furlong], beating Triumph Hurdle winner Countryside Flame by a length (11 ran).  Choc’s 49th winner of the season.  Sadly the race was marred by the fatal injury to Gottany O’s, who went wrong approaching the 4th flight.

Medermit (Alan King) finished a very close 4th in the Bowl Chase (Grade 1) [3 miles 1 furlong] (11 ran). 

Kumbeshwar (Alan King) finished 4th in the Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) [2 miles] (13 ran).

 

Race 1: Here is the link to the story regarding Big Buck’s’ victory in the Liverpool Hurdle; a record number of 17 consecutive wins.  More

 

Race 2: And Grumeti’s Grade 1 win today too.  More

 

Race 3: The Bowl Chase was won by the Irish 50-1 shot, Follow The Plan.  More

 

Race 4: The Donald McCain trained Cloudy Lane won the Fox Hunters’ Chase for amateur riders which takes place over the National fences.  My Way De Solzen jumped extremely well, cutting out the running for part of the race, before fading to finish 7th.  More

 

Race 5: The race was won by Paul Nicholls trained, Ruby Walsh ridden, Edgardo Sol; the winning distance 14 lengths! 

 

Race 6: Menorah returned to form to win the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase.  More

 

Race 7: The winner of the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival, Cape Tribulation, won the Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle, under top weight.  More

 

Frustratingly, Martin Keighley’s Any Currency is now first reserve for Saturday’s feature; the last chance to discover whether he will get a run will be at 09:00 tomorrow.  Any withdrawals after that will not be replaced and the field will be fewer than 40. 

 

Tomorrow, Choc has two riding engagements at Aintree; and there are also two other runners of interest:

14:30 Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) [3 miles 1 furlong]

16:15 Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) – Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles ½ furlong]

17:25 Call Me A Star (Alan King/Choc) & Flementine (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race [2 miles 1 furlong]

 

Ahead of the Aintree Festival, Choc has written a new column for Horse and Hound, published today.

 

Anyone got a spare ride he asks?  At the time of writing (last Monday) he hadn’t got a ride and was very disappointed.  He mentions that Alan King will be running West End Rocker in the big race and that Wayne Hutchinson will be riding, having piloted the horse to success in the Becher Chase earlier in the season; the owners deciding to stick with Wayne. 

 

Choc states that West End Rocker is blooming and has got a great chance in the race, which makes it harder to swallow.  He says he’s not the first person to be jocked-off and he genuinely wishes Wayne, Alan and the owners the best of luck.  Choc writes that the National is the one race he’d love to ride in and has been one of the reasons he fought so hard to return quickly following his broken arm.

 

Aintree always brings back lots of memories for Choc.  His best ride was provided by Supreme Charm for Kim Bailey in 2002.  Choc says he nearly fell off at the first fence, but then got a great staying ride off the horse to finish fifth.  Following retirement, Supreme Charm won the Melton Hunt Club Ride when ridden by Annabel Bealby; 3½ miles of Leicestershire hedges must have seemed like a breeze following 4½ miles in the National!

 

Choc also enjoyed his ride aboard Torduff Express in 2000, despite falling at the 13th.  Choc blames himself for the horse’s early exit that year; they were going very well, he relaxed, got in a bit too deep to the fence and they were gone.  Choc mentions that Polly Gundry rode the horse to win the Fox Hunters’ two years later.

 

Choc won the Fox Hunters’ when he was 18-years-old (in 1997), aboard Blue Cheek.  They won by 17 lengths – Choc writes that life seemed so easy back then!

 

He commends Jonjo O’Neill for deciding to run Synchronised in the National; it would be good for racing for the Gold Cup winner to have a shot at National Hunt racing’s other great prize.  He recalls Garrison Savannah gamely finishing second in the big race, a few short weeks after winning the Gold Cup.  Also Master Oats attempting the same double in 1995, but it’s not been done since.  The only horse to complete the double was Golden Miller in the 1930s. 

 

If a horse is in good form, Choc thinks there’s no reason not to run him ... although he isn’t sure that the Synchronised will jump well enough.  Choc believes Sunnyhillboy’s chances should be respected, having won the Fulke Walwyn/Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham last month.  He also thinks that if a horse is to complete a Grand National double, then Ballabriggs might be that horse.

 

Choc doesn’t fancy Junior; the horse having previously been trained by Alan King.  He’s sure the horse is not a good enough jumper to complete the course; although he admits he could be wrong.

 

He writes that his best chance of a winner at the Festival will be Grumeti in the 4-year-old Juvenile Hurdle.  The first day of the Festival will be his busiest, with the aforementioned, Smad Place (Liverpool Hurdle), Medermit (Betfred Bowl) and maybe Kumbeshwar (Red Rum Chase) [an entry having been made for Saturday too].       

 

Choc schooled Grumeti on Monday and the horse is in serious form.  He is convinced they will turn the tables on Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame. 

 

On Friday Choc rides Call Me A Star in the mares’ bumper; he states that she’s as good a mare as he’s ridden for a long time.  He also rides Lovcen, who ran an excellent race in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and will run in either the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle or a handicap; as he writes, he hopes the former (confirmed above).

 

And, last but not least, Choc wishes the best of luck to My Way De Solzen who runs in the Fox Hunters’ on Thursday (today).  He states that the horse gave him two of the best days of his life, when winning the World Hurdle and, a year later, the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival.  Choc says the horse means an awful lot to him and his main wish is that My Way comes back safe and sound today.

 

My interesting fact of the day, Golden Miller was bred by Laurence Geraghty, grandfather of Barry!

 

As I write this, it is almost 100% certain that Choc won’t have a ride in Saturday’s Grand National; his main hope having been Hold On Julio, who was withdrawn from the race having run below par at Cheltenham.  I’m very disappointed for him and also disappointed for me; Saturday won’t be the same without him.  And I know how it feels to be at Aintree when he is not; it happened previously in 2010.  I expect Choc to be at Chepstow that day, where Alan King has a number of runners. 

 

No blog or results tomorrow evening, as I’ll be in Merseyside ... I must look on the bright side though because, all being well, I will see Choc ride tomorrow. J 

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Tomorrow, Choc will be at Aintree, where he has four extremely good riding engagements:

14:00 Smad Place (Alan King) – Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles ½ furlong]

14:30 Grumeti (Alan King) – Anniversary 4-year-old Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) [2 miles ½ furlong]

15:05 Medermit (Alan King) – Bowl Chase (Grade 1) [3 miles 1 furlong]

16:15 Kumbeshwar (Alan King) - Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) [2 miles]

 

I notice that My Way De Solzen is due to run in tomorrow’s Fox Hunters’ Chase over the National fences.  He will be ridden by Mr Will Biddick. 

 

Here is an interesting article from the Irish Examiner regarding tomorrow’s Bowl Chase.  More

 

And another from the ATR website regarding Grumeti.  More

 

I’ve been at sixes and sevens today ... I’m gutted that I’ve not made arrangements to go to Aintree tomorrow, tickets are available and I could still book somewhere to stay tomorrow night even at this late stage, but I’ve not packed yet and my outfits still need to be ironed; my legs epilated too (!) ... I think my biggest dilemma has been what to do with my car upon arrival, as parking is limited and there’s no park and ride available this year; Aintree is trying to encourage the use of public transport to and from the racecourse – not much use if you’re travelling miles to get there!   I’ll be okay on Friday and Saturday as I’ve pre-paid for a space in the centre-course Steeplechase car park as usual.  Capricorn’s have a problem being ‘spontaneous’ ... everything has to be meticulously planned, especially as I’ll be alone and 200 miles away from home! 

 

Today, Choc has uploaded two videos of William playing football; well worth a viewing: 

http://yfrog.com/0ts83z

http://yfrog.com/1f334fz

 

Following his win in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham, I was sad to read that Bellvano died at Fairyhouse yesterday, having broken his neck when falling heavily at the last in a Grade A Handicap Chase. 

 

Here is the link to my Cheltenham Day 4 diary, which I uploaded late yesterday.  Click here to read. 

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Choc has been looking after William today; he’s tweeted a piccie too, of William aboard a rocking horse: http://twitter.com/#!/Choc_Thornton/status/189701056366788608/photo/1

 

Choc also tweeted a picture taken in Liverpool in 1997, the day of the ‘bomb scare’ National:

http://twitter.com/#!/Choc_Thornton/status/189737519275966468/photo/1

 

I was hoping that Choc would be at Aintree on Saturday, despite not riding in the Grand National but, no, it appears he’s off to Chepstow to ride horses for the Alan King yard; I’m very disappointed, as I’m not at Aintree on Thursday to see him, although fortunately our paths will cross on Friday, but not on Saturday.  I really don’t like it when I’m at the wrong racecourse, even if it is Grand National day. 

 

The season is quickly ebbing away, with few opportunities to see Choc during the summer months.  I wonder if he will be at Sandown Park on the final day of the season.  If so, I just hope that I’ve recovered from my sinus operation by then; but may have to wear dark glasses regardless of the weather if I suffer bruising during the procedure!         

 

Both the Alan King yard and the Martin Keighley yard will have runners in Aintree’s Charity Race which takes place before racing on Saturday.  Adrian Maguire will ride Arabian Heights for the former and Jimmy Frost will ride Sky Calling for the latter.    

 

Vendor is finished for the season having suffered a bad cut to a hind leg when struck into during Sunday’s race at Towcester; fortunately it missed the tendon.  Montbazon will also not run again this term; he will remain hurdling next season, having run just 4 times over the smaller obstacles.  

The work continues on my diary; I hope to upload it either late this evening or sometime tomorrow evening. 

Monday 09 April 2012

Today’s results are as follows:

 

Chepstow

Soir D’Estruval (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (8 ran).

Hurricane Milly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was a non-runner in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Pantxoa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 8th & Dona (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) was a non-runner in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

 

It was good to see Pancake win the 3 mile Handicap Chase.  He is now trained by Bernard Llewellyn, and today was ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies.  Although he did produce a couple of scary moments in the home straight!

 

Huntingdon

Cool Steel (Alan King/Peter Hatton) finished 7th in the Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

Brimham Boy (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase (8 ran).

Woodyoulikeme (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) finished a short-head 2nd in the Intermediate Open NH Flat Race Div I (10 ran).

 

Plumpton

Ulys De Charmil (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 3rd in the Juvenile Hurdle (6 ran).

 

A typical Bank Holiday ... rain, rain, rain! 

 

The Liverpool Echo is running an article about Wayne Hutchinson and his hopes for this Saturday’s Grand National, when he rides West End Rocker.  More

 

And also an article from the Racing Post’s website regarding Alan King’s hopes for his stable’s Grand National entry, and his wish for rain.  More

 

It looks like Alan will get his wish.  More

 

It was the five-day declaration stage for the Grand National today, the most notable absentee from the acceptors being Burton Port.  More  Martin Keighley’s Any Currency is 43rd on the list at the moment, with 48 horses declared, 40 being the maximum number of runners permitted.

 

And with rain showers forecasted for the Aintree Festival, I re-planned my footwear and realised I needed a pair of navy blue shoes ... so, not satisfied with just one pair, I ended up purchasing two!  It wasn’t my fault M&S had two styles I liked in my size!

 

I’m pleased to report that I’ve typed up the first complete draft of my Gold Cup Day diary.  All that remains now is to check my race note facts and proof read the entire document.  No mean feat as there are over 8,400 words!  But I have tomorrow evening and Wednesday evening to do this, as I’m working for the next two days, before taking Thursday as holiday in order to pack and make final preparations for my 2-day trip to Aintree.

Sunday 08 April 2012

Today there were runners of interest at Towcester and this is how they fared:

Vendor (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran).

Rivermouth (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 6th in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (8 ran).

Frizzo (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won & R Craig (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 4th in the Maiden Hurdle (15 ran).

Willowby Hedge (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) finished 4th & Hollow Penny (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (12 ran).

 

Four National Hunt fixtures tomorrow, with runners of interest at 3 of them:

 

Chepstow

14:50 Soir D’Estruval (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

15:25 Hurricane Milly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

16:35 Pantxoa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Dona (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) – Handicap Hurdle

 

Huntingdon

14:20 Cool Steel (Alan King/Peter Hatton) – Conditional Jockeys’ Training Series Handicap Hurdle

17:15 Brimham Boy (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Chase

17:50 Woodyoulikeme (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) – Intermediate Open NH Flat Race Div I

 

Plumpton

14:30 Ulys De Charmil (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Juvenile Hurdle

 

I’ve been working on my Day 4 Cheltenham diary again today; however I’ve not completed the first draft yet.  I guess my challenge will be to finish and upload it before I set off for Aintree!

Saturday 07 April 2012

Runners of interest at 3 fixtures today and this is how they fared:

 

Haydock Park

Lidar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) sporting first time blinkers won the Novices’ Chase by 34 lengths! (5 ran).

Prince De Seuil (Alan King/Jimmy McCarthy) was pulled up & Suburban Bay (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Handicap Chase (betfair Chase Series Final) (15 ran).

Dineur (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (betfair Hurdle Series Final) (20 ran).

Torphichen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase (13 ran).

Letsby Avenue (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) won the race despite clipping heels and stumbling under 2 furlongs out & Saudi Pearl (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th in the Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (10 ran).

 

Trainer Brian Ellison claimed both the Chase Series Final and the Hurdle Series Final with bargain basement horses.  More

 

Newton Abbot

Hindon Road (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 2nd in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (5 ran).

Oh Crick (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (8 ran).

 

Carlisle

Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Nicky Slatter) finished 8th in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

 

Tomorrow, there are runners of interest at Towcester:

14:10 Vendor (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:40 Rivermouth (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

16:15 Frizzo (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & R Craig (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Maiden Hurdle

17:20 Willowby Hedge (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) & Hollow Penny (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

With Prince De Beauchene already a non-runner in next Saturday’s Grand National, Ruby has decided to ride the Willie Mullins trained On His Own, as opposed to his father Ted’s horse Seabass.  The latter will be ridden by Ruby’s sister Katie.  More

 

I had often wondered what happened to RUK presenter Michael Wilson, as I miss his dulcet tones voicing the RUK racing replays; he was interviewed on The Morning Line this morning and now works for Bodugi.com; the MD of the company is Dave Nevison.

 

I’ve completed and uploaded my Cheltenham diary relating to Day 3 of this year’s Festival.  Click here to read.

Friday 06 April 2012

Runners of interest at 3 fixtures tomorrow although, of course, it’s a ‘Choc-less’ weekend due to suspension. L

 

Haydock Park

13:50 Lidar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Chase

14:25 Prince De Seuil (Alan King/Jimmy McCarthy) & Suburban Bay (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase (betfair Chase Series Final)

14:55 Dineur (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle (betfair Hurdle Series Final)

15:30 Torphichen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

17:15 Letsby Avenue (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) & Saudi Pearl (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

 

Newton Abbot

15:05 Hindon Road (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:40 Oh Crick (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Handicap Chase

 

Carlisle

16:30 Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Nicky Slatter) – Handicap Hurdle

 

Here is a run-down of the winners at last evening’s Lesters.  More

 

If I was ever concerned that I’d struggle to find enough to write about in my first Cheltenham diary of 2012, and I think I was for a few days earlier this week, I need not have worried.  I finished the first complete draft for Day 3 today ... and it’s over 6,700 words long!

Thursday 05 April 2012

Check out this photo tweeted by trainer Richard Phillips:

https://twitter.com/#!/RTPhillips1/status/187504833782222848/photo/1

 

I gather from tweets, that Choc is off to the Lesters this evening; evidently the holiday traffic around Birmingham has been horrendous.  I confess to being wildly jealous that I’m not attending ... but that would be too much like stalking ... besides, I’m not really a party animal!  Although having contributed to the ‘Jockeys with Moustaches’ charity fundraising back in 2009, which was ‘organised’ through the PJA, annually I receive notification of the event via a mailshot!

A decision regarding the Lambourn Open Day has been made ... I won’t be attending this year.  I’ve been at sixes and sevens for the past week or so, ever since the possible fuel crisis arose, and I just cannot get the motivation now.  Damn.  It’s going to be a very quiet Easter weekend spent at home.  L   Especially as Choc is suspended so cannot ride ... but maybe ATR will begin broadcasting snippets from the Lesters, and that will cheer me up if I see Choc! 

Wednesday 04 April 2012

Choc was at Hereford this afternoon and this is how he fared:

Denali Highway (Alan King) finished 5th in the Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).

Soleil D’Avril (Alan King) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle (6 ran).

Saudi Pearl (Alan King) was a non-runner in the Intermediate Open NH Flat Race

 

No riding engagements for Choc tomorrow ... so he’s now got a 7 day break until he’s back in action.  There’s no racing on Good Friday, he’s suspended on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, there’s no National Hunt racing next Tuesday or Wednesday.  The next time he will be in action is a week tomorrow at Aintree! 

 

The 22nd Annual Lesters Awards ceremony takes place tomorrow evening in Birmingham, so there may well be a few sore heads on Good Friday.  More

 

Horrendous snow scenes in the north ... Hertfordshire escaped with better than expected, as it was quite a nice day here!   My niece Kim has been fortunate, she travelled to Edinburgh last weekend with colleagues from university, then returned to Sheffield earlier this week ... and is now back home in Bedfordshire.  I think she must have been one step ahead of the snow as it travelled south!  

 

I was going to draft more of my Day 3 Cheltenham diary yesterday evening but was so tired that I kept dosing off to sleep.  This evening I’ve almost given up the will to live having been diverted into re-tuning my TV equipment, as it is digital re-tuning day in the southeast.  I hate the stress of it all ... especially as everything needs to be back to normal ahead of next week’s Aintree Festival so that I can record both RUK and the BBC coverage too. 

But I had a nice lunch break today, as my friend Denise texted me this morning to say she was in St Albans around that time undertaking one of her regular coach outings.  So we met briefly for lunch.  But I still haven’t decided as to whether I’m going to the Lambourn Open Day!  She said I could let her know tomorrow.

Tuesday 03 April 2012

Choc was at Fontwell Park today and this is how he fared:

Medinas (Alan King/Choc) won the Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran); Choc’s 48th winner of the season. J

Habbie Simpson (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (4 ran).

Bold Tara (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 4th & Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (11 ran).

Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 4th in the ‘Hands and Heels’ Handicap Hurdle (Conditionals and Amateurs) (5 ran).

 

Tomorrow Choc will be at Hereford, where he has 3 riding engagements:

14:10 Denali Highway (Alan King) – Maiden Hurdle

15:40 Soleil D’Avril (Alan King) – Handicap Hurdle (aka April Sun).

17:10 Saudi Pearl (Alan King) – Intermediate Open NH Flat Race

 

Still no decision has been made by me as to whether I will go to the Lambourn Open Day on Friday; I think fuel supplies are okay in my area now ... but all the fuss has put doubts in my mind and made me hesitant.  I’ll have to make my mind up tomorrow and tell my friend Denise too, as she was going to accompany me.  However, the events sound very interesting this year ... and I’d love to see the camel racing.  More  Oh dear ... I don’t know what to do!

Monday 02 April 2012

Choc is back in action tomorrow, at Fontwell Park:

14:10 Medinas (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:40 Habbie Simpson (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase

15:40 Bold Tara (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) & Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) – Mares’ Maiden Hurdle

16:40 Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – ‘Hands and Heels’ Handicap Hurdle (Conditionals and Amateurs)

Sunday 01 April 2012

Three runners of interest at Ascot today:

Forresters Folly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd & Kings Bayonet (Alan King/Choc) won the Maiden Hurdle (10 ran); Choc’s 47th winner of the season. J

Balzaccio (Alan King/Peter Hatton) finished 2nd in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

 

No riding engagements for Choc tomorrow, as the sole National Hunt fixture will be held at Kelso.

 

It was very sad that Fox Hunt, Grand Vent and Bronze Cannon all lost their lives at Meydan yesterday, when running in the Dubai Gold Cup.  The grass track cannot be deemed suitable for horses to run 2 miles upon it, let alone further, the race having been re-run due to Fox Hunt’s demise in the earlier attempt.  It seems that so many horses are breaking their legs these days, when just galloping, taking part in both codes.  Is it because horses are being bred more and more for speed and losing their resilience in the process?  Although, of course, legs will always be vulnerable. 

 

Today I’ve been spending time drafting up race notes for a diary of Day 3 of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.  However, it seems to be taking ages, as it’s difficult to describe races with so many runners involved ... so far I’ve managed to complete handwritten notes for just the first three races!  And they will all require reviewing for correctness once I’ve typed them up.  

 

I’m not sure whether I will be going to the Lambourn Open Day next Friday; it all depends on there being no threat of action from the tanker drivers on the run-up to Aintree.  I have a full tank now, and may need to conserve this; which means no journeys in the meantime.  I’ve warned by friend Denise accordingly, as I had invited her to come along to the Open Day with me. 


 

 

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