APRIL 2016



Saturday 30 April 2016

Here are today’s results for my runners of interest:



Sticking Point (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) finished last, Sugarmix (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) finished 12th and The Unit finished 4th (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) in the NH Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).

Sego Success (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th in the Handicap Chase [3 miles & 2 yards] (14 ran).

It’s been a long season for Alan’s horses and their form has definitely tailed off during the past couple of months.



Kumbeshwar (Lucinda Russell/Alexander Thorne) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 48 yards] (7 ran).



Fletchers Flyer (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily) won the Handicap Chase [3 miles 6 furlongs] (17 ran); he’s owned by Masterson Holdings.  That’s not why I chose to follow him; it’s because he’s a bright-coloured bay with a blaze!


Meanwhile, Apple’s Jade romped away with the Grade 1 Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, beating Let’s Dance and Ivanovich Gorbatov; Willie Mullins thinks she is the best juvenile he has ever trained. 


The 2000 Guineas was won by Galileo Gold, ridden by Frankie Dettori and trained by Hugo Palmer. 



There was one additional result from yesterday, at Chepstow:

Forecast (Martin Keighley/Tom Marquand) finished 3rd in the Handicap [1 mile 4 furlongs] (7 ran).

I only tend to notice flat runners if they are listed on my ATR Tracker; Forecast has now been added!


There’s no National Hunt racing tomorrow.


Pineau De Re for blog.jpg


Happy retirement

Pineau De Re



Following his run at Uttoxeter today, where he appeared to be totally out of love with racing, 13-year-old Pineau De Re has been retired.  I’d like to take this opportunity to wish him a long and happy retirement and, hopefully, we’ll see him taking part in Aintree’s Grand National Winners’ Parade in 2017.


Not such good news of Chapoturgeon; he collapsed and died having won a point-to-point at Woodford today. L RIP



Having thought that I might begin writing my diary race notes today, I chose to select and upload photographs instead.  I seem to have spent ages pouring over a hot laptop this afternoon and evening ... but tasks always take much longer than expected.

Friday 29 April 2016

Here are today’s results for my runners of interest:


Fontwell Park:

Devil To Pay (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 1 furlong & 96 yards] (6 ran).

Roberto Pegasus (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 5 furlongs & 31 yards] (9 ran).

Kokomo (Noel Williams/Tom O’Brien replaced William Featherstone) finished 9th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (11 ran).



Jazzy (Martin Keighley/Tom Queally) finished 3rd in the Handicap [1 mile & 14 yards] (10 ran).


Vroum Vroum Mag won the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle at Punchestown today, with Identity Thief as runner-up and My Tent Or Yours in 3rd; she wouldn’t have done had she run at Sandown Park last Saturday!!!


Jer’s Girl won the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle, from O O Seven and Thomas Hobson.  Meanwhile On The Fringe won the Champion Hunters Chase.


Choc visited Tattersalls in Newmarket for yesterday’s breeze up and, today, I notice that bloodstock agent Federico Barberini has purchased a number of horses, including fillies, and I wonder if any are intended for the Apple Tree Stud.   Highflyer Bloodstock has also purchased a number of horses for Alan King.


Here is a link to the catalogue, with sales results listed; the lots to look out for are 113, 122, 129, 156, 159, 169, 171, 173, 189, 190, 195, 219, 231 and 253:



There are a number of runners of interest tomorrow:



13:50 Sticking Point (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) & Sugarmix (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) & The Unit (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – NH Maiden Hurdle

15:35 Sego Success (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [3 miles & 2 yards]



18:25 Kumbeshwar (Lucinda Russell/Alexander Thorne) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 48 yards]



15:10 Fletchers Flyer (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily) – Handicap Chase [3 miles 6 furlongs]


I’ve no plans for the 3-day weekend, except spending time working on my backlog of diaries and photos for my website ... with the proviso that my back and shoulders don’t complain too much and my old laptop doesn’t decide to shut down of its own accord too many times either!!!


And last but not least, Happy Birthday to Andre Agassi, who is 46 today.

Thursday 28 April 2016

There was no reversal in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Punchestown today, with Douvan taking the honours with ease.  Although, having said that, he had little opposition!


In the absence of Thistlecrack, the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle was won by the Warren Greatrex-trained One Track Mind, ridden by Gavin Sheehan:



Cup Final won the Handicap Hurdle for Nicky Henderson and Robbie Power. 


Cross Country stalwart Uncle Junior has been retired after his run in the La Touche Cup today:



And he got his own special rug too, having finished 4th today:



Noel Williams is due to move to his new yard next Thursday:



And Lee Mead has now taken over the role of Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:



Evidently the film location of the Scrumptious Sweet Co exterior was Kempton Waterworks, immediately adjacent to the A316 and a stone’s throw from the racecourse!  I know the windmill is located at Ibstone near Turville, and the duck pond is at Russell’s Water, also in Buckinghamshire.  Turville has been used as a film location many times, including for Midsomer Murders, Goodnight Mr Tom and, of course, The Vicar of Dibley. 


There’s no result to report today, as the going deteriorated and Celtic Artisan was thus a non-runner at Sedgefield.


There are four runners of interest tomorrow:


Fontwell Park:

17:25 Devil To Pay (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 1 furlong & 96 yards]

18:30 Roberto Pegasus (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 5 furlongs & 31 yards]

20:05 Kokomo (Noel Williams/William Featherstone) – Standard Open NH Flat Race



16:00 Jazzy (Martin Keighley/Tom Queally) – Handicap [1 mile & 14 yards]


My Sandown Park diary draft is coming along very nicely ...

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Carlingford Lough won the Punchestown Gold Cup, despite appearing to be struggling in rear for much of the race; that’s his style evidently!


Djakadam finished 2nd, Don Poli 3rd and Cue Card 4th; further evidence that a number of horses are now over the top and need a holiday after a busy season!


Road To Riches took an awful fall two out, but he did get up:



And here he is a little later too:



The GB did have a winner however, specifically Wales, with Irish Cavalier winning the Handicap Chase.


Moon Racer, on the sidelines since winning the 2015 Cheltenham bumper, had to settle for 2nd place in the Grade 1 Flat Race in which Katie Walsh rode her first Grade 1 winner aboard Blow By Blow.  The 2016 Cheltenham bumper 3rd and Aintree bumper winner Bacardys finished 3rd today.  


I’ve done the Racing Post’s “Which Jumps Star are you?” ...


I’m not happy ... as I’m Un De Sceaux!  It says I’m a tearaway who lives to the max. There are plenty of thrills and spills but I wouldn’t want it any other way!  But that doesn’t sound like me at all!!!


There is one runner of interest tomorrow, at Sedgefield:

19:40 Celtic Artisan (Rebecca Menzies/Bridget Andrews/EPDS Racing) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 178 yards]


There is no racing at Towcester tomorrow, as the ground has been deemed unstable after their annual direct drilling operation.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Apologies for no blog yesterday, but I had been feeling under the weather since Sunday evening ... fortunately I’m feeling a lot better today.


Firstly, very sad news regarding Aintree’s Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase winner, Arzal, whose life has been claimed by an infection.


RIP Arzal.jpg


RIP Arzal


This is the news reported by Racing UK:



There are two results to report from yesterday, at Chelmsford:

Dalavand (Jamie Osborne/Timmy Murphy/Apple Tree Stud) finished 9th in the Maiden Stakes for 3-year-olds [7 furlongs] (10 ran).

Schoolboy Error (Jamie Osborne/William Carson/part-owned Apple Tree Stud) won the Handicap for 3-year-olds [1 mile & 2 furlongs] (9 ran).


Vautour was beaten fair and square into 2nd place in the Champion Chase at Punchestown today; the winner was none other than God’s Own, who won the Melling Chase by what may have been considered at the time as default!!!  And Simonsig finished a close 3rd, having run out of puff in the final few yards. 


Also, Yorkhill bombed in the 2-mile Champion Novice Hurdle; he could only finish 4th.  It’s obviously been a long season for a number of the Willie Mullins horses ... although I like to think of it as karma!!!


And Zabana gained welcome compensation for the mishap at Cheltenham by winning the 3 mile 1 furlong Champion Novice Chase.  


Having discovered that Wocket Woy is none other than Mr Muddle, I’ve now found out that Nobby is Ya Hafed. 


I forgot to mention that jockey Peter Buchanan announced his retirement last week.


And Paul Nicholls’ Assistant, Tom Jonason, has left the yard to take up a job in the City.  Evidently he got married recently and has set up residence in his wife’s home county of Leicestershire ... which is rather a long way from Somerset ... he’s also given a home to Sire Collonges who retired recently.


As you can imagine I’m gutted that BHS has gone into receivership.  I love their winter coats and jackets, so don’t know where I might buy one in future.  Mind you, having said that, I’ve probably got enough of them to keep me going forever!  Both my black faux sheepskin jacket and black faux sheepskin coat were purchased from the store, although last century I recall.  The black coat I currently wear to work ... and wore to walk the course at Cheltenham with Choc in 2008.  My black and grey block colour coat, my purple padded jacket, my burgundy/brown padded jacket which I wear when I visit Menace, my teal jacket which I wore at Newbury, Cheltenham, Aintree and Sandown this season, my mauve ‘dressy’ jacket, my cerise ‘dressy’ jacket, a navy blue coat which I’ve not worn yet(!), my purple anorak, and a selection of three old anorak style jackets which I wear when cleaning the car!!!  Plus my black £20 ‘Aintree’ coat and my purple coat too.  I’ve also got a coat with a fur collar which is hanging in the hall but I can’t recall the last time I wore it; plus my cerise pink raincoat, a pale blue raincoat and a peach-coloured raincoat too.


I also love their sweaters and cardigans, which are far warmer and dry far more quickly than the majority of my M & S ones do!!!

End of Season Jump Jockey’s Championship Table






No. of winners

No. of rides

Strike Rate %

Total Prize Money £



Richard Johnson







Aidan Coleman







Sam Twiston-Davies







Noel Fehily







Brian Hughes







Harry Skelton







Tom Scudamore







Paddy Brennan







Gavin Sheehan







Nico de Boinville







Leighton Aspell







Sean Bowen







Wayne Hutchinson







David Bass







Paul Moloney







Daryl Jacob







Tom O’Brien







Danny Cook







Will Kennedy







Nick Scholfield








Sunday 24 April 2016

Sprinter Sacre.jpg

Smad Place.jpg


The racing ‘Star’ of the day was Sprinter Sacre,

pictured here returning having trounced his

rivals in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase


Smad Place parading ahead of racing,

led up by Jamie Insole

Balthazar King.jpg

Bobs Worth.jpg


The recently retired Balthazar King


The recently retired Bobs Worth



Well, that’s it for the 2015/2016 National Hunt season but my busiest period on the year continues, with numerous photos to select and upload from Cheltenham, Aintree and Sandown, and also 7 diaries to complete.  Nooooooooo!  Last year the task took me until early August but, as I’m further behind this year and very busy at work also, I guess it will probably take even longer. 


I’ve been to an unlucky thirteen fixtures this season – Worcester x 1, Ascot x 1, Newbury x 2, Kempton Park x 2, Cheltenham x 3, Aintree x 3, and Sandown Park x 1; it would have been 14 but for missing World Hurdle Day at Cheltenham due to exhaustion.  And I’ve been to Noel Williams’ yard to visit Menace on 3 occasions too. 


I enjoyed my day out at Sandown Park, accompanied by my friend Lesley.  The weather was okay too, with just a shower around lunch-time.  It wasn’t cold, apart from a period coinciding with race 5 or 6; it was suddenly colder then warmed up again!  The highlight of the day was Sprinter Sacre’s win in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase.


With no maps or satnav, we managed to find our way to the racecourse via a different route than usual.  As we were running a little later than planned, traffic was at a standstill on the M25 just prior to the M3 junction; there was also a warning of a road closure at the A243, on the northbound A3, and we had no idea whether this would affect us or not.  Later research suggests there is a A2043 at Maldon, so this would not have caused a problem to us had we remained on our original route.  However, as we still had two junctions of the M25 to negotiate, possibly at a snail’s pace, we headed up the M3 to Kempton Park instead.


However, that would have been okay had it not been for the fact there were two sets of road-works on the route between the M3 and Hampton Court!  We were thus stuck in two queues for ages on each occasion.  Having chosen this route, it then took us via the Scilly Isles roundabouts ... but, having seen but not followed the temporary signage indicating the route to the Sandown Park car parking area, we discovered there was a tailback all the way along Esher high street to the aforementioned roundabouts.  Fortunately it was not too late to re-route, and we did a 360-degree turn at the traffic islands and headed back in the direction we’d already come from!  


We then followed the signage along Weston Green Road, which subsequently took us along Lower Green Road, under the railway line and into More Lane, which meant we approached the entrance to the free car park from the opposite direction!  Thus I’m now sorted for future expeditions to Sandown Park!!!  I’m thinking that I can go via the usual route, and return via Kempton Park if required.  The only proviso being the occurrence of road-works on the road between Hampton Court and the Sunbury course – as we did return via our outward route and got caught up at Tagg’s Island once more; that was a surprise as it was almost 19:00 on a Saturday!  However, we bypassed the road-works close to the M3 by heading up Park Road beside Kempton Park, in other words my exit route on Boxing Day!  Who needs a satnav?


As suggested a few days ago, horses were a little sparse on the ground during the Champions Parade – although those which did show up were special ones – the lovely Smad Place, Balthazar King, Bobs Worth, Looks Like Trouble and Altior.  Blaklion was listed in the programme but didn’t make an appearance.  That’s the problem with all those Irish horses winning our feature races.  


I still really like Sandown Park; it holds a special place in my heart because it was there that I first saw Choc in the flesh, in 2008.  It was a sunny and warm Spring day on that occasion, although in those days it was a mixed card of jumps and flat racing.  My one regret about Sandown is that I never purchased a Premier ticket until it was too late to see Choc ride down the rhododendron walk to the racecourse.  Come to think of it, there are two regrets – as I would have loved to have walked the course with Choc here too. L


Just one runner of interest at Sandown Park yesterday:

Wilde Blue Yonder (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 12th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 3 furlongs & 173 yards].  I overheard a comment as he was led down the rhododendron walk to the racecourse – “he’s gassy”.  Wilde Blue Yonder was probably excited at being back in action following over two years on the injury sidelines. 


Poor Sam Twiston-Davies was looking a little the worse for wear; he’d got a bruised face and a black eye.  I presume that was a result of Simon Squirrel’s fatal fall at Chepstow the previous evening. 


ATR’s Sunday Forum was discussing dress-code at the racing, saying that the tweed brigade turn up solely at Cheltenham ... actually there was quite a lot of tweed on show at Sandown Park yesterday too!  However, in addition to not being one of the country set, I just couldn’t do tweed because the standard shade of grotty green is sooooooooooooooooooooooo not my colour!!!


Don Cossack has sustained a tendon injury, so there will be no showdown with Cue Card at Punchestown.  I gather Vautour has been declared to run in a different race ... but, with yesterday’schopping and changing’ to suit the situation, perhaps Willie Mullins will rethink his plan.  The Cheltenham Gold Cup winner’s career may be in the balance too.   


The owners want Thistlecrack to go chasing next season; he won’t make it to Punchestown having been found to have pus in his foot the past few days.  Vroum Vroum Mag can take her place in the line-up now, after being a last minute withdrawal at Sandown Park, once Willie Mullins discovered he’d lost our Trainers’ Championship to Paul Nicholls.   


It appears that Choc was out and about in Leicestershire yesterday, as colleague Sarah Welford rode Medermit in a charity race at the Garthorpe point-to-point, and won; this outing was suggested in the earlier Owner/Breeder article:






Meanwhile, I know his unpleasant ex-wife was out and about at Sandown Park, because I saw her! 


Ruby Walsh was also at Sandown Park yesterday, and has been cleared to ride at Punchestown next week too.


Sadly it’s now been reported that Present View didn’t make it after all; he’s been put to sleep following the injury sustained at Kempton Park last week.  RIP  L


Once more I’ve been disappointed with RUK’s Racing Breakfast – they’ve not shown a replay of the Aintree Festival highlights today.  Last Sunday it was highlights of the Craven meeting and a visit to JP McManus’ stud farm (although the latter was interesting) and today they broadcast a repeat of Wednesday’s This Racing Life, plus a compilation of a number of Richard Johnson’s 3,000 winners ... all well and good, except that’s already been repeated soooooooooo many times before.  Do I really have to wait until Christmas before I can obtain a copy of their Aintree Festival highlights for all three days?


I’ve got three outings booked, in May and June; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in Milton Keynes and Pasha Kovalev in St Albans next month, plus a rendezvous with Angy in Brighton, along with Lesley and Fay.  Lesley and Fay have been discussing whether to drive to Brighton, instead of catching the train; fortunately Lesley has volunteered to drive if we do!  It will certainly be cheaper, as the train fare is in excess of £30 for those under retirement age!!! 


There are two runners of interest tomorrow, at Chelmsford:

15:00 Dalavand (Jamie Osborne/Timmy Murphy/Apple Tree Stud) – Maiden Stakes for 3-year-olds [7 furlongs]

17:00 Schoolboy Error (Jamie Osborne/William Carson/part-owned Apple Tree Stud) – Handicap for 3-year-olds [1 mile & 2 furlongs]


Weekend over and back to the grindstone tomorrow. L

Friday 22 April 2016

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



Big Chief Benny (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Novices’ Hurdle Div I (6 ran); Wayne’s 56th winner of the season

Too Far Gone (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 11th and Sugar Mix (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) was awry and unseated at the first during the NH Maiden Hurdle (16 ran).



Daliance (Noel Williams/William Featherstone) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs & 114 yards] (8 ran).


The final of four foals has now been born at Apple Tree Stud; their mare Astonishing has given birth to a colt by Dansili.  Mum has a blaze, and the foal has too.


Richard and Lizzie Hughes have also welcomed a new arrival, today; a son named Dessie Henry – Dessie after his grandfather who passed away in 2014 – and a brother for Harvey and Phoebe.  The Hughes’ have also just completed the purchase of Weathercock House in Lambourn, made famous by Jenny Pitman.   


I’m looking forward to attending the final day of the 2015/2016 season at Sandown Park tomorrow.  I gather Smad Place will be one of the horses joining Bobs Worth and Altior in the Champions Parade ahead of racing. 


Having both had winners today, Paul Nicholls has a lead of £53,592 over Willie Mullins in the Trainers’ Championship and they both have many runners at the Esher track tomorrow.


Sandown Park:

14:20 Voix Du Reve – Willie Mullins; Tommy Silver – Paul Nicholls

14:55 Valseur Lido & Ballycasey – Willie Mullins; Saphir Du Rheu, Rocky Creek & Wonderful Charm – Paul Nicholls

15:35 Un De Sceaux – Willie Mullins; Dodging Bullets, Solar Impulse & Ulck Du Lin – Paul Nicholls; the other two runners being Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre.

16:10 Sir Des Champs & Measureofmydreams – Willie Mullins; Southfield Theatre & Just A Par – Paul Nicholls

16:45 Vroum Vroum Mag – Willie Mullins; Ptit Zig, San Benedeto & Silsol – Paul Nicholls; Ubak also runs in this race for Gary Moore and son Josh.

17:20 As De Mee, Some Buckle & Calipto – Paul Nicholls; Viva Steve runs in this one, for trainer Mick Channon and ridden by Harry Bannister.

17:55 Mckinley, Burgas & Bellow Mome – Willie Mullins; Qualando, Red Hanrahan, Alcala & Chartbreaker - Paul Nicholls ... the sole Alan King runner makes an appearance in this one – namely Wilde Blue Yonder returning after more than two years off the track and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.


Not only is the new Champion Jump Jockey being crowned tomorrow – Richard Johnson – but the Grand National winning jockey, David Mullins, will also be in action.  I would imagine these two will be on the autograph hunters ‘most wanted’ list.


Oh dear, I just cannot resist Hotter shoes ... especially if they are in the sale!  Being a regular customer, I received an email to let me know about their mid-season sale, so I thought I’d just take a peek.  I found a pair of trainer-style shoes named Astrid, which I’d admired when I collected my mushroom-coloured Cannes boots – reduced from £59 to £39 ... and a pair of black Leap shoes for just £34.  I’ve already got a pair of Leap shoes, in teal/gunmetal, which I bought in the autumn of 2014 and have been wearing to walk to work during the winter.  So much for me being good this month!

Thursday 21 April 2016

Firstly good news ... Present View is still with us, although very unlikely to run again due to the severed tendon he sustained at Kempton earlier in the week.  I misinterpreted the tweet, as condolences were being offered following the race ...  



Here are today’s results for my runners of interest:



Elkstone (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th and Fred Le Macon (Alan King/Kevin Dowling) finished 6th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 175 yards) (16 ran).

Magic Music Man (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Maiden Hurdle (12 ran).


Market Rasen:

The Wexfordian (Alan King/Killian Moore) was a non-runner in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 16 yards]

Laughingalltheway (Martin Keighley//Killian Moore) was a non-runner in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs & 139 yards]

Passmore (Alan King/Gavin Sheehan) finished 8th in the Mares’ Maiden Open NH Flat Race (10 ran).



Ted’s Lad (Alan King/Tom Bellamy) finished 3rd and Thady Quil (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) finished 2nd in the Maiden Hurdle Div II (9 ran).

Give Him A Glance (Alan King/Denis O’Regan) finished 9th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 3 furlongs] (13 ran).


Happy retirement to Bobs Worth, who will be going to live with Charlie and Tracy Vigors at Hillwood Stud.  Bobs Worth won £726,163 during 22 outings and is a triple Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winner – the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the RSA Chase and, of course, the Gold Cup.  He also won the 2012 Hennessy Gold Cup. 


But, before Bobs Worth heads off for his well-earned retirement, he will be parade at Sandown Park on Saturday, along with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Altior. 


Wyck Hill has also been retired, and he will spend his remaining days with trainer David Bridgwater – in the fields around the actual Wyck Hill, near Icomb, after which he is named.  


Willie Mullins’ charges won £8,519 at Perth today ... but Paul Nicholls won more, having gained an across the card treble at Exeter and Warwick!!!  Paul currently leads by £53,556. 


Tomorrow there are four runners of interest:



16:30 Big Chief Benny (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle Div I

20:05 Too Far Gone (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Sugar Mix (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) – NH Maiden Hurdle



17:50 Daliance (Noel Williams/William Featherstone) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs & 114 yards]


Tomorrow’s Chepstow evening fixture is the one where Choc suffered his career ending injury back in 2014. L  I remember going to the final fixture of the season at Sandown the following day, hoping to see him, only to discover Choc hadn’t made it; he’d been immobilised and taken to hospital and wasn’t allowed home until the Sunday.  And, as we now know, he would never be permitted to ride in a race again.  L 


My old laptop has been driving me mad since Sunday ... it’s getting too hot and then switches off when I’m in the middle of typing something.  I think it will soon be time to switch to my new one, permanently. L 

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Tomorrow is another busy late season day for runners of interest:



18:30 Elkstone (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Fred Le Macon (Alan King/Kevin Dowling) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 175 yards)

19:00 Magic Music Man (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Maiden Hurdle


Market Rasen:

18:20 The Wexfordian (Alan King/Killian Moore) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 16 yards]

18:50 Laughingalltheway (Martin Keighley//Killian Moore) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs & 139 yards]

19:50 Passmore (Alan King/Gavin Sheehan) – Mares’ Maiden Open NH Flat Race



14:10 Ted’s Lad (Alan King/Tom Bellamy) & Thady Quil (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) – Maiden Hurdle Div II

14:40 Give Him A Glance (Alan King/Denis O’Regan) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 3 furlongs]


Choc tweeted this photo ...



Which also leads to this article about his role with the Apple Tree Stud:


Willie Mullins paid his first visit to Perth, and his runners gained a one two in the National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle; so he’s clawed back some of the prize money differential he lost to Paul Nicholls on Saturday. 

Tuesday 19 April 2016

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



Bobble Emerald (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) won the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Div I (10 ran); Martin’s 25th winner of the season.

Darnitnev (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) finished 4th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Div II (7 ran).


Kempton Park:

Classic Colori (Martin Keighley/Tom Humphries) finished 7th in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

Morning Herald (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) finished 3rd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran); she would have won but for an error at the final flight.

Pantxoa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [3 miles] (13 ran).

Montbazon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up and Cottersrock (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) won the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs] (14 ran); Martin’s 26th winner of the season.  Having watched the race, Montbazon is clearly no longer in love with racing so, hopefully, he’ll be retired and will find a nice new home and a second career doing something he may enjoy.   


Wolverhampton (All-weather):

Schoolboy Error (Jamie Osborne/George Baker/Part-owned Apple Tree Stud) finished 3rd in the Handicap [1 mile 1 furlong & 103 yards] (13 ran).


There was a sad postscript at Kempton Park, with 2014 Cheltenham Festival winner Present View losing his life having severed a tendon during his race.  RIP.  Commiserations go to the Jamie Snowdon team, and also Brendan Powell junior who partnered Present View to the aforementioned victory.  It’s not been a good week for Brendan, as his first Festival winner Golden Chieftain (2013) lost his life as a result of an injury sustained during the Scottish Grand National, although he wasn’t partnering the horse on Saturday.   


Here is Brendan with Golden Chieftain:



Here is a photo of the new Jump Jockey Championship trophy which will be presented to Richard Johnson at Sandown Park on Saturday:



As eluded to earlier in the week, both Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins have entered numerous horses at Sandown on Saturday; a number of horses have multiple entries too.  I guess it will all depend on the situation as the weekend approaches as to which ones run, and presumably Willie will want to keep a number back for Punchestown next week if he has little chance of winning our Trainers’ Championship by that point.  However, raiders may include Vautour, Vroum Vroum Mag, Douvan and Un De Sceaux.  Come to think of it, they would be useful additions to the Parade of Champions even if they don’t take to the racecourse!!!


There are no runners of interest tomorrow.


I watched Star Wars – The Force Awakens late yesterday evening but I went to bed feeling absolutely gutted.  They killed off Han Solo, my favourite character ... I like Harrison Ford.  L  I’ve been a fan of his since I first saw Star Wars in March 1978 ... which is before Choc was even born!  I have an autograph book, somewhere, which contains just three special autographs – that of Harrison Ford, Andre Agassi and Choc; so my favourite former jockey is in very good company! 

I had neck ache and ‘clampy’ head all afternoon, and again earlier this evening, so I’m not sure how much diary writing I’ll get done today.

Monday 18 April 2016

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



Board Of Trade (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran).

Classic Colori (Martin Keighley/Tom Humphries) was a non-runner, Quantum Of Solace (Noel Williams/James Banks) finished 2nd and Londonia (Graeme McPherson/Kielan Woods/EPDS Racing) was also a non-runner (having knocked himself) in the Handicap Hurdle [1 mile 7 furlongs & 171 yards] (15 ran).

The Mumper (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Handicap Chase [2 miles 7 furlongs & 129 yards] (8 ran); Wayne’s 55th winner of the season.

Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) was a non-runner in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 1 furlong & 10 yards]

Genstone Trail (Alan King/Brendan Powell) finished 7th in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 3 furlongs & 189 yards] (9 ran).



Asuncion (Rebecca Menzies/Jamie Hamilton/EPDS Racing) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [1 mile 7 furlongs & 133 yards] (8 ran).


Tomorrow there are a number of runners of interest:


Kempton Park:

14:00 Classic Colori (Martin Keighley/Tom Humphries) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

15:30 Morning Herald (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

16:00 Pantxoa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [3 miles]

16:30 Montbazon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Cottersrock (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs]; as predicted by the trainer, Montbazon will be wearing first-time blinkers tomorrow.



16:10 Bobble Emerald (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Div I

16:40 Darnitnev (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Div II


Wolverhampton (All-weather):

14:50 Schoolboy Error (Jamie Osborne/George Baker/Part-owned Apple Tree Stud) – Handicap [1 mile 1 furlong & 103 yards]


These are nice photos of Choc, taken at Cheltenham on Trials Day:



I appear to be photo-bombing in many of these Gold Cup day photographs; hat off, then hat on, my cream-coloured loopy scarf gives me away - check out races 1 and 2:



It’s getting late and I should make an effort to draft more of my Aintree diaries ... but the Star Wars – The Force Awakens DVD arrived today and I’m very tempted to watch that instead!!!

Sunday 17 April 2016

There was one runner of interest today, at Wincanton:

Kerrow (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).


Having been quiet with regards to runners of interest for the past few days, I thought tomorrow would be quiet too ... but this is certainly not the case:



17:05 Board Of Trade (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

18:10 Classic Colori (Martin Keighley/Tom Humphries) & Quantum Of Solace (Noel Williams/James Banks) & Londonia (Graeme McPherson/Kielan Woods/EPDS Racing) – Handicap Hurdle [1 mile 7 furlongs & 171 yards]

18:40 The Mumper (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 7 furlongs & 129 yards]

19:10 Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 1 furlong & 10 yards]

19:40 Genstone Trail (Alan King/Brendan Powell) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 3 furlongs & 189 yards]



14:30 Asuncion (Rebecca Menzies/Jamie Hamilton/EPDS Racing) – Handicap Chase [1 mile 7 furlongs & 133 yards]


The soggy conditions have been affecting the Mascot races too.  The Mascot Gold Cup took place at Wetherby and was won by the Silent Night Hippo; also in the first four were a frog and a whale.  Meanwhile, at Wincanton, the Mascot Grand National was won by Dylan the Dolphin, ahead of the Little Chef.  So that’s a hippo, a frog, a whale and a dolphin – all lovers of wet conditions!


It is Denman’s real birthday today.  And Paul Nicholls’ birthday too; he’s 54 today.  Paul celebrated with another 4-timer, this time at his local track, Wincanton.  He is now £43,160 ahead of Willie Mullins, with 6 days to go.  Southfield Theatre and Dodging Bullets are expected to be amongst those representing him at Sandown Park next Saturday.   


It was Rustarix’s 15th birthday yesterday; a photo was posted on facebook by his carer, Elaine.  She says how lucky she is to have been given the opportunity to care for Rustarix by Thoroughbred Rehoming 18 months ago.  He looks very happy and well.   


The Dai Walter’s owned Angel Face ran today at Wetherby; she’s been transferred from Alan King to Paul Morgan.  She finished 2nd of 3 runners. 


I’ve made further progress on my diaries today; I’ve now finished setting up the Aintree templates ready to begin.  Although, having finished that task mid-afternoon, I sat down in the armchair and promptly dozed off to sleep for a couple of hours!  I would have hoped to be further along with the drafting process, but I’ve only got four evenings this week before I need to turn my attention to attending Sandown Park on Saturday and drafting a diary for that fixture too!  Oh well, I’ll then have the entire summer to get up to date again. 

Saturday 16 April 2016

Just one runner of interest today, at Ayr:

Midnight Prayer (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up before the 21st fence in the Scottish Grand National (28 ran).



There’s just one runner of interest tomorrow too, at Wincanton:

16:05 Kerrow (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – NH Novices’ Hurdle


With Vicente winning the Scottish Grand National for trainer Paul Nicholls, as part of a 4-timer for the trainer at Ayr today, the 2015/2016 Trainers’ Championship has just got a whole lot more interesting!  Willie Mullins and Paul will now be slugging it out for the next 7 days, with Willie reported to be targeting Perth next week and Sandown Park next Saturday too.  Meanwhile Paul Nicholls will be targeting West Country fixtures and Sandown.


Dan Skelton trained his 100th winner of the season, with a double at Ayr today.  His brother, jockey Harry, is just two short of his century. 


I noticed that the stable lass leading up Ch’Tibello today, winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle for trainer Dan Skelton, was the girl who looked after Uxizandre when he won the Ryanair Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival; another defector from the Alan King yard.


There was a sad postscript to the Scottish Grand National, with veteran Golden Chieftain breaking down before the final fence with a fatal injury.  RIP.



The New One heads to Sandown next Saturday although, unfortunately, Vroum Vroum Mag is also due to take part in the same race.


With many of our feature races being won by Irish-based horses, I wonder which of the home team will be invited to parade at Sandown Park next Saturday; a number of our Champions, including Cue Card, will be heading to Punchestown the following week too.  Hopefully we will be able to count on Thistlecrack, Sprinter Sacre ought to be there to run if the going is okay, how about the Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri?  It would be nice to see Smad Place but, having finished for the season, he’s probably already gone on his summer holiday.  God’s Own?  Blaklion?  Altior?  My Tent Or Yours?  Native River?  Okay, I may be clutching at straws!!!  How about Any Currency?  He’s definitely been a star this season.  And what about today’s winner, Vicente?


Shock, horror ... I’ve already booked next year’s Aintree accommodation at my favourite Premier Inn, in Golborne near Haydock Park.  I had been emailed a questionnaire following my hotel stay, so I completed that, and thought I’d follow the enclosed link to their site, although fully expecting the rooms to be marked as unavailable until June time ... like they always are!  So I was shocked to discover it was already possible to rebook ... so I have!!!  It’s their usual policy to enable customers to book up to a year in advance, but this never seems to be the case where Premier Inns within the Aintree Festival catchment area are concerned ... until now.  Last week was my 6th stay at Golborne from eight visits to Aintree, and one of the receptionists recognises me!  I hate to say it, but I think I’m recognisable because of my grey hair L


I would have booked accommodation at a Premier Inn for next year’s Cheltenham Festival, but there was little availability already, with that chain or anywhere else for that matter, and I wanted to find a room close to my usual route, rather than head off into the great unknown!  Thus Witney will do just fine, and it eliminates my Oxford ‘bottleneck’. 


Annoyingly, RUK’s broadcast schedule for tomorrow morning is listing highlights of the Craven Meeting as their topic for Racing Breakfast ... in other words, snooze vision ... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  I’d love to know when they will be showing highlights from all three days of the Aintree Festival; I’ll have to check the schedule regularly, otherwise I’ll probably blink and miss it.  Fortunately a copy of the Channel 4 coverage is winging its way to me, courtesy of Sandra; that will cover most of the races, but not the ‘early’ and ‘late’.  Maybe RUK will show them on Racing Breakfast a week tomorrow.    


I’ve completed my Aintree blog ... but not commenced my extended Aintree diaries ...  

Thursday 14 April 2016

There were a number of runners of interest today, again at Cheltenham:

Katie Too (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) (10 ran); although she was probably lucky, as The Organist fell at the final flight when leading.  She’s the full sister of The Pirate Queen.  Wayne’s 54th winner of the season.

Flementime (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) finished 3rd and Theatre Goer (Noel Williams/James Banks) finished 6th in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed) (13 ran).  Briery Belle won, she’s owned by the same owner/breeder as Briery Queen.

Forgotten Gold (Tom George/Paddy Brennan) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase [3 miles 2 furlongs] (8 ran).

Dalton Glance (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) finished 9th and Tara View (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (15 ran).


There’s National Hunt racing at Ayr, Fontwell Park and Southwell tomorrow, but no runners of interest.


If the ground remains suitable, Sprinter Sacre will run at Sandown Park on the final day of the season; it is planned that Simonsig will travel to Punchestown. 


Altior has finished for the season and it’s not been decided whether he will remain over hurdles or go chasing next season; he’s already been schooled over the larger obstacles. 


My highlight today was eating a double Mr Whippy ice cream, with Flake, at lunchtime in the local park!!!

Wednesday 13 April 2016

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

Solstice Star (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).

Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) won and Godsmejudge (David Dennis/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 10th in the Handicap Chase [3 miles 4 furlongs & 21 yards] (16 ran).

Altesse De Guye (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) won the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 213 yards] (11 ran).

Authorized Too (Noel Williams/Jack Sherwood) finished 9th in the Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys and Amateur Riders’ who have ridden in Pony Racing Authority races!) (14 ran).


Any Currency was the Keighley’s 23rd winner and Altesse De Guye their 24th winner of the season.


There are a number of runners of interest tomorrow, again at Cheltenham:

13:50 Katie Too (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed)

15:00 Flementime (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) & Theatre Goer (Noel Williams/James Banks) – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

15:35 Forgotten Gold (Tom George/Paddy Brennan) – Handicap Chase [3 miles 2 furlongs]

17:20 Dalton Glance (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) & Tara View (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race


A happy retirement to Wishfull Thinking, who signed off following a distinguished career, having run at Cheltenham today:  



Quinz has also been retired, having been found to be suffering from a fibrillating heart following his run at Exeter yesterday:



Work colleague, Caroline, attended Market Rasen races on Sunday to see Menace run:



Back ache has been less of an issue today ... but I’m still making only very slow progress on my Aintree blog and diaries. L

Tuesday 12 April 2016

There were two runners of interest at Exeter today and this is how they fared:

Clondaw Fonz (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran).

Brod Na Heireann (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 25 yards] (11 ran).


There are a number of runners of interest at Cheltenham tomorrow:

13:50 Solstice Star (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:25 Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) & Godsmejudge (David Dennis/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [3 miles 4 furlongs & 21 yards]

16:10 Altesse De Guye (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 213 yards]

17:20 Authorized Too (Noel Williams/Jack Sherwood) – Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys and Amateur Riders’ who have ridden in Pony Racing Authority races!)


Having won the EBF and TBA Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle Finale, Noel Williams got a mention in last week’s Horse & Hound.  He’s moving to Churn Stables next month; the establishment has recently been bought by Sir James Dyson (as in the vacuum cleaners).  Noel is starting off with 40 boxes, and will have an indoor school and a six-and-a-half furlong all-weather gallop.  Evidently the turf gallops need attention and a mole-catcher has been sent ahead of his arrival!  But, all being well, these will be up and running within a year.


The BBC has confirmed that the next series of The Musketeers, scheduled to begin next month, will be the last.  So no more Santiago Cabrera in the guise of Aramis. L 


I’ve been suffering from chronic backache ever since I got up this morning; how annoying.  Therefore I’m not sure how much diary drafting will get done tonight before I have to give up due to the discomfort.

Monday 11 April 2016

There was a runner of interest today, namely Kumbeshwar who ran in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Kelso.  He finished 3rd of 10.


There are two runners of interest tomorrow, at Exeter:

13:50 Clondaw Fonz (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:25 Brod Na Heireann (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 25 yards]


As you will probably be aware, five horses sadly lost their lives at Aintree last week; one of these was the David Pipe-trained Kings Palace.  Here is an excerpt from the trainer’s weekly news update, explaining what happened to his charge:


“Unfortunately that cannot be said for all of the team and I am extremely saddened to report that Kings Palace was put down after striking into himself in the handicap hurdle, the opening race on Saturday. It is especially difficult as we had had him since he was a young, untried store and I had always held him in the highest regard and he had long been the apple of my eye. He showed his quality when winning a bumper, three hurdles and three chases (including a Grade 2 event at Cheltenham) and he possessed the ability to go right to the top. The lads and lasses in the yard are all very upset, a comment that also applies to Tom Scu and his doting owners – he will be greatly missed.”


There is news today (on facebook) that Somersby has been retired and will be joining ‘Team Newbold’ to begin a new career as a retrained racehorse; he will join one of his former stablemates too, namely Calgary Bay.  


Steve Ayres has tweeted to say he’s ‘moving on’, having been at Alan King’s for eight years.  #teambalderforever


Vautour, Don Cossack and Cue Card hold entries for the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup at the end of the month.  It’s also reported that EPDS Racing’s Ami Desbois, having finished 8th in Friday’s Grade 1 Sefton Hurdle, may also head to the Irish Festival.


Menace is reported to be a little stiff, but fine, following yesterday’s race.  He was a little keen early on and the tacky ground didn’t suit.  He will run again once the going improves. 


Steph and Leon’s baby girl has arrived, yesterday; she’s been named Chloe Nicole.  It was also my nephew James’ birthday yesterday; he is now 21 and nearing the end of his degree course at Warwick University.


I know that I’m back at work again ... because I’d developed aching shoulders by lunchtime, which led to backache this afternoon. 

Sunday 10 April 2016

Firstly, here is a catch-up on recent runners:


Kempton Park on Wednesday:

Forecast (Martin Keighley/William Twiston-Davies) finished 5th in the Median Auction Maiden Stakes [7 furlongs] (8 ran).

Jazzy (Martin Keighley/Cathy Gannon) finished 5th in the Handicap [1 miles 3 furlongs] (6 ran).


Meanwhile on Thursday:



Marley Joe (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) was carried out in the Selling Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

Real Gone Kid (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) finished 11th and Sticking Point (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) finished 8th in the Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran).

Handsome Sam (Alan King/William Featherstone) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 198 yards] (10 ran).

Tigers Rock (Noel Williams/James Banks) finished last in the Standard Open NH Flat Race Div I (7 ran).

Royal Plaza (Alan King/William Featherstone) finished 4th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race Div II (6 ran).



Sceau Royal (Alan King/Daryl Jacob) finished 6th in the 4-year-old Juvenile Hurdle (Group 1) (9 ran).

Pearls Legend (John Spearing/Nico de Boinville) finished 4th in the Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (12 ran).

Cajun Fiddle (Alan King/Brendan Powell) finished 10th and My Khaleesi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 16th in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (17 ran).


And Friday at Aintree:

Zipple Back (Alan King/Noel Fehily) finished 9th in the Champion Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) (17 ran).


With Yanworth a no-show at Aintree, there was just one runner of interest yesterday, at Chepstow:

Cinderfella (Noel Williams/James Banks) finished 5th in the NG Standard Open Flat Race (11 ran).


Wayne Hutchinson has added two further winners to this season’s tally – namely Katachenko in the Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree on Thursday; fittingly for trainer Donald McCain.  Also The Worlds End for Tom George at Chepstow yesterday.  These were Wayne’s 52nd and 53rd winners of the season.


Just one runner of interest today, at Market Rasen:

Menace (Noel Williams/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs & 139 yards] (12 ran).

All 4 of Alan King’s horses were non-runners, namely Kerrow, Devil To Pay, Fred Le Macon and The Mumper


There are no runners of interest tomorrow.


There’s news that Denis O’Regan will be relocating to Ireland this summer to take up the post of retained jockey to owner Barry Connell; he replaces Adrian Heskin.  That means the Dunkley & Reilly Partnership will be looking for a new jockey to ride their National Hunt horses. 


Brian Hughes sustained a broken collarbone when Urban Hymn took a crashing fall in the Handicap Hurdle at Aintree yesterday.  And Ruby Walsh, ‘affectionately’ referred to as Kamikazi Walsh, hopes to return to action in time for the Punchestown Festival, having sustained a hairline fracture to his wrist on Friday; presumably during the Topham Chase.  With reference to Vautour in the Melling Chase, why would people take the price of 1-5 with the risks involved in National Hunt racing?  Besides there’s no skill in backing an odds-on favourite!


Sadly I didn’t place any bets ... but Sandra and I were choosing horses to win yesterday’s first race, just from an interest point of view.  My first choice was Ubak, with the favourite If In Doubt as the challenger.  And just to think that I could have won £100 for an each way bet on that particular race ... what a bummer!  I knew that Ubak had been running well this season, including a third place in the Coral Cup.  Also, somewhere in the back of my mind was the idea that his name rang a bell – it transpires that he’d won at the Aintree Festival a few years ago; the intervening years had been missed due to two suspensory injuries.      


Thursday almost started off with one of those ‘nightmare’ moments; the ones which happen in dreams when you miss something or someone because you’re late!  I set the alarm for 03:15; when the alarm sounded I decided to wait until my heart had stopped pounding at the shock of waking so early, only to doze off to sleep again.  I don’t have a ‘snooze’ option on the alarm clock.  I eventually woke again at 03:45, and managed to make up all bar 10 minutes; I left home at 05:40 instead of 05:30.  However, in hindsight, it may have been auspicious, because there were road-works on the M1 between junctions 11 and 12 and these usually take place between 22:00 and 06:00 – so it may have affected me had I left earlier.    


I didn’t realise until this morning that I’d forgotten to wear my beige and black striped cardigan too; it was still hanging on the handle of the wardrobe door.  


I encountered heavy rain as I approached Uttoxeter and, because I was later than on previous trips, there was already a tailback of traffic through the underpasses by the time I’d reached Stoke.  I would have stopped off at one of the Services on the M6, rather than wait until the M62, but it was tipping it down and I didn’t want to get out of the car!  The heavy rain had stopped by the time I reached the Mersey Bridge, and I was 20 minutes behind schedule when I arrived at Burtonwood Services.  I had to spend a penny, eat two cheese rolls and fill up the petrol tank before proceeding to Aintree; thus I arrived at 10:20 instead of the planned 10:00.


The security checks went very smoothly ... and the car bonnet closed first time too!  That’s fourth-time lucky.  Whilst I was loitering on the roadway for Sandra to arrive, a couple asked if I was ‘Choc Thornton’s Superfan’.  OMG, I’m infamous.  It transpired that they owned horses and Choc used to ride them.  The horses’ names were Bearaway and New Bird; research tells me Bearaway was trained by Heather Dalton, after which he transferred to Donald McCain.  New Bird started off with Alan King, then Heather Dalton again, before ending up with Ian Williams.  Choc rode Bearaway 9 times during 2004/2005 and New Bird 15 times between 2000 and 2006!  I didn’t catch their names, and this information doesn’t appear to be recorded for ex-racehorses, but they did ask that I pass on their best wishes to my favourite ex-jockey when I see him!


The rooms at the Premier Inn had been refurbished since my last visit; including new bathroom suites and large wall mounted TVs.  I was assigned to room 33, which is one of the slightly larger ones, south-facing and the same room I stayed in during the 2014 Festival!  


From a sporting point of view, the first two days were more interesting; especially as the Brits held the upper hand on those two days.  Sadly we were overrun by the Irish yesterday, including almost a whitewash in the big race.  There were 16 finishers – 6 Irish and 10 British; however, the Irish placed 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th.  Thank goodness for The Last Samuri, even if it is owned by the Rooneys!  I think the soft ground had a lot to answer for. 


I also obtained the Grand National winning jockey’s autograph – David Mullins, nephew of Willie.  It’s written in my race-card although, sadly, it met with a slight accident.  It was pristine until after the final race, when I took it out of my handbag in order to get it autographed.  However, I was sidetracked whilst waiting to locate the winning jockey; he had been ushered into the press room so, in the meantime, we went back to the racecourse to see the winning horse being paraded, and I tucked the race-card under my arm whilst I took photographs.  That wouldn’t normally have been an issue but, yesterday due to the heavy showers, my coat was still soggy.  Soggy coat equals soggy race-card; the cover has been badly damaged, although the inside really isn’t that bad. L  Oh well, I asked him to sign it anyway and it will be kept as a memento along with all those other race-cards I’ve collected over the years.  The only other one which has suffered the same fate is the race-card from the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup Day, which also became damp, my handbag leaked on that occasion.   


Rule The World.jpg


The Grand National winner, Rule The World,

ridden by David Mullins



My drive home yesterday evening went fairly smoothly.  I dropped Sandra back at the hotel following the races, and began my drive at 19:55.  Tiredness during the drive wasn’t an issue, but there were three occasions when the heavens opened   possibly shortly after crossing the Mersey, definitely just prior to the Stoke exit, then again maybe at Stafford; on one occasion there was hail too. It was cold yesterday evening, hence the hail, 5 degrees in Golborne, 4 degrees as I headed south, and only 1 degree in Hertfordshire – there was a frost this morning. 


There were two holdups on the motorways – I was worried about the possibility of late evening motorway closures – but in the event these turned out to be just lane closures being put in place ahead of works taking place.  I was delayed by 25 minutes on the M6 in Birmingham, due to 3 lanes of traffic merging into one; the main issue being inconsiderate and overbearing drivers who continue to overtake despite knowing that they will run out of road very shortly; they then push in, forcing everyone who has been patiently waiting, to wait even longer. Selfish pigs! 


The same happened on the M1, just before Junction 12; information signs were informing drivers that the southbound carriageway was closed between that exit point and Junction 11.  However, after 20 minutes of queuing, it transpired that the majority of drivers had decided to continue on the motorway regardless of the signage, so I followed them and there was not a problem.  So, instead of reaching home at 23:30, I was delayed until 00:15.  But, actually, it was like taking two rest breaks, without having to visit the Services!  And I was even able to consume a number of Jaffa Cakes whilst I waited in the Birmingham queue.            


Again, I’ve encountered issues with my RUK recordings.  Because of earlier problems, I decided to record solely the highlights programmes, along with the entire live coverage of Grand National Day; I didn’t record any Mark Your Cards.  However, the only one which worked was the live coverage of Grand National Day! 


I managed to manually record Saturday’s highlights programme ... starting at 00:30 on Sunday morning.  I’ve also got the Racing Breakfast analysis show, broadcast this morning.  However, at this current point in time I’m hopeful that all three highlights programmes will be re-broadcast on the morning of Sunday 17 April; thus following the format of last year  ... otherwise I’ll just have to wait until Christmas!!!


I’m flagging as I write this blog, as I woke at 05:30 yesterday morning and didn’t get to sleep until 03:30 this morning!  I then woke before 08:00 this morning.  I probably didn’t get the best night’s sleep either, as I crashed out on the sofa, whilst wearing a onesie!!!  Oh no ... I own a onesie!  In fact I own two, recently purchased in the Dunelm sale; I think they cost just £7.49 each, and they have ears too - in fact a human teddy bear.


Aintree Festival 2016 – Thursday 07 April to Saturday 09 April 2016 - Click here to read

Wednesday 06 April 2016

I finally contracted the ‘packing’ bug, yesterday morning before I went to work, and this continued yesterday evening too; hence no blog for Tuesday, especially as I’d also then spent time surfing the web, including watching videos of young William skiing down the mountainside!  He’s really good.  J


Anyway, here are yesterday’s result for my runners of interest:



Gone Too Far (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 7 furlongs & 171 yards] (10 ran).


Newton Abbot:

Daliance (Noel Williams/William Featherstone) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 4 furlongs & 216 yards] (5 ran).  Daliance is a little bit of a tinker, wise beyond his years, but EPDS Racing love him to bits regardless. 


And, today, there are two runners of interest on the all-weather at Kempton Park:

17:45 Forecast (Martin Keighley/William Twiston-Davies) – Median Auction Maiden Stakes [7 furlongs]

19:45 Jazzy (Martin Keighley/Cathy Gannon) – Handicap [1 miles 3 furlongs]


Being late in the day, I probably won’t have time to report on these results until the weekend.


I’m loving Molly the smiling donkey:



It’s Wednesday, so I’ve purchased a copy of Weekender; inside is Alan King’s final column of the season. 


Yanworth goes to Aintree although, at the time of publishing, Alan hadn’t decided which race his charge would compete in – he thinks probably not the 2-mile race, which means either the Saturday’s Mersey Novices’ or Friday’s 3-mile Sefton Novices’.  It all depends on the opposition, evidently – with Willie Mullins’ Yorkhill already pencilled in for Saturday’s race.  EPDS is hoping for drop-outs in the Sefton, so that Ami Desbois gets a run.


Midnight Prayer is too far below the ‘hopefuls’ in the Grand National entry list, and more about that below, so is extremely unlikely to get a run.  With this in mind, Alan has been training him for the Scottish Grand National instead, and he is likely to be joined by Sego Success and Ziga Boy in the Ayr event.  


Sceau Royal is due to run in tomorrow’s Juvenile Hurdle for 4-year-olds; Alan still doesn’t know why his charge didn’t perform better at Cheltenham.  He has two entries in the Mares’ Bumper – My Khaleesi and Cajun Fiddle; he mentions the latter has been disappointing, so he’s hoping better ground will help.  And, finally, Zipple Back will run in Friday’s Champion NH Flat Race.     


Alan also mentions that Ned Stark will be sent to the sales next month; he suggests the horse might make an exciting hunter chase prospect.  However, he wasn’t pleased with Montbazon’s effort at Newbury – poor attitude and poor jumping too; headgear next time.  Mind you, life must be a little tedious for Montbazon, having spent so much time on the injury sidelines over the years, bless him.   


And more about the entry conditions for the Aintree feature race, which has made the racing headlines this morning.  Phil Smith, the BHA’s head of handicapping, yesterday reordered the horses below the 40-runner cut-off point; this benefits Bishops Road, which now needs just one horse to defect, but Knock House has moved down one place as a result.  Alvarado, which finished 4th last year, has now been placed at the bottom of the 10 stone 2 lb runners (48th position), with former winner Pineau De Re 46th and the Beecher Chase winner, Highland Lodge in 47th.


The problem is that the race is attracting a far better quality of horse since the safety improvements were made.  Ideas to get ‘specialist’ National course horses into the race, are ‘win and you’re in’ if you triumph in one of the trial races, and giving previous winners automatic qualification too; also limiting the number of horses which one owner or trainer can enter – it’s the Paul Nicholls (6) and Willie Mullins (4) show at present – with both of them desperate to win our Trainers’ Championship!  That’s a quarter of the field trained by two people!


As far as owners are concerned, JP McManus has 4 horses in the top 40 – Gilgamboa, Shutthefrontdoor, Pendra and Gallant Oscar; 2 are trained in the UK and 2 in Ireland, all by different trainers.  Gigginstown has 3 – First Lieutenant, Sir Des Champs and Rule The World; Graham & Andrea Wylie 2 – On His Own and Boston Bob; the Rooneys 2 – The Last Samurai and Kruzhlinin; and O’Faolains Boy and The Romford Pele run in the same colours, although only two of the group of owners are the same.  This doesn’t sound too bad, until you realise that a third of the field (13) are owned by just 5 people or groups.  


Anyway, there are a number of runners of interest tomorrow:



14:15 Sceau Royal (Alan King/Daryl Jacob) – 4-year-old Juvenile Hurdle (Group 1)

Also entered in the race are the Fred Winter Novices’ Handicap Hurdle winner, Diego Du Charmil, and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Triumph Hurdle, namely Ivanovich Gorbatov, Apple’s Jade and Footpad.

16:40 Pearls Legend (John Spearing/Nico de Boinville) – Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

17:15 Cajun Fiddle (Alan King/Brendan Powell) & My Khaleesi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race


The races have been re-jigged again, the Mares’ bumper, having been run as the last race on Friday until a couple of years ago, before being moved to Saturday last year, has now been moved to Thursday!  It replaces the 3 mile & half a furlong Handicap Hurdle race; that particular event will now be run as the first race on Saturday, with the remaining races being pushed back one. 



14:05 Marley Joe (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) – Selling Handicap Hurdle

14:40 Real Gone Kid (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) & Sticking Point (Martin Keighley/Andrew Tinkler) – Novices’ Hurdle

15:15 Handsome Sam (Alan King/William Featherstone) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 7 furlongs & 198 yards]

17:40 Tigers Rock (Noel Williams/James Banks) – Standard Open NH Flat Race Div I

18:10 Royal Plaza (Alan King/William Featherstone) – Standard Open NH Flat Race Div II


William has launched a snowball at Choc:



And Redwings’ Teeny Tucker is enjoying some downtime with his mum:



Well that’s it until, hopefully, Sunday.  I’m turning in early, as I’ve set my alarm for 03:15 in the morning, with the aim of departing for Aintree at 05:30! 

Monday 04 April 2016

There were four runners of interest today and this is how they fared:



Pemba (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Azzerti (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th in the Maiden Open NH Flat Race (9 ran).



Awesome Rosie (Alan King/Tom Bellamy) finished 2nd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (6 ran).

Exmoor Mist (Victor Dartnell/Ian Popham) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 4 furlongs & 35 yards] (7 ran).


Tomorrow there are two runners of interest:



14:50 Gone Too Far (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 7 furlongs & 171 yards]


Newton Abbot:

16:10 Daliance (Noel Williams/William Featherstone) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 4 furlongs & 216 yards]


Noel Williams won’t run his horses at Ludlow, because of the road crossings on the track.


Choc has tweeted a photo taken whilst on his current skiing holiday, with Jennie and William:



He’s also loaded up a video of William and Jennie skiing:


I’m not sure if the ‘mobile twitter’ type links actually play, but you will be able to find his video on a more advanced platform!  I have watched it via my Windows 10 laptop and also on facebook.  


Here’s the lovely Forgotten Gold winning at Ascot yesterday:



And Ned Stark at Newbury on Saturday:



Richard Johnson rode his 222nd winner of the season today, surpassing a record set by Peter Scudamore back in the day.  Although he’s got some way to go before overtaking AP’s record of 289 winners in a season (2001/2002); there are fewer than three weeks remaining!  


I still haven’t done any packing for Aintree ... mind you, if you start too early, then you end up re-checking bags to ensure you’ve got everything.  I do have a list of essentials, which I shall tick off as I pack.   

Sunday 03 April 2016

Here are today’s results for my runners of interest at Ascot:

Midnight Cowboy (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).

Oceane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

Forgotten Gold (Tom George/Paddy Brennan) won the Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Series Leg 5) (14 ran).

The Tourard Man (Alan King/Kevin Dowling) finished 6th and Salmanazar (Alan King/Tom Bellamy) finished 2nd in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (16 ran); sadly the Colin Tizzard-trained Kingfisher Creek was fatally injured when he fell two out. RIP

Amazingly, Polisky managed to win the Open Hunters’ Chase ... he’s one of those unreliable racehorses donated by a Timeform squiggle!


There are a number of runners of interest tomorrow:



15:00 Pemba (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

17:00 Azzerti (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Maiden Open NH Flat Race



14:10 Awesome Rosie (Alan King/Tom Bellamy) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

15:10 Exmoor Mist (Victor Dartnell/Ian Popham) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 4 furlongs & 35 yards]


EPDS Racing has an entry in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Liverpool, namely Ami Desbois; but they need 3 or fewer of Willie Mullins’ entries (8 at present) to be declared otherwise they won’t get an outing due to oversubscription!


Do you follow Mattie Batchelor’s adventures of Wocket Woy and Nobby on facebook?  It never occurred to me that Wocket Woy is none other than Mr Muddle, who ran so well at Newbury yesterday. 


Barry Geraghty has received a 30-day suspension following his ride aboard Noble Emperor at Limerick today; the charge is not riding the horse on merit.  He misses the Punchestown Festival as a result, unless an appeal is successful.   


William has been spending his first day on the ski slopes in France and, viewing the video Choc posted on facebook earlier, he seems to be doing very well!   


I was looking back at one of RUK’s Cheltenham Festival Mark Your Card programmes and found presenter Oli Bell making a comment about Choc’s current weight, having seen him sitting on the Weighing Room scales ... he said Choc weighs 13.95 ... which I take to mean 13 stones, 9½ lbs!  That’s even more than I weigh, although he has been doing weight training and muscle weighs more than fat.  AP admitted to weighing 12 stone at Christmas, stripped; he’s recently begun a diet, so suggests he may soon be down to his racing weight once more. 


According to the BBC website, presently the forecasted weather for the Aintree Festival is for heavy rain showers on Thursday, light rain on Friday and light rain showers on Saturday.  Each day the highest temperature is set to be 8 degrees. 


Fortunately I’ve not begun to sort out my wardrobe yet, otherwise I’d have to put away all my summer-weight skirts again!  I shall now take another look at the list I made ahead of Cheltenham, and probably choose items from that. 


However, I have begun to upload a number of the photographs I took at the Cheltenham Festival. 

Saturday 02 April 2016

Five runners of interest at Newbury today, and this is how they fared:

Herewego Herewego (Alan King/Barry Geraghty) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (15 ran).

Ned Stark (Alan King/Denis O’Regan) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase [3 miles 1 furlong & 214 yards] (8 ran); I wonder if he has earned a reprieve as regards ownership ... I just think he’s running over slightly too far a distance.

Briery Queen (Noel Williams/Barry Geraghty) won, having been promoted to winner as a result of a Stewards’ Enquiry, and Avispa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th in the Mares’ NH Novices Hurdle Finale (Limited Handicap) (13 ran).

Pemba (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) fell at the third flight during the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).


Briery Queen was only beaten a nose, having suffered interference on the run to the line; Barry Geraghty’s foot was dislodged from his iron during this incident too.  So justice was definitely done in the Stewards’ Room.


Here is the note from the BHA website:

The Stewards held an enquiry under Rule (B)11.6 into possible interference on the run in. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race they found that the winner LADY OF LAMANVER, ridden by Aidan Coleman, had shifted right interfering with BRIERY QUEEN, placed second, ridden by Barry Geraghty. They found the interference was accidental as Coleman had quickly pulled his whip through to his right hand to correct LADY OF LAMANVER, but that it had improved LADY OF LAMANVER’s placing, as the mare took BRIERY QUEEN off its intended line, causing it to lose ground and momentum and causing Geraghty to shift his position in the saddle, which resulted in him losing his left iron. They placed BRIERY QUEEN, first, and LADY OF LAMANVER, second.


Here is a recap of tomorrow’s runners at Ascot:

14:00 Midnight Cowboy (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Maiden Hurdle

14:35 Oceane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

16:20 Forgotten Gold (Tom George/Paddy Brennan) – Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Series Leg 5)

16:55 The Tourard Man (Alan King/Kevin Dowling) & Salmanazar (Alan King/Tom Bellamy) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle


I’ve been sorely tried today ... I started some hand-washing this morning but ended up with backache; fortunately it disappeared within a couple of hours.  It’s just annoying; I had backache on Wednesday too, which followed on from the back, shoulder and neck problems of Tuesday.  My non-medicinal treatment is a hot water-bottle; in fact our receptionist lent me one last week, to use whilst sitting in my chair at work, and it definitely helped.        


Then, when I spoke with my older brother this morning, he asked if the rubber stoppers had been replaced to support the bonnet of my car ... so I showed him, only to discover they were still missing.  Why is everyone so incompetent?  So I drove back to the car servicer for the third time in as many weeks, taking the old stoppers with me, and showed one of the receptionists what was wrong.  He promptly replaced the old stoppers – “they look new,” he said “so as far as I’m concerned, now that I’ve replaced them there is no longer problem”. 


It transpires that they changed and charged me to replace the other two stoppers, the two which weren’t causing an issue.  I suggested that there is a correlation between the stoppers preventing the bonnet from closing and the fact it happens only after I’ve driven to Liverpool and the engine is hotter than usual after the 200 mile drive. “It can’t possibly be associated with that,” was his retort.  Really.  Sadly I will know the outcome within the week ... perhaps I should take a pair of pliers to Aintree so that I can remove the stoppers myself if the bonnet refuses to close?    


So, having experienced three separate problems since the car was serviced in February, at a cost of over £800 – and it’s only a Ford Fiesta Zetec for Christ sake, my only option is to cancel my service plan next week, and I will go elsewhere to have my car serviced in future.  Just for the record, I’m referring to Gates in St Albans, who took over from Evans Halshaw at the beginning of this year; possibly Godfrey Davis before that too.  And to think it’s come to this, after 26 years of loyalty – no wonder their office and parking area is a lot quieter than it used to be ... everyone has begun to take their trade elsewhere because of the poor service! 


And, finally, I thought I’d do some knitting this afternoon ... only to discover there were many faults in the ball of yarn I was using – occasionally it happens.  As I’m not prepared to knot it many times, this leaves me short of wool for the pixie hat pocket scarf I’d intended to knit; I’ve already knitted one ball of the three, which is sickening.  I now need to regroup and decide upon what to knit instead – do I knit just a plain scarf, or perhaps two hats in different designs, or a hat and a pair of mittens?


I need to wash my car tomorrow; it’s still filthy following my journeys to Cheltenham, combined with the general dust it collects when solely sitting beneath a carport!  And its Aintree wardrobe preparation time too.  Once again there are 10 skirts currently on the list; I’ll take more than I need, although it won’t be as many as 10!  Is it going to be cold, warm, dry, wet ... who knows?  All I know is that I need to be prepared for anything that the British climate may wish to throw at me, and I’d rather be too warm than too cold.       

Friday 01 April 2016

There were three runners of interest today, at Newbury ... and definitely a touch of ‘thirditis’ ...

Hindon Road (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 6 furlongs & 93 yards] (7 ran).

Montbazon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & 69 yards] (7 ran).

McCabe Creek (Alan King/Jamie Insole) finished 3rd in the ‘Hands and Heels’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys & Amateur Riders) (6 ran).


There’s no Bingo D’Olivate tomorrow, but there are still 5 runners of interest at Newbury:

14:00 Herewego Herewego (Alan King/Barry Geraghty) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:35 Ned Stark (Alan King/Denis O’Regan) – Handicap Chase [3 miles 1 furlong & 214 yards]

15:40 Briery Queen (Noel Williams/Barry Geraghty) & Avispa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ NH Novices Hurdle Finale (Limited Handicap)

16:15 Pemba (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Handicap Hurdle


No Ardamir at Ascot on Sunday, but there are still a number of runners of interest:

14:00 Midnight Cowboy (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Maiden Hurdle

14:35 Oceane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

16:20 Forgotten Gold (Tom George/Paddy Brennan) – Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Series Leg 5)

16:55 The Tourard Man (Alan King/Kevin Dowling) & Salmanazar (Alan King/Tom Bellamy) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle


Choc, Jennie and William will be setting off on their Easter skiing holiday shortly.  Today, evidently, is Choc and Jennie’s second anniversary; April Fools Day too!


I’ve had a frustrating day at work; I’d completed 5/6ths of a task before it was discovered that the information supplied to me was incorrect.  Thus, instead of finishing the task by lunchtime as expected, I had to start again and have still got to redo 7/12ths of it.  12 steps forward, 7 steps back ... grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr 



Rounded Rectangle: RETURN TO BLOG INDEX
Rounded Rectangle: RETURN TO HOME PAGE