Tuesday 31 August 2010

Good news from Newton Abbot ...

Martin Keighley’s Havingotascoobydo won the Intermediate Open NH Flat Race by 14 lengths and easing close home (7 ran).  That’s Martin’s 6th winner of the season. 


The infamous Hell’s Bay also won his race today, the Novices’ Chase, against 3 rivals!


Tomorrow Martin has one runner at Hereford:

14:10 The Fox’s Decree – Novices’ Hurdle, to be ridden by Warren Marston


And hopefully Meally Thornton’s fortnightly Eclipse diary will appear soon too.

Monday 30 August 2010

Choc’s first column appeared in today’s issue of the Racing Post ... and, being keen, I bought a copy from my local supermarket at 08:40 this morning ... that’s 10 minutes after they opened! 


Choc explained details of his physiotherapy regime, how he is keeping busy during his absence, and his invitation from Sir Alex Ferguson to visit Manchester United in early October ... Lesley will love to hear about that, as she is an avid United fan!  I don’t ‘do’ football, apart from the annual Jump Jockeys Football match.  My older brother Nick supports Arsenal, and my younger brother Neil supports Spurs – so you can imagine what the ‘ribbing’ is like when they get together!


Nice photos of Choc to accompany the article too (if you ignore the one of him parting company with Hell’s Bay) ... and Choc even has ‘cute’ feet!


As surmised, it was Alan King’s Owners’ Open Day yesterday and there is a report in Racing Post too, and Geoff Lester has also given details on the website:


The good news is that Katchit has recovered well from his pastern injury, but the bad news is that Bensalem is on the sick list having succumbed to pneumonia and pleurisy following a bout of travel sickness incurred whilst coming back from his summer break in Ireland.


One result today from Huntingdon:

Le Brocquy finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase (6 ran).


Martin Keighley has one runner at Newton Abbot tomorrow:

17:30 Havingotascoobydo – Intermediate Open NH Flat Race – ridden by Warren Marston


I see the infamous Hell’s Bay runs in the 15:20 Novices’ Chase – the horse is now trained by Colin Tizzard, with son Joe riding tomorrow.


I watched the 2009/2010 Racing Review DVD this weekend – just one criticism – the Topham Chase – a little insensitive to commence the recording just before the two Irish runners lost their lives at Valentines ...


Lydia Hislop will have been sorry to learn that one of her favourites, Lie Forrit, will be on the sidelines until the New Year:


Sunday 29 August 2010

The Racing Post has signed up a new columnist ... Choc!  J

So my most important task tomorrow will be to buy a copy of the Racing Post, to read the first edition of Choc’s weekly column.


Also, as it is August Bank Holiday weekend, is it Alan King’s Owners’ Open Day today and, if so, will there be a report in tomorrow’s Racing Post too?


Martin Keighley has one runner scheduled for Huntingdon tomorrow:

15:05 Le Brocquy – Handicap Chase, to be ridden by Warren Marston


The Eclipse website has details of a fun-filled day at tomorrow’s Huntingdon fixture:

Bank Holiday Monday – Huntingdon races


Friday 27 August 2010

News today of two injured jockeys who hope to be able to race ride again soon – Wayne Hutchinson has been given the go-ahead to ride-out next Monday, and Tom Siddall rode out this morning at Martin Keighley’s yard, the first time he has been on a horse since sustaining a serious neck injury in April. 


Choc gets a mention too, as both he and Wayne visited Barbury Castle yesterday to watch Alan King’s horses being schooled.  Although it appears that Choc might be getting a little impatient with his own progress, despite the expert opinion being that he’s made a remarkable recovery thus far considering the nature of the knee injury... but I wonder if it’s because his friends have now been permitted to ride again, albeit on the gallops, and possibly he feels like he’s being left behind?


I’ve nothing special planned for the weekend, a shame really, as for the past two years I’ve been to Huntingdon races on August Bank Holiday Monday to see Choc ride ... I miss him ... L


My 2009/2010 Jump Racing Review DVD arrived today, so I can watch that at the weekend. 


There’s Part 2 of the Martin Clunes – Horsepower equine documentary on Sunday (I’ve taped Part 1 but haven’t watched it yet).  Sunday evening on TV is good, with Countryfile and Secret Britain. 


Tomorrow afternoon there’s the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! – I love it!  The BBC Proms tomorrow evening features songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals too.  There’s a little bit of a clash with Channel Five early evening – Jason and the Argonauts – I love that film too, the 1963 version!  


Typically, there’s a clash of programmes on Monday too – Who Do You Think You Are? (with Jason Donovan this week) and Miss Marple - The Pale Horse (that’s an inn) – although the script writers have been up to their old tricks, as Miss Marple didn’t feature in this particular Agatha Christie novel.  I’ve read many of her books, but cannot remember most of the story lines or whodunit either!  My favourite Agatha Christie novel is Dead Man’s Folly, because it is the first one I read.


And finally, I’d like to wish my younger brother, Neil, a very Happy Birthday for today. 


Wednesday 25 August 2010

The weather has been awful today, I got soaked walking home, and the charity cricket match scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed too:

However, there are plans afoot to re-schedule it, so watch this space, as hopefully I’ll have news in due course!

Tuesday 24 August 2010

This Thursday, 26 August, a number of jockeys and trainers will be taking part in a charity fundraising cricket match being held at the Purley on Thames Cricket Club ground:

And a location map for the cricket ground too:,+Purley+On+Thames,+Reading,+RG8&searchp=ids.srf&mapp=map.srf


A choice of two National Hunt racing fixtures to watch on TV tomorrow evening – Bangor (Racing UK) or Ffos Las (ATR), but no specific horses scheduled to run (ie. No Alan King or Martin Keighley trained horses).


And many congratulations to my nephew James who, at 15 years old and a year early, has passed his Maths GCSE with flying colours having gained a Grade A*.


Monday 23 August 2010

I’ve had a bit of a nightmare with my broadband connection this weekend ... and am so relieved to be back on line again.  The service disappeared at around 20:00 on Saturday and was still out of action early Sunday.  However I phoned my ISP (Internet Service Provider) and they put my mind at rest – it was a fault at the local exchange affecting solely broadband, and not the telephones in my area.  You don’t realise how much one comes to rely on an internet connection until it’s gone!


Today we have an update on Choc’s progress reported via Alan King’s website:


I understand the Martin Keighley trained Ponchatrain encountered nightmare travel problems on the way to Bangor on Friday and can therefore be forgiven for not showing his true form on the day ... and Warren Marston got held up too, with Tom O’Brien taking the ride instead:


Being an avid cross stitcher (when I find the time) I decided to set up a new link on my ‘About Me’ page showing photos of the cross stitch projects which adorn my walls at home - Jane’s Cross Stitch Gallery

Saturday 21 August 2010

I hope you tuned into ATR this morning to see Choc appear live alongside Jason Weaver and Luke Harvey on The Weighing Room broadcasting from Newton Abbot; and later in the morning too on Racing News. 


Choc confirmed that he has been permitted to dispense with his leg brace.  He is undergoing physio at the IJF’s Oaksey House in Lambourn on an almost daily basis.  Full mobility in his knee should return within the next 6-week period, the major hurdle being the ability to completely straighten his leg.   His current hope and aim is to return in early to mid-January. 


I took a tour of Oaksey House during the Lambourn Open Day earlier this year, so I saw the wonderful facilities available for the injured jockeys and it’s nice to know he is in good hands.  


Each week, Jason and Luke weigh in, Luke remaining on or around 10 stone 7lbs, with Jason successfully reducing his weight to around 12 stone 7 lbs this week ... an improvement on last week when Jason weighed over 13 stone!  Choc weighed in at 11 stone 3 lbs, which included a suit jacket and jeans, his usual riding weight being 10 stone 4 lbs to 10 stone 8 lbs – and Choc was very pleased that he’d not put on many pounds over the past few weeks. 


And who was the ‘strange bird’ in the cerise pink coat who appeared on the Weighing Room?  Okay, I confess it was me!  Oh dear, my hair is looking so grey now ... but, as it is a choice between health and vanity, I have to go with the former – as, scarily, conventional hair dyes affect my ‘taste buds’ a day or two after dyeing; and supposedly ‘safer’ henna-based products give me flushes and make me feel nauseous less than an hour after application.  I think, however, that the overall colour will improve once the ‘skewbald’ effect has been cut out!  Or perhaps I might buy a wig ...


This afternoon I watched the racing from Newton Abbot – and my selection won the big race – I shouted the very game Passato home under Tom O’Brien.   He beat Classic Swain ridden by Ruby Walsh into second place.  Passato has now run up a sequence of 4 wins, the first 2 having been gained under Choc at Exeter and Stratford.  Choc missed Passato’s third win of the season as he was already on the sidelines.  Unfortunately Choc’s charity selection, Grand Slam Hero, was hampered badly when both Richard Johnson’s and Sam Thomas’ mounts fell at the first, and was pulled up shortly afterwards. 


Sam Twiston-Davies, who is one of Choc’s tips for the top, rode a treble, the first of which was a spare ride when Rudinero’s intended jockey, Michael Murphy, failed to arrive having suffered a mishap on the way to the course.


And I’ve pre-ordered my copy of Ruby Walsh’s biography via, as they always offer very good value for money AND they don’t charge a fee for postage either!


I have enjoyed reading a number of racing related biographies - those of Mick Fitzgerald, Timmy Murphy, Richard Johnson, Paul Nicholls, Ginger McCain, Jenny Pitman, David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson, and Richard Dunwoody’s most recent book too.


Having been glued to the TV this morning, I’m now free to pay a visit to Hobbycraft tomorrow – I’ve decided the Watford branch will be my destination on this occasion, as opposed to the Stevenage store which has been my favourite one more recently.  Hobbycraft can be quite expensive, but I like the depth of their picture frames, as they provide the best ‘mount medium’ for my cross stitch pictures.


Friday 20 August 2010

Martin Keighley had one runner at Bangor this afternoon but, disappointingly, Ponchatrain finished 5th in the Handicap Chase (8 ran).


According to the schedules listing, The Weighing Room programme on ATR (Sky Channel 415) is on at 09:00 tomorrow (Saturday 21 August) and repeated at 13:00 too!  Choc will be appearing ... and I will be too!!!


As I will be staying in to watch TV tomorrow morning(!), I’ll have to put off my trip to Hobbycraft until Sunday morning ...


Thursday 19 August 2010

Martin Keighley had one runner at Stratford this afternoon, King Ozzy having been withdrawn:

Le Brocquy finished a head 2nd in the Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle. Martin’s horse got his head in front before the last flight but the Donald McCain runner rallied to get back up on the line.


Tomorrow Martin has one runner at Bangor:

14:30 Ponchatrain - Handicap Chase, to be ridden by Warren Marston


As mentioned earlier in the week, Choc will be appearing on the At The Races (Channel 415) Weighing Room programme this coming Saturday morning ... and, having spent an hour this afternoon filming a segment with a nice young cameraman called Kevin from ATR, I’m scheduled to put in an appearance too, talking about my website and my reasons for liking Choc!


Having visited his surgeon today, I wonder if Choc has been given the all clear to remove his leg brace ... it being six weeks today since his operation.


Wednesday 18 August 2010

Meally Thornton’s regular Eclipse diary appeared today, and she recounts details of her sister’s wedding, a little more regarding Choc’s progress, exciting news that Choc will be appearing in the media and in print soon too, and their tentative holiday plans:


A news update on Alan King’s website regarding Choc and Wayne Hutchinson’s progress:


And news that jockey Noel Fehily is in the wars again, having been injured whilst schooling a horse today:


The Gordon Elliott trained Dirar won the Tote Ebor at York, Alan King’s The Betchworth Kid finished 14th and Overturn faded badly to finish last, but it has been a very long season for him (20 ran).


Martin Keighley has two runners at Stratford tomorrow afternoon:

14:05 Le Brocquy – Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle, ridden by Danny Hiskett

16:25 King Ozzy – Handicap Chase (reverting to 2 miles 1½ furlongs), ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies


And something very surreal will be happening to me tomorrow ... all I can say at present is that it is Choc related and ATR related too!


Tuesday 17 August 2010

Martin Keighley had two runners at Worcester this evening and this is how they fared:

Le Brocquy finished 6th in the Handicap Chase (11 ran).

Victor Daly finished 4th in the Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran).


I regularly read trainer Kim Bailey’s blog and I’m sad to report that one of his horses, Thenameescapesme, lost his life when he fell during the Handicap Chase later in the evening.


And for those of you who are missing Choc and I know I am, a ‘little birdie’ has told me that Choc will be a guest on the At The Races Weighing Room programme on Saturday morning! J


Monday 16 August 2010

After a rainy weekend in Hertfordshire, it’s been beautiful today, although it has felt a little autumnal in the early morning and in the evening for 3 or 4 weeks now.  But I’ve had plenty to keep me occupied indoors, so I don’t mind too much, besides it has given me the opportunity to finish another cross stitch project! 


Have you ordered your tickets for the Grand National 2011 fixture?  I did, first thing this morning! 


Martin Keighley has two runners at Worcester tomorrow evening:

17:40 Le Brocquy – Handicap Chase, to be ridden by Jimmy Derham claiming 5lbs

18:40 Victor Daly – Novices’ Hurdle, to be ridden by Warren Marston

And I shall enjoy tuning in to watch the meeting on At The Races.


Sunday 15 August 2010

Firstly a very Happy Birthday to my friend Lesley, whose birthday it is today.  I won’t reveal her age, but will say she is a glamorous granny, with her second grandchild due next Spring!


And also a very Happy Birthday to Belinda Keighley, whose birthday it is tomorrow.


News came through on Friday that Ruby Walsh has been given the go-ahead to resume riding following the injury he sustained on Grand National day at Aintree:


For those of you who collect the Jump Racing Review DVDs ... the 2009/2010 review will be available from next month and can be pre-ordered on the Cheltenham Collection website:

(And whilst you are on the site, don’t forget to check out Meally and Choc modelling clothes from the collection!)


Jilly Cooper’s new book Jump, which has a racehorse theme and also sees the return of ‘anti-hero’ Rupert Campbell-Black,  is available for pre-order via


I think my favourite Jilly Cooper books are Rivals and Pandora which, surprisingly, don’t have a ‘horsey’ theme!  I’ve got a copy of Wicked, but haven’t read it yet.


And tickets for the 2011 Grand National Meeting go on sale online tomorrow too!


Friday 13 August 2010

More news about Choc on Alan King’s website blog – where it is reported that Choc is making steady progress and is due to visit his surgeon again next Thursday (19 August).  Also news of Wayne Hutchinson, who is due to see his specialist on Monday with the hope of being allowed to resume riding out at the end of next week.


Choc gets another mention in Richard Phillips’ blog (for 12 August):


If I lived in the Cotswolds (and was a little more solvent!) I’d definitely become a member of the Adlestrop Club, as it always sounds like they have a number of interesting and fun events throughout the year ... so here is a link to the membership details:


Tuesday 10 August 2010

The Adlestrop Club’s annual cricket match took place yesterday, between a team from the local village and an invitational XI captained by trainer Richard Phillips.  Evidently Warren Marston’s bowling left much to be desired, but he was brilliant at batting.  The local Adlestrop cricket team won.


And, having returned from Yorkshire where he attended his sister-in-law’s wedding, Choc was on hand to pick out the winning raffle tickets, the raffle being held to raise money for the cricket club and, fittingly, for the Injured Jockeys Fund too.


Anyway, here is the link to Richard’s blog, giving further details:


I knew there was a reason why I’d booked yesterday off work ... I just didn’t know if Choc would be back in time to make an appearance ... otherwise I’d love to have been there to see him!  But, perhaps, there will be a photo on the Adlestrop Club’s website in due course ...


Monday 09 August 2010

A busy and productive long weekend, but back to work tomorrow L


I’ve written and uploaded my Worcester diary, although I did feel a little guilty spending almost 10 hours on my laptop during Saturday to complete this task amongst other things!  However, saying that, the weather was foul outside anyway. 


Yesterday was spent cross stitching, and today I’ve been ‘spring cleaning’ ... okay, so it’s August; and I’m not sure my back will thank me tomorrow either, as I’ve been moving heavy items of furniture, etc, around too.


Today it has been confirmed that the very talented flat campaigner Harbinger has been officially retired following a serious injury sustained on the gallops on Saturday:


Saturday 07 August 2010


Irish vs Rest of the World 6 8 10 c r.jpg


Sam Thomas and AP McCoy


As mentioned on Thursday, my friend Lesley and I took a trip to Worcester races yesterday, for the Pershore Plum Festival and Family Fun Race Day ... featuring the Jump Jockeys Annual Charity Football Match.


The weather wasn’t too bad, with just a few short sharp showers, so I didn’t need my Hunter Wellingtons after all.  Despite the rain being expected to head east, I’m reliably informed it didn’t even rain in Hertfordshire during daylight hours, although it did rain last night.


I hope the weather is okay in Yorkshire, as Choc and Meally are attending her big sister Charlie’s (Charlotte) wedding today.  And, of course, it is Meally and Choc’s first wedding anniversary tomorrow.


I saw Martin and Belinda Keighley, and said hello to lovely little Harry, who was having his first ever trip to the races!  Older brother Freddie was staying with his childminder yesterday.


Martin Keighley’s Deep Reflection didn’t cover himself with glory, finishing 11th of 13 in the Claiming Hurdle.  But it didn’t bode well when Belinda told me before racing that the horse can be a ‘monkey’ and they didn’t know which animal would turn up!


I did a toteplacepot bet ... but only one of my runners made the frame – the Richard Lee trained Rifleman winning the big race of the day.  I’m rubbish as usual ...


Harry Skelton rode a treble, and scored two goals(?) for the Rest of the World team, which beat the Irish Team 4-3.  Sam Thomas, although not my pin-up boy, is a very good goalkeeper ... despite eventually letting in 3 goals!  Lesley likes Sam, and Sean ‘Seannie’ Quinlan, and Christian Williams (but the latter wasn’t at Worcester yesterday).


I also spoke with Jenny Cheshire, the Hospitality Manager at Worcester, and we both expressed our disappointment that Choc couldn’t offer his usual charity auction prize this year – tickets and lunch at Cheltenham plus walking the course. 


Surprisingly, the auction prizes were sold quite cheaply this year – I don’t think any of them made £500, not even a morning on the gallops at Paul Nicholls’ yard (which Lesley would have liked if funds permitted).  I wasn’t paying full attention, but Lesley said that Choc’s valet, Phil Taylor, had bid for and won the tickets to see Lady Gaga at the O2 Arena! 


One of the prizes was a pair of Sam Thomas’ breeches signed by the jockeys who won at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival – which included a number of signatures from Choc (as he was top jockey with four winners: My Way De Solzen – the Arkle; Voy Por Ustedes – Champion Chase; Andreas – Grand Annual; Katchit – Triumph Hurdle). 


If you read this Choc ... I’d love a pair of your breeches, signed by just you ... my donation going to the IJF J


And, of course, I spoke with Phil to ask him how Choc was getting on, and he said he’d visited him last week.  He said the surgeon stated that the knee injury was the worst of this type he’d ever known L but, on the plus side, Choc was making the most remarkable recovery he’d seen (thus far) too J.  I asked him to pass on my best wishes to Choc when he sees him next.


I’ve also made a couple of TV appearances recently – I was shown entering the turnstiles (wearing a black coat and skirt, plus neon blue scarf ... plus sunglasses) on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day during the Undercover Boss programme featuring Paul Fisher of the Jockey Club shown on Channel 4 on Thursday; and this morning Lesley and I could be seen on ATR’s Weighing Room programme standing behind the ‘Cathedral end’ goal during the Charity Football Match (Lesley was wearing an orange cardigan and I was wearing a cerise pink raincoat).  Look out for the film during the days ahead, as ATR is also using it as a ‘time-filler’ between programmes ...


The National Hunt jockeys have 3 days off, the next fixture being at Newton Abbot on Tuesday afternoon.  I’m having a long weekend, as I don’t return to work until Tuesday, but I expect my time will be gainfully employed, as I’m going to write a brief diary about my day at the races to accompany a number of photos, with the remaining time spent cross stitching.


Sad breaking news regarding this season’s star flat performer Harbinger, who suffered an injury on the gallops this morning ... more news to follow – unconfirmed as I write  (just after midday) is a report on the Racing Forum suggesting he’s cracked a cannon bone.


Thursday 05 August 2010

Just time for a mini-blog this evening, as I’m off to Worcester races tomorrow.


Martin Keighley has one runner at the fixture:

14:20 Deep Reflection – Claiming Hurdle, ridden by Warren Marston.


I’m going to take my Wellington boots, as I think the forecast is for heavy rain spreading eastwards ... just so long as I don’t need a snorkel! 


And many thanks to fellow Choc Thornton fan, Karen, who has kindly sent me a selection of lovely photographs of ‘the cute one’ and I’ve uploaded these in .pdf format and here is the link:


Karen Hudson’s Photos


Monday 02 August 2010

Meally’s latest Eclipse diary blog was published today, and she gives an update on Choc’s excellent progress, and includes pictures of Choc with his parents, as they came to stay with them this weekend.  Although Choc is beginning to resemble the ‘Wild Man of Borneo’! 


She also reveals the sex of their baby – so click on the link below to find out whether it is a ‘mini-Meally’ or a ‘mini-Choc’!


Meally’s Latest Eclipse Blog


Sunday 01 August 2010

It’s already August ... I’m not keen on August, as once it arrives the summer is almost over L


The local press in Gloucestershire has picked up upon the good news regarding Choc, and have published a report on their website:




There’s also a report in the Sporting Life on the progress to fitness of Alan King’s ‘second string’ jockey, Wayne Hutchinson:


Hutchinson Progressing Well


And also good news regarding the Martin Keighley trained Deep Reflection, who is fine having been ‘quickly pulled up’ during a race at Bangor on Friday. 


Another quiet National Hunt racing week ahead, with Newton Abbot tomorrow, Ffos Las on Tuesday and Worcester on Friday.  However, my friend Lesley and I are off to Worcester on Friday for the Family Fun and Football Day.  The National Hunt jockeys’ annual North versus South football match will take place after racing and I expect Choc’s valet, Phil, will again act as commentator.


And hopefully Meally will write the next edition of her Eclipse website blog this week too ... as I’m always eager to hear further news.




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