DECEMBER 2008                  



Wednesday 31 December 2008

My last blog of the month, and of 2008 for that matter ...


Today’s Warwick meeting was abandoned due to the frost, as was Uttoxeter. 


If Cheltenham survives the precautionary inspection tomorrow, Choc is scheduled to have 3 rides:

12:30 Call Me A Legend - NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

14:10 Il Duce – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:55 Whistlejacquet – NH Flat Race (Alan King)


I think it’s just too risky for me to drive all the way to Cheltenham with even the slightest chance of racing being abandoned, so I’ll stay at home and watch it on TV should it go ahead.  Although, if Choc had been scheduled for more rides, perhaps that would have persuaded me regardless!  There’s still Cheltenham Trials Day on Saturday 24 January, so perhaps I’ll make it to the venue on that day instead – as I’d love to see Choc ride at his favourite course.


Sandown Park doesn’t look promising for Saturday as currently the ground is frozen, and Plumpton on Sunday may be affected too.   So when do I get to see Choc ride live again I ask?  I’d like to go to Huntingdon on Friday 09 January, but I won’t have earned enough leave by then. LLL


Tuesday 30 December 2008

Choc was out of luck again today.  Both Over Sixty and Bormo (beaten a neck) finished 2nd in their respective races. I’moncloudnine finished 3rd, Blazing Desert 5th, and Hobb’s Dream 7th.


Some weird TV camera work at Taunton today – we got a very close up shot of a jockey’s bottom as the riders entered the Parade Ring – but no-one on At The Races could identify the posterior.  However, I think the Lycetts logo on his waistband somehow gave it away – it was a Choccie bottom!


Choc is riding at Warwick tomorrow, weather permitting (precautionary inspection at 08:00):

13:20 West End Rocker – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

13:50 Jolejoker – Handicap Chase (Richard Lee)

14:50 Isn’t That Lucky – Beginners’ Chase (Jonjo O’Neill)

I’m hoping to visit Warwick soon, for National Hunt racing, but it won’t be tomorrow; or on 10 January when I’ve a ticket for the final performance of Lee Mead in Joseph in the West End.


Monday 29 December 2008

I went to Newbury races and it was a raw cold day, despite the sunshine.  The maximum temperature was 2 or 3 degrees, and my fingers and feet were absolutely frozen.  But I love to see Choc ride, so what can I do? 


One of Choc’s scheduled mounts was a non-runner, Tarotino, so he had four rides.  Trigger the Light was brought down at the 4th last fence, China Gold finished 2nd, as did Junior, and Chapolimoss finished 11th of 16.  Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson were the form pair again – with 3 winners.  Richard Johnson riding for Philip Hobbs had 2 winners.  However, Barry was awarded a 5-day ban for improper riding, having ‘cut-up’ Gremlin (Alan’s other runner in the 14:10) on the turn.


5 rides scheduled for Choc at Taunton tomorrow:

12:40 Blazing Desert – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

13:10 Over Sixty – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

13:40 I’moncloudnine – Novices’ Handicap Chase (Neil Mulholland)

14:15 Bormo – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

15:25 Hobb’s Dream – NH Flat Race (Neil Mulholland)

There is a widespread frost forecast, so an inspection will take place at 07:00 tomorrow.  Haydock Park has already been lost due to frost.


Sunday 28 December 2008

Success at Leicester for Choc today, when Bensalem won his event very easily – he went off at 1-3, with all bar the first two in the betting priced between 33-1 and 500-1.   His 2nd ride, Minella Four Star finished 3rd, but he was unseated from Dunaskin at the penultimate flight in the last  race (I hope Choc is okay).


5 rides scheduled for Choc at Newbury tomorrow:

13:35 Trigger the Light – Graduation Chase (Alan King)

14:10 China Gold – Introduction Hurdle (Alan King)

14:45 Junior – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:15 Tarotino – Novices’ Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:50 Chapolimoss – NH Flat Race (Jonjo O’Neill)


I plan to go to Newbury races tomorrow as I’m still on annual leave.  But I think I’m going senile, as I lost a pair of gloves last month, and now I appear to have lost my hat too!  Damn, I really liked that hat. L


Saturday 27 December 2008

A better day for Choc today, with Walkon winning the Juvenile Hurdle very nicely indeed.   Unfortunately Nenuphar Collonges could only finish 7th in the Welsh National – after seemingly losing a little confidence when taking off too early at the open-ditch in the straight first time around.  Halcon Genelardais under Wayne Hutchinson ran very well again, getting up to take 3rd place in the final strides when carrying top weight - he won the Welsh National in 2006, was second in 2007, and now third this year.  Thetwincamdrift finished 2nd to the Paul Nicholls horse in the Maiden Hurdle, Rustarix stayed on the finish 3rd in the Handicap Chase, but Quidonc was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle.  Hong Kong Harry finished 8th in the NH Flat race.


Clare Balding said she saw Choc jogging around the course when she arrived at Chepstow early today.


3 rides at Leicester tomorrow:

13:05 Bensalem – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:05 Minella Four Star – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:35 Dunaskin – Handicap Hurdle (Brian Ellison)


A sad postscript to yesterday’s racing – Divali Princess was killed at Towcester yesterday – I saw Choc ride her to victory at Huntingdon on 05 November. 


Friday 26 December 2008

I’m disappointed for Choc that he didn’t ride that ‘special’ winner at Kempton Park today, with Voy Por Ustedes finishing 3rd to Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase.  His mount in the Christmas Hurdle, Afsoun, fell at the 4th flight in an incident packed race, Paradise Regained finished 7th of 9, and Pagano was pulled up. 


I went to Kempton Park but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would – or maybe it was because my wish for Choc wasn’t fulfilled.  It was very cold today too, with an icy wind, but the weather is never enough to put me off – Ascot on 01 November is still the coldest fixture I’ve attended! 


Tomorrow Choc has 6 rides at Chepstow, all for Alan King:

12:55 Rustarix – Handicap Chase

13:30 Quidonc – Handicap Hurdle

14:05 Nenuphar Collonges – Welsh National

14:40 Walkon – Juvenile Hurdle

15:20 Thetwincamdrift – Maiden Hurdle

15:50 Hong Kong Harry – NH Flat Race

I do so hope Choc has a successful day tomorrow. 


I’m hoping to go to Newbury on Monday and, possibly, Cheltenham on Thursday. Then if Choc were to ride at Sandown Park on 3rd January, I’d welcome a return visit to the track.    


Wednesday 24 December 2008

A postscript to yesterday’s blog – Choc will be riding Pagano in the 15:45 at Kempton on Boxing Day, not top weight Your Amount who is to be ridden by M Roe claiming a 10 lbs allowance.


Wishing everyone a Very Happy Christmas, especially Choc. 





Tuesday 23 December 2008

No luck for Choc at Fontwell Park today, where he had just one ride and finished 7th of the 11 runners on Madness.


Sam Thomas didn’t ride today, as he needed 10 stitches in the wound sustained to his nose – Ouch!


As there is no racing tomorrow, it being Christmas Eve, or on Christmas Day, the next time Choc will be in action is at Kempton Park on Boxing Day (Friday).  But declarations have already been made and he has 4 rides, as follows:

14:05 Afsoun – Christmas Hurdle (Nicky Henderson)

14:40 Voy Por Ustedes – King George VI Chase (Alan King)

15:15 Paradise Regained – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:45 Your Amount – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

I hope luck is with him and he has a fabulous day. 


Choc is spending Christmas at home in the Cotswolds with his fiancée Meally, and both his and Meally’s parents will be staying with them for the festive period.   They will all be travelling to Kempton Park on Boxing Day to watch Choc ride.


Monday 22 December 2008

Another disappointing day for Choc, who rode at Hereford today.  Tifoso could finish only 8th of the 16 runners, although he started as the second favourite, and Quizzene finished 7th of 14.  Black Jacari wore blinkers today and took a keen hold, but yet again finished 2nd – Alan has admitted to being very disappointed with the horse.


Poor Sam Thomas was in the wars again, sustaining a very nasty gash along the entire length of his nose, when he was unseated during the first race following his mount’s collision with a loose horse as they jumped a fence.  They even dragged him onto TV afterwards for a brief interview, and the poor guy sounded very nasal (as you would), but he is hoping to ride tomorrow!  


Just one ride for Choc tomorrow, at Fontwell Park, for Alan King:

12:45 Madness – Novices’ Hurdle (Division I)


Choc has decided to ride Nenuphar Collonges in the Welsh Grand National next Saturday.  I kind of thought Choc would choose to ride him rather than Halcon Genelardais, who is to be ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.   I’d love to go to Chepstow to watch the race, but I’ve no-one to go with next weekend and motorway driving on dark evenings has become a problem of late.   


Sunday 21 December 2008

3 rides now scheduled for Choc at Hereford tomorrow, all for Alan King.

13:40 Tifoso – Handicap Hurdle

14:10 Quizzene – Handicap Hurdle

14:40 Black Jacari – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

Let’s hope the latter can break his duck of ‘seconditis’.


And I must mention that Choc’s foot injury is barely discernible now, which is very pleasing. 


I watched the final of Strictly Come Dancing last night - what a farce!  Next season the BBC should re-christen the programme Strictly a Waste of Viewing Time.  The voting system is grossly flawed when the least talented of the remaining dancers can win the competition. Enough said.


Saturday 20 December 2008

Not such a good day at Ascot today.  Choc finished 5th of 7 on Pur De Sivola, 4th of 5 on Katchit, 4th of 11 on Blazing Bailey, Squadron was pulled up and Orion D’Oudairies finished 3rd of 16.


Having driven to Ascot today, encountered no holdups, and with parking being free – I can’t see any reason whatsoever to go by train again!  Train travel is too expensive on a weekday, and too time consuming on a Saturday.  Having worn 6 layers plus a coat I was warm too – mind you it was a mild day today.


No National Hunt racing in the south tomorrow, and at the moment Choc has no definite riding engagements for Hereford on Monday although there are a number of entries still listed for Alan King.  Currently just one riding engagement for Fontwell Park on Tuesday, but again a number of Alan’s horses still hold entries.  Then it’s two days holiday for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ... and back into action at Kempton Park on Boxing Day with Voy Por Ustedes in the King George VI Chase – so I know what my Christmas wish for Choc is! 


Friday 19 December 2008

I went to Ascot today, by car.  It’s just far too expensive to travel through London and out to Ascot on a weekday.  Ditto for Kempton Park and Sandown Park.  However, I parked in the free car park and it was so much easier to get away from the course at the end of the day.  But, as usual, it was absolutely freezing. I spoke to the guy who parked next to me and he mentioned that it was always cold at Ascot – yes, I couldn’t agree more. This time the wind direction made it colder on the paddock side than on the grandstand viewing side.  Tomorrow I shall wear 7 layers plus coat, I only wore 5 layers plus coat today and regretted it!  The local forecast says mild and breezy tomorrow ... we shall see!


The good news is that Choc rode two winners today – Midnight Sail, who made a mistake at the 2nd last but still won well, and Medermit who won by a short head having held off Dee Ee Williams in a driving finish.  Choc’s 72nd and 73rd winners of the season.  Turkish Surprise finished 2nd, but Nikos Extra only 8th.


Tomorrow it’s back to Ascot, where Choc has 5 rides, all for Alan King:

12:30 Pur De Sivola - Graduation Chase (Jack Doyle rides Penzance for Alan King in this race)

13:30 Katchit – Boylesports International Hurdle

14:10 Blazing Bailey – Long Walk Hurdle

14:45 Squadron – Ladbroke Listed Handicap Hurdle

15:15 Orion D’Oudairies – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Christian Williams rides Delays Expected for Alan in this one)


I’ve seen all of Choc’s above mounts run, apart from Orion D’Oudairies.  In fact, I’ve seen Squadron run twice – at Cheltenham and Newbury.  I shall drive to Ascot tomorrow as I want to be home in time to watch the final of Strictly Come Dancing – I hope that Rachel and Vincent win.


Thursday 18 December 2008

Choc was suffering from ‘Placeditis’ today – Pacquet Cadeau finished 2nd, as did Dancingwithbubbles, with Valleyofthedolls finishing 3rd in their respective contests.  Stolen Moments won for Alan King, under Wayne Hutchinson, at Exeter.


Choc is off to Ascot tomorrow, with 4 rides for Alan King:

12:45 Midnight Sail – NH Maiden Hurdle

13:55 Medermit – Novices’ Hurdle

14:30 Turkish Surprise – Novices’ Chase

15:40 Nikos Extra – Handicap Hurdle

Nikos Extra has the distinction of being my only ever winning bet, when I won £7.60 having backed the horse £2.00 each way at Cheltenham on 16 November when, of course, Choc wasn’t riding him due to his one-day ban.  He finished 4th that day. Mind you, I very, very, very, rarely bet!  I can’t bet on Choc in case it’s unlucky, and I can’t bet against him because that would be disloyal!


I notice Uttoxeter has already been abandoned for tomorrow.


It was my last day at work before the New Year today, and I’m off to Ascot tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to it and I hope it will be as ‘balmy’ tomorrow as it was today – that’s relative of course!


Wednesday 17 December 2008

5 rides today with 2 winners – Cracboumwiz (love the name) and Bakbenscher (a big improvement on his last run).  Also a 2nd with Walkon, a 5th with Shilpa, and he pulled up Alfasonic when tailed off. Alan’s other runner, Sharajan, ridden by Jimmy McCarthy, finished 3rd in the same race.


3 rides for Choc at Ludlow tomorrow:

13:10 Paquet Cadeau – Novices’ Handicap Chase

15:10 Dancingwithbubbles – Mares NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:40 Valleyofthedolls - NH Flat Race


Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Newbury or my departmental Christmas lunch, never mind.  Hopefully I’ll be at the races at Ascot on Friday, and definitely Saturday.


Tuesday 16 December 2008

Choc is back in action tomorrow with 5 rides at Newbury, all for Alan King:

12:20 Walkon – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

13:25 Cracboumwiz – Maiden Hurdle

14:35 Alfasonic – Novices’ Chase

15:05 Bakbenscher – NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:35 Shilpa – Fillies’ NH Flat Race

It’s my departmental Christmas lunch tomorrow but I had been considering going racing to Newbury instead, but I’ve put that urge behind me.  So good luck Choc, I hope you have a successful (and safe) day. 


Following the Cheltenham abandonment, the Boylesports International Hurdle has been re-scheduled to take place at Ascot this coming Saturday – I hope to be there, and on Friday too.


Monday 15 December 2008

Another quiet day for Choc tomorrow, with no rides scheduled.  With the unpredictable weather we are having at the moment, I don’t blame him for being double-booked later in the week – Wednesday: Newbury or Bangor, Thursday: Exeter or Ludlow, Friday: Ascot or Uttoxeter!  Hopefully I’ll have news of definite rides tomorrow.  Four ‘Choc-less’ days and I’m missing him.

Sunday 14 December 2008

A day spent at home for me.  I washed my car this morning, although most of the ‘Huntingdon’ mud was removed when I drove through a huge puddle (flood?) on a country lane when I went to meet my friend Lesley, yesterday. 


I’ve wrapped a few Christmas presents, and written my diary about yesterday’s adventures and how it originally came about.


I’ve checked through the card for tomorrow’s meeting at Plumpton, and there are no rides for Choc, so another day without racing for him.  He’ll be disappointed not to be earning money, but Plumpton isn’t one of his favourite tracks to ride around.


Back to work for me tomorrow, but in order to use up all my outstanding leave entitlement before my deadline, my last working day before Christmas will be this coming Wednesday.  Although I am tempted to go to Newbury on Wednesday, despite it being my departmental Christmas lunch at a local pub, and then I would work Thursday instead.  Resist, resist!


Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have news of some scheduled rides for Choc.


Saturday 13 December 2008

My second visit to Cheltenham and I’ve yet to see Choc ride there, as this time the meeting was abandoned due to water-logging!  Perhaps it will be third time lucky sometime in the future.  Lingfield was abandoned too, but Doncaster went ahead, with some of the jockeys diverting there instead.


I set out from home at 6:30 this morning, arriving at the course at around 09:10.  We just caught Choc as he was about to set out with the Clerk of the Course, along with Jonjo O’Neill, to do an inspection following very heavy overnight rain.  Choc’s valet, Phil, took us into the Weighing Room whilst we waited for the verdict to come through, kindly plying us with tea and coffee.  And, as we now know, it was abandoned due to water-logging, so the valets packed up everyone’s kit again.  We got to chat to Timmy Murphy too.


Then off we set on our course walk with Choc.  We started by walking around the bend, following the route of the ‘new’ course, which runs inside the old course along the back straight.  Steeplechase fences are expected to be 4 foot 6 inches in height, but it was noted that some of the fences were higher than others – one on the old course was almost as tall as Choc, who confirmed he is 5 foot 7 inches tall. We examined the lip of the water jump, and I also noted that the front dressing on the fences is, in fact, plastic fronds over a brown plastic frame!  The far corner of the track was where the water-logging existed and the problems were obvious.  Choc also pointed out that the possibility of bypassing fences had been examined but even if they had moved one of the hurdles to accommodate this, the ground was too badly churned up from yesterday to make it a viable option. 


We then walked over to the ‘old’ course to look at the troublesome second last fence.  Choc explained that the course starts to rise just a few strides before the fence, the horses having just completed a downhill section.  This made it difficult for them to jump the fence, as the ground on the other side is in fact higher than expected. Finally, we took a look at the ‘cheese wedges’ on the cross country course.   Then, we had our pictures taken by the winning post with our host.


As we were around a 2½ hours drive from home, we decided to go shopping in Cheltenham for a few hours before returning to the Home Counties.


The next expected fixture for Choc is Plumpton on Monday.


Despite our disappointment that there was no racing at Cheltenham today, we very much enjoyed walking the course with Choc, who was a wonderful host.  He’s such a lovely guy too.


Friday 12 December 2008

Commencing with Choc’s results at Cheltenham today - Pennek finished 7th of 16, Crystal D’Ainay was pulled up after making a mistake and struggling in the Cross Country race, Trigger The Light finished 8th of 15 having blundered badly at the 16th (plus a couple of other mistakes), and Prideus came 5th of 17.  But the good news is that Karabak won, beating Ruby Walsh aboard Mahonia into second place.  That gives Choc his 69th winner of the season.  And it’s good to see Ruby back in action again after his recent injury. 


In his Gloucestershire Echo column this week, Choc explains why he enjoys riding in the Cross Country races at Cheltenham.  And, strangely enough, a reporter from the Racing Post approached me at Sandown last Saturday to ask my opinion regarding these races.  I told him that I thought they were a good idea as it afforded the horses a change from the normal steeplechase events, especially for those animals which might appear a little jaded.  I mentioned the ‘short-cut’ incident which occurred at the last meeting, but that I understood it would be remedied at the International.  My one reservation was that it favoured the Irish-based jockeys, who would have gained more experience of riding in this type of event due to its popularity across the Irish Sea.  The reporter summed up my opinion as cautiously in favour of them.  Choc also reported that My Way De Solzen was fine after pulling up at Huntingdon yesterday, and he acknowledges the horse isn’t the force he used to be.


6 rides for Choc at Cheltenham tomorrow, 5 for Alan King, the other for local trainer Martin Keighley (check out Martin’s blog – see Useful Websites):

12:15 Balzaccio – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

13:20 Junior – Relkeel Hurdle

13:55 Katess – Novices’ Chase

14:30 Il Duce – Boylesports Gold Cup Handicap Chase

15:05 Katchit – Boylesports International Hurdle

15:35 Any Currency – Novices’ Hurdle (Martin Keighley)


I’m having my second visit to Cheltenham tomorrow and, having raided my piggybank to successfully bid for an item auctioned in aid of the Wayne Burton Fund, I’m going to walk the course with the lovely Choc prior to racing too!  So it will be wellies and umbrella at the ready, as I gather it’s going to be wet and windy tomorrow – but do I care?



Thursday 11 December 2008

It was touch and go whether I’d get to Huntingdon today.  A second course inspection was scheduled for 10:00 and, as it takes around an hour to drive there, I wanted to wait until confirmation came through that the fixture would go ahead.  News came through just before 10:30, so off I went. 


Not a satisfactory day for Choc, he finished 4th on Call Me A Legend, and pulled up Spring Dream before turning into the final straight as she went lame.  He also pulled up My Way De Solzen in the Peterborough Chase, who appears still to be out of love with the game, which must be very disappointing for all the team at Barbury Castle.  The race was won by the grey, Monet’s Garden.


It’s back to Cheltenham tomorrow for the start of the two day Boylesports meeting.  Choc has 5 rides, all for Alan King:

12:45 Pennek – Handicap Hurdle

13:20 Crystal D’Ainay – Cross Country Handicap Chase

13:55 Trigger The Light – Listed Handicap Chase

15:05 Prideus – Handicap Hurdle

15:40 Karabak – NH Novices’ Hurdle

Good luck Choc and stay safe.


Fingers crossed, my friend Lesley and I are off to Cheltenham on Saturday and it’s scheduled to be a day filled with ‘Choccie’ treats.  I’ve got butterflies already ... come to think of it I’ve had them on and off since last weekend!


Wednesday 10 December 2008

A very quiet day for Choc with just one ride at Leicester, but he was successful on his only mount, Midnight Chase, bringing his tally for the current season to 68.


Tomorrow he’s due to be riding at Huntingdon, which is holding its most important race of the year, the Peterborough Chase. He has 3 rides scheduled, all for Alan King, and it includes the return of My Way De Solzen, who hopefully is revitalised after his long break from racing.

12:10 Call Me A Legend – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle

13:10 Spring Dream – Handicap Hurdle

13:40 My Way De Solzen – Peterborough Chase


Once again I am planning to attend the fixture, my 7th visit to the track this season.  As usual I’ll be wrapping up warm, with 7 layers of clothing – thermal vest, short-sleeved top, long sleeved top, jumper, cardigan, gillet and coat … Michelin woman springs to mind!  And, taking a leaf out of the jockeys’ handbook, a pair of tights (but thick opaque ones in my case) under my trousers!


Meally reports that both she and Choc have the sniffles at the moment, as does my friend Lesley, who will be coming with me to Cheltenham on Saturday!


Tuesday 09 December 2008

Choc rode at Fontwell Park today.  He finished 3rd on Head to Kerry and 5th on Mad Jack Duncan.


Tomorrow is a quiet day for him, with just one ride at Leicester for Neil Mulholland:

13:50 Midnight Chase – Handicap Hurdle.

Hopefully the horse will be not be burdened by the extra 7lbs he will be carrying due to his recent win under Choc at Folkestone.


Most Haunted to watch on TV tonight, and I need to re-hem a pair of my trousers which came unstitched last week.  And watch today’s races from Fontwell Park of course!


Monday 08 December 2008

Warwick was abandoned yesterday, as was Kelso, due to the heavy ground frost. However I did watch a number of races on TV from Lingfield and Clonmel. I stayed indoors and caught up with some jobs, and wrote my Saturday Sandown diary, having already updated my photo gallery on Saturday evening.  I also finished my cross stitch project.


I was gutted when Austin Healey was eliminated from Strictly Come Dancing this weekend.  The last four competitors were so good this season and it was unfortunate that he just had a bad week. I’m not sure who I’d like to win now - Lisa Snowdon, Rachel Stevens or Tom Chambers.  Possibly one of the latter two, as neither of their professional partners, Vincent or Camilla, has won the competition before.


Now back to the racing … Choc has 2 rides scheduled at Fontwell Park tomorrow:

13:40 Head to Kerry – Selling Hurdle (DJS Ffrench Davis)

14:40 Mad Jack Duncan – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


I’m now beginning to get butterflies thinking about this coming Saturday when, hopefully and fingers crossed, my special ‘Choccie’ treat will take place at Cheltenham.  I really enjoyed my trips to Sandown Park at the weekend and I finally got to see Choc come out to accept a winners memento following a race, when he won the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase aboard Araldur.


And I forgot to mention that last week Choc returned to third place in the Jockeys Championship race, overtaking Paddy Brennan once more.


Saturday 06 December 2008

As expected I went to Sandown today, by train. The outward journey was fine, I left home at 8:30 and arrived at the course around 10:40.  It was one of those weekends when engineering works were preventing trains running through the Thameslink tunnel, so they were terminating at St Pancras.  Luckily my return connections were good too, so I arrived home at 18:10 – although it was standing room only on both the train into Waterloo and to Bedford.


Another winner for Choc, when he piloted Araldur to victory in the Henry VIII Novices’ Steeplechase. His 67th of the season.  Blazing Desert finished 3rd, At The Money 5th, and King’s Revenge 8th.  Unfortunately Twist Magic fell at the second last fence in the Tingle Creek Chase, he was going well at the time, although probably would not have beaten Master Minded.  Choc was okay, sitting on the ground for a while before starting to trot back – his foot must be healing now.


AP rode four winners on the card, having ridden 4 winners at Newbury last Saturday too.  


One sad incident was when Blue Splash collapsed and died in front of the stands, having been pulled up after getting tailed off in the final race of the day, a long distance steeplechase.


Three rides at Warwick for Choc tomorrow, all for Alan King:

13:40 Walkon – Juvenile Novices Hurdle

14:40 Mad Jack Duncan – Maiden Hurdle

15:40 Valleyofthedolls – NH Flat Race


I’m staying at home tomorrow, as I have one or two jobs to catch up on having spent the past two days at the races!


Friday 05 December 2008

A postscript to yesterday’s blog – Choc picked up a spare ride at Wincanton, so his additional mount was Matcho Pierji, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, owned by JP McManus, in the Silver Buck Handicap Chase. But unfortunately he was unseated at the 12th fence and limped away – his recent foot injury not a new one.


I went to Sandown Park today, and saw Choc ride Tuanku into 2nd place, and win on Rustarix and Junior (65th and 66th winners of the season).  In his Racing UK interview, Alan King said Rustarix was only his second ever Steeplechase winner at the Sandown track, the first being Hurricane Lamp way back in 2001.  Choc’s fourth scheduled ride, Tifoso, was withdrawn.


Tomorrow Choc has 5 rides at Sandown:

12:50 Blazing Desert – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

13:25 At The Money – Handicap Hurdle (JMP Eustace)

14:00 Araldur – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

14:35 Twist Magic – Tingle Creek Chase (Paul Nicholls)

15:05 King’s Revenge – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

It’s good to see that Choc has a ride in the big chase, on the talented Twist Magic. 


I had a nightmare trip back from Sandown, it took me over 2 hours – Friday evening on the M25 is not recommended! But weekday train fares are so expensive when you travel through either rush-hour - £20.50 return to Sandown Park (Esher).  However, I will go by train tomorrow as traffic jams into and out of Esher will be worse than today and it should only cost me £12 return.


Thursday 04 December 2008

No winners today for Choc.  Tarotino finished 3rd of 4 in the Beginners’ Chase having led for a while, and Quizzene finished 5th having got his head in front between the 3rd last and last fence, but then weakened on the flat.  Neil Mulholland’s charge, You Know Bridie, was a non-runner. 


It was good to note that Sam Thomas’ fortunes may be about to reverse, as he rode two winners and a second today at Wincanton.


4 rides at Sandown for Choc tomorrow, all for Alan King:

12:50 Tuanku – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

13:25 Rustarix – Novices’ Handicap Chase

14:00 Junior – Novices’ Hurdle

15:40 Tifoso – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle


No prizes for guessing where I will be tomorrow – it’s Sandown Park!  Gates open at 11:00 a.m. I’m going to miss being able to attend Monday to Friday fixtures at the start of 2009, as I must start accruing holiday hours from zero again.


Wednesday 03 December 2008

Another day, another winner.  Choc was successful on Sovereign King, who jumped well when beating 3 opponents in the Beginners’ Chase.  His 64th win of the season.  Of his other rides, Madness was always towards the rear of the field and finished 9th of 12, and Rawaabet finished 3rd in his event.


3 rides for Choc at Wincanton tomorrow:

13:50 Tarotino – Beginners’ Chase (Alan King)

14:20 Quizzene – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

15:20 You Know Bridie – NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Neil Mulholland)


I’m not sure when my next trip to the races will be.  It could be Friday, if Choc is riding at Sandown Park not Exeter, and/or Saturday again to Sandown Park unless he’s at Chepstow. I could always travel to Warwick on Sunday I suppose … I’ve not been to that racecourse before, although I have visited the town itself.


I’ve nearly finished my Christmas present shopping too.  I just need to know what my nephew (age 13) and one of my nieces (age 16) would like and it will be sorted!  Hurray!


Tuesday 02 December 2008

4 rides for Choc at Hereford today, with one winner.  Misfortune befell Spare Cash, who was pulled up early after severing a tendon.  Choc’s 2nd ride, Dabaratsa, was also pulled up, but just because of fatigue.  Blistering started as second favourite but finished 6th, with Alan’s other runner, Penharold, coming in 2nd under Wayne Hutchinson.  Fortunately Swansbrook, having run well at Ascot early last month, won his bumper in good style, giving Choc his 63rd winner of the campaign.


Tomorrow Choc has 3 rides at Plumpton:

12:35 Madness – Novices’ Hurdle – Alan King

13:05 Sovereign King – Beginners’ Chase – Alan King

14:40 Rawaabet – Claiming Hurdle – Reg Hollinshead

Poor old Rawaabet goes from pillar to post, I wonder if he will be claimed by yet another yard after tomorrow’s run.


Will watch Most Haunted on TV tonight, and hopefully I’ll get a little cross stitching done too.


Monday 01 December 2008

My first blog of the new month. 


2 rides for Choc at Folkestone today, Valleyofthedolls I presume having been withdrawn because of the going following advice from Choc.  Awesome George finished very tired in a distant 3rd but Choc rode Midnight Chase out  wide on the course and won, and it will be with great pleasure that I’ll update Choc’s 2008/2009 winners list to reflect his 62nd winner of the season following a 10 day ‘famine’.


Choc has 4 rides at Hereford scheduled for tomorrow:

13:10 Spare Cash – Beginners’ Chase (Alan King)

14:40 Dabaratsa – Handicap Hurdle (Tor Sturgis)

15:10 Blistering – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:40 Swansbrook – NH Flat Race (Alan King)


I need to do my washing tonight as I didn’t get chance over the weekend, what with my trip to Newbury and overnight stay in Caversham.




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