DECEMBER 2012

 

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Monday 31 December 2012

Two runners of interest at Uttoxeter today:

Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs] (8 ran); ‘Squeak’ received a 2-day ban for misuse of his whip following his ride.

Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Christopher Ward) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles] (8 ran).

 

With Cheltenham abandoned tomorrow, the jockeys have made alternative arrangements – Choc goes to Fakenham for one ride:

13:20 Watered Silk (Lucy Wadham) – Maiden Hurdle

 

Evidently Chepstow is optimist that this coming Saturday’s rearranged fixture, which is to include the Welsh Grand National, will go ahead.  More

 

It’s been tipping it down with rain in Hertfordshire for most of the day.  Please can it stop soon?  I’m bored now!  I get fed up with hanging my damp clothes in the airing cupboard overnight. 

 

Channel 4’s new racing coverage begins tomorrow ... although with the loss of Cheltenham, it isn’t quite the start they wanted!  More

Sunday 30 December 2012

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

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

Call Me A Star (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) (6 ran); she wore a first time hood today, having proved quite difficult to handle in the preliminaries during her previous races. 

Honest John (Steve Gollings/Choc) finished 4th in the Handicap Chase (8 ran).

Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) was a non-runner & Brukirk Lass (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

 

I decided to watch yesterday’s Doncaster highlights being shown on ATR this morning and the commentator mentioned the name ‘Robert Thornton’ during the Handicap Chase ... so I looked up the details and discovered that he’d ridden the Lucy Wadham trained Emperor Concerto in the Handicap Chase in addition to his three earlier rides; a late replacement for Dominic Elsworth.  They finished 3rd of 11.  I’d turned over to RUK yesterday afternoon by that stage, to watch the final races of the day from Newbury.  Whoops ... but it has to be said that he rarely takes spare rides, so he caught me out on this occasion!  Fortunately he is always very careful with his choice of outside rides ... safety first thank goodness. 

 

Two runners of interest at Uttoxeter tomorrow, the fixture subject to a precautionary inspection at 07:30.

14:10 Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs]

15:10 Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Christopher Ward) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles]

 

Tomorrow’s fixture at Warwick has been abandoned and it doesn’t look good for Cheltenham on New Year’s Day at this point, with Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse saying that the only way they might be able to race is if no further rain arrives in the next 48 hours ... but, unfortunately, more rain has been forecast.  Evidently, in a couple of places out in the country, the going stick can be pushed into the ground for between 12 and 18 inches.  That’s soggy boggy!  But I suppose it could have been a lot worse over the past few weeks ... it might have been heavy snow if the temperatures had been colder.   

 

Riding fees will increase from 01 January 2013.  More  The National Hunt jockeys deserve every penny of the £157.72 per ride; it’s far too dangerous for mere mortals!

 

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Many happy returns of the day to young William Robert, who is two years old today.

 

I’m currently reading Odds On Death by Graeme Roe; it’s not as good as Dick / Felix Francis or John Francome novels of this genre, but it is an okay read.  Whilst reading the book, I’ve discovered that it is compulsory in the rules for a Conditional Jockey to have their girth checked at the start ... well, I didn’t know that!

I’m working tomorrow, or at least I am until 13:00; we are permitted to leave early on Christmas Eve and on working days between Christmas and the New Year too.  I’m glad I don’t have to drive in from afar, as it would barely be worth getting out of bed in the morning for such a short day!  Although, having said that, I only have a lay-in once in a blue moon because I’m a morning person not an evening person.  

As hoped, my Kempton Park diary has been completed and uploaded.  Click here to read.

Saturday 29 December 2012

A number of runners of interest today but no winners:

 

Doncaster:

Kenai Peninsula (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th & Custer Of The West (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) finished 12th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (20 ran).

Our Phylli Vera (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Fillies’ Juvenile Maiden Hurdle (5 ran).

Vendor (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Chase (6 ran); he completed last of the finishers, two having unseated and one having been pulled up.  It was fortunate that the fences at Doncaster are fairly soft, as he made a number of errors, including a particularly bad one at the 4th.  But luckily Choc was wearing his velcro pants’ today!

 

Newbury:

Bakbenscher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

Desert Robe (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished last & Kuda Huraa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th in the Introductory Hurdle (10 ran).

And, as speculated by RUK’s Alex Steedman, Kuda Huraa is indeed a holiday resort in the Maldives!

 

Taquin De Seuil won the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle.  More  

And Hurricane Fly the Grade 1 Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown.  More

 

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Tomorrow’s fixture at Haydock Park has been abandoned due to water-logging but Taunton will go ahead, subject to a 07:30 inspection. 

 

12:40 The Mumper (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:20 Call Me A Star (Alan King/Choc) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed)

14:55 Honest John (Steve Gollings/Choc) – Handicap Chase

16:00 Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) & Brukirk Lass (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) - Handicap Hurdle

 

It’s also young William’s second birthday tomorrow; but I’m sure he won’t be one of those ‘terrible twos’!

Friday 28 December 2012

Well, although I’m not a fan of Ruby Walsh ... because he wins too often (?) ... I have to say that his rides at Leopardstown today were truly something else; he rode a treble, with none of the three looking the likely winner apart from on the line!  Tidal Bay was one of them, taking the Lexus in the last few strides.  He seems to be a totally reformed character since his move to Paul Nicholls.  More

 

Just one runner of interest this afternoon, at Leicester:

Patsy Finnegan (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (11 ran).

 

A number of runners of interest tomorrow:

 

Doncaster:

12:05 Kenai Peninsula (Alan King/Choc) & Custer Of The West (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

12:40 Our Phylli Vera (Alan King/Choc) - Fillies’ Juvenile Maiden Hurdle

13:15 Vendor (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase ... making his debut over fences following two disappointing outings over hurdles this season.

 

Newbury:

15:15 Bakbenscher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle

15:50 Desert Robe (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) & Kuda Huraa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Introductory Hurdle

 

Choc is due to ride at Taunton on Sunday ... presumably weather permitting, as it’s due to be very wet and windy tomorrow.

 

Here is a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s latest Sporting Life column.  Click here to read.

 

And it’s worth catching up with the latest news on Alan King’s website too.  Click here to read.

 

If you were watching RUK’s coverage of Wetherby races yesterday, you’ll probably know that Little Hercules sadly lost his life when he fell two out in one of their steeplechases.  Unfortunately, it’s now been confirmed on the Racing Forum Memorials page that Aland Islands, who was clearly unsound when led away, was also a fatality having fallen at the same fence. L

 

With Choc riding at Doncaster and Taunton, I’ll be staying at home this weekend.  As a result, I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator as regards my Kempton Park diary, because I now have at least 7 days to complete it!

The southeast has been lucky with regards to flooding ... but there are now a number of warnings on the Thames between Caversham and London.  My friend Denise lives in Caversham and tells me that the road through nearby Sonning has been closed again due to flooding; it was closed at the end of last month too.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Two runners of interests at Kempton Park today and this is how they fared:

McVicar (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Juvenile Hurdle, behind a Paul Nicholls hot-pot and despite crashing through the last flight although well beaten at the time (7 ran).

Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2) [2 miles] (5 ran). The race was won by Sanctuaire.  More

 

Menorah won the re-arranged Grade 2 Peterborough Chase.  More

 

And Simonsig annihilated his rivals in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase, running for the second time in 6 days.  More

 

Just one runner of interest tomorrow, at Leicester (subject to an 08:00 inspection):

14:40 Patsy Finnegan (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

 

Martin Keighley’s blog is always worth reading, so check it out following yesterday’s brilliant day:

http://www.martinkeighleyracing.com/Martins_blog.php

 

Young William has been helping with the mucking out too:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/284330246885478400/photo/1

 

Back to work tomorrow but, hopefully, we’ll be allowed to leave earlier than usual, workload permitting.  Some extra free time would be useful, as I’m now playing catch-up with my Kempton Park diary.  However, I have uploaded the photographs I took yesterday although, unfortunately, the prevailing weather conditions were not conducive to quality control.  Click here to view.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

 

Champion Court r.jpg

 

Champion Court and Alain Cawley

parading ahead of the King George VI Chase

 

 

Here are today’s results of interest; it was an excellent day for the Martin Keighley yard, many congratulations to the team:

 

Kempton Park:

Hung Parliament (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran).

Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Feltham Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (7 ran).

Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) (7 ran).

Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 4th in the King George VI Chase (Grade 1) (9 ran).

Secret Edge (Alan King/Choc) finished 8th & Faultless Feelings (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran).

 

For the record, Long Run regained his King George VI crown although, jumping the last, it appeared that Captain Chris had his measure.  More

 

Darlan won the Christmas Hurdle; with Alan King delighted with Raya Star’s runner-up finish.  More  Choc’s mount earned £15,207. 

 

Dynaste trounced his rivals in the Feltham Novices’ Chase.  More  Although debuting over fences, Lovcen was disappointing.

 

Towcester:

Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) won the NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (6 ran).

Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Christopher Ward) won the Handicap Chase (3 ran).

That’s the stable’s 17th and 18th winners of the season

 

Wincanton:

Shady Lane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (5 ran).

Ardlui (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) (9 ran).

 

Two runners of interests at Kempton Park tomorrow:

12:25 McVicar (Alan King/Choc) – Juvenile Hurdle

14:40 Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2) [2 miles]

 

Despite getting soaked today, with much the same forecast for tomorrow, I would have ventured out to Kempton Park again had Choc been booked for more than one ride.  Oh well, as I’ve got the day off from work tomorrow, it will give me the opportunity to get started on today’s diary.  Besides, there’s always Newbury on Saturday?  And my anorak will have a chance to dry out before then!

 

The dullness of the day meant that my photographs were of very poor quality; I hate it when that happens.  And I thought I’d caught a number of important moments ... I’m gutted.  L  Maybe I should give up on my contact lenses for the time being; because I have to wear a pair of reading glasses over them to properly see the camera’s image screen and that, obviously, doesn’t seem to work too well.  I also get shaky when I’m cold or nervous. 

 

I spent Christmas Day with my brother Neil, his family, his in-laws and my mum in Silsoe in Bedfordshire.  Unfortunately I don’t have anyone to buy me any of those expensive items from my wish list ... a Windows 8 laptop, a bridge camera or a smart-phone, but I did receive two boxes of chocolates, a ‘Chaotic Rainbow’ necklace, the Kauto Star book, a cuddly lemur (which I’ve named Noel because its Xmas), a slumber blanket with sleeves, a presentation box of Sanctuary bathing goodies, and a ticket for the Boogie Nights tour (featuring the Osmonds amongst others).      

 

Choc tweeted a couple of photos to me yesterday, of William wearing the hat I’d knitted him. 

I knitted an identical one for Choc too!

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/283528809750360064/photo/1

 

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/283528993293103104/photo/1

Monday 24 December 2012

News today that Chepstow’s fixture scheduled for Thursday has already been abandoned, but the Welsh Grand National will go ahead on Saturday 05 January, although this will now clash with Sandown Park’s first meeting of the New Year.  I wonder where Choc will be that day, as I was kind of hoping he’d be at the latter as it’s my birthday ... 

 

As hoped, I’ve completed and uploaded my Ascot diary.  Click here to read.

 

Choc is spending Christmas with his parents; this year William having been returned to his ex-wife for Christmas Day.

 

Happy Christmas everyone

Sunday 23 December 2012

It’s interesting to read the latest news on Alan King’s website regarding yesterday’s results at Ascot. 

http://alankingracing.co.uk/news.htm

The same thought had occurred to me regarding Balder Succes; he definitely has a preference for running against a small number of rivals rather than the hustle and bustle of competing in a big field.  He fell during the Triumph Hurdle and then unseated at Punchestown, both times in a large field; totally in contrast to Raya Star, who relishes that type of race.  And it appears I shall have a fabulous Choc-filled Boxing Day at Kempton too! 

 

The weather has already claimed Huntingdon’s Boxing Day fixture; there being runners of interest at three of the other meetings:

 

Kempton Park:

12:50 Hung Parliament (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:00 Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) – Feltham Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

14:35 Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) – Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1)

15:10 Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – King George VI Chase (Grade 1(

15:45 Secret Edge (Alan King/Choc) & Faultless Feelings (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley); I notice Barry Geraghty has been booked to ride my ‘local’ representative, Valid Reason!

 

Towcester:

13:20 Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Tom Siddall) – NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

13:55 Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Tom Siddall) – Handicap Chase

 

Wincanton:

12:30 Shady Lane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

14:15 Ardlui (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier)

 

I was disappointed that Louis Smith won this year’s Strictly Come Dancing competition.  Prior to yesterday’s performances I thought Kimberley Walsh would win but, having seen last evening’s dances, when Denise Van Outen was amazing, I changed my mind and thought it would be fairer if she lifted the trophy.  So I was gutted when Louis was selected by the viewers ... as I thought it was a dance competition not a gymnastics competition.

I uploaded the photographs I took at Ascot before I turned in last night.  Click here to view.  I’ve been working on my diary today ... although it’s not shaping up quite as quickly as I’d like, especially as I wish to finish it before the end of tomorrow; I have to complete a half-day at work too.  That’s because I’m hoping to have a ‘clean slate’ for Boxing Day!

Saturday 22 December 2012

 

Smad Place.jpg

 

Choc aboard Smad Place ahead of the Long Walk Hurdle

 

 

Hopes were high at the start of the day for a Saturday winner for Choc ... but, unfortunately, it didn’t materialise L

However, it was lovely to see him on Channel 4’s The Morning Line before I set off for the races. J  And Choc scored 8 in the Guest Test ... one more than last time.   

 

Ascot:

Smad Place (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1) (7 ran).

Hold On Julio (Alan King/Choc) unseated 3 out in the Handicap Chase (Listed) [3 miles] (6 ran).

Balder Succes (Alan King/Choc) finished 16th in the Ladbrokes’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed) (21 ran).

 

Haydock Park:

Bakbenscher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs] (10 ran).

 

Reve De Sivola took the honours in the Long Walk Hurdle.  More

Irish raider, Cause of Causes, won the Ladbroke Hurdle.  More 

Both Richard Johnson and Jason Maguire rode their 100th winners of the current campaign. 

And Finian’s Rainbow won’t run in the King George on Boxing Day due to the prevailing ground conditions.  More

 

Today was the last racing day before Christmas.  As always, Boxing Day will be busy, busy, busy, with fixtures at Kempton Park, Ffos Las, Fontwell Park, Wincanton, Towcester, Huntingdon, Sedgefield and Wetherby ... weather permitting of course!

 

It was horrid out there today; fortunately traffic was okay, as the motorway was hazardous with all the spray ... despite me keeping to the inside lane most of the time!  And the sills and lower part of my car doors now need cleaning, having parked it on the soggy grass in Ascot’s free car park.   

And I’m beginning to think that it may be unlucky when I turn up at the races too ... Choc has experienced 6 mishaps so far this season and I’ve been there when 3 of them have happened.  Whoops.

My next outing is to Kempton Park on Boxing Day and I understand the current forecast is for a respite in the wet weather on Wednesday. 

Friday 21 December 2012

Just one ride for Choc today, at Ascot and this is how he fared:

Letsby Avenue (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the NH Maiden Hurdle (6 ran).

 

Simonsig scooted away with the Grade 2 Novices’ Chase; although three of his four rivals failed to complete the course.  More

 

A number of runners of interest tomorrow:

 

Ascot:

14:00 Smad Place (Alan King/Choc) – Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1)

14:35 Hold On Julio (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase (Listed) [3 miles]

15:10 Balder Succes (Alan King/Choc) – Ladbrokes’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

 

I presume Hold On Julio is running at Ascot rather than at Chepstow next Thursday due to the forecast for spells of heavy rain between now and then which, I suppose, could seriously affect the viability of the Welsh Grand National. 

 

Haydock Park: (subject to a 07:00 inspection)

13:45 Bakbenscher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs]

 

Here is a link to Martin Keighley’s column in the Gloucestershire press published today.  More

 

Also a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s most recent column on the Sporting Life website.  More

 

A few photos of Choc have been tweeted today:

https://mobile.twitter.com/DanielOwens1979/status/281769555141984256/photo/1

 

https://mobile.twitter.com/2kjmoore/status/281729396056936448/photo/1

 

https://mobile.twitter.com/2kjmoore/status/281729960136302593/photo/1

 

Having seen a replay of yesterday’s race at Towcester, won by Two Rockers, it can only be described as snorkel weather!  And it appears that tomorrow may be a very similar day ... the Ascot weather forecast for tomorrow is abysmal: http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/2656992?day=1

 

Gates open at 10:45; first race at 12:55, last race 15:40.  My journey to the racecourse takes around an hour, mainly M25 and M4.  No point in dressing up; my outfit should include my purple anorak and waterproof boots, plus a very large umbrella ...

Thursday 20 December 2012

Just one ride at Towcester for Choc today, and it was another winner J

Two Rockers (Alan King/Choc) won the Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran).  Choc’s 25th winner of the season.

Ukrainian Star (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran). 

Acosta was ridden by Wayne Kavanagh!

Fine Moment (Ian Williams) was a non-runner in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

Today’s Exeter fixture was abandoned due to the monsoon conditions ... and tomorrow’s fixture at Uttoxeter has also been lost.  Ascot is currently fine, although a precautionary inspection at some stage has not been ruled out!

 

Anyway, tomorrow Choc has one riding engagement at the aforementioned Ascot:

12:45 Letsby Avenue (Alan King/Choc) – NH Maiden Hurdle

And the Nicky Henderson trained Simonsig makes his much awaited chasing debut in the Grade 2 Novices’ Chase; where, at present, he has four rivals.

 

I did consider going to Ascot tomorrow but, as Choc has just one riding engagement, I shall save myself for Saturday!  Although it is forecast to be ‘purple anorak’ weather on that day! 

 

 

As it has been three weeks since Choc’s last Horse and Hound column, a new one was published today.

 

He begins by mentioning last Saturday’s big Handicap Chase at Cheltenham; which turned out to be a carbon copy of the Paddy Power, with Walkon running well and finishing second to a Paul Nicholls trained horse again (Unioniste).  But he says that he wouldn’t have won even if he’d started on Friday!

 

Choc says the yard’s horses are running well but they’re being placed rather than winning.  But he’s convinced the ‘big win’ is on its way and he has high hopes that it will happen this weekend when Balder Succes competes in the Ladbroke Hurdle.  

 

The horse is well-handicapped, he’s been working well at home, and the race should suit him.  Although having failed to complete a couple of times at the end of last season (at Cheltenham and Punchestown), he jumped well when winning at Haydock Park on his last run.  And before that he finished third to last weekend’s International Hurdle winner, Zarkandar, at Wincanton.

 

He feels sorry for Daryl Jacob, Felix de Giles and Leighton Aspell who have been given lengthy bans recently and will miss rides over the busy and important Christmas period.  But he recalls this time last year when he was in hospital after breaking his upper right arm in a fall at Hereford.

 

The injury occurred a year ago last Sunday and he had a strange experience in his local, the Plough Inn, on Saturday night  when a lady spoke with him to say that she had always felt responsible for his fall because she’d wished him luck for Hereford for the following day on the same night 12 months ago. 

 

As Choc remains superstitious and was riding in the same race for the same trainer a year on (Richard Lee; this year’s mount being Backtothecongo) he requested that she sit on the other side of the pub, didn’t speak to him and asked her not to wish him luck this year.  [Note from Jane: Strangely, I had noticed the coincidence but choose not to mention it at the time for fear of another mishap!]

 

He mentions that he rode a winner last Sunday (Midnight Prayer) which was especially nice, it being Hereford’s last meeting, maybe forever.  However, he hopes that racing restarts at the course sometime in the future.  Choc writes that Alan King’s yard has introduced a lot of good horses at the racecourse over the years, so it’s proved to be a happy hunting ground for him; he rode a treble there last season [17 November 2011 – Reyamour, Way Back When and Invictus].

 

Choc recounts that he rode at Aintree the previous weekend, which included two outings over the Grand National fences.  He praises the improvements to the fences; he says they are really well presented, and are more forgiving than they used to be.  Sometimes previously, a horse having left its hind legs behind in a fence, it would result in the jockey being fired over the animal’s head as it came to an abrupt halt.  Although if you deserve to fall you still will he says! 

 

He knows the fences aren’t as formidable as they were ten years ago, and in those days there was always someone in the weighing room who would say they weren’t as bad as ten years before that.  He just hopes that, in ten years from now, the race won’t be history and the next generation still has the opportunity to experience the thrill.

 

Choc isn’t 100% sure of his riding plans over Christmas, but he confirms that Raya Star will run in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton’s Boxing Day fixture, and Hold On Julio might run in the Welsh National the following day, providing the ground isn’t ‘horrendous’.

 

His personal plans include spending time with William on the two non-racing days before Christmas (Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th); on the latter they’ll go to the Belvoir Hunt meet, which he knows William will enjoy.  He mentions that it will be William’s birthday on Sunday 30th December, and he can’t quite believe that his little boy is two already.

 

Finally he wishes the readers a Happy Christmas and hopes that everyone’s gifts are as good as those which William will receive!  

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Newbury:

Arabian Heights (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 8th & Fair Trade (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Maiden Hurdle (18 ran).  The race was won by the useful Poet, who began his new career over hurdles today.

Stoney’s Treasure (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Graduation Chase (5 ran) having recovered from an injury incurred during his last run at Ascot a year ago.  

Dalavar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 7th & Uxizandre (Alan King/Choc) won the NH Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) (12 ran).  Choc’s 24th winner of the season.

Taffy Dare (Alan King/Choc) finished 5th in the Fillies’ Junior Standard Open NH Flat Race (12 ran).

 

 Ludlow:

Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Tom Bellamy) unseated in the Handicap Chase [2 miles] (7 ran); I can’t believe she can be so unlucky. L

The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Miss CV Hart) finished 3rd in the Lady Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle (13 ran).

The Wicked Kipper (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 5th in the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran).

 

A number of runners of interest tomorrow:

 

Towcester:

13:40 Two Rockers (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:40 Ukrainian Star (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) & Acosta (Dr JRJ Naylor/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle

15:50 Fine Moment (Ian Williams/Choc) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

Exeter:

13:20 Lidar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Graduation Chase

15:50 Ali Baba (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) – Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle

 

Choc has tweeted a couple of new photographs of William:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/281429880925736960/photo/1

 

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/281336560933302274/photo/1

 

Tomorrow is my ‘Friday’ once more.  I shall miss working four days a week when the New Year begins. L  Monday will be a half day, and I’ve booked 27 December as leave too.  I’m working on Friday week and on 31 December.  I hate taking leave without specific plans, which is why I book very few days leave during the summer months. 

Today wasn’t much like a proper working day, as my employer booked a couple of my colleagues and me to undertake a training course to learn the basics of InDesign; as we have upgraded our desktop publishing software from Quark.  

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Just one runner of interest today, at Folkestone’s final fixture, and it was a winner J:

Godsmejudge (Alan King/Choc) won the Beginners’ Chase (11 ran); Choc’s 23rd winner of the season.

 

Tomorrow there are runners of interest at both Newbury and Ludlow:

 

Newbury:

13:20 Arabian Heights (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Fair Trade (Alan King/Choc) – Maiden Hurdle

14:25 Stoney’s Treasure (Alan King/Choc) – Graduation Chase

15:00 Dalavar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Uxizandre (Alan King/Choc) – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier)

15:30 Taffy Dare (Alan King/Choc) – Fillies’ Junior Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

 Ludlow:

13:40 Sky Calling (Martin Keighley/Tom Bellamy) – Handicap Chase [2 miles]

14:10 The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Miss CV Hart) - Lady Amateur Riders’ Handicap Hurdle

15:15 The Wicked Kipper (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle

 

The connections of talented novice Coneygree are weighing up whether to have a crack at Cheltenham’s World Hurdle in March.  More  But I guess it may now be an option for many talented hurdlers, including Oscar Whisky, now that Big Buck’s is on the sidelines.  More  Although Willie Mullins has confirmed that Quevega will go for a 5-timer in the Mares’ only hurdle.  More

 

Not surprisingly, after Al Ferof’s injury, Ruby Walsh will now partner Kauto Stone in Boxing Day’s King George.  More

Monday 17 December 2012

Just one runner of interest tomorrow, at Folkestone’s final fixture:

13:00 Godsmejudge (Alan King/Choc) – Beginners’ Chase

 

There’s very important breaking news regarding two of Paul Nicholls’ stable stars, Al Ferof and Big Buck’s ... he’s announced that they are probably both out for the remainder of the season due to leg injuries ... More

 

My sinuses are driving me crazy again; I wonder if I have an allergy to something.  It’s like permanently having a mid-cold and I’m continually clearing my throat, which makes my voice a little croaky ... post nasal drip I presume is the cause.  Yuck.

Just one week to go until Christmas ... I’ve bought and wrapped all my presents, bar one.  I think I know what I’m going to buy for my friend Lesley, but it may not happen before the big day! 

Sunday 16 December 2012

There were 5 runners of interest today at Hereford’s final fixture (at least for the foreseeable future):

Midnight Prayer (Alan King/Choc) won the Maiden Hurdle (14 ran); Choc’s 22nd winner of the season. J

One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (12 ran).

Ukrainian Star (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) won & Backfromthecongo (Richard Lee/Choc) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [3 miles 1½ furlongs] (7 ran).  Congratulations to the team, their 15th winner of the season; an excellent front running performance by Boris. 

And Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) won the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 2 furlongs], further congratulations, their 16th winner of the season.

 

I understand both Choc and Martin were in the Plough Inn yesterday evening expressing their frustration at finishing second; different today!

 

Martin may have trained the final two winners at Hereford ever, the course having been open since 1771 but closing today with future plans undecided. 

 

Choc’s winner proved to be excellent value at 8-1 as, although he hadn’t run since 15 January 2011 due to leg problems, on Hennessy Day in 2009 he finished second in the bumper to none other than Oscar Whisky and the name dropping doesn’t stop there – Court In Motion completed in 3rd that day, with Rock On Ruby 4th!!!

 

It was not a good day at Navan for Davy Russell; as his mounts came to grief in each of the first three races!  He was already sporting a dressing on his chin by the time his final mishap occurred ... he didn’t ride for the remainder of the day.

 

There’s National Hunt racing at Ffos Las and Plumpton tomorrow, but no specific runners of interest.

 

Oh Crick pulled up lame yesterday, hence the poor showing; the stable reports, with relief, that he is moving much more easily today.  

 

It’s good to see Stoney’s Treasure is back on the entries roster following over a year off the track.  I was hoping he was okay, as he looked very sorry for himself when coming to grief at the final fence at Ascot in November last year. 

 

Alan King will rely upon Balder Succes in next Saturday’s Ladbroke Hurdle, with Raya Star heading to Kempton Park for Boxing Day’s Christmas Hurdle.  More  I’m in full agreement that Walkon has earned a well-deserved break following his excellent efforts in both the Paddy Power and yesterday’s feature handicap at Cheltenham. 

 

All being well, it appears I have plans for a journey to Berkshire next Saturday, the last racing day before Christmas!  And, of course, I’ll be at Kempton Park on Boxing Day too.  It could be a very busy period, as Newbury must be a possibility on Saturday 29 December and maybe Sandown Park on my birthday, 05 January. 

 

However, I don’t have a Christmas jumper enabling me to obtain a £5 discount from a Newbury Premier Enclosure ticket should I turn up at the racecourse on 29 December.  More  Evidently, Christmas themed jumpers are the height of fashion this Festive Season!  Oh well, at least they are not as ridiculous as Onesies ... I’m not quite sure why anyone would wish to wear an adult romper suit! 

And, finally, I’ve completed and uploaded my diary for Hennessy Gold Cup Day.  Click here to read.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Cheltenham:

Handazan (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Triumph Hurdle Trial, unable to reverse the placing with Far West.  But Alan King did say the horse wasn’t completely ‘wound up’ yet following the gelding operation (3 ran).

Oh Crick (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [2 miles & half a furlong] (7 ran).

Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (7 ran).

Walkon (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Paul Stewart Ironspine Charity Challenge Gold Cup (Grade 3 Handicap) (14 ran).

 

Paul Nicholls trained four of today’s Cheltenham winners, with the unexposed 4-year-old novice Unioniste taking the big Handicap Chase ahead of Walkon; according to RUK, Unioniste was the first horse of this age to win over fences at Cheltenham.  But it was not all sunshine for the Somerset stable, with Cristal Bonus losing his life when he sustained a serious injury to his near hind mid-race.   More

 

Choc must be fed up of seeing the backside of a John Hales owned grey on the climb up the Cheltenham hill having been in exactly the same position when runner-up to Al Ferof in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at the Open meeting last month.  But at least it proves that Walkon can run well not only on his seasonal reappearance, if that’s any consolation; and the runner-up’s prize today was £21,370. 

 

Paul Nicholls wasn’t the only one celebrating winners today, as trainer Emma Lavelle also had a four-timer at odds of 125-1, with two winners at Doncaster, one at Cheltenham and one at Lingfield.  More

 

Doncaster:

Ulys Du Charmil (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & half a furlong] (8 ran).

Midnight Sail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 3 furlongs] (8 ran).

 

Lingfield Park:

Pollystone finished 2nd in the Maiden Standard Open NH Flat Race (10 ran).

 

That’s a lot of seconditis today ...

 

Tomorrow is Hereford’s last fixture for the foreseeable future ... although there is a report that the company which owns the track has applied for a licence to stage contingency meetings in place of those which have been abandoned due to the weather at other racecourses within its group.  The earliest that scheduled meetings could return to the Hereford track would be 2014.  

 

There are 5 runners of interest tomorrow at Hereford:

13:10 Midnight Prayer (Alan King/Choc) – Maiden Hurdle

14:40 One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

15:10 Ukrainian Star (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) & Backfromthecongo (Richard Lee/Choc) – Handicap Chase [3 miles 1½ furlongs]

15:40 Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 2 furlongs]

 

I gather, from the website, that it’s Alan King’s stable staff’s Christmas party this evening. 

 

I’ve been working on the outstanding Newbury diary for the past couple of days, and I aim to complete and upload it by ‘close of play’ tomorrow.

Friday 14 December 2012

Unfortunately Choc was out of luck at Cheltenham today, where he had three riding engagements:

Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Choc) finished 9th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong] (17 ran).

Medinas (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles] (12 ran).

Valdez (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) (8 ran).

 

Talented novice chaser Hildisvini, trained by Charlie Longsdon, sadly lost his life today when he fell two out in the first race of the day.  Forgotten Gold, who finished 2nd in this race, pulled up feelingly after the line but hopefully will be okay.  The horse having caught my eye when winning at Aintree in October. 

 

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Choc again tomorrow:

 

Cheltenham:

12:10 Handazan (Alan King/Choc) – Triumph Hurdle Trial ... he’s now listed as a gelding, having run as an entire on his previous two outings over hurdles!

13:20 Oh Crick (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) – Handicap Chase [2 miles & half a furlong]

13:55 Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

14:30 Walkon (Alan King/Choc) – Paul Stewart Ironspine Charity Challenge Gold Cup (Grade 3 Handicap)

 

Doncaster:

13:35 Ulys Du Charmil (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & half a furlong]

14:10 Midnight Sail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 3 furlongs]

 

Ascot has announced that it is going to end its broadcasting association with ATR from June 2014.  More

 

Here is a link to Martin Keighley’s Stable Talk column this week.  More

 

And a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s Sporting Life column too.  More

 

Thank you to the Keighleys for the lovely Christmas card.  It features Santa’s elves Freddie and Harry along with ‘reindeer’ ponies Monty and Crunchie, and helper Windsor the Labrador too. 

 

Mum told me a story about the black Labrador her family owned when she was a child.  He was called Teddy and when they moved to St Albans from the village of Sarratt during the 1930s the dog went missing shortly afterwards.  He’d walked all the way back to his old home, some 10 miles away.  Animals definitely have a better sense of direction than a lot of people I know!  

 

I’ve put up my Christmas decorations today.  As I no longer have a Christmas tree, I’ve decided to hang the baubles from the tinsel garlands and they look really effective. 

This week’s Horse and Hound arrived today; no column by Choc this week but inside the back cover is a photograph of him aged 16, riding an ex-chaser called Phillipingtown Lad; they are jumping a hedge whilst out with the Belvoir Hunt in November 1994.  There is a brief article accompanying the photo too.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Choc was at Taunton today and this is how he fared:

Jojabean (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 3½ furlongs] (16 ran).

Willoughby Hedge (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Novices’ Hurdle (13 ran).

Fighter Jet (Alan King/Choc) finished 8th in the ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (11 ran).

 

Tomorrow Choc will be at Cheltenham, where he has three riding engagements:

13:20 Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong]

15:05 Medinas (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles]

15:40 Valdez (Alan King/Choc) – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier)

 

The Peterborough Chase has been rescheduled for Exeter next Thursday 20 December.  More

 

A couple of failed suspension appeals today ... More & More

 

Silviniaco Conti will make his next appearance in Newbury’s Denman Chase in February.  And Paul Nicholls is hoping the race’s namesake will parade before the event too.  More

 

No sign yet of this week’s Horse and Hound; I presume it’s been held up by the Christmas mail rush!

Wednesday 12 December 2012

With the prevailing weather conditions, it was not surprising that both Leicester and Hexham were abandoned today.

 

And continuing in this vein, both Ludlow and Huntingdon’s fixtures have been abandoned tomorrow due to frost.  That means the Peterborough Chase has been lost, with The Giant Bolster and Albertas Run expected to compete for the prize.  Although, according to Twitter, the BHA is considering re-scheduling the race.  A precedent was set in 2010 when it was run at Newbury’s pre-Christmas meeting.

 

However, Taunton is currently on, and Choc has three riding engagements at this meeting:

12:50 Jojabean (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 3½ furlongs]

14:20 Willoughby Hedge (Alan King/Choc) - Novices’ Hurdle

15:50 Fighter Jet (Alan King/Choc) – ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

News from the Alan King yard regarding the plans for, amongst others, Grumeti.  More

 

Also news that Fingal Bay is out for the remainder of the season due to injury.  More

 

And there’s further fallout from Kauto Stargate ... More and More

 

Finally, plans outlining Channel 4’s new racing coverage have been revealed.  More

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Just one runner of interest today, at Fontwell Park:

Buddy Love (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 6th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs] (10 ran).

One runner of interest tomorrow, at Leicester:

15:10 The Mumper (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs]

 

A rift appears to have opened up between Paul Nicholls and Clive Smith, owner of Kauto Star; the retired horse having left the training yard today to start a new career in dressage with eventer Laura Collett.  More

Monday 10 December 2012

Just one runner of interest tomorrow, at Fontwell Park:

15:40 Buddy Love (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs]

Choc’s been naughty today – he was fined £100 by the police/traffic wardens.  Whoops.  I’ve never been fined for illegal parking but I did once get fined for speeding, nearly 20 years ago – for travelling at 43 mph in a 30 mph limit!

It’s another 4-day working week for me, as I’ve booked this coming Friday as leave. 

Sunday 09 December 2012

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

Salmanazar (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Maiden Hurdle (18 ran).

Champagne N Caviar (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (16 ran).

 

At Punchestown, Flemenstar won the John Durkan Memorial Chase, beating Sir Des Champs.  More

 

No riding engagements for Choc tomorrow, with fixtures at Musselburgh (subject to an inspection) and Fakenham.

 

Fortunately the weather forecast for the coming days appears to have been revised – Hertfordshire is to expect cold temperatures but no snow.  According to the BBC website, temperatures in my home city won’t get above zero on Wednesday ... winter drawers on!

Saturday 08 December 2012

Aintree:

L’Unique (Alan King/Choc) won the Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle (Listed) (9 ran); Choc’s 21st winner of the season.

West End Rocker (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up before the 17th & Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) unseated at the Canal Turn in the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences [3 miles 2 furlongs] (16 ran).

Secret Edge (Alan King/Choc) finished 9th in the Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

Tranquil Sea (EJ O’Grady/Choc) finished 3rd in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences [2 miles 5½ furlongs] (9 ran).  Although a bit slow, Tranquil Sea put in a very safe round of jumping ... so I was pleased that he looked after my favourite jockey over the big fences!

 

Sandown Park:

Araldur (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Handicap Hurdle Qualifier (12 ran).

Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) (7 ran).

 

 Chepstow:

Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

 

With a feast of racing today, I didn’t even think to look at the Wetherby runners, and there was one, as Always Bold was withdrawn due to a bruised foot:

Midnight Thomas (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 6th in the Junior Standard Open NH Flat Race (15 ran).

 

Today proved to be one of those brilliant National Hunt days when there were so many heart-warming stories that it reaffirms one’s love for the sport. 

 

The highlight of the day was 14-year-old Hello Bud winning Aintree’s Becher Chase for the second time; followed by Little Josh’s victory in the Grand Sefton 70 minutes later.  This rounded off a memorable day for Sam Twiston-Davies and his father; they had a treble.  More

 

West End Rocker was very disappointing, he seems to fallen out of love with the Aintree fences.  However, Any Currency appeared to be enjoying himself over the big fences until blundering and unseating at the Canal Turn.  So, all being well between now and April, and provided he’s not balloted out, I think he’ll give a good account of himself in the Grand National.  

 

And, of course, Choc rode a winner too; French import L’Unique, having her first run for Alan King, won well.  More

 

Not surprisingly, Sprinter Sacre gave a master class demonstration in the Tingle Creek Chase to win impressively by 15 lengths.  Sanctuaire paid for his early pace setting, with Kumbeshwar overtaking him on the run-in to claim the second prize of £25,644; so that was a good result for the Alan King yard, who were expecting to settle for the third prize of £12,840!  More

 

Araldur surprised his trainer by winning the Handicap Hurdle Qualifier; Alan had been thinking that the horse wouldn’t be ready to run until the New Year but, as his charge had made good progress recently, he thought he’d give him a run!  Alan has been using a less intense training regime with Araldur and three others, restricting them to cantering rather than fast work most of the time with the aim of avoiding training injuries. 

 

Araldur will be targeted at events on flat, galloping type tracks, as he doesn’t like undulating courses such as Cheltenham; and he will remain hurdling for the time being.  Being such a big horse, Alan said he’d always be uncoordinated but was able to knock hurdles out of his way when necessary!  I think Araldur may not act on some tracks because he’s so much more developed on the forehand and runs up very light behind.  And, of course, Choc scored his 1,000th career win aboard the horse, and he won Sandown’s Henry VIII Novices’ Chase four years ago to the day (and I was there both days).

 

It was also heart-warming to see Petit Robin continue his winning ways by taking first prize in Sandown’s Listed Handicap Hurdle.  He’s certainly repaying his owner’s compassionate decision to save the horse following a serious injury incurred during Ascot’s 2011 Victor Chandler Chase.  Petit Robin fractured his near fore shoulder when blundering and unseating during the aforementioned race; the injury required surgery and screws to be inserted but his owner was determined to save him.

 

Nicky Henderson trained four of today’s Sandown winners; Barry Geraghty rode three of them.

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be riding at Warwick:

14:10 Salmanazar (Alan King/Choc) – Maiden Hurdle

15:40 Champagne N Caviar (Alan King/Choc) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

Late yesterday I completed and uploaded my diary relating to the first day of Newbury’s Winter Festival.  Click here to read.  I have begun writing my Hennessy Gold Cup day diary; it currently stands at approximately 1,700 words. 

 

I won’t be venturing to Cheltenham next weekend and, if the weather forecasters are correct, snow will arrive from the east early next week and this could seriously disrupt the racing schedule anyway L

 

It’s tight at the top on Strictly Come Dancing, with Kimberley Walsh, Louis Smith, Dani Harmer and Denise Van Outen all deserving to reach the 4-competitor final in a fortnight’s time.  It would be a travesty of justice if Lisa Riley and Nicky Byrne weren’t the ones to be voted off this week and next.

Friday 07 December 2012

Choc rode at Exeter today and this is how he fared:

Musical Wedge (Miss C Dyson/Choc) finished a nose 2nd in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (8 ran).

 

Crazy happenings at the course, with 1-12 favourite Fingal Bay jumping severely out to his left in a three runner Novices’ Chase; he eventually crashed out through the wing of the third last.  Fortunately both horse and jockey were unhurt in the incident.  More

 

Philip Hobbs has some ‘quirky’ horses in his yard, taking into account Captain Chris’ penchant for jumping out to his right.  But I suppose it’s more advantageous to jump to the left than the right, bearing in mind that Cheltenham and Aintree are both left-handed courses.  I think today’s problem with Fingal Bay was that the field was too small and he couldn’t get a long-term lead. 

 

As surmised yesterday evening, Choc will be riding at Aintree tomorrow:

 

Aintree:

12:35 L’Unique (Alan King/Choc) – Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle (Listed)

14:10 West End Rocker (Alan King/Choc) & Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) - Becher Chase over the Grand National fences [3 miles 2 furlongs]

14:45 Secret Edge (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle

15:20 Tranquil Sea (EJ O’Grady/Choc) – Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences [2 miles 5½ furlongs]

 

Sandown Park:

13:25 Araldur (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle Qualifier

15:05 Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1)

15:40 Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) – London National (second preference race)

 

 Chepstow:

14:40 Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) – Handicap Hurdle

 

For the record, Neil Mulholland won yesterday’s trainers’ charity race run at Wincanton in aid of Racing Welfare.

 

Here is a link to Martin Keighley’s most recent Stable Talk column.  More

 

Wayne Hutchinson writes about his rides at Sandown tomorrow, including aboard Kumbeshwar in the Tingle Creek Chase.  More

 

And a link to Simon Holt’s preview of this weekend’s racing highlights.  More

 

I notice that the all weather courses aren’t doing very well – today’s twilight fixture at Wolverhampton has been abandoned and I gather Southwell is out of action until February due to the recent flooding.

 

As my favourite jockey won’t be at Sandown tomorrow, I’ll be staying at home this weekend to catch up on my diary backlog.  Since the rain cleared earlier this morning, it’s been bright and sunny during daylight hours but oh so very cold because there’s a biting wind blowing in from the north. 

 

Weirdly, rain is turning out to be my sinuses’ best friend.  I always thought it made my catarrh worse but, in fact, it doesn’t affect me as badly as very cold and dry conditions.  I’ve even bought a humidifier to help my bunged up nose.  I just hope I don’t pick up a cold virus any time soon!

Thursday 06 December 2012

No riding engagements for Choc today, as Market Rasen was abandoned due to frost; Leicester was abandoned too. 

 

A couple of results from Wincanton:

Typhon De Guye (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 3rd in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).

Brukirk Lass (Martin Keighley/Gerard ‘Jockey Style’ Tumelty) finished last in the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (9 ran).

 

Whoops; Daryl Jacob was in trouble today when he appeared to mistake a path for the finishing line and briefly dropped his hands.  More

 

Choc is due to ride at Exeter tomorrow:

15:15 Musical Wedge (Miss C Dyson/Choc) - Novices’ Handicap Chase

 

It’s raw outside, but it has been raining this evening. 

 

Another tweeted photo of William:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/276715224793497601/photo/1

 

Tweets suggest that perhaps Aintree and West End Rocker are on the agenda for Choc on Saturday ... oh well, I’ll find out for certain tomorrow lunchtime.  It would mean that I’ve not visited Sandown Park during 2012, but it will give me more time to complete my two Newbury diaries. 

Wednesday 05 December 2012

Choc was at Hereford today, where he had two riding engagements ... including a winner: J

Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Choc) won the Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran); Choc’s 20th winner of the season.

Salden Licht (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (7 ran).

 

Controversy in the latter race too.  More

 

Runners of interest at three fixtures tomorrow:

 

Market Rasen:

12:20 Rayadour (Alan King/Choc) – Juvenile Hurdle

13:20 Dalavar (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle Div II

14:50 Go Set Go (James Eustace/Choc) - Handicap Hurdle

 

Leicester:

13:00 Buddy Love (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

 

Wincanton:

13:40 Typhon De Guye (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:10 Brukirk Lass (Martin Keighley/Gerard ‘Jockey Style’ Tumelty) – Mares’ Maiden Hurdle

 

Amazingly, I’ve finished knitting the Christmas pressie hat ... I originally ordered the wool from a supplier based in Edinburgh but, having completed the ribbing, discovered that the yarn in the second ball had a number of faults in it.  But I didn’t unravel the rows which I’d already completed; I left the stitches on a length of yarn.  I then decided to order two more balls of wool to start the project again, because the dye lots (like wall-paper, etc) have to be identical.  However, because I was concerned that the quality might be substandard again, I made the second purchase from a company based in Swansea and, upon first examination yesterday, I was extremely surprised to discover that those were the same dye lot too.  So all I did was pick up the stitches again and completed the item just before midnight.  Job done.  

 

We had a light snowfall between 05:30 and 7:00 this morning but, as I walk to work, it didn’t cause any travel problems; although it did affect a number of other workers and they arrived late.  Fortunately the workload today proved to be okay and yesterday’s fears proved to be unfounded, despite me being a team of one!!!

And tomorrow is my ‘Friday’ .... yippee!!!

Tuesday 04 December 2012

One riding engagement for Choc at Towcester today:

Wherrimon (Caroline Bailey/Choc) finished 5th in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 3½ furlongs] (9 ran).  Choc was sweating in the bath last night to get down to the required weight!

Hot Whiskey (Alan King/Choc) was a non-runner in the Novices’ Hurdle

 

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

12:40 Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

13:10 Salden Licht (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase

 

There’s now a ‘Jockey Style’ outtakes video available to view on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=timKwgTN1VM

 

Looking ahead, my current feeling is that Choc will be at Sandown Park on Saturday ... I like the racecourse more than Ascot or Kempton Park, although I’ve only visited it on 10 occasions so far. 

 

I must start my final Christmas knitting project this evening.  But I’m dreading work tomorrow – due to sickness and annual leave, I will be a team of one!  Mind you, my colleague Sue will be in the same position on Friday, as it will be my turn to take a day’s holiday again.  All my holiday is either early year or late year, due to my penchant for National Hunt racing.  I took just two days leave between early May and mid-October. 

Monday 03 December 2012

Two riding engagements for Choc tomorrow, at Towcester:

12:45 Wherrimon (Caroline Bailey/Choc) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 3½ furlongs] ... carrying 10 stone 3 lbs ... Choc must be starving tonight!

13:15 Hot Whiskey (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

 

Choc has re-tweeted a photograph from Newbury Races – celebrating the end of Movember ... he’s cheating because he’s sporting a faux moustache! 

https://mobile.twitter.com/RacesNewbury/status/275564150237835265/photo/1

 

Martin Keighley reports that The Fox’s Decree is okay following yesterday’s Leicester fall, but jockey Danny Hiskett sustained a broken collarbone.  Best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.  I was wondering how Jimmy Derham was getting on, having fractured his neck in September 2011; he’s been riding out and hopes to get the go-ahead to return to race-riding very soon.

What shall I do this evening?  I think I’ll draft the ‘top’ and ‘tail’ of last Thursday’s Newbury diary before I forget what occurred.  But I must spend a couple of evenings soon knitting a Christmas present for my older brother, a red woolly hat.  And I need to wrap a number of presents too, for handing over before the big day. 

Sunday 02 December 2012

Kempton Park:

Soixante Six (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Maiden Open NH Flat Race (11 ran).

Boracha (JW Mullins) had a change of jockey, Andrew Thornton, and finished 4th in the Mares’ Intermediate Open Flat Race.

Cold Knight (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race (9 ran).

Jetnova (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race (11 ran).

 

Leicester, which finally went ahead after 3 inspections:

Oyster Hill (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Novices’ Hurdle (6 ran).

The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) fell at the last when in second position in the Handicap Chase (5 ran).

 

National Hunt racing at Plumpton tomorrow, but no runners of specific interest.

 

Out of touch McCririck thinks there’s only one public exit from Newbury racecourse – there’s three; the main single lane exit over the railway line, the ‘golf-course’ exit via a single-track underpass beneath the railway line and out through the nearby industrial estate, and the railway station itself to catch a train.  But, of course, he’d not know anything about the ordinary race-goer and their travel arrangements.  I left after the final race and it was the quickest I’ve ever experienced on Hennessy Day.  Okay, there were delays, but nowhere near as bad as on my four previous Hennessy Day visits.

I’ve uploaded the photographs which I took at Newbury yesterday; although they are slightly more limited than usual, as I stayed beside the course-side rails in order to get a good vantage point ahead of the feature race. 

Click here to view. 

Saturday 01 December 2012

Unlike Thursday’s trip to Newbury, today’s journey went very smoothly.  I left home at around 07:45, dropping in to the petrol station en route, where I bumped into an ex-work colleague, Lynsey.  And I was pleased to hear that she loves her new job.  I set off from there at 08:03 and arrived at Newbury at 09:25.  

 

I didn’t arrive back until 22:20, having visited my friend Denise in Caversham on the way home.  The route I always use, through Sonning, has been closed for the past few days due to flooding, but they re-opened it this afternoon so I was able to cross the Thames at this point ... but there were still a number of large puddles on the lane.  Okay for 4x4’s but not so good for my little Fiesta! 

 

I decided to return via Reading town centre instead, and join the M4 once more.  With temperatures dropping, I didn’t fancy my chances going via Henley and Marlow in the dark, despite knowing the road between the two towns quite well.  Denise tells me there have been many flood problems in Reading this past week – because in addition to the Sonning route being closed, the underpasses on their inner ring-road were flooded too.  No doubt this added to the delays I experienced on Thursday when I diverted through the town.

 

Anyway, today didn’t work out for Choc again; it’s very disappointing ... L

 

Newbury:

Call Me A Star (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed) (6 ran).

Godsmejudge (Alan King/Choc) finished 12th & Patsy Finnegan (Alan King/Charlie ‘Jockey Style’ Huxley) was pulled up in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (15 ran).

Ardlui (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Hold On Julio (Alan King/Choc) finished 5th in the Hennessy Gold Cup Steeplechase (19 ran).

Oh Crick (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman (7)) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase (15 ran).

 

Towcester:

Two Rockers (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the NH Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).

 

That’s 5-0 to Wayne during the past 9 days (Kumbeshwar, Balder Succes, Kenai Peninsula, Bless The Wings & Two Rockers); it’s not fair. 

 

Here is the report regarding the Hennessy Gold Cup, in which Bobs Worth triumphed.  More

 

Countrywide Flame won Newcastle’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle.  More

 

And news of Timmy Murphy’s injury incurred yesterday at Newbury.  More

 

Tomorrow, runners of interest at Leicester and Kempton Park, the latter being a Jumpers’ Bumpers card:

 

Kempton Park:

13:30 Soixante Six (Alan King/Choc) – Maiden Open NH Flat Race

14:00 Boracha (JW Mullins/Choc) – Mares’ Intermediate Open Flat Race

15:05 Cold Knight (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race

16:05 Jetnova (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race

 

Leicester: (A precautionary inspection at 08:00)

12:50 Oyster Hill (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:55 The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Chase

 

Choc has tweeted a photo of William not appearing to like his pizza dinner:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/274937158480035840/photo/1

 

But he likes his pudding:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/274943021110415360/photo/1

 

Following on from yesterday, Brendan Powell Junior tweeted to say that Pasco was put down having sustained an injury in yesterday’s Handicap Chase at Newbury.  RIP beautiful grey.  Always particularly sad when the old stagers are lost.


 

 

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