Saturday 28 February 2009

I went to Newbury to see Choc ride, but unfortunately it was not a very successful day for him:

Aqualung was a non-runner in the NH Novices’ Hurdle.

Yardbird was pulled up in the Veterans’ Handicap Chase (8 ran).

Ouzbeck ran well in the feature event, the totesport.com Gold Cup Handicap Steeplechase, but faded to finish 5th (15 ran).

Norman the Great finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (8 ran).

Aypeeyes finished 8th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Kauto the Roc finished 9th in the NH Flat Race (11 ran).

Paul Nicholls trained 3 of today’s winners at Newbury; and Tom George had 2 winners.

David Pipe also appeared regularly in the Winners’ Enclosure but frustratingly he had three 2nds and a 3rd!


Alan King had a better day at Doncaster where Wayne Hutchinson partnered 4 winners: Lidar, Lake Legend, Georgian King and West End Rocker.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Huntingdon, with 4 rides for Alan King:

14:10 Latin Scholar – Maiden Hurdle Div I

14:40 Mount Helicon – Maiden Hurdle Div II

15:10 Rustarix – Novices’ Chase

15:40 Sam Lord – Handicap Hurdle

So I’ll be spending tomorrow afternoon in Cambridgeshire.J


I was kind of hoping that I’d see Choc ride his 100th winner of the current campaign ... but he can’t reach it tomorrow, and Sandown Park next Saturday (if he’s there) may be too late!


Friday 27 February 2009

Choc had 5 rides today at Doncaster, and more success!

Noticeable won the Claiming Hurdle by 9 lengths (8 ran). I’ve not watched my tape of the races yet so I don’t know if they mentioned whether Noticeable was claimed.

Choc’s second ride of the day, Tarotino, then won the Novices’ Chase by 12 lengths (4 ran).

Ellen Tilley finished 2nd, having been headed and beaten by a neck, in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran). The winner was Argento Luna, who I recall seeing at Huntingdon where she behaved mulishly at the start but won that event too.

Sea the Light was pulled up in the Handicap Chase (7 ran).

Mail de Bievre finished 4th in the NH Flat Race (6 ran).

So that’s Choc’s 94th and 95th winners of the season.  He’s now so close to his second century of winners in a season, and is riding like a man possessed!  And he’s now just 10 away from equalling his best ever season total too (105 in 2007/2008).


Wayne Hutchinson won aboard Alan King’s Silk Hall at Newbury today and this was Alan King’s 100th winner of the current jumps campaign.


There’s an article on the Racing Post website saying that Alan King is undecided whether to put blinkers on Katchit for the Champion Hurdle.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Newbury, with 6 rides as follows:

13:35 Aqualung – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Charlie Mann)

14:35 Yardbird – Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:10 Ouzbeck – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:45 Norman the Great – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:20 Aypeeyes – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:55 Kauto the Roc - NH Flat Race (Alan King)


Six rides … it’s a bargain … I’ll be there!


Thursday 26 February 2009

Choc had a very successful trip to Ludlow today – with a 100% strike rate from his 2 rides:

Patsy Finnegan started as favourite for the NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle and won nicely (9 ran). 92nd winner of the season.

Samson’s Son beat the odds on favourite Eradicate in the Novices’ Hurdle – another nice win (13 ran). 93rd of the current campaign.


Tomorrow Choc is travelling to Doncaster, where he has 5 rides, all for Alan King:

14:30 Noticeable – Claiming Hurdle

15:05 Tarotino – Novices’ Chase

15:40 Ellen Tilley – NH Novices’ Hurdle

16:10 Sea the Light – Handicap Chase

17:15 Mail de Bievre – NH Flat Race


I’m still hopeful of a trip to Newbury on Saturday and Huntingdon on Sunday!


Wednesday 25 February 2009

Just one ride for Choc at Bangor on Dee today:

Gold Reef started as evens favourite but finished 6th in the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle.  (9 ran)


Tomorrow Choc is due to ride at Ludlow, where he has 2 mounts, both for Alan King:

15:20 Patsy Finnegan – NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

17:20 Samson’s Son – Novices’ Hurdle


I visited the town of Ludlow many years ago, and remember it being very quaint.  We also visited the ruins of Ludlow castle.


Tuesday 24 February 2009

At around 23:00 yesterday I finally found time to watch a recording of yesterday’s meeting at Hereford – Rustarix was fortunate to finish 2nd, as Ruby’s mount crumpled on landing over the final fence when well clear of the field.  And poor Heezagrey so nearly got his head in front on the line in the Hands and Heels race – he was beaten by a nose!  It was a very exciting finish though, especially as Quillygham was just a neck away in 3rd. 

Following a fall at Catterick today, an amateur jockey, Jacqueline Coward, was flown by air ambulance to hospital.  Riding horses can be a very dangerous occupation and I wish her a speedy recovery. 

So how did Choc fare at Leicester today?

Extra Bold started as the 9-2 favourite, raced keenly and prominently until he fell at the 11th fence – ouch! L (16 ran).  It looked a nasty fall, but fortunately Choc was okay, as he rode again later in the afternoon.  I knew it was a mistake to wear a green sweater and a green necklace to work today!  I’m becoming just as superstitious as many of the racing fraternity, as I already make a point of never wearing green when I attend the races.

Choc’s 2nd ride of the day, I’m a Legend, was beaten by a neck into 4th place in the Handicap Chase. (9 ran) 

Choc will be riding at Bangor on Dee tomorrow, where he has just 1 ride:

15:20 Gold Reef – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King) 

I’ve just been looking through Alan King’s race entries for Saturday and currently there are entries in 4 races at Kempton, 5 races at Doncaster and 6 races at Newbury.  I have to confess that a trip to Newbury would be my first choice of venue, so hopefully I will get my wish!   

Having unshipped Choc at Kempton last weekend, Ouzbeck is due to run in the totesports.com Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday.  I hope he runs well, as I think he’s a very genuine horse despite his recent mishaps - perhaps he tries to please just a little too much!   

Monday 23 February 2009

Following Saturday’s win at Kempton Park, Trenchant will now be aimed at the Triumph Hurdle.  However, in his post-race interview, Choc said Walkon would remain his preferred choice of ride in that race.


Today Choc had 2 rides at Hereford:

Calaficial finished 8th in the NH Maiden Hurdle, with Alan’s other runner, Shabenito, 9th (15 ran).

Rustarix finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (7 ran).

Martin Keighley’s Heezagrey finished 2nd in the Hands and Heels event.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Leicester, where an all chases card is being held:

14:50 Extra Bold (known as Theo at home) – Handicap Chase (Richard Lee)

16:50 I’m a Legend – Handicap Chase (Neil Mulholland)


It looks like Choc will be at Bangor on Dee on Wednesday, but he’s undecided later in the week with Ludlow or Taunton on Thursday, and Newbury or Doncaster on Friday.


Next weekend my ideal plans would involve a trip to Newbury or Kempton Park on Saturday, followed by Huntingdon on Sunday.  However Choc could ride at Doncaster on Saturday, or even Kempton Park and Newbury (which I gather he has done in the past).  


It’s just 15 days to the start of the Cheltenham Festival and 40 days to the Grand National!


Sunday 22 February 2009

It’s been overcast in Hertfordshire for most of the day.  Nothing like yesterday, but at least it was dry and allowed me to wash my car – I just hate that Huntingdon mud!  I wish Huntingdon would fill the potholes in their drive, as it must play havoc with everyone’s suspension ...


Choc had 2 rides at Fontwell Park today, but both very disappointing:

Pouvoir finished 6th of the 7 runners in the National Spirit Hurdle

Lough Derg was fabulous today in winning the race, what a thoroughly brave and genuine horse. He must be such a wonderful animal to own and to train.

Onyx Bruere was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle.


Poliglotti finished 5th in the Selling Handicap Hurdle at Towcester.  A very frustrating horse but, as Martin says, he would make someone a very nice ‘fun’ horse outside of the racing arena.


Tomorrow Choc has 2 rides at Hereford, both for Alan King:

14:30 Calaficial – NH Maiden Hurdle.  Jimmy McCarthy rides Alan’s other runner, Shabenito, in this event.

15:30 Rustarix – Novices’ Chase

And Heezagrey runs in the 16:30 Hands and Heels Novices’ Handicap Hurdle event for Martin Keighley. Ian Popham is going to ride the horse and he had a good win aboard old stager Royal Auclair in the Hunters’ Chase at Fontwell today.


I’m feeling very disappointed for Choc, as one of his main Cheltenham Festival hopes, Karabak, has just been purchased by JP McManus.  Although remaining with Alan King, the first choice jockey will now be AP. LLL


There is sad news regarding Endless Power, who has died following complications after fracturing his pelvis during yesterday’s Racing Post Chase.


So, despite riding a winner yesterday, it’s not been a very good weekend for Choc.


News has also come through that Noel Fehily will be replacing Jack Doyle aboard Crack Away Jack in the Champion Hurdle.  It will be Noel’s first ride in the race.


Saturday 21 February 2009

What a beautiful spring-like day it was today.  I wore fewer layers of clothing to go to Kempton Park and the only time I felt cold was as I watched the final race of the day.  Choc rode one winner, although I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t two or maybe three ... but the races were very competitive, and he had some bad luck too.

Bormo finished 8th in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran)

Trenchant was victorious in the Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).  Nice win, his 91st of the season.

Ouzbeck has sometimes proven to be unlucky, and today Choc was unseated at the 3rd obstacle in the Pendil Novices’ Chase. The horse jumps with great enthusiasm and, today, he over-jumped and Choc was bounced out of the saddle (4 ran, 2 finished.)

Endless Power was pulled up in the Racing Post Chase, having made a lot of the early running with the winner, Nacarat. (20 ran – a record entry for the Racing Post Chase.)

Cosmea finished last in the Juveniles’ Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran). Alan King’s other runner, Saticon, finished 2nd.

The Hairy Lemon was pulled up in the Handicap Chase (9 ran)

Cyder with Rosie finished 6th in the NH Flat Race – virtually pulled up (8 ran).


Tomorrow Choc is riding at Fontwell Park, where he has 2 engagements, both for Alan King:

15:45 Pouvoir – National Spirit Hurdle

16:45 Onyx Bruere – Handicap Hurdle


Martin Keighley’s enigmatic Poliglotti is running at Towcester tomorrow, reverting to hurdles this time.  Another of his charges, Ross Leader, finished 3rd in a Handicap Chase at Chepstow today.


I’m going to be staying at home doing chores tomorrow, and writing my Kempton Park diary too.


Friday 20 February 2009

Just 1 ride at Warwick today for Choc:

Sharajan who finished 3rd in the Novices’ Chase. (8 ran).

Unfortunately Custers Last Stand had to be withdrawn from his event as he’s bruised his foot, so Martin Keighley will be very disappointed.


Tomorrow Choc has an exceptionally busy day at Kempton Park, with 7 rides!

13:30 Bormo – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

14:05 Trenchant – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

14:35 Ouzbeck – Pendil Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:10 Endless Power – Racing Post Chase (Jim Goldie)

15:45 Cosmea – Juveniles’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

16:15 The Hairy Lemon – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

16:50 Cyder with Rosie – NH Flat Race (Dominic Ffrench Davis)

Choc is especially looking forward to his ride on Ouzbeck (who is one of my favourite horses too) and the spare ride he has picked up, Endless Power, in the big race of the day.


And I’ll give you no prize for guessing where I intend to be tomorrow afternoon!  However, I’m going to drive to Kempton Park on this occasion, and gates open at 11:30.


Thursday 19 February 2009

As hoped, I went to Huntingdon races today.  Choc had 4 rides, Istron Bay having been withdrawn.

Alflora Dora finished 2nd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, beaten by the Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty runner (11 ran).

Cracboumwiz also finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran).

Minella Four Star came in 4th in the Handicap Chase. Alan’s other runner, Quidonc, was 11th (18 ran).

In the 16:30, Wardington Lad was pulled up before the 3rd last flight (20 ran).

Martin Keighley’s charge, Mr Newton, ridden by Warren Marston finished 4th in the 16:30.

Having returned to the Winners’ Enclosure, I took the opportunity to briefly introduce myself to Martin as Choc’s Super-Fan (following his mention of my site in his blog of 27 January).


A very quiet day for Choc tomorrow, with just 1 ride scheduled, at Warwick:

14:55 Sharajan – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

And Martin Keighley’s Custers Last Stand is running in the 16:40 race.

Warwick is one of the courses I want to visit but, of course, that will have to wait until another day!


My next visit to Huntingdon may be on Sunday 1 March, as they have been awarded one of the 7 ‘new’ fixtures.  And entry that day is a bargain at £10. 


I presume my next racecourse visit will be to Kempton Park this coming Saturday for the Racing Post Chase.


Wednesday 18 February 2009

Choc had a very busy but successful day at Doncaster, and he’s riding like a man possessed at the moment, having notched up 3 more winners! J

A slow start to the day with Choc’s intended mount, Forget It, being a non-runner in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.

However it soon improved when Hopkins won the Beginners’ Chase (88th winner). 12 ran.

Then Noticeable put his best hooves forward in the Selling Hurdle to beat all his rivals (89th winner). 14 ran.

Kandjar D’Allier didn’t fare so well, coming in 6th in the Veterans’ Handicap Chase. 12 ran.

Choc’s third success of the day came aboard Patsy Finnegan in the Handicap Hurdle (90th winner) 18 ran.

And, in the NH Flat Race, Gaye Starlet finished 6th. 15 ran.


Tomorrow’s venue is Huntingdon, where Choc has 5 rides scheduled:

13:50 Alflora Dora – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

14:20 Istron Bay – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Richard Lee)

15:25 Cracboumwiz – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:55 Minella Four Star – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

16:30 Wardington Lad – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

Martin Keighley’s charge, Mr Newton, is also competing in the 16:30 race.


It’s all systems go for me to make my 8th visit to the course tomorrow, and I’m very much looking forward to that, especially as the weather has turned quite mild of late  (although that is relative of course, it still being winter!)


Tuesday 17 February 2009

Another winner for Choc today, and here’s an overview of his progress at Southwell:

West End Rocker finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (6 ran).

He was successful aboard Valleyofthedolls in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran).  His 87th winner of the season.

Mister McGoldrick, reverting to hurdles, finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

And finally Patton finished 8th in the Maiden Hurdle (14 ran).


Tomorrow Choc has a very busy day planned at Doncaster:

13:40 Forget It – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (Gary Moore)

14:10 Hopkins – Beginners’ Chase (Henry Daly)

14:45 Noticeable – Selling Hurdle (Alan King)

15:20 Kandjar D’Allier – Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:55 Patsy Finnegan – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

17:00 Gaye Starlet – NH Flat Race (Alan King)


And the good news is that I have permission to take Thursday afternoon off, so hopefully I’ll be driving up to Huntingdon for the races!


Tonight I’m planning to do some work on my current cross stitch project (a baby sampler), to watch the replay of today’s racing at Southwell and, as it’s Tuesday, Most Haunted.


Monday 16 February 2009

Choc rode at Market Rasen today:

Tosula finished tailed-off in 9th place (11 ran).

Lake Wakatipu (a 33-1 shot) finished 2nd in the Maiden Hurdle (5 ran).

Squadron finished 4th, being touched off for 3rd on the line in the Handicap Hurdle (7 ran).

And the best news is that Elsafeer won the bumper (5 ran), providing Choc with his 86th winner of the current campaign.


Martin Keighley’s Wychwoods Legend ran gamely but was beaten into 2nd place by ½ a length in her event.


Tomorrow Choc is riding at Southwell, which isn’t very far away from Market Rasen.

15:00 West End Rocker – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:30 Valleyofthedolls – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

16:00 Mister McGoldrick – Handicap Hurdle (Sue Smith)

16:30 Patton – Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)


Will he remain in the area on Wednesday and ride at Doncaster I wonder?  Or head off to Ludlow instead.  On Thursday, the first race at Huntingdon is scheduled for 13:50, so I will be sorely tempted to make a return visit to the course, as I could take a half day off work and drive there in an hour.  And I wonder if the lady in the race-card kiosk will remember me too?


Choc sent Meally a dozen red roses for Valentine’s Day ... he’s such a sweetie!


Sunday 15 February 2009

So how did Choc fare today?

In the Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Black Jacari disappointed again when finishing 4th.  He was blinkered, but tends to carry his head to the left when he comes under pressure.  Not an easy ride.

Richard Lee’s Western Whisky finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle.

Parlosotho finished 4th in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle event.

Oh Crick ran and jumped well, but despite challenging the long-time leader, Soixante, AP’s mount rallied thus ensuring that Choc finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase.

Asturienne finished 3rd in the NH Flat Race.


Tomorrow Choc is due to ride at Market Rasen, where he has 4 rides:

14:05 Tosula – Handicap Hurdle (Neil Mulholland)

14:35 Lake Wakatipu – Maiden Hurdle (Richard Ford)

16:20 Squadron – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:50 Elsafeer – NH Flat Race (Neil Mulholland)

There are 5 hurdles races at Market Rasen, plus a bumper, so Market Rasen must be having problems with their steeplechase track due to the recent poor weather conditions.


Saturday 14 February 2009

I went to Ascot today ... as no lady can resist Y Chocolate Y on Valentine’s Day! 


It was a successful day for Choc:

Turkish Surprise finished 3rd (last) in the Novices’ Chase (Breedsbreeze having fallen at the last).  Carruthers won the race well and Lord Oaksey accepted the winner’s prize.

Onnix finished 10th of the 14 runners.  It was a fabulous finish to the race, with Lough Derg just failing to retake the lead having been headed by Serabad.

Voy Por Ustedes won the 2 miles 5½ furlong Betfair Ascot Chase.  He had just 3 opponents but jumped magnificently.  The heavy ground posed no problem whatsoever today. (Choc’s 84th winner of the season.)

Santia also won, beating Kahsabelle.  It was another close and exciting finish. (85th winner of the season.)

Jau finished a close 4th in the NH Flat Race.


Tomorrow’s fixture at Sedgefield has been lost to snow and frost, but Hereford goes ahead, where Choc has 5 rides:

14:10 Black Jacari – Juvenile Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

15:10 Western Whisky – Novices’ Hurdle (Richard Lee)

15:40 Parlosotho – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:10 Oh Crick – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

16:40 Asturienne – NH Flat Race (Alan King)


That’s my Sunday mapped out – household chores, writing my Ascot diary, haircut and watching racing on TV!


Friday 13 February 2009

Following last night’s snow in Hertfordshire, I was relieved to find it had turned to rain and had almost disappeared by this morning.  We had a beautiful sunny day in my home City, but no doubt as a consequence it will be frosty tonight!


However with Fakenham lost to the weather (heavy snow which settled on the track), and as I predicted yesterday, Choc transferred to Sandown Park today, where he had 3 rides (all for Alan King):

14:05 Trenchant finished 2nd in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.

15:45 Sadler’s Star finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle, with the stable’s other runner, Awesome George, back in 5th place.

16:20 Blazing Desert – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle – finished 16th and last, with stable-mate Quelclasse ridden by Wayne Hutchinson in 15th position – I presume they had all but pulled up on the heavy going.


Tomorrow Choc is due to ride at Ascot, where he has 5 rides:

13:05 Turkish Surprise – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

13:40 Onnix – Handicap Hurdle (Francois Doumen)

14:15 Voy Por Ustedes – Betfair Ascot Chase (Alan King)

15:20 Santia – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

16:25 Jau – NH Flat Race (AJ Honeyball)


So, weather conditions permitting, tomorrow I will be visiting Ascot for the 7th time. My other most visited course being Huntingdon, which I have also visited 7 times.


Thursday 12 February 2008

Yippee!  Choc was back in action today, with 4 rides at Chepstow.  I bet he was so pleased to be back in the saddle, although he didn’t ride a winner today:

Long Hop was beaten into 3rd, by a distance.

Gold Heart finished 4th.

Blue Dark was pulled up before the final flight.

Polly Potter finished 3rd.


Martin Keighley’s charges, Any Currency and Benbane Head, both finished 4th in their respective events.


With a threat of bad weather this evening, Fakenham will inspect at 07:00 tomorrow.  However, if the fixture gets the go-ahead, Choc is booked for 3 rides, all for Alan King:

14:30 West End Rocker – Beginners’ Chase

15:00 ValleyoftheDolls – NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:35 Asturienne – NH Flat Race


If Fakenham is abandoned, I suppose there is always the possibility that Choc could transfer to Sandown Park ... I shall put my contingency plans into action just in case I need to tape Racing UK instead of At The Races tomorrow!


Oh no ... I’ve just looked out the window and we’ve now got a covering of snow outside again (Hertfordshire). L When will it go away?


Wednesday 11 February 2009

Today’s meeting at Musselburgh was claimed by the frost, and Kelso’s fixture tomorrow has been abandoned due to snow and frost.  There’s also an inspection at 08:00 tomorrow ahead of Friday’s meeting at Catterick (one of the 7 new fixtures).  Wincanton will hold an all hurdle race card on Saturday, having abandoned its chases!


However, if Chepstow passes its inspection at 08:30 tomorrow (with a threat of frost), Choc is scheduled for 4 rides (all for Alan King) as follows:

14:45 Long Hop – Novices’ Hurdle

15:20 Gold Heart – Handicap Chase

16:30 Blue Dark – Maiden Hurdle

17:00 Polly Potter – NH Flat Race


I notice that Martin Keighley’s Any Currency is entered for the 16:30 and Benbane Head in the 17:00.


I do so hope Chepstow gets the go-ahead as it seems like ages since I’ve seen Choc ride (which it has been apart from one ride at Fontwell Park last Friday), and I’m definitely missing him!


Tuesday 10 February 2009

In his website news update, Alan King confirmed that it was impossible to transport his horses safely to Kempton Park on Saturday, hence the reason for the withdrawal of his runners.  Araldur will miss the Cheltenham Festival as he will be rested until next season.  He had already completed a busy campaign in France before arriving in England, and ran disappointingly at Sandown Park on 31 January.   


Today’s meeting at Folkestone was abandoned due to water-logging even before the planned inspection took place!  Tomorrow’s meeting at Leicester has also been lost as the course was covered with 3 inches of snow and to add insult to injury there has been 13 mm of rain overnight too!  Musselburgh will inspect at 08:00 ahead of their meeting, having already checked the condition of the going a couple of times today.  And Ireland has been affected too, as tomorrow’s Fairyhouse fixture has been abandoned due to water-logging.


Saturday’s meeting at Wincanton is already under threat following heavy overnight rain.  Ascot has serious problems too, as the going is currently heavy, water-logged in places, with a threat of frost overnight for the next few days.  Frost covers have been deployed but these may not help due to the amount of moisture already in the ground.


So when will the atrocious weather conditions relent and permit Choc to return to the saddle once more? 


The Grand National weights were announced today, and Exotic Dancer heads the list having been allotted 11 stone 10 lbs.


Monday 09 February 2009




Congratulations go to AP for riding 3,000 jumps winners.  He won aboard Hello Moscow, taking him to 2,999 but disaster struck when his next mount, Miss Sarenne, fell at the last flight when 5 lengths clear of the pursuing field.  However, Restless D’Artaix won the 16:20 so AP has finally reached his much-publicised goal.


It has been announced that plans to run Denman in this year’s Grand National have been scrapped following his disappointing run on Saturday.


Voy Por Ustedes is confirmed as an entry in the Betfair Ascot Chase this coming Saturday … so let’s hope the weather is kind and the meeting goes ahead.


Tomorrow’s fixture at Newcastle has been abandoned due to frost.  Folkestone will inspect at 08:00 to see if their fixture can go ahead tomorrow afternoon.  Choc is not in action tomorrow.


Leicester is doubtful for Wednesday as the course is currently covered with snow! 


It’s been raining heavily in Hertfordshire for most of the day, and there’s a threat that it may turn to snow later.  Perhaps more fun and games travelling to work tomorrow for some.


Sunday 08 February 2009

At the moment Plumpton is all systems go for tomorrow, although Choc doesn’t have any rides scheduled.  Perhaps AP will get his 3,000th winner and put everyone out of their misery!


I’ve been out this afternoon/evening to Luton, and it’s now snowing again (and settling) in South Bedfordshire ... although at home it’s only sleeting at the moment (20:30).  It just goes on and on ... so who knows when the race fixture calendar will be back to normal again?  


Slightly better news regarding Joe Lively.  He may not be as badly injured as was first feared, but will definitely be out of action for the remainder of the season.


Saturday 07 February 2009

denman red 1.jpg



Denman (centre), Joe Lively and Madison du Berlais –

The Levy Board Steeplechase at Kempton Park

07 February 2009


I made it to Kempton Park today (by train), but unfortunately Alan King’s horses did not ... so Choc wasn’t riding today!  L


However, I did see Denman make his seasonal reappearance, although he was well beaten by David Pipe’s talented Madison du Berlais.  Paul Nicholls was disappointed and thinks we may have to accept that we’ve already seen the best of Denman.  Mind you, as Denman beat all bar one of his rivals today, the run wasn’t that bad.  Unfortunately Joe Lively is now on the injury list, having cut into a tendon during the race, and could be out of action for most of 2009.


No racing for Choc tomorrow as both meetings have been lost and Monday’s fixture at Wetherby has already been abandoned.  So that just leaves Plumpton on Monday, so hopefully that will go ahead and Choc will be back in action once again.  Hopefully I’ll be able to give an update tomorrow.


Friday 06 February 2009

It snowed in Hertfordshire again today, causing yet more havoc.  But, of course, I still got to work on time.  The snow is a bit slushy this evening ... so perhaps it will clear a little, although there may be more on Monday!


Kempton Park failed its inspection and the meeting has been postponed until tomorrow.  Warwick and Newbury have both lost their meetings tomorrow, but the Aon Chase (renamed the Levy Board Chase) has been transferred to Kempton Park and will feature Denman’s comeback after his recent health scare.  There will be an inspection at 08:00 to see if the meeting goes ahead.


‘Choc of the Antarctic’ escaped his icy surroundings today and headed for Fontwell Park (one of the 7 new fixtures), where he replaced the booked jockey aboard Midnight Chase and was successful in beating his 5 rivals – Choc’s 83rd winner of the season. 


And the conditions must have been very bad in the locality of Choc’s village, as he was trapped at home yesterday, and Jonjo O’Neill couldn’t get his horses out of Jackdaws Castle today to run at Bangor on Dee, thus thwarting AP’s attempt to reach his 3000th winner!  However Martin Keighley’s intrepid team successfully reached Bangor, and his wife, Belinda, gives an account on his blog today of their adventures in the snow.  Although, unfortunately, their horse finished 2nd in its event.


Tomorrow?  If Kempton Park is raceable, then Choc is engaged to ride as per yesterday, although the times have been rescheduled:

13:10 Turkish Surprise – Beginners’ Chase

14:15 Madness – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

16:00 Gold Heart – Handicap Chase

16:35 Polly Potter – NH Flat Race


I’m undecided what to do ... I was intending to go to Newbury, but with that abandoned ... Kempton Park is far nearer than Newbury (although both mainly by motorway) ... or a train from my local station to St Pancras, underground to Waterloo or Vauxhall and then the train bound for Shepperton via Kempton Park.  I’d love to see Denman run, and perhaps AP ride his 3000th winner, and most importantly to see Choc!  Oh well, I don’t have to decide until I hear the verdict of the course inspection, and the weather may yet take it out of my hands!


Hereford and Exeter have both lost their Sunday fixtures.


Thursday 05 February 2009

Hertfordshire received another covering of snow overnight, and it caused havoc on the roads in my City this morning.  It was far worse than on Monday as the local roads hadn’t been gritted.  Luckily most of last night’s snow turned to slush and has already disappeared, although we still have areas where Monday’s snow remains.  And the forecast seems to suggest that Hertfordshire might get yet more snow tonight!


Huntingdon was abandoned due to snow, so presumably Choc stayed at home in the very snowy Cotswolds! 


Tomorrow, ahead of their scheduled meetings, Bangor inspect at 07:15; Fontwell at 08:00 (as it may be water-logged); and Kempton Park at 08:00.  However, should Kempton Park fail tomorrow’s inspection, it is considering putting the meeting back 24 hours so that it takes place on Saturday instead.  However that is with the proviso that either Newbury or Warwick are forced to abandon their Saturday fixtures should they fail their inspections which are due to take place tomorrow.


AP was out of luck at Taunton today in his quest for his 3,000th winner, but Sam Thomas rode a treble – 1 for Paul Nicholls and 2 for Venetia Williams.


If racing goes ahead at Kempton Park tomorrow, Choc has 4 rides, all for Alan King:

14:00 Turkish Surprise – Beginners’ Chase

15:35 Gold Heart – Handicap Chase

16:10 Madness – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

16:40 Polly Potter – NH Flat Race


And last but not least ... Happy Birthday to my niece, Lydia, who is 16 today.  


Wednesday 04 February 2009

No National Hunt racing again today.  However Taunton is due to inspect at 08:00 in the morning ahead of its meeting, and Huntingdon at 08:15.  We may, of course, get further snow tonight.  At 18:30 my BBC local forecast for tomorrow is for heavy snow showers, as it is for Huntingdon and for the Cheltenham area too.  Taunton’s forecast is for sleet.


But just in case the snow doesn’t materialise and Choc is able to escape snowbound Gloucestershire tomorrow for the open spaces of the Cambridgeshire Fens, he has 4 rides scheduled at Huntingdon:

14:40 Minella Four Star – Novices’ Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:10 Cosmea – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:40 Onyx Bruere – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:40 Asturienne – Mares’ NH Flat Race (Alan King)


I’ve been reading Martin Keighley’s blog today, and he mentions that a number of jockeys were apparently out sledging yesterday near The Plough Inn at Ford (Choc’s favourite hostelry) - 3 names he mentions are Andrew Thornton, Andrew Tinkler and Choc!  Boys will be boys I suppose …


Tuesday 03 February 2009

The snow is still lying in Hertfordshire, but my walk to and from work wasn’t too bad today – this morning it was still possible to find white fluffy snow along the pavements thus avoiding the ice, and as footfall had increased today some pavements were clear on my way home, but there was still a lot of compacted snow in other areas, but fortunately temperatures hadn’t fallen enough to make it too icy.


Not surprisingly there was no racing today, and Ludlow is off tomorrow.  Carlisle will inspect early, ahead of tomorrow’s fixture. 


Thursday - Taunton is currently raceable, but although the snow has disappeared from Huntingdon, parts of the course are frozen and the forecast could be for more snow tomorrow night. 


Friday - Kempton has the covers deployed, and Fontwell Park has thawed and is raceable.


Saturday – Newbury is a little more hopeful now than it was this morning, the covers have been down and the snow which has been lying on them is now thawing.  They hope any snow which falls will be north of the Thames!


Sunday – There’s a covering of snow at Hereford and the forecast is bad.  Exeter is a little more hopeful.


If Newbury goes ahead, Voy Por Ustedes may not run in the Game Spirit Chase as connections wish to avoid a clash with Master Minded, and the ground may also be too testing.  Instead they will wait for Ascot the following Saturday.


Let’s hope I have some positive news on the racing front tomorrow. 


Monday 02 February 2009

Snow 1 red.jpg

Snow red 3.jpg

Snow red 2.jpg


Not surprisingly, all I have to report today is snow!  This was the view from my front and back windows at 07:30 this morning.  And it’s not stopped snowing all day, sometimes light sometimes heavy.  But, as I live a mere one mile from my place of work, I walked to the office as usual, although I did wear my bright blue Wellington boots.  And there was a very quiet atmosphere in the office as many of my colleagues didn’t make it in, so there was plenty of work to do in their absence.


Meally’s fortnightly ‘Eclipse’ diary appeared early today too, so perhaps she and Choc are already holed up in their Cotswolds village waiting for the weather conditions to improve! 


Sunday 01 February 2009

My first blog of the new month. 


Tomorrow’s Lingfield fixture has already been abandoned due to frost and snow, there was nearly a ‘white-out’ during one all-weather race at Southwell today but they were able to continue, and there were snow flurries at Fontwell Park, where Choc had just one ride:

Head to Kerry finished 2nd in the Selling Hurdle.  He ran well but, despite jumping the last flight upsides Jamie Moore’s mount, Stance, he couldn’t give enough on the run-in.


Tomorrow Choc is due to ride on the turf at Southwell, if it beats the snow (an inspection due at 07:30 in the morning):

14:30 Sharajan – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:00 West End Rocker – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:30 Valleyofthedolls – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


AP failed to reach his 3,000 winners milestone today, Burton Port having finished 3rd and Blue Teal 8th at Fontwell Park.  


Market Rasen has abandoned its steeplechases planned for Tuesday, but who knows what this week will bring, if anything, if the weather forecast is to be believed ... and we’ve already had a taster of that weather today!


And finally, congratulations go to Rafael Nadal for winning the Australian Open Men’s Singles title.  I’m so pleased he beat Roger Federer, as I’m not a fan of the Swiss star.  He’s a very good player but it was boring when he was winning everything.  I much preferred Andre Agassi over Pete Sampras, the latter player being too predictable.  




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