Sunday 28 February 2010

Today Choc was at Fontwell Park, where he had 4 rides ... and the brilliant news is that he won the National Spirit Hurdle aboard Trenchant, the race being Fontwell’s feature race of the year! J J J And he won the bumper too!

Penn Da Benn finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (4 ran)

Moon Over Miami finished 4th in the Handicap Chase (6 ran)

Trenchant won the feature race, the National Spirit Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1), giving Choc his 55th winner of the season (7 ran).

Caught By Witness won the Standard Open NH Flat Race, Choc’s 56th winner of the season (6 ran; but 6 non-runners too!). 


Not surprisingly, Towcester was abandoned.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Hereford, where he has 2 booked rides:

16:00 Dona – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

17:00 Romulus D’Artaix – Standard Open NH Flat Race (Alan King)

Alan also runs Awesome George in the Novices’ Chase at 15:30, ridden by regular pilot Charlie Huxley


Plumpton will hold an inspection at 07:30 tomorrow morning to see if racing can go ahead.


At The Races held a discussion about yesterday’s Mares’ Novices’ Chase in which Itea Du Fau was a competitor.  Sean Boyce spoke to the jockey of the only finisher, Jimmy Derham, to find out his version of the events too, as there had been a long stewards’ enquiry to decide if the race should be void or not.  The decision resting on the fact that Jimmy had been directed around the 3rd last fence by a member of the ground staff, because a prone horse (which was later put down), 2 jockeys and a vet were on the landing side of the fence.  My opinion is that, for safety reasons, he had no other option, and he had to make a split second decision as he was only a few strides from the fence at the time, and would not have known that all the remaining competitors behind him had been pulled up.   There would certainly have been uproar if Sam Twiston-Davies, T J Phelan or the vet had been hurt had Jimmy jumped the obstacle and collided with any of them.  I know the losing punters would have liked their money back, which would have happened if the race was declared void, but that’s just tough!     


Having set off for Kempton early yesterday, I didn’t realise the news regarding Mille Chief had been quite so serious.  Evidently he was ‘hopping’ lame, and may well miss the Triumph Hurdle as a result.  Investigation into the cause of the lameness is still underway, and Alan King hopes to give further news soon. 


I’ve uploaded photographs taken at yesterday’s Kempton Park meeting:



Saturday 27 February 2010

Well, I felt a lot better today, so decided that I would go to Kempton Park.  Although briefly I was in two minds, when it was announced on The Morning Line that Mille Chief was a non-runner due to lameness.  The weather was dreadful mid to late morning, with heavy rain when I was driving on the M25 and M3, and also when I arrived at Kempton Park.  owever

However, the sun did eventually shine, although there was further rain during race 7 and after the racing had been completed. 


No winners for Choc; he rode a 3rd, and an unplaced and a pulled up ... so I came away feeling a little disappointed with my day, and thinking perhaps that I should have stayed at home ...  However, that was before I had a ‘surreal’ moment on the M25 when I was driving home! 


I had waited in my car at Kempton Park, hoping that the worst of the traffic had already cleared, which it hadn’t, as it took around 10 minutes of queuing to reach the nearby M3 motorway.  So, as a result, I found myself in the second lane on the clockwise carriageway of the M25 approaching the junction with the M40 at around 17:45.  I always leave plenty of ‘braking space’ between me and the car in front, so it didn’t surprise me when a black BMW pulled over into that space from one of the outside lanes, intending to cross to the inside lane in order to take the M40 westbound carriageway.  However, I got the surprise of my life when I read the number-plate (which I mustn’t disclose) and realised that it was Choc’s car!   As we were approaching the M25 road-works, a 50 mph limit is in operation at that point so, the BMW having pulled across to the inside lane, it travelled along just over to my left until it disappeared down the M40 slip-road!  Oh my god ... what are the odds of that happening?  But, I have to confess, it completely made my day J.  


Anyway, here’s further details of how Choc fared at Kempton today:

Rathcor was pulled up before 2 out in the Handicap Hurdle (11 ran)

Salden Licht finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran)

As mentioned earlier, due to lameness Mille Chief was a non-runner in the Adonis Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle.

Awesome Freddie finished 6th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (13 ran).  Alan’s other runner, Soleil D’Avril, finished 8th.


Martin Keighley had a couple of runners at Kempton too:

Wolf Moon was pulled up in the 13:30 and De Forgotten Man finished 5th in the 16:45.


The Racing Post Chase was won by Razor Royale, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by Paddy Brennan.  Last year’s winner, Nacarat, was a very game 2nd, beaten just a neck, the winner having almost blundered away his advantage at the last. 


Meanwhile at Chepstow, where the going must have been stamina sapping:

Itea Du Fau was pulled up in the Mares’ Novices’ Chase (6 ran – on 1 finished, 1 fell, 2 unseated, 2 pulled up)

Silver Spinner finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle (11 ran)


Tomorrow Choc will be at Fontwell Park, where he has 4 rides:

14:30 Penn Da Benn – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:00 Moon Over Miami – Handicap Chase (Charlie Mann)

15:35 Trenchant – National Spirit Hurdle (Alan King).

17:05 Caught By Witness – Standard Open NH Flat Race (MF Harris)


Whilst at Towcester, Martin Keighley has 3 runners:

14:40 Love of Tara (Warren Marston) and Pavanne (Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle

15:45 Hareem (Jimmy Derham)


Friday 26 February 2010

There’s further exciting news regarding Choc today.  He will ride the Henrietta Knight trained novice Somersby in the Arkle Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, providing AP McCoy remains committed to ride the JP McManus owned Captain Cee Bee.  Here’s the story:



Another day, another winner J ... Choc rode at Warwick this afternoon, and this is how he fared:

Little George finished 4th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (14 ran)

Ebiayn finished 5th, but tailed off, in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran)

Double Pride won the Novices’ Hurdle, giving Choc his 54th winner of the season (9 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be travelling to Kempton Park, where he has 4 rides during the 8-race card:

13:30 Rathcor – Handicap Hurdle (Ian Williams)

14:00 Salden Licht – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King) .  The Alan King trained Trenchant won this race last year.

15:40 Mille Chief – Adonis Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

16:45 Awesome Freddie – Standard Open NH Flat Race (Alan King).  Alan also runs Soleil D’Avril in this race, ridden by Gerard Tumelty.


Martin Keighley has a couple of runners at Kempton too:

Dual Cheltenham winner Wolf Moon runs in the 13:30 under Warren Marston

De Forgotten Man runs in the NH Flat Race at 16:45, again ridden by Warren.


Alan King also has a couple of runners at Chepstow:

14:55 Itea Du Fau – ridden by Wayne Hutchinson – Mares’ Novices’ Chase

15:30 Silver Spinner – ridden by Mr J Banks – Handicap Hurdle


For those of you who watch Country File on BBC1 each Sunday evening, Martin Keighley’s yard will be featured in their programme on Sunday 14th March (the weekend before the Cheltenham Festival).  Adam Henson, who runs the Cotswold Farm Park and is a presenter on the programme, went to film the segment yesterday.  I try to watch the programme, although I don’t always remember to do so now that it’s broadcast at an earlier time!  I visited the Cotswold Farm Park many moons ago too.   


I’ve been feeling a little unwell today, with nausea and hot and cold flushes – I believe I’ve suffered an allergic reaction to the ‘new and improved’ formula of a hair dye which I’ve used without any problems for the past couple of years.  It is a henna based product called Surya, which is supposed to contain none of the harmful ingredients which many conventional products contain.  That’s a mega setback for me, as my hair is/was dark brown, but it started to turn grey when I was 20 ... although I don’t think I’m quite as grey as Ruby Walsh yet!  Mind you, I’d love it if my hair was pure white, like my paternal grandmother’s hair was ... I’m told her hair went from very dark to white by the time she was 30! 


Hopefully I’ll feel better by the morning and will be able to take a trip to Kempton Park, where the feature race is the Racing Post Chase.


Thursday 25 February 2010

Today Choc had one ride at Huntingdon, and this is how he fared:

Chilli Rose finished 7th, tailed off in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran)


Tomorrow’s meeting at Sandown Park was abandoned even before the scheduled inspection took place, as we had yet more rain in the southeast today.


Choc travels to Warwick tomorrow, where there is a scheduled inspection at 07:30 in the morning.

14:10 Little George – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

14:40 Ebiayn – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:50 Double Pride – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


Wednesday 24 February 2010

Choc was at Doncaster this afternoon, and he rode another winner J:

Roko Dancer finished 9th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle Qualifier; Alan’s other runners, Eros Moon (ridden by Tom O’Brien, replacing the presumably still sidelined Wayne Hutchinson) finished 12th and Midnight Appeal finished 7th (14 ran).

Thetwincamdrift finished 4th in the Beginners’ Chase (7 ran)

Gilded Age won the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle, giving Choc his 53rd winner of the season (14 ran) – Gilded Age has now qualified for his intended Cheltenham Festival race, the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle.

Pak Jack finished 6th in the Veterans’ Handicap Chase (9 ran)

No Substitute finished 6th in the NH Flat Race (16 ran)


Martin Keighley’s runners fared as follows:

The Fox’s Decree finished 6th in the 14:00 at Doncaster (11 ran); and Palmers Peak completed in 3rd in the Hunters’ Chase at 16:45 (5 ran).

Heezagrey finished 6th in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase at Ludlow (15 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be at Huntingdon for just one ride:

14:00 Chilli Rose – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


There are concerns about the ground for Friday’s Sandown Park fixture – too much rain has fallen on the course, which has resulted in some patches of false ground – so there’s going to be an inspection at 15:30 tomorrow.  The current weather forecast in the London area for Friday is for rain, but Saturday is supposed to be dry (perhaps a day out at Kempton Park?), but Sunday is forecast to be wet again!


I’m taking the final day of my 2009 leave tomorrow, but I will spend it at home. 


Tuesday 23 February 2010

Southwell survived their inspection and Choc rode a winner J:

Pennek finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (4 ran)

Call At Midnight won the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (14 ran)

Flaming Charlie won the Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).  Choc’s 52nd winner of the season.

Killobee finished 12th in the Intermediate Open NH Flat Race (13 ran)


Ex-Alan King inmate Ouzbeck finished 7th in his event, a Handicap Hurdle.


Choc will be riding at Doncaster tomorrow afternoon, and Wayne Hutchinson returns to the saddle too:

13:30 Roko Dancer – NH Novices’ Hurdle Qualifier (2 miles 3½ furlongs) (Alan King).  Alan has 2 other runners in this race – Eros Moon (Wayne Hutchinson) and Midnight Appeal (Charlie Huxley)

14:35 Thetwincamdrift – Beginners’ Chase (Alan King)

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

15:40 Pak Jack – Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Richard Phillips)

17:20 No Substitute – NH Flat Race (Alan King)


Martin Keighley also has 3 runners tomorrow:

The Fox’s Decree runs in the 14:00 at Doncaster – 2 miles ½ furlong NH Novices’ Hurdle; and Palmers Peak runs in the Hunters’ Chase at 16:45.

Heezagrey runs in the 16:05 at Ludlow - the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase


I collected my Euromillions winnings today ... it transpired that I’d won a mere £23.20, not the ‘estimated’ amount of £77 as published on Teletext immediately after the draw.  I did double-check it at the time, but not since then – so it’s very disappointing. L


Monday 22 February 2010

News today that Choc has been awarded the ride on Twist Magic in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival:



And, at Alan King’s pre-Cheltenham media morning, he summed up his Festival hopes, and may run as many as 26 horses! 



Tomorrow, weather permitting (there’s an inspection at 08:00), Choc is due to ride at Southwell:

15:00 Pennek – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:30 Call At Midnight – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

16:30 Flaming Charlie – Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

17:00 Killobee - Intermediate Open NH Flat Race (Alan King)

I notice that ex-Alan King inmate Ouzbeck makes his re-appearance tomorrow, in the Handicap Hurdle at 16:00.  He’s now trained by Emma Lavelle, and will be ridden by Jack Doyle.


We had snow showers today, which began at around 07:00, but the roads and pavements are now clear, there’s just a ‘crusty’ white layer on the grass.


Sunday 21 February 2010

The first news of the day is that the Melton Hunt Club race had to be postponed due to the weather – there was snow ‘up north’ and in Ireland ... Naas was lost, as was Sedgefield, and even the all-weather fixture at Southwell (which is in Nottinghamshire) was abandoned!  I woke up to rain on the window, although occasionally the sun did try to break through the grey and overcast skies.


The Melton race has been re-scheduled for next Sunday ... but, presumably, Choc will be riding at Fontwell Park or Towcester that day so won’t be available to start the event.


Discussions will take place tomorrow to see if a 2-mile conditions hurdle race can be put on at Kempton Park next Saturday, a replacement for the Kingwell Hurdle which was lost due to Wincanton’s abandonment yesterday.


Market Rasen was inspected at 15:00 today, ahead of tomorrow’s fixture, and it’s been abandoned too – so no Chocolate tomorrow.  It is Monday though, so he will presumably be schooling at Barbury Castle. 


No Chocolate today either, but I have uploaded two sets of photos taken at yesterday’s Ascot fixture:






And, having completed my Neon Blue ‘Snowball’ scarf whilst watching At The Races Sunday Forum, I then spent a few hours completing the first draft of my Ascot diary.  And I watched the Alan King Festival Preview on the same channel, shown at lunchtime.


Saturday 20 February 2010

I enjoyed my day out at Ascot, it was a beautiful sunny day, and quite pleasant if you stood in the sunshine!  But no ‘Saturday winner’ for Choc this week. 


In fact it turned out to be a Barry and Ruby benefit day ... Barry had 5 rides and rode 4 winners and a sixth place; and Ruby had 6 rides and rode 2 winners, 2 seconds, one 4th and a 5th.  And, as there were 7 races, the only other jockey to get a look in was amateur rider Joshua Moore (son of Gary, brother of Jamie, Ryan and Hayley) who won aboard Panjo Bere, beating Ruby’s mount by a short-head!


Despite Choc not riding a winner, I did get to see a lot of him, as 4 of his 5 rides were placed:

Spirit of Adjisa finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran).

Midnight Sail was pulled up before 2 out in the Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

Oh Crick finished 4th in the Betfair Ascot Chase (6 ran).  Crowd favourite, the grey Monet’s Garden, won the race under Barry Geraghty.

Prince Buster finished 3rd in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran). Lush Life won, beating Menorah

Sweet Irony finished 3rd in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (14 ran).


At Haydock Park, Chamirey finished 3rd in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier.

The big race at this fixture, the Blue Square Gold Cup Chase, was won by Silver By Nature, beating Our Vic and Le Beau Bai.


Uttoxeter went ahead today, but Wincanton was abandoned.


As mentioned previously, Choc will be in Leicestershire tomorrow, to preside over the start of the Melton Hunt Club Ride.


Friday 19 February 2010

Well, it looks like my 4-leaf clover and lucky horseshoe worked, as Choc rode a winner at Sandown Park J.  I was on holiday today, using the penultimate day of my 2009 carry over leave.  This meant that I could watch Choc riding at the fixture live on Racing UK.  It was a very exciting finish to his winning ride, and I found myself shouting him home too!


The details from Sandown Park are as follows:

Peter Grimes finished last in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle; Alan’s other runner, Kings Troop, finished just ahead of him in 9th (10 ran).

However, as alluded to above, and wearing first-time blinkers, Wind Instrument won an exciting Handicap Chase (9 ran).  This gives Choc his 51st winner of the season.

Martin Keighley’s Any Currency finished 5th, staying on at the end as would be expected of him, Warren Marston substituting for advertised jockey Richard Burton.


My Google alert found this item for me from The Field, regarding the Melton Hunt Club ride, where Choc will preside over the start this coming Sunday:


Captain Harry Wallace gets a mention in the article too, and he won today’s Royal Artillery Gold Cup.


And there’s news of Wayne Hutchinson’s recovery in his weekly Sporting Life column:



There are 4 National Hunt fixtures scheduled for tomorrow – Haydock Park, Wincanton, Uttoxeter and Ascot.  All the meetings will be holding precautionary inspections in the morning, as the freezing weather has returned – although Wincanton’s problem is water-logging.  Ascot has deployed covers, as overnight frost is predicted.  A bit different from this weekend last year, when the Kempton Park Saturday fixture was positively Spring-like! (Fixtures take place a week later this year, due to the calendar adjustment, in that the equivalent Kempton meeting is taking place a week tomorrow.)


Anyway, tomorrow Choc is due to ride at Ascot, and has 5 rides, all for Alan King:

13:40 Spirit of Adjisa – Novices’ Hurdle

14:45 Midnight Sail – Handicap Hurdle

15:15 Oh Crick - Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1).  Voy Por Ustedes won this race last year.

15:45 Prince Buster – NH Novices’ Hurdle.  Philip Hobbs’ talented hurdler Menorah is also engaged in this race.

16:55 Sweet Irony – Standard Open NH Flat Race


At Haydock Park, AP rides Chamirey for Alan King in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Qualifier at 16:10


Martin Keighley has a couple of runners engaged at Wincanton, both ridden by Warren Marston:

13:25 Mistress To No One – Handicap Hurdle

17:00 The Fox’s Decree – Novices’ Hurdle


And, presuming that Ascot beats the overnight freeze, there are no prizes for guessing where I’ll be heading tomorrow! J


Thursday 18 February 2010

Choc rode at Ffos Las this afternoon, and this is how he fared, although unfortunately he’s still not ridden a winner since his return from injury L :

Quetzel finished 9th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran).

Miss Overdrive finished 7th in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (15 ran).

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

However, Sharajan put his best hooves forward and won the Novices’ Chase under Jimmy McCarthy!


Champion Hurdle hope, Zaynar, finished a length 2nd to the giant Quwetwo at Kelso.  Zaynar’s first defeat, but no doubt he will be fully primed by the Festival!


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Sandown Park, where he has 2 rides, both for Alan King:

14:15 Peter Grimes – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle; Alan also runs Kings Troop, to be ridden by Charlie Huxley

14:45 Wind Instrument – Handicap Chase


Martin Keighley’s Any Currency runs in the 14:45 too, piloted by amateur jockey Richard Burton – Martin reports on a problem encountered at Leicester yesterday which, although subject to a probable appeal, will result in Richard missing the ride aboard this horse at the Cheltenham Festival, so let Martin explain:



I’ve been catching up with Alan King’s blog  too (written by journalist Geoff Lester) and he mentions that Bakbenscher is out for the season having suffered a stress fracture to his near fore cannon bone; and Call Me A Legend has suffered a cracked pelvis, so she will also be out of action until next season.


It still feels like both Choc’s, and the stable’s, luck hasn’t yet changed for the better ...




Wednesday 17 February 2010

Choc wasn’t in action today, but Alan King did have 3 runners at Leicester and this is how they fared:

Blue Dark, ridden by Christian Williams, finished 5th in the Handicap Chase (15 ran)

Radius Bleu, again ridden by Christian, finished 4th in the Novices’ Chase (8 ran)

Starburst Diamond, under Jack Doyle, finished 5th in the Handicap Chase (9 ran)


Choc is due back in action at Ffos Las tomorrow, where he has 3 riding engagements:

14:00 Quetzel – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:45 Miss Overdrive – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:20 Junior – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

Alan also runs Sharajan in the Novices’ Chase at 15:10, ridden by his usual jockey, Jimmy McCarthy.


Champion Hurdle hope, Zaynar, is expected to run at Kelso tomorrow, weather permitting.  An inspection is due at 07:00 in the morning.  Binocular has been withdrawn from the Champion Hurdle, as he is suffering from a muscle problem.


Fortunately Timmy Murphy is okay after yesterday’s fall, and hopes to return to the saddle at the weekend.


I’ve just seen the weather forecast for tomorrow and Friday, and there’s the possibility of snow showers through the West Country, in south-east Wales, and into the Midlands.  It just goes to show that you can never get complacent, as I thought today was really pleasant in Hertfordshire ... almost Spring-like in fact!


Weather-wise there are concerns for Saturday’s meetings at Haydock Park and Wincanton, but Ascot is hopeful that they will avoid the freeze.


Tuesday 16 February 2010

It’s Shrove Tuesday ... better known as Pancake Day – yum, yum!


Today’s Folkestone meeting was lost due to snow.  But Newcastle went ahead, and the fixture seems to have been full of incident.  Five jockeys each received a 12 day ban for taking the wrong course – Jason Maguire, Peter Buchanan, James O’Farrell, Campbell Gillies and Paddy Aspell.  The course details were posted in the Weighing Room as is the standard procedure, but the course hadn’t been dolled off to prevent a mishap such as this – six on one, half dozen of the other then! 


Poor Timmy Murphy took a nasty fall and was taken to hospital to have his shoulder x-rayed.  Talking of shoulder injuries, Noel Fehily is expected to be out of action for between 4 to 6 months following successful surgery.


There are meetings at Musselburgh and Leicester tomorrow, but Choc sidesteps the latter (where he was injured last month), although Alan King does have 3 runners:

14:10 Blue Dark – Handicap Chase (Christian Williams)

14:40 Radius Bleu – Novices’ Chase (Christian Williams)

15:10 Starburst Diamond – Handicap Chase (Jack Doyle)


Monday 15 February 2010

Every fortnight, Meally Thornton’s diary blog appears on the Eclipse website and today is the day the new issue appeared.  I enjoy reading her regular updates and in this issue she tells us that Choc paid his third visit to hospital in recent weeks – as he split his lower lip again, this time inside his mouth, during his fall from Epidavros at Kempton Park last Friday.  Ouch.  Coincidently he ended up being treated alongside Alan King’s other main stable jockey, Wayne Hutchinson, who had a ‘head banger’ of a fall at Bangor on the same afternoon.  Here’s the link to her blog:



I’ve also ordered my copy of the Cheltenham Festival Preview magazine from the Cheltenham Collection website.  The NAGWAGs are being featured this year, including Meally.



Choc was at Plumpton this afternoon, and this is how he fared:

Ellen Tilley finished 6th in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran)

Bormo finished 2nd in the Beginners’ Chase (8 ran)


No rides for Choc tomorrow, but surely he must ride his 51st winner of the season very soon.


Both Newcastle and Folkestone are subject to morning inspections.


Sunday 14 February 2010

YYY  Happy Valentine’s Day  YYY


Although I’m not sure what happened to all my cards, chocolates and flowers – perhaps next year! 


I’ve begun drafting my Newbury diary today, and have uploaded photos from yesterday too: 



Choc was at Hereford today, and this is how he fared:

Shilpa just held on for 4th in the NH Maiden Hurdle (15 ran).  The winner, trained by Evan Williams, was a 100-1 shot (and was even longer odds on the Tote).

Chilli Rose had to settle for 2nd, losing out by a mere head on the line to AP McCoy aboard the Nicky Henderson trained Kerada in the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (13 ran). Disappointingly that’s her third runner-up spot in a row.


Martin Keighley’s Heezagrey was pulled up before 4 out in the 3 mile 1½ furlongs Handicap Chase (15 ran).


Whilst at Exeter:

The Hairy Lemon finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Double Pride finished 2nd in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (16 ran).  Charlie Huxley took the ride, replacing the injured Wayne Hutchinson.

I would image that Wayne is as ‘sick as a parrot’ having missed 2 winners today – Cabinet Minister and Bertie May.


Tomorrow Choc is due to ride at Plumpton:

15:30 Ellen Tilley – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:30 Bormo – Beginners’ Chase (Alan King)


Having read that Choc suffered fractures to vertebrae L1, L2, L3 during his fall from Cracboumwiz, I’ve been researching to find out more about the human spine and have discovered a diagram showing each of the numbered vertebrae and the nerve areas which function from each of them:



Denman is reported to be okay this morning, following yesterday’s blunders at Newbury.  The ‘press’ and public discussion about who should be riding the horse in the Cheltenham Gold Cup continues ... but I love the headline ‘McCoy dumped by Denman on first date’!


All I can say is that if I could afford to own a talented racehorse (or any racehorse or even be part of a syndicate for that matter), Choc would be my first choice – no surprise there then!  I’d never want AP McCoy to ride the horse - so you can tell I’m not a punter!   And, surprisingly perhaps, not Ruby Walsh either – because he’s far too talented and wins too many big races!  I think my next choice after Choc has to be Barry Geraghty, perhaps followed by Richard Johnson or Jason Maguire.


As usual, I tuned into The Sunday Forum on Attheraces this morning and, as part of their discussion, they mentioned the proposed ‘Racing for Change’ grading of racecourses, whereby grade 3 meetings might get no coverage in the newspapers.  How stupid is that?  As the panellists said, at any meeting you get the opportunity to see the best jockeys riding, whether it is at lowly Newton Abbot or ‘premium’ racecourses such as Cheltenham. It would be extremely unfair not to publicise the ‘bread and butter’ weekday or Sunday meetings, which are an ideal introduction to National Hunt racing – for instance I’ve had a number of fabulous days at Stratford during the summer months and would recommend it to anyone.  I’d rather go to a ‘lowly’ fixture where Choc was competing, than attend a bigger meeting where he was not ... which might explain why I didn’t feel inspired enough to write a diary for Kempton Park’s meeting on 26th December last!  It was good sport that day, but not with that extra special ‘Chocolate’ ingredient ...


It was announced that retired jockey, famous as the rider of Devon Loch who suffered a mishap on the run-in of the 1956 Grand National, and author Dick Francis died today at the age of 89.  He wrote 42 novels, the first 39 of which I have read.  I think I may also have 2 or 3 of the books he wrote more recently, but I’ve not yet read them.


Saturday 13 February 2010

I enjoyed my day out at Newbury races.  It was overcast, breezy and cold but the racing was definitely exciting ... if not always for the right reasons! 


Paul Nicholls had 4 winners, all ridden by Ruby Walsh ... the surprise being the victory of Tricky Trickster in the Aon Chase – Denman having blundered 4 from home, and again 3 from home, the latter resulting in AP McCoy being unseated.  Master Minded won the Game Spirit Chase, but not before he’d ploughed through the final obstacle – Ruby accepting blame for the error.


However, AP won the big race of the day, the Totesport Trophy Hurdle aboard the JP McManus owned, Jonjo O’Neill trained, Get Me Out of Here.   


Anyway, this is how Choc fared today:

Bensalem blundered badly at the cross fence 5 from home, but ran on to finish 2 lengths behind the winner Diamond Harry in the Novices’ Chase.  Inchidaly Rock was a further 14 lengths away in 3rd (3 ran).

Forzy Origny finished 13th in the Handicap Hurdle.  Alan’s other runner, Squadron, completed in 9th (18 ran).

Manyriverstocross ran on well to finish 3rd in the very competitive Totesport Trophy Hurdle (23 ran).

Voy Por Ustedes finished 4th in the Game Spirit Chase (5 ran). 


As Choc didn’t have a ride in the final two races, I decided to leave after the Game Spirit Chase, because I wanted to beat the race-day traffic as I was visiting my friend Denise in Caversham on my way home.


Meanwhile at Warwick:

Roko Dancer, under Christian Williams, finished 10th in the Novices’ Hurdle (17 ran).

Nicky Henderson’s Long Run won the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase from Joe Jo Star and King Edmund (5 ran).


Tomorrow Choc is scheduled to be at Hereford:

14:50 Shilpa – NH Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

15:25 Chilli Rose – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

Martin Keighley has a runner in the Handicap Chase at 16:00 – Heezagrey – ridden by Gerard Tumelty.


There’s a Hurdles only card at Exeter, and Alan King runs 2 horses:

14:30 The Hairy Lemon – Handicap Hurdle (Mr D T Stratton)

17:10 Double Pride – NH Novices’ Hurdle (jockey TBA)


I’ve now watched a recording of the Beginners’ Chase at yesterday’s Kempton fixture in which Choc was unseated from Epidavros – it looked very painful, as the horse catapulted him from the saddle having put an extra stride in before the first.  Choc appeared to land on his hip, presumably just missing his lower spine – he must be covered in bruises at the moment.  Poor Choc.


I was surprised but pleased to win £77 on the Euromillions lottery draw last night, I had 3 numbers plus 1 star. J


Two contestants were eliminated from Pop Star to Opera Star last night – Kym Marsh and Marcella Detroit.  That leaves Bernadette (Bernie) Nolan and Darius Campbell to contest next Friday’s final.  I think Bernie Nolan ought to win, as she’s the more talented opera singer of the two.


Friday 12 February 2010

Oh dear, no sooner is Choc fit and back in the saddle again than it’s now Wayne Hutchinson who has suffered misfortune having been stood down for 6 days after receiving a knock on the head when being unseated at Bangor on Dee this afternoon (I saw it on TV and it was an ‘ouch’ incident).  And it wasn’t plain sailing for Choc at Kempton Park this afternoon either ...


Anyway, here are the ‘important’ results for today:

Kempton Park

Firstly Choc:

Epidavros unseated Choc at the first obstacle in the Beginners’ Chase (8 ran).

The Betchworth Kid finished a close 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle (6 ran).

Choc relinquished his rides aboard Head to Kerry and Royal Mile later in the afternoon, presumably in light of Wayne Hutchinson’s earlier misfortune (see below) – a ‘damage limitation’ exercise, as surely Alan King can’t afford to lose his best two jockeys at the same time?


Alan King had 3 other runners at Kempton:

Itea Du Fau (Gerard Tumelty) and Kauto The Roc (Charlie Huxley) finished 11th and 6th respectively in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

Trigger The Light (Christian Williams) finished 6th in the Handicap Chase (11 ran). 


Bangor on Dee

Saltagioo unseated Wayne Hutchinson two flights out in the Handicap Hurdle (6 ran).

Over Sixty was ridden to victory by deputising jockey Sam Thomas in the Mares’ Novices’ Chase (4 ran).

Nulato finished last in the Novices’ Hurdle, Tom Scudamore taking the ride on this one (7 ran).


Newbury is the main fixture tomorrow and, hopefully, I’ll be there too as Choc’s rides (all for Alan King) include 3 stable stars:

13:30 Bensalem – Novices’ Chase.  The other 3 runners are Diamond Harry, Inchidaly Rock and Flight Leader.

14:00 Forzy Origny – Handicap Hurdle.  Alan also runs Squadron (piloted by Jimmy McCarthy) in this race.

15:05 Manyriverstocross – Totesport Trophy Hurdle (the feature race)

15:40 Voy Por Ustedes – Game Spirit Chase.  Master Minded is making his comeback in this race following diagnosis of a fractured rib.

The other feature on the card is the Aon Chase where Denman makes an appearance under his planned Cheltenham Festival jockey AP McCoy.


Alan King has one runner at Warwick – Roko Dancer in the Novices’ Hurdle at 15:55 – jockey now to be advised.


The 14:15 at Warwick sounds like a good race (Kingmaker Novices’ Chase) with Long Run, Take The Breeze, Joe Jo Star, Pigeon Island and last but certainly not least, the talented King Edmund all due to run!


I’m out of practice at going to the races, as it’s been 7 long weeks now!  I’m even suffering from ‘girlie brain’ ... as I can’t decide what to wear either!!!  Decisions, decisions ... although lots of layers have to be the order of the day.


I’m looking forward to watching Pop Star to Opera Star tonight – there are 4 contestants remaining in the competition – Kym Marsh just has to go this evening, as Bernie Nolan, Marcella Detroit and Darius (also good eye candy value) are definitely more accomplished than she is! 


Thursday 11 February 2010

Taunton was abandoned, but Huntingdon went ahead ... following a third inspection!


Today’s ‘Choc’ results from Huntingdon are as follows:

Magnetic Pole finished 5th in the Handicap Chase (12 ran).  King Jack, trained by Richard Phillips and ridden by Warren Marston won.  Martin Keighley’s Mr Newton finished 2nd.

Prince Du Seuil finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle, with Alan King’s other runner, Pagano, in 9th (12 ran).

Honest Chance finished 17th in the Mares’ NH Flat Race ... but Hurricane Milly ridden by Wayne Hutchinson won the race! (18 ran)


Martin Keighley’s other runner of the day, Hareem, finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).


I noticed on Racing UK yesterday that Kempton’s covers have already been deployed in preparation for tomorrow’s fixture.  There will be a precautionary inspection at 08:00 in the morning.  My local Hertfordshire forecast for tonight is minus 2 with sleety showers.


Choc is due to ride at Kempton:

14:00 Epidavros – Beginners’ Chase (Alan King)

14:35 The Betchworth Kid - Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:10 Head to Kerry – Novices’ Handicap Chase (Dominic Ffrench-Davis)

16:55 Royal Mile – NH Flat Race (Warren Greatrex)


Alan King has 3 other runners at Kempton:

13:25 Itea Du Fau (Gerard Tumelty) and Kauto The Roc (Charlie Huxley) in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

16:20 Trigger The Light - Handicap Chase (Christian Williams). 


Meanwhile at Bangor on Dee, Alan King runs:

14:10 Saltagioo (Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle

14:45 Over Sixty (Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Novices’ Chase

15:20 Nulato (Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle


The Ayr fixture has already been abandoned.


My weekly copy of Horse and Hound arrived in the post today, and there’s a small note on page 6 relating to the Melton Hunt Club ride taking place on Sunday 21 February.  Evidently the race will be started at midday by none other than Choc Thornton.  Here’s an article from the local newspaper giving further details.  I notice Choc’s mum, Sally, is Club Secretary!



There’s also an article about jockey Andrew Tinkler in this week’s Horse and Hound issue, and there’s a photo of Andrew, along with Timmy Murphy, Andrew Thornton, Ollie McPhail and Choc all enjoying the sport in the recent snow.  I think it’s the Jackdaws Castle gallops in the background.


Midsomer Murders was very gory last night, however we were introduced to the character taking over from Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, when John Nettles relinquishes the role shortly.  The new detective will be none other than Tom’s cousin Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby, to be played by Neil Dudgeon.  Along with Brighton (which I have visited a number of times in recent years), last night’s locations were Little Missenden (which I know well) and Hemel Hempstead Old Town (which is my neighbouring town ... but I’ve never visited the Old Town itself!).  I recall Hemel Hempstead Old Town used to be featured in the series Pie In The Sky, which was created by writer Andrew Payne, who has also wrote a number of Midsomer Murders episodes.  


Wednesday 10 February 2010

Not quite the fairytale return, but Choc did ride two placed horses today, the third being a non-runner!

Gold Reef finished 4th in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

Nikos Extra was a non-runner in the Handicap Chase

Simply Wings finished 2nd in the Maiden Hurdle, despite making jumping errors at the 5th, 7th and 8th flights (16 ran).


Carlisle’s fixture was lost today due to a frozen track.


There are meetings at Taunton and Huntingdon tomorrow, subject to a precautionary inspection at both courses at 08:00.  Choc heads for Huntingdon:

14:10 Magnetic Pole – Handicap Chase (Richard Lee)

15:40 Prince Du Seuil – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King). Alan also runs Pagano in this race, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson

16:40 Honest Chance – Mares’ NH Flat Race (Alan King).  Alan also runs Hurricane Milly, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.

Unfortunately Mille Chief won’t be putting in an appearance, as Alan King reports that his ‘scope’ was unsatisfactory. He will now be aimed for the Adonis Hurdle race at Kempton Park on 27 February – so connections will be keeping their fingers crossed that the fixture goes ahead without any weather worries.


Martin Keighley also runs a couple of horses at Huntingdon tomorrow:

13:40 Hareem – Handicap Hurdle – ridden by Jimmy Derham

14:10 Mr Newton – Handicap Chase – ridden by Jimmy Derham


Alan King also has 3 runners at Taunton:

15:00 Penn Da Benn – Beginners’ Chase – ridden by Jack Doyle

15:30 Sahrati – Maiden Hurdle Div II – ridden by Charlie Huxley

16:00 Ballamusic - Handicap Hurdle – ridden by Jack Doyle


In an article from today’s Daily Mail, Choc discusses his chances at Newbury on Saturday:



Another brand new Midsomer Murders episode on ITV tonight, so I’ll be glued to that to find out how many more people they can kill off in the fictional county of Midsomer and to see if I recognise any of the locations too.


Tuesday 09 February 2010

Today’s ‘Alan King’ results from Market Rasen are as follows:

Sitwell finished 9th in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran)

Over Sixty won the Mares’ Novices’ Chase with plenty in hand over the two rivals which completed the course (5 ran)

Bless The Wings finished 4th in the NH Flat Race (11 ran).


The brilliant news is that Choc returns to the racecourse tomorrow, where he has 3 rides booked at Ludlow.  There is, however, a precautionary inspection of the course at 08:00 in the morning.




Choc’s rides are as follows:

15:00 Gold Reef – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:00 Nikos Extra – Handicap Chase (Alan King).  This horse turns out again following his mishap at Southwell yesterday, when Wayne Hutchinson was knocked out of the saddle by a faller. 

17:00 Simply Wings – Maiden Hurdle (Richard Lee)


Here’s hoping that Choc has a successful day and returns safely on all his rides.


Alan King’s blog reports that Asturienne was found to have an infected foot following her disappointing third at Bangor on Dee last Friday.


Monday 08 February 2010

It’s been one of those days today.  Firstly, I parked too near to the kerb and have scratched one of the alloys on my car.  Then, absentmindedly, I put the wrong toner cartridge in our printer and it got stuck.  Luckily Sue came to my rescue and wrenched it out whilst I took a firm hold of the printer!  Then the fire alarm went off at lunchtime and everyone had to be evacuated from the building, the fire brigade were called but could find nothing wrong – the verdict was that ‘dust’ had set it off ... we were already aware that the cleaners have not been doing their job properly!  Not a good day to stand in the car park for 30 minutes – it was around 2 degrees with sleety showers but, luckily, I personally didn’t seem to notice the cold, although like most of my colleagues I grabbed my coat before I went outside.  But I also must be acclimatised to the cold from standing outside for hours on end at the races!!!  And, finally, I jammed up the envelope stuffing machine.  By the end of the day my patience was pretty frayed and I could have done with a Kalms pill.


Here are the racing results for Alan King’s runners today:

Lingfield Park:

Kericho finished 8th in the NH Flat Race Div I (14 ran)

Mr Valentino finished 8th in the Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran)

Bakbenscher won the Novices’ Chase (5 ran)

Yukon Quest finished 2nd in the NH Flat Race Div II (14 ran)



Nikos Extra unseated Wayne Hutchinson in the Handicap Chase (9 ran).

Blazing Bailey finished 3rd in the Novices’ Chase (5 ran). 

Call At Midnight finished 3rd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran)

Habbie Simpson won the NH Flat Race (12 ran).  Martin Keighley’s Spring Moon finished 5th in this race.


Tomorrow, Alan King has a 3 runners scheduled to run at Market Rasen:

13:30 Sitwell (Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

14:30 Over Sixty (Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Novices’ Chase

16:30 Bless The Wings (Gerard Tumelty) – NH Flat Race


Here’s further confirmation of Choc’s return:



I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the threatened snow doesn’t arrive in any quantity, as I’m really looking forward to going to Newbury races on Saturday, and I can also pop in to see my friend Denise on the way home to deliver her belated Christmas presents!


Sunday 07 February 2010

Firstly news of Alan King’s runners at Fontwell Park today:

Causeway King finished 2nd in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (6 ran)

Stoney’s Treasure finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (16 ran)

Management finished 3rd in the NH Flat Race (13 ran)


Tomorrow, Alan King has runners at both Lingfield Park and Southwell:


Lingfield Park:

13:20 Kericho (Gerard Tumelty) - NH Flat Race Div I

14:20 Mr Valentino (Gerard Tumelty) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:50 Bakbenscher (Christian Williams) – Novices’ Chase

16:50 Yukon Quest (Gerard Tumelty) – NH Flat Race Div II



14:40 Nikos Extra (Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

15:10 Blazing Bailey (Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Chase

15:40 Call At Midnight (Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

16:40 Habbie Simpson (Wayne Hutchinson) – NH Flat Race


Martin Keighley also has a runner at Southwell – Spring Moon ridden by Warren Marston in the 16:40 NH Flat Race.


And here are a couple of articles regarding Choc’s imminent return.  The injury does sound a lot worse than has been reported up ‘til now but, despite this, Choc has made a very speedy recovery:





And, hot off the press from Martin Keighley’s blog, he mentions that Choc has been passed fit to return to riding next Wednesday, 10 February:




The frost sheets have been deployed at Newbury today to help ensure that next Saturday’s Newbury fixture goes ahead.  I do so hope it does, as it should be a brilliant day’s racing with Denman and Master Minded due to be in action.  And, of course most important of all, Choc is scheduled to be back in action again by then! 


Saturday 06 February 2010

I decided to channel hop between Attheraces and Racing UK this afternoon so that I could watch as many of today’s races as possible, although somewhere along the line I missed Captain Cee Bee’s race in Ireland!  There were a number of really good finishes, and good runs from a number of possible Cheltenham Festival contenders too.


Firstly, this is how Alan King’s horses fared today:


Iolith finished 9th in the Novices’ Hurdle (15 ran)

Prideus finished last in the Novices’ Chase (7 ran).  The race was won by the Keith Reveley trained Tazbar, who beat his nearest rival by 14 lengths – a possible RSA Chase contender.

Sir Harry Ormesher under Christian Williams won the Handicap Hurdle, despite encountering ‘traffic’ problems in the home straight.  Saticon also ran well to finish 4th.  (18 ran).

Tarotino finished 8th in the 2 mile ½ furlong Handicap Chase. The race was won by the Ferdy Murphy trained Queen Mother Champion Chase contender Kalahari King, carrying top weight today.

Both Old Benny (before 4 out) and Minella Four Star (before 2 out) were pulled up in the 4 mile Handicap Chase.  Christian Williams taking the decision to pull up having blundered at the 3rd last - Minella Four Star was the horse involved in Choc’s ‘lip-splitting’ accident at Newbury in December. (16 ran)

Eros Moon finished 10th in the Maiden Hurdle


Nicky Henderson’s talented novice chaser, Mad Max, finished a disappointing 3rd in the 2 mile ½ furlong Novice Steeplechase.


Sandown Park

Kings Troop completed in 4th in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran)

Trenchant never travelled well in the 2 mile 6 furlong Handicap Hurdle, completing in 9th place (13 ran).


Binocular easily won the Listed hurdle ... but he only had 2 other rivals who were not in his class!

Punchestowns made a terrible blunder at the 7th fence but still went on to win the 2 mile 4½ furlong Novices’ Steeplechase.

The ‘emotional’ win of the day was that of 13 year old Monkerhostin in the Masters Handicap Chase.  He won by a nose from Exmoor Ranger.  I cheered him home – he won the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park in 2008 on my first ever visit to the races!


Weird Al won well at Wetherby, and I think he could be good value for the RSA Chase, especially as he’s already won twice over the Cheltenham fences.


Arkle prospect Captain Cee Bee won well at Naas although, evidently, he wasn’t foot perfect at the last fence today – having taken a tumble at the final fence on his last outing.  Choc won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008 aboard this JP McManus owned horse.


Tomorrow Alan King has 3 runners engaged at Fontwell Park:

13:50 Causeway King (Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

15:20 Stoney’s Treasure (Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle

16:50 Management (Gerard Tumelty) – NH Flat Race


I notice that Choc has a number of provisional riding engagements listed, starting next Tuesday and subject to being given the go-ahead by the doctor, so that is very good news:



As it is Saturday night it must be Most Haunted Live on Living TV at 21:00 this evening.  Yvette Fielding and the team are re-visiting locations where they have already experienced strange phenomenon.  I’m not sure if I’m a believer in ghosts or not, although I would not willingly volunteer to stay in an allegedly haunted location!  


I did once temp at the offices of a well-known estate agent, which were located in an old Tudor building – they’ve since moved.  Someone claimed to have seen a ghost in one of the offices, and I confess that I would never look over my shoulder when I had to go into the office alone to do some filing!  They had also seen a ghostly figure in the cellar, and had discovered wet footprints on the stone stairs when no-one had been in the offices since the previous evening!


I do know a couple of other people who claim to have seen ghosts, including my work colleague, Sue.  Her parents live in a bungalow which has been built where old farm buildings used to stand and she’s seen a strange ‘misty’ figure walk past the corner of the house.  Upon research, they believe the ghostly figure is that of a teenage girl who was killed on the farm many years ago.


Friday 05 February 2010

Firstly I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my niece (and goddaughter), Lydia, a Very Happy 17th Birthday for today.  I hope she’s had a fabulous day and receives lots of lovely presents too. 


Alan King sent 3 horses to Bangor today, and it appears they all had ‘third-itis’.

Pennek finished 3rd in the Beginners’ Chase (5 ran)

Devil To Pay finished 3rd in the Juvenile Maiden Hurdle (6 ran)

Asturienne finished 3rd in the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (4 ran)


Tomorrow, there are 3 National Hunt meetings in this country – Wetherby, Doncaster and Sandown Park.  Alan King has runners at the latter 2 fixtures, as follows:


Doncaster has an 8 race mega-card, as a race (or two) have been held over from last Saturday’s abandoned fixture:

12:50 Iolith (Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle

13:20 Prideus (Wayne Hutchinson) - Novices’ Chase

13:55 Saticon (Wayne Hutchinson) and Sir Harry Ormesher (Christian Williams) – Handicap Hurdle

15:25 Tarotino (Wayne Hutchinson) – 2 mile ½ furlong Handicap Chase

16:00 Old Benny (Wayne Hutchinson) and Minella Four Star (Christian Williams) – 4 mile Handicap Chase

16:35 Eros Moon (Wayne Hutchinson) – Maiden Hurdle

Nicky Henderson’s talented novice chaser, Mad Max, runs in the 2 mile ½ furlong event at 14:25


Meanwhile at Sandown Park, where the fields are small but select, Alan King has 2 runners:

14:05 Kings Troop (Charlie Huxley) – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

15:10 Trenchant (Charlie Huxley) – Handicap Hurdle

Nicky Henderson runs one of my favourite horses, Punchestowns, in the 2 mile 4½ furlong Novices’ Steeplechase at 14:35.


I think I will tune into Attheraces tomorrow to watch the Doncaster fixture, and then catch up later with the Sandown Park replay on Racing UK.


Whilst I was passing some time doing a ‘Choc Thornton’ internet search yesterday evening, I came across this image of Choc arriving at the Memorial Service for trainer David Nicholson in September 2006.



I’ve added the Robert Thornton search to my useful websites page too.


Here’s news about the recording of the charity Cheltenham Festival song to the score from the 1964 Petula Clarke hit ‘Downtown’.   Those two magic words ... Choc Thornton ... appear in this article, so I’ll be keeping an eye on play.com (my favourite online DVD/CD store) and Amazon.co.uk to see if I can order the CD plus video recording version of this item!



And the Cheltenham Downtown lyrics have been published in the local Cheltenham press:



I’ve just read Martin Keighley’s blog for today, and he mentions that his wife Belinda and young son Freddie bumped into Choc during a visit to Stow on the Wold yesterday afternoon.  He mentions that Choc is fine and hoping to return to race riding early next week.  JJJ 


And I must pass on my belated congratulations to the Keighleys, as I understand Belinda is expecting, so there’s another little Keighley on the way!


And I’ve also just watched the local long-range weather forecast – they are forecasting possible snow in the London area on Tuesday – oh no, the joke has definitely gone too far!  Sadly my blue Wellington boots gave up the ghost towards the end of the last snowy spell, but I do have a newly purchased (and painfully expensive) pair of red Hunter Wellingtons which I hope to wear for my course-walk!


Thursday 04 February 2010

Firstly some brilliant news ... Choc attended Alan King’s training establishment today for the regular Thursday schooling session and is now hoping to return to race riding some time during next week J – provided the doctor passes him fit.  That means he could be back in action in time for Newbury’s totesport Super Saturday meeting on 13 February.  I’d better start saving my pennies to buy a ticket - £18 for the mid-range Grandstand Enclosure – as my finances won’t permit me to splash out the extra to gain entry to the Premier Enclosure!


I’ve found another Choc related article, on this occasion from yesterday’s Guardian:



At Wincanton Alan King had 3 runners today:

Franchoek finished 2nd in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (2 ran).

Ruling Party finished 7th in the NH Flat Race Div I (12 ran).

Shrewd Investment finished 3rd in the NH Flat Race Div II (12 ran).


Meanwhile at Towcester, the Martin Keighley trained De Forgotten Man won the NH Flat Race under Warren Marston.  Martin’s Keighley’s 23rd winner of the season.  In the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase, Ross Leader didn’t fare so well having been pulled up.


Tomorrow’s fixture at Chepstow has already been abandoned, due to flooding.  Catterick will be on subject to an inspection, as is a newly scheduled fixture at Bangor on Dee, the latter having lost its last two meetings.  Admission at Bangor is free tomorrow too!  A bargain.  More free admission at fixtures would be a godsend to me ... as I confess I spend very little during a day at the races!  But that’s not the idea behind free entry, as they want the punters to spend their money on the sundries instead!


Alan King sends 3 horses to Bangor, all to be ridden by Wayne Hutchinson:

13:50 Pennek – Beginners’ Chase

15:00 Devil To Pay – Juvenile Maiden Hurdle

16:10 Asturienne – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle


I’m currently reading Richard Dunwoody’s most recent book Method in my Madness, a birthday present from my friend Lesley.  An interesting read, and it’s giving me lots of ideas for questions to ask Choc when I finally have the pleasure of catching up with him for the yet to be confirmed course walk.  I had hoped to ask his valet if I could walk Newbury racecourse with Choc on 13 February but, following his injury, I don’t wish to be a nuisance so soon after his return.  I think there are a couple more Newbury fixtures later this season, so perhaps I will have the opportunity at one of these. 


Wednesday 03 February 2010

The weather is still causing havoc to National Hunt racing, as both Leicester and Newcastle were abandoned, this time due to frost.  Hertfordshire was overcast and a little damp today.


Exeter went ahead, the Alan King trained Silver Spinner finishing 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (17 ran).


Two National Hunt fixtures tomorrow (Ireland doesn’t count):


Alan King has 3 runners at Wincanton:

14:50 Franchoek – Novices’ Handicap Chase (AP McCoy, as horse is owned by JP McManus)

16:20 Ruling Party – NH Flat Race Div I (Wayne Hutchinson)

16:55 Shrewd Investment – NH Flat Race Div II (Gerard Tumelty)

Did Gerard win the Attheraces Ride of the Week for his ride aboard Ponchatrain? 


Meanwhile at Towcester, Martin Keighley runs:

16:40 De Forgotten Man – NH Flat Race (Warren Marston)


Tuesday 02 February 2010

Folkestone was abandoned due to frost ... but Taunton went ahead today, and this is how Wayne Hutchinson fared aboard Alan King’s horses:

Mister Stickler finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle Div I (12 ran)

Whistlejacquet won the Novices’ Hurdle Div II (12 ran).


Three National Hunt meetings tomorrow – Leicester, Exeter and Newcastle – all 3 hold inspections at 08:00 in the morning.


Wayne Hutchinson goes to Leicester, where he rides a couple of Alan King’s horses, amongst others:

13:45 Mr Valentino – NH Novices’ Hurdle

16:05 Stoney’s Treasure – Handicap Hurdle.  I expect this is one horse Choc wishes he was fit to ride at the moment, the flashy chestnut having won well a couple of times already this season.  A nice horse, with hopefully a good career in front of him.


Meanwhile, at Exeter:

14:30 Silver Spinner ridden by Mr James Banks – Handicap Hurdle.


Monday 01 February 2010

My first diary entry of the new month.


Firstly here’s the link to Meally Thornton’s Eclipse diary which was published today, where she goes into detail about Choc’s injury and his recovery programme.  There are also a number of photos of him appearing on Channel 4’s The  Morning Line last Saturday:



There are two National Hunt fixtures tomorrow, Folkestone and Taunton, the former will undergo a precautionary inspection at 07:30 in the morning.


Alan King has a couple of runners engaged at Taunton, both to be ridden by Wayne Hutchinson:

14:10 Mister Stickler – Novices’ Hurdle Div I

15:10 Whistlejacquet – Novices’ Hurdle Div II


There’s news of other jockeys currently sidelined:

Noel Fehily could be out of action for a number of months, having aggravated a shoulder injury when falling at Cheltenham on Saturday.  He will undergo surgery to rectify the problem.

Barry Keniry’s return to action has been delayed as his left leg, which he broke at Kelso last October, isn’t healing as quickly as expected.

Dave Crosse, who suffered a double fracture at Plumpton in early November, is expecting to undergo further surgery possibly to insert a plate, and he also has nerve damage in his foot.


And finally, Gerard Tumelty’s winning ride aboard Martin Keighley’s Ponchatrain at Leicester last Tuesday has been nominated as one of the Rides of the Week on Attheraces – register your vote before 23:00 tonight.






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