FEBRUARY 2012

         

 

Wednesday 29 February 2012

A number of results to report today, from Bangor On Dee:

Golden Firebird (Alan King/Choc) was hampered and unseated Choc at the first flight in the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran); Choc’s first mishap since his return.

Sweet Irony (Alan King/Choc) finished 10th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs] (14 ran).

Heathcliff (Richard Lee) was actually ridden by Jodie Mogford and finished 16th; Balerina (Alan King/Peter Hatton) finished 12th; Federstar (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up; & Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) finished 6th in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles] (17 ran).

Management (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (9 ran).

Dalavar (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (8 ran).

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be riding at Taunton:

14:40 Bygones in Brid (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

16:10 Soleil D’Avril (Alan King/Choc) - Handicap Hurdle

 

Fingal Bay will miss the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle through injury.  More

 

Many happy returns of the day to young Freddie Keighley, eldest son of Martin, who is four today ... or, since he’s a leap year baby ... he’s actually celebrating his first birthday!

Just 50 days until my sinus operation!

It took ages to re-string my necklaces last night so I didn’t get time to do any knitting, perhaps this evening.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

There are three National Hunt fixtures tomorrow, with runners of interest at Bangor On Dee:

14:20 Golden Firebird (Alan King/Choc) – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:25 Sweet Irony (Alan King/Choc) - Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs]

16:25 Heathcliff (Richard Lee/Choc); Balerina (Alan King/Peter Hatton); Federstar (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley); Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles]

16:55 Management (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

17:25 Dalavar (Alan King/Choc) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

Choc has re-tweeted this link, where he chats about his rides at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival; well worth a listen:

http://talkingballs.net/2012/02/28/robert-choc-thornton-chats-to-talking-balls-as-part-of-our-cheltenham-preview-2/

 

In yesterday’s blog, Martin Keighley reported that Sam Thomas visited his yard to film one of his ‘Dark Horse’ features for The Morning Line.  The Dark Horse in question is Champion Court, and the film will be shown on Saturday 10 March. 

 

It appears that Saturday’s Kempton Park winner, Hunt Ball, may run in his preferred event at the Festival after all; despite another rise in his handicap rating following this weekend’s victory.  More

 

Popular chaser, Ollie Magern has been retired.  More

 

Having completed my Kempton Park diary, this evening I’m going to revamp a number of necklaces, as I’ve purchased some new beads; then, if time allows, I shall knit a few more rows of my turquoise Sirdar Salsa scarf.

Monday 27 February 2012

Just one ride for Choc today, at Plumpton:

Kings Bayonet (Alan King) finished 3rd in the Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).

 

There are a couple of National Hunt fixtures tomorrow, at Leicester and Catterick, but no riding engagements for Choc.

It is reported that the going conditions could determine whether Choc chooses to ride Grumeti or Balder Succes in the Triumph Hurdle.  More

Here is a link to an article on This is Wiltshire’s website.  Click here to read.  

I was on leave from work today ... so I’ve completed and uploaded my Kempton Park diary.  Click here to read.

I’ve been suffering from tinnitus in recent months.  I’ve done some research on the internet and, evidently, it is common in people with sinus problems.  That may explain it then.  Just over 50 days until my operation ... and counting.

Only two weeks to go until the eve of the Cheltenham Festival ... and I’m beginning to get excited at the prospect!

Sunday 26 February 2012

Here are today’s results from Towcester, and another winner for Choc: J

Bold Tara (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 7th in the Novices’ Hurdle Div I (13 ran).

Conington (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was a non-runner in the Selling Handicap Hurdle

Way Back When (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

Salmanazar, running in Alan King’s colours, (Alan King/Choc) won the ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race; Choc’s 39th winner of the season (13 ran).

 

Just one ride for Choc tomorrow, at Plumpton:

14:15 Kings Bayonet (Alan King) – Maiden Hurdle

 

Here is a report from the Mail Online regarding the action at Kempton Park; includes a nice selection of pictures. More

 

And a link to the ATR website regarding the stable’s Triumph Hurdle thoughts following Grumeti’s run.  More

 

I’ve uploaded the photographs I took yesterday at Kempton Park.  Selection 1 & Selection 2

It was Wayne Hutchinson’s birthday yesterday and he tweeted to thank everyone for their birthday wishes; and to say how good it was to see Oh Crock back in the Winners’ Enclosure ... later blaming predictive text for the misspelling.  It made me laugh! 

Saturday 25 Febrary 2012

 

Grumeti wins Dovecote for blog.jpg

 

Choc and Grumeti win the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle,

from the Paul Nicholls trained Dodging Bullets

 

 

As you can see, I went to Kempton Park today.  The weather was beautiful and Choc rode a winner ... what more could I want?

 

Today there were a number of runners of interest, and this is how they fared:

 

Kempton Park

Grumeti (Alan King/Choc) won the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2); Choc’s 38th winner of the season (6 ran). More

Balzaccio (Alan King/Peter Hatton) finished 7th; Like A Hurricane (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle

 

Chepstow

Oh Crick (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Handicap Chase (9 ran); it’s nice to see Oh Crick back in the Winners’ Enclosure once more.

 

There’s National Hunt racing at Fontwell Park and Towcester tomorrow, with runners of interest at the latter:

14:20 Bold Tara (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Novices’ Hurdle Div I

15:20 Conington (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Selling Handicap Hurdle

15:50 Way Back When (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

17:25 Salmanazar (Alan King/Choc) – ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

I’ve been watching Racing UK’s replays of today’s action from Kempton Park; there’s a lovely interview by Nick Luck with Choc.  There was also a brief interview with Channel 4’s Alistair Down, which I have on tape too.  I confess to personally congratulating Choc on his win today; normally I’d tweet him to say well done. 

 

I’m due to go to Newbury next Saturday, and my friend Lesley will be going with me.  It will be good to have company at the races, as sometimes it gets a little lonely on my own.

 

I’m not sure about Sandown Park in a fortnight’s time; it depends on whether it puts too much pressure on me to complete a diary before heading off for 4 days of Cheltenham Festival racing!

Friday 24 February 2012

Here are today’s results from Warwick:

 

Trade On (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) finished 12th in the ‘Hands and Heels’ Handicap Hurdle for Conditionals/Amateurs (14 ran).

Chilli Rose (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (5 ran).

Trigger The Light (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (11 ran).

Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Juvenile Hurdle (12 ran).

 

Tomorrow, runners of interest at Kempton Park and Chepstow:

 

Kempton Park

15:40 Grumeti (Alan King/Choc) – Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2); this is the 4-year old plus race, as opposed to the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle run earlier in the afternoon.  More

16:45 Balzaccio (Alan King/Peter Hatton) & Like A Hurricane (Alan King/Choc) - Handicap Hurdle

 

Chepstow

15:45 Oh Crick (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

 

Here is a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s latest column on the Sporting Life website.  More

 

And a link to Martin Keighley’s column in the Gloucestershire Press too.  More

 

The gates at Kempton Park open at 12:00 noon tomorrow.  Shame Choc has just two rides ... but it’s getting close to Cheltenham and the majority of intended runners at the Festival have already had their last prep run.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Another day and another winner for Choc. J

 

Huntingdon

Night Rose (Alan King/Choc) won the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (16 ran); Choc’s 37th winner of the season.

Ali Baba (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

 

Lingfield Park

Next Man In (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 9th in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

 

There’s National Hunt racing at Sandown Park and Warwick tomorrow, with runners of interest at the latter fixture:

14:05 Trade On (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) – ‘Hands and Heels’ Handicap Hurdle for Conditionals/Amateurs

14:35 Chilli Rose (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase

15:45 Trigger The Light (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

16:20 Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) – Juvenile Hurdle

 

Following a leg operation earlier this week, Grandouet will not be fit in time to run in the Champion Hurdle.  More

 

There’s also been an injury scare for the Neptune Investments Management Novices’ Hurdle favourite, Fingal Bay, who is now not certain to run in his chosen event.  More

 

I’m counting down my number of working days until the Cheltenham Festival ... just 10; I’m on holiday next Monday (using up my final day of 2011 holiday) and also on leave on Monday 12 March.  It was so much easier last year when I didn’t work the day before the Festival; so I will be ‘resting’ that day.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

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

Ardlui (Alan King) finished 3rd in the Juvenile Hurdle (14 ran).

Patsy Finnegan (Alan King) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

 

Runners of interest tomorrow:

 

Huntingdon

16:00 Night Rose (Alan King/Choc) - Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

17:00 Ali Baba (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) – Handicap Hurdle

 

Lingfield Park

16:20 Next Man In (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

 

Well wicked ... I’ve completed and uploaded my Ascot diary ... and that’s despite it being over 5,000 words long and containing a full description of all the races!  Click here to read.   

Tuesday 21 February 2012

A number of results to report today:

 

Wetherby

Soir D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Novices’ Chase (12 ran).

Total Submission (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) won the Handicap Hurdle (19 ran). Many congratulations to the team on their 32nd winner of the season.  Hopefully a fillip following the injuries to All For Free and Havingotascoobydo.

Wolf Moon (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was a non-runner in the Handicap Chase, due to the ground.

Volcan Surprise (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Novices’ Hurdle (14 ran).

 

Taunton

Cosway Spirit (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ furlong] (13 ran).

Devil To Pay (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong] (11 ran).

Genstone Trail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 3½ furlongs] (13 ran).

The Mumper (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 5th in the Standard NH Flat Race for Conditional Jockeys & Amateur Riders (14 ran).

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be at Doncaster for two riding engagements:

13:55 Ardlui (Alan King) – Juvenile Hurdle

16:05 Patsy Finnegan (Alan King) – Handicap Hurdle

 

There’s been a major overhaul of the whip rules ... and the revisions will come into effect before the Cheltenham Festival.  More

 

Leading Champion Hurdle hope, Grandouet, has undergone surgery having banged his near-hind leg whilst in his stable.  More

 

Paul Nicholls has a bout of coughing in his yard, although he’s not panicking!  More

 

Sandown has named a race, to be run this Friday, after the late and lamented Eric’s Charm.  More

 

I’m hoping to complete the first draft of my Ascot diary this evening; and I’ve got back ache today, which is very annoying.

Monday 20 February 2012

Two National Hunt fixtures tomorrow, with runners of interest at both:

 

Wetherby

14:10 Soir D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase

14:40 Total Submission (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle

15:15 Wolf Moon (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase

15:50 Volcan Surprise (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

 

Taunton

14:30 Cosway Spirit (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ furlong]

15:40 Devil To Pay (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong]

16:16 Genstone Trail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 3½  furlongs]

17:20 The Mumper (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Standard NH Flat Race for Conditional Jockeys & Amateur Riders

 

The Martin Keighley trained All For Free broke his pelvis when galloping between fences at Wincanton on Saturday.  However, the news is promising, as he’s returned to the yard to begin his recovery and it may be possible to resume a racing career in due course.  Fingers crossed for him.

Havingotascoobydo is also out for the remainder of the season, having damaged some back muscles.  More

Hold On Julio won’t run in Saturday’s Racing Post Chase as he is not quite ready to return to the racecourse having recently been sidelined due to coughing; he now heads straight to Cheltenham.  And Katchit won’t be running again this season ... strangely enough I was just thinking about him the other day.  More  I think Katchit deserves a happy retirement, as he doesn’t owe anyone anything.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Three 3 runners of interest at Ffos Las today, and this is how they fared:

One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) ran well to finish a close 5th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle Div I (10 ran).

Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) fell 2 out in the Novices’ Handicap Chase when looking booked for 4th (7 ran).

Federstar (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

 

The sole National Hunt fixture takes place at Carlisle tomorrow, so no riding engagements for Choc.

 

There has been an update on Alan King’s website concerning their Cheltenham Festival plans, following Newbury and Ascot.

http://www.alankingracing.co.uk/news/news1.php

 

It’s worth checking out the Racing Post website for photographs, now that Choc is back in action: 

http://www.racingpost.com/horses/jockey_home.sd?jockey_id=14002#topJockTabs=photo_tab_content&bottomJockTabs=jockey_form

 

The Paul Nicholls trained The Minack fractured a knee when he fell in the Handicap Chase at Ascot yesterday; the injury is career threatening.  More

 

Noel Fehily has been appointed as Emma Lavelle’s first jockey ... demoting Jack Doyle.  More  Anyone who has read AP McCoy’s autobiography will probably know that he doesn’t even waste his breath by speaking to Jack these days, as the latter is just plain unfriendly and rarely converses with his colleagues!  So perhaps Emma’s owners aren’t that enamoured with Jack either.

 

I forgot to mention that the very talented Sprinter Sacre triumphed in the 2011 renewal of yesterday’s NH Novices’ Hurdle which Balder Succes won so impressively.  Hopefully the latter can go on to be just as good.  There’s an article on ATR’s website confirming that Sprinter Sacre will be aimed at the Arkle this year, rather than skipping the novice event and going for the Champion Chase this season. More

 

Note to self: I must remember to wrap up warm when I go to Ascot ... unless, perhaps, it’s their final fixture of the National Hunt season which takes place in April.  I wore a winter coat yesterday, with 6 layers of clothing underneath but I was still cold.  In hindsight, I should have worn one of my faux sheepskin coats or my anorak.  By contrast, the forecasters are predicting temperatures for London of 16 degrees centigrade by Thursday!  So it may be positively balmy at Kempton Park next weekend.

I’ve selected and uploaded the photographs I took at Ascot yesterday: 

Ascot Photos Races 1,2,3

Ascot Photos Races 4,5,6,7

Saturday 18 February 2012

 

Race 2 - Invictus victory for blog.jpg

 

Choc accepts his memento for winning the

Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase aboard Invictus

 

 

Today Choc was at Ascot, where he had 6 riding engagements ... and it turned out to be an excellent day at the races for him ... and for me:

Denali Highway (Alan King/Choc) tailed off and was pulled up before 2 out in the Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran).

Invictus (Alan King/Choc) won the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (7 ran); Choc’s 35th winner of the season. More

Medermit (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) (8 ran). Choc’s mount was very game in defeat; the race was won by Riverside Theatre returning from injury.  More

Smad Place (Alan King/Choc), who carried top weight, finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (18 ran).

Balder Succes (Alan King/Choc) won the NH Novices’ Hurdle impressively (6 ran); Choc’s 36th winner of the season.

Gold Ingot (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (14 ran); he will definitely progress from the run, as he was very ‘babyish’ in the Parade Ring, even the bell to instruct the jockeys to mount frightened him!  And I think Wayne mentioned this horse was one to follow when he was the guest on The Morning Line last week.

 

Wincanton

Benbane Head (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 11th & Lovcen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Handicap Hurdle (15 ran).

Both Quotica De Poyans (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & All For Free (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) were pulled up in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

 

No rides for Choc tomorrow, but Martin Keighley has 3 runners of interest at Ffos Las:

13:30 One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – NH Novices’ Hurdle Div I

14:30 Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

15:00 Federstar (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase

 

Market Rasen is subject to a 08:00 inspection.

 

Choc’s winners weren’t the only highlight of my day ... I arrived at gate opening time, hoping that Choc would arrive a little later than me so that I could speak to him to welcome him back.  With this in mind, I found a sheltered spot on the steps opposite the Weighing Room, hoping that he would walk past me on his way in.  After waiting for around 20 minutes I heard someone say ‘Choc’, so I glanced to the side and it was the man himself, he was holding a conversation with Colin Bolger as they headed to the Weighing Room.  I called to Choc and he stopped on the step below me. I beckoned for him to approach and was able to bend down to give him a kiss on the cheek.  I told him I was very pleased that he was now ‘mended’ and wished him luck with his rides today.  I would have loved to have given him a big hug too but, unfortunately, one of the safety barriers prevented this.  Never mind, perhaps one day ...    

Friday 17 February 2012

A busy day today, with Choc riding his first winner since returning from injury. J

 

Newbury

Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Betfair Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap) (20 ran).  The race was won by the Paul Nicholls trained favourite, Zarkandar, ridden by Ruby Walsh.  No surprise there then!  More

Montbazon (Alan King/Choc) won the Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran); Choc’s 34th winner of the season. More

Walkon (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Novices’ Chase (Grade 1 registered as The Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase) (7 ran). More

 

Sandown Park

Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Handicap Chase (13 ran).

Fire Fighter (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Juvenile Hurdle (11 ran).

Tante Sissi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

 

Fakenham

Kauto The Roc (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 3rd in the Beginners’ Chase (6 ran).

Forresters Folly (Alan King/Jimmy McCarthy) was pulled up in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran).

Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Mr RG Henderson) finished 4th in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

Desert Joe (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 4th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

La Belle Doyenne (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 5th in the Mares’ Intermediate Open NH Flat Race (7 ran).

 

Tomorrow Choc has a very busy day at Ascot:

13:15 Denali Highway (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

13:50 Invictus (Alan King/Choc) – Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)  More

15:00 Medermit (Alan King/Choc) – Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1)

15:35 Smad Place (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle

16:10 Balder Succes (Alan King/Choc) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

16:45 Gold Ingot (Alan King/Choc) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

Wincanton

14:00 Benbane Head (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) & Lovcen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle

15:10 Quotica De Poyans (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & All For Free (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase

 

Here is a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s column on the Sporting Life website.  He writes that he has been allowed to keep the ride aboard West End Rocker for the remainder of the season, which includes the Grand National.  I’m not surprised and I think it is only right that he should (despite how much I’d love Choc to have a National winning chance) as Wayne has ridden the horse to victory on a number of occasions, including in the Beecher Chase over the National course last December; I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that Hold On Julio makes it to Aintree, rather than running solely at the Festival.  More

 

And here is a link to Martin Keighley’s latest column in the Gloucestershire press.  More

 

It was surprisingly quiet at work today ... perhaps I should have asked for the day off so that I could go to Newbury; but we can all be wise in hindsight.  Thinking about it, the workload has been less than usual all week ... perhaps because it is half-term with staff on holiday and using up their 2011 leave quota before the end of the month. 

 

I’m very much looking forward to going to Ascot tomorrow, although heavy and squally rain is forecast during the afternoon.  Never mind, it won’t spoil my enjoyment of seeing Choc again, having not seen him since Hennessy day at Newbury last November. 

Thursday 16 February 2012

Today Choc was at Leicester and this is how he fared:

Brimham Boy (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (12 ran).

Flaming Charlie (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (8 ran).

Rivermouth (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase (16 ran).

 

Today AP McCoy received a 4-day ban for excessive whip use.  More

 

Tomorrow there are three fixtures of interest, including the re-scheduled Super Saturday Newbury card.

 

Newbury

13:15 Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) – Betfair Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap)

13:50 Montbazon (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

14:55 Walkon (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase (Grade 1 registered as The Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase)  More

 

Sandown Park

14:10 Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - Handicap Chase

14:40 Fire Fighter (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Hurdle

16:25 Tante Sissi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

 

Fakenham

14:00 Kauto The Roc (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Beginners’ Chase

14:35 Forresters Folly (Alan King/Jimmy McCarthy) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:05 Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Mr RG Henderson) – Handicap Chase

15:40 Desert Joe (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

16:45 La Belle Doyenne (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Mares’ Intermediate Open NH Flat Race

 

I’ve checked the timings for Channel 4’s coverage of tomorrow’s Newbury fixture ... 12:05 until 13:35 ... 90 minutes, how pathetic is that?  They cover the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase at 12:10; the Grade 2 Denman Chase at 12:40 and the feature Betfair Hurdle at 13:15.

 

Choc was not impressed with the article published in a number of newspapers and on websites this morning.  He was asked by ‘Racing for Change’ to take part in an article about the perils of being a jump jockey ... but, as is often the case, the press has high-jacked the content and made him out to be the ‘unluckiest’ and most ‘hapless’ jockey in the weighing room.  I think the Daily Mail version was the worst.  Here are the versions published in the Telegraph and Sun, and also the Metro (very cute picture though).   

 

There’s excellent news regarding Martin Keighley’s stable jockey, Ian Popham, who has been on the sidelines since breaking his pelvis last September.  He’s been cleared to commence riding out starting next week. 

 

A new column appeared in today’s issue of the Horse and Hound.  Not surprisingly, Choc talks about his return to race-riding – Folkestone on Tuesday (which was abandoned), Southwell yesterday, Leicester today, Newbury tomorrow and Ascot on Saturday (yippee).  He said he couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle, although he was a little nervous too.  He also admits to being probably the only person in racing who was secretly quite pleased that racing was frozen off recently, although it also meant he couldn’t ride out as much as he’d have liked.  He says there’s no substitute for riding, no matter how much gym work is done.

 

He now gets the opportunity to ride Medermit in his Cheltenham prep race (at Ascot), and Raya Star in the big handicap at Newbury.  The bad weather which caused Exeter to be abandoned last Sunday also means that both Walkon and Montbazon will run at Newbury too.

 

He looks forward to the Grand National weights being announced (which they were on Tuesday).  If he has to make the call between West End Rocker and Hold On Julio he says it will be a difficult decision.  However, he thinks the latter will run at Cheltenham, so there may be no choice to make at Aintree.

 

Choc believes that Kauto Star will win the Cheltenham Gold Cup this season.  He says that Long Run hasn’t shown the same level of form as last season, which can be typical of early maturing French-bred horses ... Kauto Star being the exception to this rule.  However, he doesn’t eliminate the possibility of an upset in the big race, with Quel Esprit, Midnight Chase and Synchronised all being good horses, although not of the same quality as Kauto Star and Long Run.  And if Medermit finds 3 miles to his liking, perhaps he might have a chance too!

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Not quite the fairytale return for Choc, but he completed the day without mishap and was placed on both his rides:

 

Southwell

Junior Jack (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 5th in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).

Suburban Bay (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Beginners’ Chase (9 ran).

Dunraven Prince (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 7th & Hindon Road (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle (14 ran).

 

Tomorrow Choc will be at Leicester:

14:30 Brimham Boy (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Chase

16:35 Flaming Charlie (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase

17:05 Rivermouth (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

 

It was a bad day for Graham Lee, who dislocated a hip when he was unseated during the first race.  More

 

Talking of injuries, fellow Choc fan, Karen Hudson, has kindly sent me this link to an article from the Daily Mail online regarding the numerous injuries Choc has suffered during his career.  Although I don’t think Choc is more unlucky than any of his colleagues, although the title would suggest this.  

Not for the squeamish ... although Choc has actually shown me a photo of his lip injury when I walked the course at Newbury with him back in March 2010.  And I have to say there are some nice photos amongst the selection!!!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2101539/Is-Choc-Thornton-Britains-unluckiest-jockey-Hapless-rider-33-suffered-367-falls-career-suffering-42-injuries.html

I have often wondered what the scar on his right knee looks like ... as you do ... I think it’s an excellent repair job by the surgeon. 

Looking at a number of the reader comments made at the foot of this article, I see the usual loony animal rights brigade has got on his case.  Just ignorant people who know nothing about horseracing or any of the dedicated individuals involved in the sport.   

Good news and bad news as far as my taping today’s action ... I tuned into Sky Sports News and listened to Choc’s interview at 07:45 this morning but then I forgot to retune the Sky box to ATR before I went to work so I didn’t record the action from Southall.  Doh.  I’m now kicking myself ... what an idiot I am!   Especially as my laptop refuses to play the racing replays from the At The Races website ... but I suppose I could record ATR’s ‘Action Replays’ tomorrow morning.  Yes, I do have Sky Plus ... but I don’t want to use up all the space on the drive before Cheltenham and Aintree.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

MP900314151[1]

KP 22 Nov 2010 for blog red.jpg

MP900314151[1]

 

 

Unfortunately Folkestone failed its early morning inspection, so Choc will have to wait until tomorrow for his first ride back following injury.

 

Southwell

13:20 Junior Jack (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Chase

13:50 Suburban Bay (Alan King/Choc) – Beginners’ Chase

15:50 Dunraven Prince (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Hindon Road (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

 

Having checked Choc’s Twitter page, I believe he is due to be interviewed on the phone by Alex Hammond on Sky Sports News at 07:45 tomorrow morning. 

 

Alan King is pleased with the weights allotted to his two Grand National entries, West End Rocker and Hold On Julio.  More

 

Here is an overview of Friday’s re-arranged fixture at Newbury.  More  It is fab that Choc now gets his chance to ride some very exciting horses ... although I’m gutted that Friday is a work day for me.  However, a riding engagement has appeared for him for Saturday at Ascot; so it appears that I shall see him at the weekend. Yippee! I’m so happy.  J J J

Monday 13 February 2012

If Folkestone passes its 07:30 inspection, Choc has one riding engagement tomorrow; his first day back in the saddle following injury:

14:30 Volcan Surprise (Alan King/Choc) – Maiden Hurdle

I’ve been looking ahead to Ascot on Saturday ... the Alan King yard is favouring the fixture with a number of entries, rather than Haydock Park or Wincanton.  So I’m keeping my fingers crossed I may see Choc on Saturday; especially as I will miss Newbury’s rescheduled Friday meeting due to work commitments. 

Sunday 12 February 2012

Not much to report today, as Exeter’s card was abandoned. 

 

There’s no National Hunt racing in the UK tomorrow either, with both Plumpton and Catterick having been lost due to frozen tracks.

 

The only jockey who seems pleased that there has been no National Hunt racing this weekend is Choc (he tweeted thus) ... but that’s because he’s not due back in the saddle until Tuesday and has therefore not missed any rides!!!  He won’t be so happy if there’s still no racing on Tuesday; Folkestone inspects at 14:00 tomorrow ahead of their scheduled fixture the following day.  More

 

However, it’s nice to see Choc has riding engagements listed once again, although I will have to wait until at least Saturday until I can go to the races to see him; my Ascot option competing against Haydock Park and Wincanton that day: 

http://www.attheraces.com/form.aspx?id=1000939&ref=formjockey&dte=2008-12-02&refsite=&type=J&view=entries

I’ve been out to lunch today, to Silsoe in Bedfordshire, following an invite from my younger brother and sister-in-law.  It remains pretty cold outside, with snow still lying in rural areas.  My nephew James arrived back just before lunch, having been out on a 30 km (18.6 miles) hike yesterday organised by Explorers.  Other hikers did 50 km or even 50 mile hikes, some not returning to base until 02:00 this morning ... they must be crazy in this weather; although they did have to ensure they took the correct equipment and supplies with them. 

Saturday 11 February 2012

Tomorrow’s NH card at Hereford has been abandoned; however there’s a Jumpers’ Bumpers card at Southwell and a sold-out NH card at Exeter:

14:00 Lovcen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Div I)

14:30 Forresters Folly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – NH Novices Hurdle (Div II)

15:00 Montbazon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle (Listed)

16:10 Walkon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Chase

16:40 Pouvoir (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

 

I hope the beautiful Walkon runs well and comes back safely.

 

This morning I partially re-arranged the spare bedroom ... why is it that despite disposing of a few items, my remaining belongings seem to take up even more space than before I started?  

This afternoon I’ve been working on my cross stitch project.

Friday 10 February 2012

The Kempton Park Jumpers’ Bumpers card went ahead and this is how they fared:

Race 1: Valdez (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Standard Open NH Flat Race (16 ran).

Race 2: Hard to Swallow (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 2nd & Monturgeon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Jumpers’ Bumper (14 ran).

Race 3: Court in Session (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 8th & Sweet Irony (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Jumpers’ Bumper (race 3) (12 ran).

Race 4: Call Me A Star (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd & The Wicked Kipper (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 3rd in the Mares’ Standard Open Flat Race (16 ran).

Race 5: Tuscan Gold (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 10th in the Jumpers’ Bumper (16 ran).

Race 6: Dona (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) finished 7th in the Jumpers’ Bumper (11 ran).

Race 7: Sir Harry Ormesher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Jumpers’ Bumper (7 ran); not surprisingly, Oscar Whisky won in style.

 

Here is a link to the latest issue of Martin Keighley’s Stable Talk in the Gloucestershire press.  Click here to read.

 

And a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s column on the Sporting Life website.  More

 

Not unexpectedly, tomorrow’s Newbury fixture has been abandoned following last night’s snow fall.  Looking on the bright side however, news has come through that Newbury will hold a meeting next Friday, with the feature races from the abandoned card transferred to the new date.  That’s bad news for me, as I’m working that day ... but very good news for Choc who will be back in action again by then and will, hopefully, get the opportunity to ride.  More

 

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Choc will be at Ascot on Saturday week ... the odds are 3-1, as fixtures also take place at Haydock Park and Wincanton on that day; but that’s without taking any bad weather into account.  And that is because I can’t wait to see him in person at the races again!   

Thursday 09 February 2012

Excellent news today, Choc has been cleared to race ride from next Tuesday, 14 February. Y

I’m now keeping my fingers crossed that the weather improves to enable him to return on that day, at Folkestone.

 

There’s a racing update on Alan King’s website.  http://www.alankingracing.co.uk/news/news1.php

 

Sad news today that former jockey and trainer Josh Gifford has passed away.  More 

 

Newbury is still keeping an eye on the weather ahead of Saturday’s fixture; there’s snow forecast for overnight tonight.  More  Warwick and Uttoxeter have already abandoned their Saturday meetings.

 

Kempton’s ‘Bumpers for Jumpers’ card tomorrow is under threat from snow too. 

However, if it goes ahead, here are the runners of particular interest; all the races take place over a distance of 2 miles:

14:05 Valdez (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

14:40 Hard to Swallow (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) & Monturgeon (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Jumpers’ Bumper

15:15 Court in Session (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) & Sweet Irony (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Jumpers’ Bumper

15:50 Call Me A Star (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & The Wicked Kipper (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Mares’ Standard Open Flat Race

16:25 Tuscan Gold (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Jumpers’ Bumper

16:55 Dona (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) – Jumpers’ Bumper

17:25 Sir Harry Ormesher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Jumpers’ Bumper; Oscar Whisky is also entered in this race.

 

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the all-weather fixture goes ahead ... having gone to the trouble of typing out all these names!!!

 

And I’ve got a day’s holiday tomorrow; I’m using up my 2011 holiday allowance ... ‘Use it or lose it’ by 29 February!

Wednesday 08 February 2012

Today Choc has uploaded a very short video clip of young William on his first bike. 

Click the following link to view.  http://yfrog.com/ndcjxz

 

Tomorrow’s cards at Taunton and Huntingdon have joined Doncaster on the abandoned fixtures list. 

 

Here is a link to the latest report on Newbury’s course conditions ahead of Super Saturday.  More

 

Mind you, the Racing Post website is currently running a poll amongst its subscribers to find out whether they think the fixture will go ahead ... and the ‘no’ vote is winning at present!  Oh well, at least I will get a refund if the fixture is abandoned.

In today’s blog, Martin Keighley writes that Robert Cooper and a camera crew from At The Races visited their yard this morning to film a segment for broadcast sometime next week; so keep a look out for it on the racing channel.

Tuesday 07 February 2012

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ... it’s raw out there!  

 

Tomorrow’s fixtures at Ludlow and Carlisle have been abandoned, so Kempton Park’s All Weather meeting is the only one to survive.  Doncaster has abandoned Thursday’s card.

 

If Kempton are unable to hold their National Hunt fixture on Friday, they have provisionally arranged to hold a Jumpers’ Bumper card on the all weather instead.  More

 

Newbury is still hopeful that their Super Saturday fixture will go ahead.  More

Monday 06 February 2012

After the freezing cold temperatures of the past few days, today was almost tropical by comparison.  And the slight thaw means that neighbour Harry’s snowman is now minus his head, which fell off sometime during the day! 

 

The pavements were slushy when I walked to work this morning and, much to my relief, they were almost clear when I walked home this evening.  It would have been my worst nightmare if the pavements had remained covered in hard packed snow ... because temperatures are set to drop to again later in the week and I don’t fancy negotiating a skating rink!

 

With Sandown Park having been lost on Saturday, their Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase has been moved to Newbury’s card this coming Saturday. This means that Ruby Walsh can defer his riding ban and is now free to ride Zarkandar in the valuable Betfair Hurdle.  Mind you, I have my doubts about Newbury surviving the weather, as it is forecast to get colder again by the weekend.  More

 

Tomorrow’s fixtures at Sedgefield and Market Rasen have been abandoned; and Lingfield’s Wednesday NH card has already been called off.  Ludlow and Carlisle inspect tomorrow to see if their midweek cards can go ahead.

Sunday 05 February 2012

 

road outside.jpg

 

We received around 5 or 6 inches of snow last evening in Hertfordshire.  All UK racing was lost today, even the all-weather at Kempton Park.  The weather is better in Ireland, with Punchestown going ahead.  Ayr goes ahead tomorrow, no inspection planned ... that must be the mild air sweeping in from the west.

 

Newbury received just an inch of snow last night, so are hoping that deploying protective covers will save their Super Saturday fixture in six days time.  More  However, I don’t think the forecast is that great for the week ahead ...

 

A little late, but here is a link to an article regarding Choc’s return, written by Marcus Armytage in the Telegraph.  More (Shame they chose an old and not very flattering photograph to illustrate the story)

 

Baby Run has been ruled out for the season having picked up a minor leg injury.  More

 

And last, but not least, it’s my niece Lydia’s 19th birthday today.  Many happy returns of the day to her.

 

snowman next door.jpg

 

Neighbours, Harry and his dad

made this snowman ... he’s enormous!

Saturday 04 February 2012

No surprise that Ffos Las was abandoned today.  Tomorrow’s Fontwell Park card has been lost; Musselburgh inspect at 07:00 in the morning.

 

I hope you tuned into Channel 4’s The Morning Line; Wayne Hutchinson was their special guest.  Choc ribbed him about not wearing a tie ... mind you, none of the other presenters wore one either.

 

I knew that TV cameras had visited Oaksey House recently (Choc had mentioned it on Twitter); it was to report on the progress of injured amateur Isabel Tompsett. 

 

With Choc also in rehabilitation, he was there too, so reporter John Francome spoke with him briefly; Choc showed everyone his scar ... it has healed really well.  I understand that, these days, lasers are used to cut through the skin as it enables faster healing.   

 

Choc was wearing a ‘Superman’ T-shirt ... Nick Luck joked that he’d never seen a grown-up wearing such a shirt!  Wayne said that Choc also has a ‘Batman’ T-shirt ... and Choc later tweeted that he’s got a ‘Spiderman’ one too!!!  Bless his cotton socks.

It’s 17:30 and no sign of snow yet ... but I understand it’s due to arrive very shortly.

Friday 03 February 2012

Not surprisingly, Catterick was abandoned, so no results to report today.

 

Tomorrow’s cards at Sandown Park and Wetherby have both already been abandoned due to frost; Ffos Las inspects at 09:00 in the morning.  However, no Alan King or Martin Keighley runners at this particular fixture.

 

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

 

And a link to Martin Keighley’s weekly column in the Gloucestershire Press.  More

A quiet weekend for me ... I hadn’t planned to go racing this weekend anyway ... I have arranged to have my hair cut on Sunday but, with snow forecast in the south-east overnight tomorrow, those plans may also be scuppered, as I have no intention of driving anywhere in the snow in my little Fiesta!  

Thursday 02 February 2012

Firstly, Choc has reported on Twitter that his surgeon has given him the go-ahead to return to race riding on Tuesday 14 February; although he will have to pass an ‘inspection’ by the BHA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Turner too.  More  To see him return will be the best of all Valentine’s Day presents. 

 

Here is a link to the x-ray of Choc’s arm, taken today.  The break is no longer visible.

http://twitter.com/#!/Choc_Thornton/status/165133692090593281/photo/1

 

Wincanton was abandoned today; tomorrow’s Chepstow card has also been lost to the weather.  Catterick will inspect in the morning. 

 

If racing goes ahead at Catterick, then Martin Keighley has two runners declared:

14:45 Total Submission (Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle

16:25 The Wicked Kipper (Alain Cawley) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race; she’s a full sister to Cue Card.

 

At Sandown Park things are not looking good for Saturday, as frost has penetrated the covers protecting the course.  More

 

My next trip to the races will be on Saturday 11 February, to Newbury, weather permitting.  Ruby Walsh has failed in his bid to overturn the ban awarded to him at Cheltenham last Saturday and misses the fixture.  More

 

A new edition of Choc’s Horse and Hound column appeared today and here is an overview:

 

Not surprisingly, Choc begins his column by writing about Alan King’s treble at Cheltenham last Saturday.  He talks about Grumeti travelling smoothly throughout the race and jumping well; he thinks their horse will improve again before Cheltenham.  Of the Paul Nicholls trained Pearl Swan, who passed the post a short-head in front of the Alan King charge but lost the race in the Stewards Room, Choc thinks he will need to travel better in the Triumph Hurdle to win. 

 

Choc was impressed by Bless The Wings, who he thought might not be suited by the ups and downs of the Cheltenham course.  Having given Choc a great ride when he won at Exeter on a course suited to novices, he admits the horse has improved more than he thought he was capable of, and his excellent round of jumping won the race. 

 

Choc writes that Batonnier had been disappointing in his hurdle races to date, having won a bumper.  He did really well to win the Grade 2 novices’ hurdle on Saturday and should make a cracking chaser in time.  Batonnier is the one he’d take note of for the future, regardless of how he runs at the Festival.

 

He says Saturday was great for Alan King, for jockey Wayne Hutchinson and for the yard, but very frustrating for himself as he’s still recovering from his broken arm.

 

He looks ahead to seeing the surgeon today, hoping that he’ll be given the go-ahead to start race riding; he mentions that he’s been riding out and schooling.

 

Last week Choc underwent ‘falls training’ at Oaksey House in Lambourn, where he was taught different techniques to help jockeys when falling, such as rolling diagonally across his shoulder, rather than flat across his back; he emphasises that racing is working to support jockeys and prolong their riding careers. 

 

Choc writes that he enjoyed watching Big Buck’s win his 15th consecutive race.  He says that, as always, Big Buck’s made everyone worry a little, but it doesn’t matter what tactics his rivals use, he manages to win; Ruby is tactically brilliant on the horse.  He says Big Buck’s has definitely caught the public’s imagination and will be a big draw on Day 3 of the Festival.

 

He mentions that it is great to see Henrietta Knight’s revival continue with Calgary Bay’s win at Doncaster on the same day.  He also mentions Jamie Moore’s miraculous feat of staying aboard Fruity O’Rooney when he lost his irons and the saddle slipped after a blunder at the last; they finished 3rd.

 

Choc talks about Paul Struthers being appointed as the new Chief Executive of the PJA (Professional Jockeys’ Association); a former BHA spokesman and welcome addition to the organisation.  Choc hopes he can use his knowledge to their advantage.

 

Finally, he mentions that his mother Sally is secretary of the Melton Hunt Club and it’s their annual ride this coming Sunday, 05 February.  Choc rode in the event once, as a 16 year old; his mum was the first lady home, while he experienced his first encounter with concussion, and was rolling around in one of the road crossings!  He understands a couple of flat race jockeys will be competing this year ... he says that National Hunt jockeys are not that crazy!  [Note from Jane – Is he sure?]

Wednesday 01 February 2012

Choc is due to see his surgeon tomorrow, with the hope of being cleared to race ride in the near future.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him that the news is positive. 

And, hopefully, Choc’s fortnightly column will appear in tomorrow’s issue of Horse and Hound; I always look forward to reading his latest news.

Racing was abandoned at Ludlow and Leicester today, with just Newcastle going ahead.  So no results to report.

 

82 entries have been received for this season’s Grand National, which will be run on 14 April this year.  More

 

In this week’s ‘Weekender’ Alan King reports that he has entered West End Rocker and Hold On Julio; the former won’t have a tune-up run until after the weights are announced so as to protect his handicap mark and the latter will run dependent on how he progresses between now and the race (he was coughing last weekend).

 

Tomorrow’s Towcester card has already been abandoned due to frost, and Wincanton will inspect again in the morning.  However, if the fixture does go ahead, Alan King has one runner:

15:15 Night Rose (Charlie Huxley) – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle

 

It’s very cold in Hertfordshire, but we’ve not seen any snow yet, apart from a few frozen airborne particles yesterday. 

And I’ve finished my Cheltenham Trials Day diary.  Click here to read. 


 

 

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