Saturday 31 January 2009

My fourth visit to Sandown Park today. 


A disappointing day for Choc, with Araldur finishing last of the 4 who completed.  The horse was going well until turning into the home straight, so perhaps he doesn’t stay more than 2 miles and will now be aimed at the Arkle Chase?

According to John finished 4th in his event, but ran well having been off the racecourse for 446 days. 

Almaydan finished 3rd in the final race on the card, Choc having ridden him to victory at Doncaster 8 days ago. 


Sadly, 2 horses lost their lives at Sandown today: Pressgang, who I saw win at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, and Killaghy Castle, whose first run it was for 659 days.


Choc has just 1 ride tomorrow, at Fontwell Park:

15:10 Head to Kerry – Selling Hurdle (Dominic Ffrench Davis)


Having listened to weather forecasts, it’s looking like severe wintery conditions may wipe out racing for a longer spell than it did in early January.  And I was looking forward to the Newbury fixture scheduled for next Saturday, especially as I have a ticket!   And because it was probably scheduled to be Denman’s return to racing following his recent health scare. 


Friday 30 January 2009

The weather claimed another meeting today, when Chepstow was abandoned due to water-logging.  I hadn’t been keeping tabs on the weather expected overnight for South Wales, although I did see the forecast on Breakfast News this morning and it was showing heavy rain – so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find the racing was called off.  It was a completely different outlook in Hertfordshire overnight, as I woke up to a sharp frost!


So there are no results for Choc to report today, but he will be riding at Sandown Park tomorrow (weather permitting of course), where he has 3 rides scheduled:

14:35 Araldur – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

15:45 According to John – Handicap Chase (Nicky Richards)

16:20 Almaydan – Handicap Chase (Richard Lee)


So it’s another busy weekend for me, with racing tomorrow, and updating my website on Sunday … but it will all be an absolute pleasure.


Lingfield is already concerned for its turf meeting scheduled for Monday – it had already cancelled the hurdle events, and was concentrating on steeplechases and an all-weather bumper race.  But with temperatures set to drop dramatically the further east you travel, it may have to abandon its fixture.


And finally, congratulations to Lee Mead who has just got engaged to Denise Van Outen, they are expected to marry later this year.  So that’s two lovely young men, both born on 14 July, who will be tying the knot with their fiancées this year!


Thursday 29 January 2009

Both Towcester and Wincanton went ahead today, and this is how Choc got on at the latter fixture:

Ellen Tilley won her event, despite landing on all fours when jumping the last flight (Choc’s 82nd winner of the season).  Christian Williams rode Alan’s other runner, Delays Expected, to finish 3rd in the same race.

Bakbenscher was withdrawn.

Black Jacari finished 5th, after a dawdling start to the race!

And Whistlejacquet completed in 2nd place, galloping all the way to the line, but not quite managing to peg back the 66-1 shot, Roman Conquest.


AP was interviewed at Wincanton and was saying that he’s having a problem getting rides this week, either he’s too heavy or the horses are being ridden by their stable jockeys.  He’s only two short of his 3,000 and still searching for rides!


Unfortunately Martin Keighley’s horse Poliglotti (aka Peppa Pig) under Sean Quinlan slipped on landing in the 14:00 at Towcester and never recovered his position, finishing last of the 11 runners which completed.  Martin sent me a lovely and very prompt reply to my email, as I thought I should send him a message to thank him for his kind comments and recommendation, and to confess to being the lady who had created this site! 


Choc is travelling to Chepstow tomorrow, with 3 rides for Alan King:

13:20 Long Hop – NH Novices’ Hurdle

14:25 Penn Da Benn -  Handicap Hurdle

16:40 Aohna – Mares’ NH Flat Race (Wayne Hutchinson rides Alan’s other entry, Polly Potter)


Will I be going racing on Saturday?  You bet I will, if Choc rides at Sandown Park!

The forecast for next week is for freezing cold weather coming in from Russia – that would put the mockers on Super Saturday at Newbury.   


And, finally ... Halcon Genelardais doesn’t have an entry in the Grand National, but D’Argent does, having been ridden by Choc last year.


Wednesday 28 January 2009

Having completed and uploaded yesterday’s blog I thought I’d just have a quick surf of the net ... so I took a look at Martin Keighley’s blog and was so surprised to find that this website had got a mention and a recommendation – I’ve been discovered!  Thank you Martin.


It has been raining in Hertfordshire for most of the day, I got wet walking to work this morning, and again walking home tonight.  Exeter and Leicester were both abandoned due the wet conditions, with Towcester and Wincanton calling an inspection for the morning to see if racing goes ahead tomorrow.


So just in case the racing is on, Choc is due to ride at Wincanton, details as follows:

14:10 Ellen Tilley – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

14:40 Bakbenscher – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:10 Black Jacari – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

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


At The Races has lost its American meetings this evening too, due to snow in the USA.  But the good news is that there will be 7 additional jumps fixtures in the UK in the coming weeks, in an attempt to replace a number of the recently lost meetings.  They will feature mainly Novices’ and Bumper races, in the hope that horses will be able to qualify for Cheltenham.  The dates involved are: Friday 06 February, Friday 13 February, Sunday 15 February, Friday 20 February, Friday 27 February, Sunday 1 March and Sunday 8 March.  Details of the first 3 venues will be announced this coming Friday, with the remainder revealed in mid-February.


Tuesday 27 January 2009

Choc finished second aboard Katess in the 15:30 at Taunton, his only ride of the day. 


Tomorrow Choc is scheduled to ride at Leicester, which has an all Chase card, as the hurdles course has been suffering from long-term water-logging problems.  He has 2 rides for Alan King:


14:10 Minella Four Star – Maiden Chase

15:20 Gold Heart – Handicap Chase


Voy Por Ustedes seems to have been scrapped from the Doncaster entries for Saturday, although Choc remains double-booked for both Sandown Park and Doncaster.  So I’ll have to keep an eye on the race-cards and the weather to see if I need to plan a trip to Sandown Park after all!


Monday 26 January 2009

It was a beautiful sunny winter’s day in Hertfordshire and presumably at Kempton Park too … although I wasn’t at the fixture to see Choc ride.  But, as this was not one of his better days, perhaps it was not such a bad thing:


Alflora Dora finished 6th in Division I of the Novices’ Hurdle event (all 16 runners completed).

Itsa Legend came in 3rd in the Novices’ Chase (only 4 finishers, with 2 pulled up and 1 falling).

Delena was travelling at the rear of the field when falling at the 7th flight in the 14:40 Handicap Hurdle (19 runners – 11 finished, 7 pulled up, 1 faller).  I’ve seen the review on Racing UK, and it looked a nasty fall, although I know the horse was okay as it could be seen cantering away – so I must watch the full recording this evening. 

King of Leon was withdrawn, presumably because the going was too soft.


I see that the Martin Keighley trained Wychwoods Legend won the 14:40 Handicap Hurdle, his third winner in recent days.  Winners are just like buses, none for ages then three come along at once!  AP rode a double, as did Barry Geraghty and Jamie Moore.  Warren Marston was the successful rider aboard Wychwoods Legend.  Nicky Henderson trained three of today’s winners at the fixture.  


All being well, Choc is off to ‘Cider Country’ tomorrow, where he is scheduled for just one ride at Taunton:

15:30 Katess – Handicap Chase (Alan King)


Sandown Park is already concerned that its fixture scheduled for Saturday will have to be called off due to water-logging.  But it may not matter to me anyway, as I believe Voy Por Ustedes has an entry for Doncaster on Saturday so I’m not currently planning on a visit to the Surrey venue.


I’ve not completed my Cheltenham diary yet, as I dozed off to sleep yesterday evening whilst reviewing the video recording of the Cheltenham races!  So I will be taking up the challenge again tonight in the hope that I can complete my race notes and thus the diary too. 


And I’ve just seen a recording of Iffy finishing 3rd in a Steeplechase event at Ludlow today ... I like little Iffy, as he was my first ‘live’ Choccie winner (Stratford 15 June last year).


Sunday 25 January 2009

Uttoxeter went ahead yesterday following an inspection, but both Hexham and Limerick were lost to the weather today.  It’s been pouring with rain in Hertfordshire this morning, but I still decided to wash my car – and there was so much ‘Cheltenham’ mud in the wheel arches.  I got soaked, but that was the water from the bucket and the hose, not the rain!  Anyway, my Fiesta is looking much cleaner now and is ready to fight another day.


Choc has 4 rides scheduled for Kempton Park tomorrow (so another ‘cold turkey’ day for me L)

13:00 Alflora Dora – Novices’ Hurdle Div I (Alan King)

14:05 Itsa Legend – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

14:40 Delena – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:20 King of Leon – NH Flat Race (Henrietta Knight)


Having taken 90 photos yesterday, my camera battery needed to be recharged, but the ‘best’ photos should be uploaded later.  And there’s my Cheltenham diary to write too.  My diaries are definitely an aid to remembering the details of my visits to the races, as I just have to read them and the memories come flooding back. 


I watched the recording of The Morning Line late yesterday evening, noting that Choc looked very smart in his brown pinstripe suit (apparently one of 7 suits he owns).  He confirmed that he was born in Darlington, but said he didn’t support any particular football team ... although he had mentioned Liverpool FC during our course walk last month. So I guess that may be ‘favourite’ rather than ‘supporting’.  I also watched the post race interview with Alistair Down, following Choc’s win aboard Walkon.  Choc is just sooooooooo cute!


Saturday 24 January 2009

I went to Cheltenham today, and thoroughly enjoyed my first opportunity to see Choc ride live at the course.  He had 6 rides, having replaced Dominic Elsworth on Sue Smith’s Mister McGoldrick, as Dominic was taken ill at Doncaster yesterday after emerging from the sauna, having succumbed to a virus.


This is how Choc fared today:

Bensalem finished a close second to Diamond Harry, having nearly stolen the race.  Bensalem is a big horse, and I think will still improve from this.

Mister McGoldrick was pulled up.

Halcon Genelardais finished second having led at the last.  He was overtaken by Joe Lively ridden by Joe Tizzard, who had led on various occasions and won despite having blundered at the second last.

Walkon won nicely from Reve De Sivola (Choc’s 81st winner of the season).

Blazing Bailey finished 6th, the race was won by Big Buck’s (having reverted back to hurdles) over the highly rated Punchestowns.

King’s Revenge finished 13th of the 14 finishers.  Awesome George, under Charlie Huxley, ran gamely but, having got his head in front, was relegated to 2nd by Presenting Copper after the last flight.


Tomorrow I should have news of Choc’s rides at Kempton Park on Monday.


And I almost forgot, Choc was the guest on Channel 4’s Morning Line today, so I look forward to viewing the video tape as I only saw a few minutes because I had to leave early to drive to Cheltenham!


Friday 23 January 2009

Doncaster went ahead today, the going was good to soft, and this is how Choc fared:


Gremlin finished last of the 14 finishers (17 ran) in the Novices’ Hurdle Div I.

Samson’s Son finished 3rd in Division II of the event (probably having benefitted when The Panama Kid fell at the last flight).

Fighting Chance was one of 10 runners which were pulled up in the Novices’ Handicap Chase, only 5 finished, no fallers.

However, Choc won the Handicap Chase aboard 25-1 shot Almaydan for Richard Lee, having taken the lead before turning into the final straight, and carrying top weight in testing conditions. Only 7 of the 15 runners finished. (Choc’s 80th winner of the season.)

Mad Jack Duncan finished 14th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle, with stable-mate Ballingaddy coming in 4th under Wayne Hutchinson.


Hopefully it’s all systems go for Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham tomorrow, where Choc is scheduled to have 5 rides, all for Alan King:

12:55 Bensalem – Novices’ Hurdle

14:35 Halcon Genelardais – Letheby & Christopher Chase

15:10 Walkon – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

15:45 Blazing Bailey – Cleeve Hurdle

16:20 King’s Revenge – Handicap Hurdle

(Charlie Huxley retains the ride on Awesome George in the 16:20 and claims 5lbs)


There’s going to be an 08:00 inspection at Uttoxeter ahead of tomorrow’s planned fixture, and Leicester has been given the go-ahead to stage an all Chase card next Wednesday, 28th January, as their hurdles course is currently waterlogged and un-raceable.


Thursday 22 January 2009

More dire weather conditions, resulting in today’s fixture at Fontwell Park being abandoned.  The going at Warwick was heavy, but at least the meeting went ahead, but I carelessly omitted one of Choc’s rides from my list in yesterday’s diary - Alfasonic.  Anyway, this is how he got on today:


Trenchant won the Juvenile Novice’ Hurdle by a neck (Choc’s 78th winner of the season).

Topless finished last in the Handicap Chase, only 6 of the 12 runners having completed the course.

Oh Crick raced keenly but fell at the 12th fence in the Novices’ Chase (ouch, but both horse and jockey were okay – Oh Crick rose to his feet having slid through the plastic running rail and he trotted off. Choc was thrown clear, although Lydia Hislop promised to find out if he was okay and I wondered if he was concerned about his left foot again. But as I heard no more and he rode in the next, I presume that he was fine ...)

Alfasonic was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle.

And Double Pride won the NH Flat Race (Choc’s 79th winner of the season).


I expect Choc originally would have been heading for Newbury tomorrow, but that’s been abandoned due to water-logging too!  So he’s off to Doncaster instead, where he has 5 rides, as follows:

13:20 Gremlin – Novices’ Hurdle Div I (Alan King)

13:55 Samson’s Son – Novices’ Hurdle Div II (Alan King)

14:30 Fighting Chance – Novices’ Handicap Chase (Richard Lee)

15:40 Almaydan – Handicap Chase (Richard Lee)

16:10 Mad Jack Duncan – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King) 


The Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham expects their meeting to be okay.  I’ve done another check on the weather outlook for the area, and it’s described as predominantly light rain today, light showers are forecast for tomorrow and sunny intervals on Saturday.  However, Uttoxeter’s fixture scheduled for the weekend is in doubt.


Wednesday 21 January 2009

Well, it seems I didn’t miss the Huntingdon fixture after all, as it was abandoned due to frost.  It was very cold in Hertfordshire last night too, with everywhere sparkling white this morning, so I wasn’t surprised.


I hope this weekend’s Cheltenham fixture goes ahead, as I have a ticket.  The Met Office forecasts rain in the area tomorrow, with a sunny Friday and sunny intervals on Saturday.


If Choc is back in action tomorrow, he’s off to Warwick for 4 rides:

13:10 Trenchant – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

13:40 Topless – Handicap Chase (Neil Mulholland)

14:40 Oh Crick – Novices’ Chase (Alan King)

16:10 Double Pride – NH Flat Race (Alan King)


Let’s hope Topless behaves herself and doesn’t unship her jockey near the line as she did last week at Taunton although, of course, the Alan King runner was the beneficiary on that occasion.


Tuesday 20 January 2009

Huntingdon will carry out a precautionary inspection at 07:45 tomorrow, ahead of their planned 7 race card (as a frost is expected tonight).


If the meeting goes ahead, Choc has 6 rides, all for Alan King:

13:10 Trenchant – Novices’ Hurdle Div I

13:40 Samson’s Son – Novices’ Hurdle Div II

14:40 Patsy Finnegan – Handicap Hurdle

15:10 West End Rocker – Novices’ Chase

15:40 Gold Heart – Handicap Chase

16:10 Madness – NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

But, as I cannot go to the fixture…it’s ‘cold turkey’ for me tomorrow. MCj04377890000[1]

However, I do wish him luck and safe journeys (as always).

In a few weeks, when the first race of the day commences a little later, maybe I will see my way clear to work a half day and then drive up to Huntingdon at lunchtime (as I did on 14 October last). 


Monday 19 January 2009

Choc had 4 rides today, Parlesotho winning by a neck despite having made a slight mistake at the last flight (his 77th winner of the season), Cracboumwiz finished 2nd (again with a last flight error but he wouldn’t have won), Pennek finished 3rd, and Jolejoker was one of 5 runners which were pulled up.


And trainer Martin Keighley will be very pleased, as he’s finally off the trainers’ cold list with a winner at Hereford today, with Picture in the Sky.  Well done Martin!


As for tomorrow, Sedgefield will be carrying out a precautionary inspection at 08:30 in the morning because there is a threat of frost, but Leicester has already been abandoned due to water-logging so no rides now for Choc, having been scheduled for 3 at the fixture.


Sunday 18 January 2009

I went to Towcester races today, although Choc had only one ride after Charmaine Wood was a late withdrawal due to the going, which was reclassified as soft.  Starburst Diamond finished 4th in the first race on the card and that was very hard work for both horse and jockey! 


Market Rasen, Cork and Fairyhouse were all abandoned as waterlogged today, and Lingfield (turf) has been lost tomorrow.


However, Choc has 4 rides at Hereford tomorrow:

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

14:20 Cracboumwiz – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

14:50 Pennek – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

15:20 Jolejoker – Handicap Chase (Richard Lee)

I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to go to Huntingdon on Wednesday as I have no spare holiday available, but at least I have Cheltenham to look forward to on Saturday.


Saturday 17 January 2009

I went to Ascot today, and was rewarded when Choc won the final race on the card aboard Karabak (his 76th winner of the season).  He won well and no doubt Choc was very pleased with his decision to ride at the Berkshire track.  Saticon finished 4th, but his other mounts were all unplaced.  Meally was there to watch and support him too, so perhaps we’ll get the lowdown in her NagWAG diary on Monday.


2 rides at Towcester tomorrow, both for Alan King:

13:40 Starburst Diamond – Novices’ Hurdle

15:10 Charmaine Wood – Novices’ Hurdle

I’m also hoping to attend tomorrow’s fixture, my second visit to the track.


Friday 16 January 2009

Just 2 rides at Chepstow today - Quidonc pulling up and Blue Dark finishing 6th in their respective divisions of the Maiden Hurdle.


J  Brilliant news for me as Choc will be riding at Ascot tomorrow, so I’m going racing. He has 5 rides scheduled, as follows:

12:30 Saticon – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

13:05 Howle Hill – Limited Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

14:15 Natal – Victor Chandler Chase (Paul Nicholls)

15:25 The Hairy Lemon – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

15:55 Karabak – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

I’ve read Choc’s online Turf Scene column in the Gloucestershire press today, and the main reason he’s decided upon Ascot is because he wishes to ride the talented novice Karabak in the final race on the card. 


Choc also mentions that Penzance has been retired, not because he’s injured, but because he’s been finding it tough to compete against rivals despite never losing his enthusiasm.   I’ve been fortunate to see Penzance run on more than one occasion, and he is a deep-girthed sturdy individual, which perhaps has become disadvantageous as he’s got older. Penzance is pictured in my photo gallery, having run at Kempton Park on 26th November 2008 with Choc aboard.        


It looks like I may have a very busy weekend of racing, with photos to upload and diaries to write too ... but I can’t think of anywhere else I rather be!


Thursday 15 January 2009

Choc’s first ride of the day, Silk Hall, finished 4th, with Alan’s other runner (Humble Opinion) a short-head away in 5th place.  In Division II, Latin Scholar came in 5th, with stable-mate Sadler’s Star under Jack Doyle finishing 2nd (at 66-1!).  Choc was also out of luck with Noticeable, finishing 10th in the Handicap Hurdle, and Brukirk Lass finished 8th in the bumper.  And the weather deteriorated during the afternoon.


Jack Doyle, claiming 3 lbs, won the Handicap Chase aboard another Barbury Castle inmate, Pangbourne.  He also received a huge slice of luck when Neil Mulholland’s runner, Topless, jinked and unseated its rider close to the finish leaving Pangbourne to claim the spoils! 


Alan’s runner at Ludlow, Dancingwithbubbles, won under Wayne Hutchinson. 


Just 2 rides at Chepstow tomorrow, both for Alan King:

13:00 Quidonc – Maiden Hurdle Div I

13:30 Blue Dark – Maiden Hurdle Div II


Unfortunately 2009 doesn’t seem to have kicked off for Choc yet, as he is still seeking his first winner of the year (and 76th of the season).  Although of course, the weather has claimed a number of days, limiting his riding to 5 fixtures so far this year. 


Ascot is beginning to look promising for Saturday, as Choc has been booked to ride Natal for Paul Nicholls in the Victor Chandler Chase.  Haydock Park has now been eliminated from plans as Jimmy McCarthy rides D’Argent, with Wayne Hutchinson partnering Kandjar D’Allier, in the Peter Marsh Chase.  There’s still Wincanton of course … but I’m pretty hopeful that I will take a trip to Ascot races on Saturday.  JJJ     


Wednesday 14 January 2009

Fixtures are still being affected by the weather, with today’s Newcastle card lost to the frost.  And although Newbury went ahead with their 7 race card, Choc had a very mediocre day.  Mount Helicon finished 3rd; Greenbridge and Penharold were both pulled up; Tarotino was withdrawn; Sea the Light was a non-runner; and Lidar finished 3rd. 


Tomorrow he is riding at Taunton, with 4 rides for Alan King:

13:20 Silk Hall – Novices’ Hurdle Div I

13:50 Latin Scholar – Novices’ Hurdle Div II

15:20 Noticeable – Handicap Hurdle

16:20 Brukirk Lass – Mares’ NH Flat Race


I hope Choc gets back on the scoreboard again soon as I’d welcome the opportunity to update my 2008/2009 winners list with his 76th winner of the season!  


Tuesday 13 January 2009

The Folkestone fixture was on today and Choc rode Tosula to finish second in the Handicap Chase.  It’s lovely to see him back in action following the recent freeze, and tomorrow he’s off to Newbury, where he has 6 rides, all for Alan King:

12:50 Mount Helicon – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

13:20 Greenbridge – Novices’ Chase

13:55 Penharold – Novices’ Hurdle

14:30 Tarotino – Handicap Chase

15:00 Sea the Light – Handicap Chase

16:05 Lidar – NH Flat Race

It’s when Choc has many rides scheduled that I wish I didn’t have to go to work, and could go to the races instead, just like tomorrow in fact!


Choc is hedging his bets for Saturday, as his engagements diary currently lists rides at Haydock, Wincanton and Ascot ... I wonder which fixture he will eventually choose?  And we all know I’d like it to be Ascot!!! J


Monday 12 January 2009

Fakenham went ahead today, with AP riding a double, the other winning jockeys being Andrew Thornton, Mattie Batchelor, Sam Thomas and Richard Johnson.   


Folkestone is quite hopeful for tomorrow, although there will be a further inspection at 07:30 in the morning as the ground was still frozen in places when they inspected today.  If the meeting goes ahead, Choc has one ride, for Neil Mulholland:

14:50 Tosula – Handicap Chase

I’m so much looking forward to seeing Choc back in the saddle again.


I’ve been looking through the engagements list for Alan King’s horses, and he currently has entries (many multiple) in 6 races at Newbury on Wednesday.  5 races at Taunton and 1 at Ludlow for Thursday; 2 at Chepstow on Friday; 4 at Haydock, 5 at Ascot, and 6 at Wincanton for Saturday; and 2 races at Towcester on Sunday.  So, if I miss out on a trip to Ascot on Saturday, there’s always Towcester (which doesn’t charge an admission fee) on Sunday!  Or both of course!!!


I know that Ascot always seems to be bitterly cold, but general admission for NH meetings is £10 on Fridays and £15 on Saturdays and, if you are prepared to walk the length of the high street, you can park for free too!  It’s definitely good value for money!  I gather at one stage in the not too distant past, Ascot considered and rejected the idea of becoming just a flat racing venue, but they are getting very good crowds for their NH meetings now.


Sunday 11 January 2009

It was great that Ayr managed to stage their National Hunt fixture yesterday, although it looked very wet and windy on TV.  And was that snow at Kempton Park for the All Weather card?  Wetherby was lost, as is Carlisle today.  Plumpton has already been abandoned for tomorrow, Fakenham is currently hopeful, with another inspection early tomorrow.  And will Folkestone be okay for Tuesday I wonder?  Choc mentioned in one of his columns that he didn’t mind taking 3 or 4 days break from his busy season ... but I expect 10 or 11 days is something else!  Puppy Princess will be keeping fit if she accompanies him on his weight-busting jogs through the Gloucestershire countryside! 


The freezing conditions have been very slow to clear the South East.  I was surprised that we had a frost in Hertfordshire last night, as I went to the theatre and it was -3 when I left home at 17:00; but only -1 or zero when I picked up my car to drive home at 23:30!  However, I’ve been shopping to Welwyn Garden City just before lunch today, and it was positively balmy at 8 degrees!  That’s more like it, but of course it takes a few days for the frost to come out of the ground and make the turf fit for racing again.


I enjoyed my night at the theatre.  It was Lee Mead’s last night in Joseph at the Adelphi, having won BBC1’s Any Dream Will Do in June 2007, so he’s completed 18 months in the show.  Gareth Gates will now take over the role.  The audience gave Lee a very good send-off, and his girlfriend Denise Van Outen was there, as was the team of Tim Rice and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber having written the musical many moons ago.  I stayed behind for the ‘scrum’ when Lee comes out to sign autographs, and there were so many fans waiting outside that we had a police presence to protect everyone’s safety as the crowd spilled out onto the Strand.  I noticed the temperature difference outside, as I wasn’t cold at all when I was waiting! 


My next trip to the theatre will be in May to see Oliver at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.  The show stars Rowan Atkinson, Burn Gorman, Jodie Prenger (who won the role of Nancy in BBC1’s I’d Do Anything) and the 3 young lads who also won and share the role of Oliver in the aforementioned show.


My friend Denise has been in the wars, having fallen over and broken her arm.  It didn’t happen when she was out in the icy conditions, but at home.  You just have to be so careful.  Touch wood, I’ve never broken any significant bones, but maybe just a toe or two!


I wonder if I’ll have any definite plans to report tomorrow ... at the moment Choc’s engaged at Newbury on Wednesday, Ludlow or Taunton on Thursday and Chepstow on Friday.  Do I have any definite plans?  Yes, Cheltenham on Saturday 24 January, as I’ve purchased a ticket!  And I’m contemplating attending Newbury on 07 February too.  Any other meetings will be a bonus ...


Friday 09 January 2009

No National Hunt racing today, as Kelso was lost along with the already abandoned Huntingdon.  Ayr is hopeful for tomorrow, as milder conditions have begun to sweep down from the north and they also have the benefit of a west coast location.  Wetherby is 50/50 for tomorrow.


Unfortunately conditions haven’t improved in time to save Warwick’s most important meeting of the season, so that is off tomorrow.  In his weekly Turf Talk column in the Gloucestershire press, Choc tells us he was looking forward to riding Kandjar D’Allier in their Classic Chase, having chosen him over stable companion and winner last year, D’Argent.  There’s an article on the Racing Post site saying that Kandjar D’Allier will probably be re-routed to Haydock Park to run in the Peter Marsh Chase a week tomorrow ... so a trip to Ascot on Saturday may not be on the cards for me if Choc retains the ride.  But, as mentioned earlier in the week, there is always Towcester on Sunday, but there is Market Rasen too – and I can travel to the former but not the latter venue this time of the year.


The Racing Post has picked up Choc’s comments about Hayley Turner wishing to ride in the Cheltenham bumper.  He didn’t sound sexist when he wrote it in his column, but the Racing Post in taking just a few sound-bites makes it appear that he is.  Typical.  I hope he doesn’t take flack over it.


Choc’s also keeping his fingers crossed that Denman will run in the Grand National, as it would push Halcon Genelardais’ weight right down to 10 stone 6 lbs, enough to let him take his chance.  However, if Denman doesn’t run then nor will Halcon …


There’s no NH racing in the southern half of the country until Monday, when Fakenham and Plumpton are due to hold fixtures.  I have to say it’s still very cold in the South East, and they are forecasting that it will remain so for much of this weekend, although the north and west of the country will see reasonable temperature rises. 


My friend, Mark, has promised to help me upload a number of photos from my mobile phone so hopefully the missing pictures taken at Sandown Park on 26 April and Stratford on 15 June will soon complete my photo gallery.


Thursday 08 January 2009

Still no definite news as to when National Hunt racing will be back in action.  Huntingdon is definitely off tomorrow, Kelso are inspecting in the morning ahead of their same day meeting.  Ayr appears pretty confident that they will go ahead on Saturday, Wetherby is still a maybe, but Warwick doesn’t seem that hopeful.


It’s been a week now since I’ve seen Choc on TV, last Friday at Folkestone to be precise.  And I’ve not seen him live since Newbury on 29th December – that’s a long time in the recent scheme of things, so I’ll be suffering from withdrawal symptoms soon. 


Wednesday 07 January 2009

Still no end in sight of these freezing conditions.  Both Hereford and Catterick have abandoned their cards for tomorrow, with Huntingdon and Warwick facing inspections but the Clerk of the Course, who looks after both venues, is not at all hopeful that the fixtures will be able to go ahead on Friday and Saturday respectively.


However, Ayr racecourse is planning to hold a fixture this coming Saturday, having lost their 2-day New Year meeting last week.


I’m having a problem getting up in the mornings, I’d much rather stay in my warm and cozy bed.  It’s totally against type as, until the last few months, I would definitely have classed myself as a ‘morning’ person and would rise before 07:00 even at the weekends.  No longer, unless I need to set out early to go racing of course.


Tuesday 06 January 2009

Still no National Hunt racing for the foreseeable future.  Today’s Sedgefield fixture was lost as expected, and tomorrow’s meetings at Fontwell Park and Musselburgh have gone too.  Thursday’s Catterick and Hereford meetings are extremely unlikely to go ahead, and Friday’s meeting at Huntingdon is very much in doubt too.  Kelso are a little more optimistic about their chances of racing on Friday.  Kempton Park has already surrendered, replacing Saturday’s National Hunt meeting with an All Weather card instead.  Warwick is also frozen at the moment and it is doubtful whether the ground will recover in time for the weekend.  We will see.


With all these problems, it looks like my first opportunity to go racing again will be Saturday 17th January, but then only if Choc rides at Ascot.  Is there a Towcester meeting on Sunday 18th too?


They’ve just shown an item on my local TV news about the All Weather racing at Kempton being a god-send during the current cold snap.  I really can’t get excited about it, or flat racing in general for that matter.  National Hunt has always been my favourite discipline.


I plan to watch Nicholas Crane’s Britannia on BBC2 tonight.  I enjoyed his Map Man series, Coast, and Great British Journeys.  Then I’ll watch New Most Haunted on Living +1 at 10:00.   


Monday 05 January 2009

Brrrrrrh, it’s cold.  Tomorrow’s meeting at Leicester has fallen foul of the freeze.  I don’t suppose Sedgefield will get the go-ahead either.  Nothing looks promising for the next few days, and I can’t go to Huntingdon on Friday anyway, as I’ve no leave available.  If there is a thaw, Kempton Park would be a possibility for me on Saturday, but not Warwick, as I’ve got a ticket for Joseph in the West End on Saturday evening!  So, if I went to the races, I could stop off at Charing Cross (the nearest station to the Adelphi), which is on my train route home. 


And happy birthday to me for today. 


Sunday 04 January 2009

Plumpton was abandoned today.  The signs were bad when I tuned into BBC News at around 06:30 and they were interviewing Ben Fogle, who is currently in Antarctica.  He was expecting a ‘mild’ day at -13 degrees (it being summer in the southern hemisphere of course) and then they broadcast our weather forecast, and said that -9 degrees had been recorded at Gatwick Airport last night.  Their comment was along the lines of “Not much warmer here”.  In my mind, all hopes of racing going ahead at nearby Plumpton were firmly kicked into touch at that point! 


Tomorrow’s NH meetings at Ludlow and Taunton have already been abandoned.  Doom and gloom.  


Saturday 03 January 2009

Wincanton and Sandown Park were both lost to the frost today, the scheduled Ayr fixture having been abandoned earlier in the week.  Plumpton has called an inspection for 08:00 tomorrow, to see if their biggest race meeting of the season can go ahead. 


So, if Plumpton is on, then Choc has 5 rides scheduled, all for Alan King:

12:55 Enfant de Lune – Novices’ Hurdle

13:25 Sea the Light – Novices’ Chase

13:55 Blue Dark – NH Novices’ Hurdle

14:55 Aypeeyes – Handicap Hurdle

15:55 Brukirk Lass – NH Flat Race

I’ve researched my road route to Plumpton, just in case ... so we will see as to whether it’s on, and whether I venture out to East Sussex.  The timescale involved means that travelling down by train is not really an option for me. 


Friday 02 January 2009

No luck today, with Blistering having been pulled up – 14 runners, 7 pulled up. 


Choc will be riding at Wincanton tomorrow, where he has 3 rides, all for Alan King:

13:20 Aypeeyes – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

14:55 Mexican Pete – Handicap Hurdle

16:00 Parlesotho – Novices’ Hurdle

As Wincanton is too far away, I’ll be watching the action on TV tomorrow.  However, he is due to ride at Plumpton on Sunday, so I will mull over whether I can afford a return visit to the course – my research tells me that it costs £24 return by train, or is 85 miles away by car (mainly motorway). 


Thursday 01 January 2009

Happy New Year.  And I’m looking forward to many fantastic fixtures taking place over the coming months. 


My New Year’s resolution is to see Choc ride live at Cheltenham, as I have to confess I’m gutted that I didn’t make the effort to travel there today.  But I have to accept that I can’t attend every meeting I wish to, as there are full-time work commitments and travelling/entry costs to consider.  I’m kind of hoping that Sandown will go ahead on Saturday and/or Plumpton on Sunday so that I’ll get the opportunity to see Choc again soon. 


Another average day at the races for him, he finished 8th aboard Call Me A Legend, Alan King’s other runner in the race, Awesome George, having won well under Charlie Huxley.  Alan explained to the TV cameras that it wasn’t a case of first and second string horses, Charlie had retained the ride on Awesome George following earlier success aboard the animal.  Il Duce had one of his ‘non-going’ days, as he finished 11th of the 12 who completed.  The Hairy Lemon, who was entered in the same race, finished 10th.  His final ride of the day, aboard Whistlejacquet, resulted in a 2nd place, when he was beaten by the talented Cill Rialaig (who Choc had ridden to victory at Exeter back in October). 


Other Alan King news from Cheltenham – Charlie Huxley finished 3rd aboard Pennek in the 3 mile Handicap Hurdle, and Franchoek finished 3rd under AP in the 2½ mile event when looking the likely winner jumping the last hurdle, Lough Derg finding his second wind to triumph on the line – a welcome success for David Pipe.  At Exeter, Penn Da Benn won his event easily under Jack Doyle.


Choc is scheduled to have just one ride at Folkestone tomorrow:

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

It’s a long way to travel to and from the course by car from his home in Gloucestershire.


Back to work tomorrow for me, I’ve had two weeks’ holiday and enjoyed 4 trips to the races during that period, so I shouldn’t complain.  I just hope the weather improves soon, as it throws all plans into disarray when it’s like this.


And, good news, my brown felt hat has been found – I left it in Lesley’s dad’s car when she drove me to Cheltenham last month! J




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