Thursday 31 January 2013

Two runners of interest at Towcester this afternoon and this is how they fared:

Brukirk Lass (Martin Keighley/Daniel Hiskett) finished 7th in the Mares’ Maiden Hurdle (13 ran).

Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 5th in the Handicap Chase (13 ran).


Tomorrow’s fixture at Chepstow has been abandoned due to water-logging; therefore National Hunt racing takes place solely at Catterick, but no runners of interest.


Sandown Park has postponed its decision until tomorrow morning regarding the running of hurdle races at Saturday’s fixture.  More  So any racing plans I may have this weekend are still up in the air too!


I purchased a copy of the Racing Post today in order to read the interview with former jockey Jimmy Derham.  Unfortunately the specialist medical advice he received at the time of his neck injury resulted in him never being able to return to race riding.  He opted for the suggested quick fix operation which promised a return in 12-14 weeks, whereas there may have been a 25% chance of it healing by itself if given more time.  Not surprisingly, he’s devastated by the turn of events and at a total loss to know the way forward, despite having been offered a few jobs within the industry and undertaking a business administration course with JETS.  Eventually he hopes to set up as a trainer, but that’s much further down the line.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *


A new issue of Choc’s column was published in this week’s Horse and Hound, it being his first opportunity to pay tribute to Katchit who died earlier this month following a bout of colic.


Being a jockey, he is accustomed to many different horses passing through his life and thus becoming less susceptible to their loss but when he heard about Katchit’s death he was totally devastated; he shed a few tears too.


Choc says he was an awesome horse, a quiet little chap but with something always bubbling away under the surface.  He was sharp but totally without malice; he had a happy outlook on life and nothing was ever an issue with him. 


He recalls when Katchit first arrived at Alan King’s yard.  He looked at the tiny horse who was almost a pony, then looked at the trainer as if to say ‘you must be joking’.  But from the first day they schooled him he never flinched or faltered and, despite being barely 15 hands high, he had the heart of a lion.  And they weren’t surprised when he won his first race, at Market Rasen.


But they were amazed by the horse’s form for the remainder of the season.  He was beaten at Wetherby on his third start, but the next time Choc sat on him it felt like it would never happen again; Katchit was so fired up, as though he was annoyed at being beaten!


His next four races as a novice all took place at Cheltenham; he won them all, culminating in the Triumph Hurdle.  He then won at Aintree too.  In his second season, Choc thought he was indestructible, but he was beaten in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle; however, all of Alan’s horses needed a run at that time.  Katchit then finished second to Osana in the Bula Hurdle, but he was giving him weight that day.  And following that he won the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton. 


Choc believed Katchit to be a good each-way bet in that season’s Champion Hurdle, although he didn’t imagine he’d win it.  However Choc said he felt like a million dollars that day – 11 March 2008 – and gave him his biggest career win to date.


Choc describes the horses as going a cracking pace that day, with Ruby Walsh giving him a little bit of room just when he needed it.  When tiring, Sizing Europe lent on Katchit ... which only served to make Choc’s mount ‘angry’  and he pushed past him – then, once in front at that late stage of the race, Choc knew they’d never get past him.


He’ll never forget that day; he’d won the first race of the Festival (the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle aboard Captain Cee Bee) and then the Champion Hurdle.  Choc says that he was walking on water.


It was Katchit’s final victory, despite running many good races after that.  Choc thinks he tried so hard on Champion Hurdle day that he gave everything he had.  Choc writes that he has so much to thank Katchit for, and he will never forget him.


Choc then goes on to praise Cheltenham’s ground staff and Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse for saving Saturday’s fixture.  However, he thinks that the only form which will hold up come the Festival will be that of Sprinter Sacre; the four days likely to be run on good ground with very different results.


He gives special mention to Imperial Commander, who finished a very close second in the Argento Chase having been off the track for almost two years.  But he thinks the horse will be vulnerable in the Gold Cup when up against younger horses such as Silviniaco Conti.


Finally Choc mentions his exploits on the All Weather recently, having ridden in ten jumpers’ bumpers.  He thinks they provide welcome opportunities for the NH horses during bad weather, but states that it is a completely different world.


Without obstacles to space out the competitors, the horses are very closely packed.  And weirdly, he says, there’s no sound at all; it was so quiet that they heard the planes approaching to land at Heathrow.  He praises the jockeys who ride on it day in day out – as Choc found it mind numbing. 


But he mentions that he rode two winners, including Fair Trade; Choc has always been of the opinion that the horse is a good one.  He travelled well in both of his starts over hurdles but was not lasting home in heavy ground.  But, on good ground, he thinks he may be an undiscovered realistic hope for the Supreme Novices’ at the Festival.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Two riding engagements for Choc at Ludlow today, and this is how he fared:

King of Dudes (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Juvenile Hurdle (9 ran).

Heronshaw (Henry Daly/Choc) won the Maiden Hurdle (15 ran); Choc’s 33rd winner of the season J


Tomorrow, two runners of interest at Towcester:

13:50 Brukirk Lass (Martin Keighley/Daniel Hiskett) – Mares’ Maiden Hurdle; Danny returning following injury.

15:50 Monty’s Revenge (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Chase


There are 84 entries for this season’s Grand National, but none for Alan King.  More


And here are those aforementioned entries:



Multiple Group One winning Midday has given birth to her first foal.  More


Sandown expects to have problems staging Saturday’s hurdles races if the heavy rain forecasted arrives on Friday.  The contingency plan is to substitute three additional chases into the programme instead.  More

I think that would probably mess up my plans for a trip to the Esher track on Saturday ... as all bar one of Alan King’s entries are hurdlers; with the only current chase entry, Oh Crick, being ridden by his now regular pilot, Mr Joshua Newman!


I can always look on the bright side I suppose; as it will give me additional time to concentrate on my hard-drive to DVD transfers ... I didn’t get to bed until 02:00 this morning because I was watching the recordings in preparation for the task!  I never envisioned it would be so time consuming to locate every Choc-related snippet! 


And Doncaster has organised an additional fixture for next Monday.  More


Talented chaser William’s Wishes, having sustained an injury which prevented him from running at Cheltenham last Saturday, is out for the remainder of the season.  More

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Two riding engagements for Choc tomorrow, at Ludlow:

13:40 King of Dudes (Alan King/Choc) – Juvenile Hurdle

16:10 Heronshaw (Henry Daly/Choc) – Maiden Hurdle


Today Choc reached the milestone of 20,000 followers on Twitter!  I’m extremely honoured, as I’m also one of the 293 people he follows. J


I gather it’s Phil Taylor’s birthday today, Choc’s valet. 


Dave Crosse writes a regular blog for the Love The Races website, and today a new edition was published.

Click here to read.  The ‘5 Deadly Terms’ and ‘The World’s Shortest Fairytale’ are very amusing!


From this retweet, I presume the Household Cavalry will be appearing at the 2013 Lambourn Open Day this year:


I saw them at the event in 2010 – not surprisingly they were excellent but, as it had been raining heavily, the ground became so cut-up that the remainder of the arena events were cancelled!  Hopefully, I’ll make the trip again this year, having missed 2012 due to apprehension about the fuel shortages!!!  I had intended to take my friend Denise last year, so will probably ask her again this.  Good Friday and Easter fall the weekend before the Aintree Festival again this year. 

I’ve been re-living ATR’s coverage from Ascot on 18 February 2012 ... I’m selecting races and interviews to transfer onto DVD.  The only problem last evening was that I was so tired that I only saw the beginning of Balder Succes’ race before dozing off to sleep and missing the remainder of the recording! 

I watched the first few races on Sunday evening; prior to that I’d made a note of the races to keep from Newbury’s re-arranged Betfair fixture which took place on Friday 17 February last year.  As it was shortly after Choc’s return from injury, there was a lovely interview following his win aboard Montbazon.

I’ve also viewed much of RUK’s Mark Your Card coverage from last year’s Cheltenham Festival.  So far I’ve found three lengthy interviews with Choc – from Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4, plus a number of pre-recorded segments where Alan King, Choc and Wayne Hutchinson were interviewed regarding the chances of specific horses from the yard.  There are also ‘quick-fire’ vox pop snippets from a number of jockeys and race-goers relating to the Festival and recorded at Newbury – Choc appears in a number of these too. 

Dallas at 09:00 on Channel 5 tonight ... followed by the viewing of further Sky hard-disk recordings, if I’m not too tired by that stage!

Monday 28 January 2013

News today that Salden Licht has been retired from racing having suffered a serious suspensory injury on the All Weather at Kempton last Friday.  More 


My research shows this is a ligament injury; the suspensory ligament runs vertically from the cannon bone to the fetlock.  A shame the Alan King yard has lost a promising chaser, who held an Arkle and a Jewson Novices’ Chase entry at the Festival, but at least he lives to fight another day and hopefully will be found a lovely home where he can enjoy a happy retirement.   


Plans are on hold for Grand Crus following his very disappointing showing in last Saturday’s Argento Chase.  More


Tomorrow’s fixture at Taunton has been abandoned due to water-logging; the only NH related racing being a ‘Jumpers’ Bumpers’ card at Lingfield Park.  But no riding engagements for Choc.


However, things appear to be shaping up for a visit to Sandown Park on Saturday!

Sunday 27 January 2013

Following Friday’s victory on the All Weather at Kempton Park, Alan King is hoping to run Fair Trade in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.  But he will need to find one more hurdle race for him to run in so as to qualify for the race.  More


I’ve been wading through the racing recordings on my Sky HD box and making notes of the items I wish to save onto DVD before wiping them off the hard drive.  I appear to have mastered the process, having successfully copied Channel 4’s Morning Line programme for 31 December 2011 onto disk – Choc was their guest that day, during his recovery from a broken arm.  I finalised the disk too, so now it will play on any DVD player!  Wicked J 


The only downside is that I now want to record all the racing on the hard drive, then view it, before transferring those segments I wish to keep onto DVD ... but I fear my life would have to be put on hold to find the time to do that every day!!!


Oh well, the process certainly wouldn’t start tomorrow, as Plumpton has been abandoned due to water-logging ... but I am very tempted to record all the important main season RUK or ATR Saturday and Festival coverage on the HD box as a matter of routine and then transfer it over at my leisure.  It’s appears so easy to do (?) that I wonder why I’ve not attempted it sooner.  Besides, DVDs take up far less space that video tapes do!

I had meant to watch the Djokovic vs Murray Australian Open Final this morning ... but got sidetracked by my race recordings.  I’m not surprised the former won, as he had a much easier route to the final than Murray, who had a hard 5-set semi-final against Federer and one day less to recuperate following this penultimate match.  It reminds me of the Sampras vs Agassi rivalry – Pete always seemed to have the easier draw and Andre was also disadvantaged by playing a far more strength sapping baseline style game.  Talking of Agassi, it was nice to see Andre helping to present the trophies today; his last win in this event being 10 years ago – he won it 4 times in total (1995, 2000, 2001 & 2003), along with one Wimbledon (1992), one French Open (1999) and two US Opens (1994 & 1999).  

My spare evenings this week will be spent viewing the remainder of my recordings, but I must take time out to watch the first episode of Dallas Series 2 on Channel 5 on Tuesday and the postponed from a fortnight ago Midsomer Murders on Wednesday.  With the passing of Larry Hagman last November, JR Ewing has been written out of Dallas by necessity; I gather it will be via another ‘Who Shot JR?’ episode but, of course, the shooting will be successful this time around. 

Choc has tweeted another photograph of William today, this time wearing his sunglasses! 


William certainly loves his white rabbit!

Saturday 26 January 2013

Cheltenham made it today and there was an excellent day’s racing.  Although Choc was worried last night, as it was raining heavily where he was; he said he’d never seen anything like it and was worried about possible water-logging!  The snow didn’t reach Hertfordshire, just some evening and overnight rain; and I don’t think it was heavy.  And the good news is that the pavement ice had disappeared by the end of the afternoon.  Hallelujah!  


And this is how the Alan King runners fared at Cheltenham today:

Bless The Wings (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 9th in the Murphy Group Chase (16 ran).

Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Victor Chandler Chase (Grade 1) (7 ran).

Lovcen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 8th & Walkon (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up before the last in the Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2) (10 ran); he was ahead of Lovcen at the time. 


A disappointing day for the yard.  It was far removed from last year when Bless The Wings, Batonnier and Grumeti had all won their respective races; although the latter was awarded his race in the Stewards’ Room.  But I guess the horses’ form is suffering on the prevailing ground this season. 


Evidently, the crowd at Cheltenham was their biggest ever for Trials Day ... over 18,000.  Although the grass car-parking areas were closed – presumably too many cars would have needed to be towed out had they used them!


The best story of the day was Imperial Commander’s return.  He ran a brilliant race in the Argento Chase, only just failing to hold off the last gasp challenge of Cape Tribulation.  More  Tidal Bay didn’t make the line-up following his ‘pus in the hoof’ problem.


Sprinter Sacre duly obliged in the Victor Chandler.  More


Reve De Sivola held off the persistent challenge of Oscar Whisky in the Cleeve Hurdle.  More


The progressive Venetia Williams trained Katenko won the Murphy Group Chase.  More


And the funniest moment of the day was when RUK presenter Lydia Hislop spotted a black Labrador on the track whilst the horses were circling at the start for the Novices’ Handicap Chase.  Did you see that dog?’ she asked.  ‘Do you mean Vino Griego?’ replied colleague Jonathan Neesom, jokingly.  However, the joke was on him, when Vino Griego duly trotted up to win the race at 25-1!   More  The horse, although thought to be a bit of a rogue by his jockey, paid a compliment to Salden Licht, who had beaten him at Plumpton earlier this month. 


Tomorrow’s fixture at Sedgefield has been abandoned due to snow, with Fontwell being abandoned due to water-logging!  I understand Lingfield’s NH fixture scheduled for Tuesday will now be a ‘jumpers’ bumpers’ card on the all-weather.


Choc has been tweeting his mates about arrangements for booking their table at the Lesters!


I spent the afternoon watching the racing from Cheltenham on TV ... whilst at the same time I’ve knitted and completed the second Can Can scarf.  My free time is my own once more!

Friday 25 January 2013

Four riding engagements for Choc at Kempton Park today and this is how he fared:

Fair Trade (Alan King/Choc) won the 14:15 Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race (14 ran) and he beat Ruby!  Choc’s 32nd winner of the season.

Salden Licht (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the 14:50 Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race (10 ran).  The race was won by Sam Winner, Peddlers Cross finished 2nd.  More

Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the 15:25 Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race (11 ran); a very close finish between the first three.

Ardlui (Alan King/Choc) finished 9th in the 16:55 Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race (16 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be at Cheltenham, where he has one riding engagement.

Or that might be Sunday if the fixture is postponed for 24 hours, although confidence is high for tomorrow. More

13:15 Bless The Wings (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Murphy Group Chase

13:50 Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Victor Chandler Chase (Grade 1)

15:35 Lovcen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Walkon (Alan King/Choc) – Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2)


Contrary to earlier reports, Tidal Bay still has an entry in the Argento Chase; connections will wait until the last minute to decide whether he’s fit enough to run following this week’s set-back.


There’s some great racing tomorrow at Cheltenham but, with the recent bad weather, I can’t risk taking a trip to Trials Day on this occasion; I’ve been on three out of the four previous years (2009, 2011 and 2012).  Besides, the ‘leading edge’ snow is due to arrive in Hertfordshire overnight and must cause some disruption early tomorrow.  I’m going to keep my powder dry in the hope that I might have a trip to Sandown Park on Saturday week; and the fixture I’m really looking forward to attending is Newbury’s Super Saturday on 09 February!


Tomorrow’s fixture at Uttoxeter has also been abandoned due to snow. 


Here is a link to this week’s Stable Talk column by Martin Keighley.  Click here to read.


And a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s column on the Racing Post website. Click here to read.


Bless his cotton socks (not that he’s wearing any of this occasion) ... isn’t William cute?  https://mobile.twitter.com/Choc_Thornton/status/294864939955388416/photo/1

And he’s still got his favourite cuddly toy – the white rabbit!  My favourite cuddly toy as a baby was a rabbit ... it must be a Capricorn thing!!!  I kept him for years, until he got mildew caused by condensation having been stored in a wardrobe and I had to consign him to the dustbin L


The Can Can wool has arrived, so I have another knitting project to complete. 


Also, as I’m on the PJA mailing list having contributed to the ‘Jockeys with moustaches’ fundraising in 2009, today I received details of the 23rd annual awards ceremony, The Lesters.  They are to be held on the evening of Thursday 28th March 2013 at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham.  That’s the day before ‘non-racing’ Good Friday, so it doesn’t matter if the partygoers end up with a hangover!  Tickets are £145 each!

Plans are going ahead for our trip to the New Forest in May.  We’ve invited another work colleague, Steph, so that’s four of us who will be heading off into the sunset on our trusty steeds ... western style!!!  Yeeehaaa ... as Matt Chapman would say!

Thursday 24 January 2013

There’s no National Hunt racing tomorrow ... but Kempton Park has arranged a ‘Jumpers’ Bumpers’ card ... and Choc has 4 riding engagements:

14:15 Fair Trade (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race

14:50 Salden Licht (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race

15:25 Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race

16:55 Ardlui (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper NH Flat Race


One of Salden Licht’s rivals tomorrow will be Peddlers Cross.  More


I hope Choc manages to get home to the Cotswolds before the late afternoon/evening forecasted snow arrives.  Fortunately it’s only going to be on the leading edge of the weather-front, so this batch will disappear quite quickly when the rain arrives ... and take the last of the lying snow and ice with it!  Good ... I’m bored with the white-stuff already!  It’s the pavements which scare me; around a third of my walk to work remains covered with hard-packed ice.  I’d walk in the road but, knowing my luck, I’d be run over!  


Doncaster has been forced to abandon Saturday’s card too.  More  Presumably that means Walkon will be re-routed to Cheltenham instead, with Choc aboard.  Wayne Hutchinson is currently booked for Bless The Wings (who he always rides) and Kumbeshwar (who he’s ridden since Choc took a crashing fall aboard the horse at Kempton Park last November). 


I try not to get too attached to particular horses just in case they get hurt, but my two particular favourites are Walkon and Kumbeshwar.  And especially as I already have to contend with the upset when my favourite jockey suffers an injury. 


Tidal Bay has met with a minor setback and will miss this weekend’s Argento Chase at Cheltenham.  More   

As will Bobs Worth who is slightly under the weather this week.  More


It’s not the week for Choc’s Horse and Hound column but there is an interesting article in this week’s edition about Spirit Son, the racehorse owned by Michael Buckley and trained by Nicky Henderson.  Having missed last year’s Cheltenham Festival due to a tendon injury, the hurdler went for his summer break to recuperate.  But at the end of April he was found collapsed inside his stable and was unable to get to his feet. 


His ‘carers’ managed to get him out onto a nearby lawn, and looked after him around the clock, even erecting a marquee over him.  They’d helped Spirit Son to his feet the morning after the initial collapse, and continued to help him to his feet at intervals and to support him once he was up.  He remained weak and unsteady throughout this period. 


After six weeks the horse was strong enough to be transported to an equine hospital in Newbury to be x-rayed.  It revealed that he’d sustained two fractures to his neck, with the resulting compression of his spinal cord affecting the nerves supplying his hind-legs.  In order to give him the best chance of survival, he underwent surgery to insert metal implants and a few days later he was able to return home. 


Spirit Son is still recuperating and the nerve damage may take up to a year to repair itself.  He’s described as having an excellent temperament and enjoys all the attention he gets.  The consensus is that he’ll never race again and will always be a wobbler but his quality of life is good. 


I forgot to mention that I’ve completed the first Can Can scarf already ... it took five hours, starting on Tuesday at 20:45 and ending at 01:45 on Wednesday morning.  Yes, I am crazy, but once I’d started I couldn’t put it down!!!  I’m now awaiting delivery of another ball of yarn so that I can begin the second order, which is for my colleague Michelle’s mum. 

I also forget to say that my niece Kim returned safely to University at the end of last week.  Instead of catching a coach on Friday, her mum took her by car on Thursday thus missing all the heavy snow.  She had an exam on Saturday, so couldn’t afford to miss her opportunity to travel back to Sheffield.  She had intended to return home to Bedfordshire late Monday, following a second exam, but thought better of it! 

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Big Zeb was retired today at the age of 12, having failed to respond to treatment for joint problems.  More

Choc replied to Barry Geraghty’s tweet, the latter having hash-tagged the fact that the horse liked going long at his fences ... but Choc drew attention to the fact that Big Zeb gave him a bite of the ‘orange board’ one day when he misjudged an open-ditch (presumably referring to the take-off board).  I remember it all too well – it was during the Champion Chase at Cheltenham Festival 2009; Choc ended up in casualty at Cheltenham General Hospital ... with some nasty bruising down below I’m led to believe!


The big freeze has now claimed the fixtures at both Doncaster and Huntingdon on Friday.  More


But Cheltenham appears to be optimistic regarding Saturday’s card and, if that doesn’t work out, they have the option of postponing it for 24 hours and going ahead on Sunday instead!  More

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Tomorrow’s National Hunt fixtures at Catterick and Exeter have been abandoned, with Ayr inspecting at 07:30 to see if racing can go ahead.


Thursday’s fixtures at Warwick and Fakenham have been lost due to snow too.  No news yet regarding Doncaster and Huntingdon on Friday. 


And Cheltenham is investigating the possibility of staging their Trials Day on Sunday if it proves impossible to hold the fixture on Saturday!  More


It was icy on the pavements this morning, unfortunately.  I decided to walk to work initially via the back-roads where there was still a bit of soft snow on the pavements for traction, before heading along the main road for the remainder of the journey.  Along much of the main road there are shops, so there was no snow or ice remaining, due to footfall.  


I’ve just finished reading The House at Riverton by Kate Morton and have now ordered The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours.  I’m waiting for her most recent novel, The Secret Keeper, to be reduced in price before I buy it!  I tend to purchase books (and DVDs) from play.com.


The Rico Can Can wool has arrived, so I’m all set to knit a scarf for my colleague, Michelle.  And she has now asked if I would also knit one for her mum too.  I can (or should that be can can) just so long as it doesn’t encroach on those very busy days following a trip to the races when I spend every spare minute uploading my photographs and writing my diaries!  Fortunately, as my website is currently up-to-date, I have a number of free weekday evenings this week and next, plus some time this weekend ... but I must sort out those DVD recordings too.

Monday 21 January 2013

Choc’s current prediction for next Saturday is that he will be at Doncaster, so I’ve more time to fill before having to scoot off to the races again; not that it’s 100% certain that racing will have commenced again following the snow!  Alan King actually has very few runners entered at Doncaster or Cheltenham on Saturday anyway.  I’ve agreed to knit a Rico Can Can scarf for one of my work colleagues so, providing the wool arrives before next weekend, I can concentrate on making that ... and transferring recorded items to DVD too, which I should have begun last weekend!   


I thought that the absence of La Belle Doyenne at Kempton Park’s all weather fixture on Saturday was probably due to the snow ... Alan King’s website has confirmed this in their latest news blog.  More  I once turned up at Kempton Park (07 February 2009) following a period of snowy weather, having travelled to the racecourse by train, and hoping to see Choc ride ... only to discover that the Barbury Castle runners had been unable to leave their stable-yard!  


News that Dan Skelton, currently Assistant to Paul Nicholls, is to set up as a trainer at the end of this season.  More


Despite yesterday’s snow in the Hertfordshire area, the main roads were fine today.  The pavements had a covering of soft snow, which is always best for grip, so I actually took the long route into work this morning via the side-roads.  And I think the majority of local schools were closed ... although a few young children were being pulled along the pavement on sledges by a parent.  The pavement snow was a little slushy tonight, so still okay to walk on.  I hope it’s not icy tomorrow.

Sunday 20 January 2013


snow 19 jan 2013.jpg


The back garden on Saturday


Robin & blackbird.jpg


There’s a robin on the bird table

and a blackbird in the background


fox 20 jan 2013.jpg


Today - a very mangy urban fox turns up too ...

helping itself to some of the scattered bird food



I didn’t venture out yesterday or today; except into the garden to feed the birds.  Their food is crushed fat-balls, which are now stored in the front porch since a previous supply was stolen from their supposedly sealed bucket in the garden shed by mice or rats last year!  The fat-balls, which have been hanging outside in the garden overwinter, are frozen solid so the poor old blue tits and great tits won’t have much luck at the moment; I don’t have any peanuts for them unfortunately. 


The blackbirds and robins, being early risers, were already sitting on the garden fence waiting to be fed by the time I ventured out at 09:00, both days.  The starlings, which are found in much fewer numbers these days, arrive in a small flock later in the morning.  There are magpies, of course, and wood pigeons.  And it’s a sure sign of bad weather when the redwings arrive, perching in the large apple tree two doors up the road; which they did yesterday and have returned again today. 


I’ve had to unfreeze the secondary bird-bath too, as the birds need water for drinking and bathing, even in this weather.  The proper stone bird-bath is never used these days, originally as it developed a crack caused by ice, although this has been sealed since.  Nowadays it is because the wood pigeons like to sit in it for hours on end and they poo an awful lot whilst doing so!   


I was laid low yesterday evening with a vomiting bug; I don’t suppose it’s the much-publicised Norovirus because it only lasted for two or three hours.  But it must have been some sort of bug, as I didn’t eat anything I’d class as unusual, nor had I eaten more than I do on a normal stay-at-home Saturday.  I’ve been fine since then, although I’ve been eating toast/crackers and very plain food today to give my poor old stomach a rest, as it can be temperamental at times!  Sadly I didn’t inherit a cast-iron stomach from my mother!


It would be great if I could lose a little weight at the same time too!  Because I have a great desire to fit into my absolutely favourite skirt again, the one which I wore to walk the course at Newbury with Choc.  I had lost enough weight to do up the zip before Christmas ... but all progress was lost over the Festive Season! 


Having retired to bed shortly after feeling unwell, I woke up and was wide awake by late evening.  So I was very pleased to discover that the film, The Game (1997) starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, was being shown on ITV last night.  I’d seen it once before, and it is one of those films that you find by accident whilst scanning through the TV channels looking for something interesting to watch.  I was totally hooked on that occasion, and it was good to re-visit it again last night. 


I had been intending to transfer some Choccie footage from my Sky HD box onto DVD this weekend ... but all I’ve got around to doing is formatting 5 DVDs.  But I must get it sorted by Cheltenham as there’s insufficient space on the hard-drive at the moment. 


I’ve spent a lot of time reading this weekend, the novel I’m working my way through is The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  It’s been sitting unread on my shelf for years and I didn’t think I’d take to it, but it’s proved to be good despite being outside of my usual preference for thrillers.  Evidently she’s written three later books – The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours and The Secret Keeper.  I shall endeavour to get hold of copies of these too. 


There’s been no racing in the UK or Ireland today; not even on the all weather at Kempton due to the falling temperatures and return of the snow.  There’s supposed to be all weather racing at Kempton Park and Wolverhampton tomorrow, subject to inspections at 09:00 and 06:30 respectively.  No National Hunt racing scheduled tomorrow, with Tuesday’s Wetherby and Leicester fixtures having already been abandoned.

Choc has tweeted that he’s got cabin fever ... the snow has trapped him in his home. 

Back to work tomorrow ... I won’t have any difficulty getting to work; I just hope I’m not the only one who turns up!

Friday 18 January 2013

Sad news that Le Beau Bai has been put down today, having experienced a deterioration of his pelvis injury which he suffered on the gallops last month.  It’s just so difficult to immobilise horses so that they don’t do further damage when hurt.   More


I guess it’s no surprise that Ascot, Haydock Park and Taunton have all been lost tomorrow.  But Cheltenham is now going to stage the Grade 1 Victor Chandler Chase at their Trials Day tomorrow week.  More


Here is a link to the latest edition of Martin Keighley’s Stable Talk, in which he also pays tribute to jockey Jimmy Derham who has been forced into premature retirement by serious injury.  More


And a link to Wayne Hutchison’s column in the Sporting Life too.  More


The snow didn’t begin falling until after I’d arrived at work this morning; I got there at 08:15.  We were a team member short today due to holiday, so it was very busy and I didn’t have time to take a lunch-break.  Colleagues were becoming very concerned that they’d have extreme difficulties driving home in the snow, and they were permitted to leave mid-afternoon.  I held the fort until around 16:50, at which time I set off too, as icy pavements can be scary ... I still have flash-backs to the time I slipped over on a wet pavement and hurt my back.  The roads were very quiet, almost deserted; it didn’t resemble a rush-hour at all.


I decided to wear my red Hunter Wellingtons today, as opposed to my Thinsulate Stormwear boots.  Firstly because I love the latter so much that I want to ‘save’ them for going to the races and, secondly, because I have a lot of confidence in the safeness of my Hunters, having worn them in the snow and ice on many occasions!  Besides, I’m almost obsessive with saving clothes, etc, for ‘best’. 


Choc has jokingly tweeted to ask if anyone has a 4 x 4 he can borrow this weekend.  Bless.  The countryside is beautiful to live in but it’s at times like this that one has to be glad there are amenities close by. 

I’m looking forward to snuggling down in my bed tonight ... with my two hot water bottles!!!

Thursday 17 January 2013

Choc was at Lingfield Park today for the Jumpers’ Bumpers card and this is how he fared; and he rode winner too J

Jet Fighter (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd & Soixante Six (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (11 ran).

Jetnova (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the 13:30 Jumpers’ Bumper (11 ran).

Hollow Penny (Alan King/Choc) won the 14:00 Jumpers’ Bumper (14 ran); Choc’s 31st winner of the season.

Cold Knight (Alan King/Choc) finished 11th in the 15:00 Jumpers’ Bumper (13 ran).


Time to catch up with the news on Alan King’s website.  More


No runners of interest at Chepstow tomorrow.  There’s supposed to be an inspection at 08:00 in the morning but I’m sure they haven’t got a hope if the snow arrives when and where forecasted!  It’s an amber warning for snow in most places tomorrow; with a red warning over the Black Mountains of South Wales!  Musselburgh has already been abandoned. 


Haydock Park is due to inspect at 08:30 tomorrow, with Ascot doing the same at 16:30, ahead of Saturday’s proposed fixtures.  Taunton?  More   Towcester’s fixture on Sunday has already been abandoned. 


My niece Kim is supposed to be travelling back to Sheffield by coach tomorrow to begin her new University term, having remained at home for an extra week or so to revise.  She appears to have picked the worst possible day to be travelling, so I hope she manages to get back safely. 

Wednesday 16 January 2013

A number of runners of interest at Newbury today; which survived an inspection having been covered in fleece:

Seventh Sign (Alan King/Choc) won the Juvenile Hurdle (6 ran); Choc’s 30th winner of the season J

Uxizandre (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd & Dalavar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th in the Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran).  The race was won by Chiberta King, who’d given Choc such an awkward ride last time out at Ascot!  Evidently suited by the longer trip and going left-handed today. 

Urgence D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd & One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was a non-runner in the Mares’ Novices’ Chase (5 ran).


Here is the report from the Racing Post regarding Seventh Heaven’s win.  More


Wincanton goes ahead tomorrow, subject to a 08:30 inspection; Ludlow and Market Rasen having been lost due to frozen ground. 


Choc has no engagements at Wincanton but Lingfield has now scheduled a ‘Jumpers’ Bumpers’ card, where he has 4 rides on the all weather surface:

13:00 Jet Fighter (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Soixante Six (Alan King/Choc) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

13:30 Jetnova (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper

14:00 Hollow Penny (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper

15:00 Cold Knight (Alan King/Choc) – Jumpers’ Bumper

All the races are run over a distance of 2 miles and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a winner, as Choc generally suffers from thirditis on the all-weather!


The bad news is that I didn’t get to bed until gone midnight last night ... but the good news is that I’ve finished my Kempton Park diary.  Click here to read. 


I’m not sure that I should have panicked so much about getting it finished, as I don’t think there’s going to be any racing this weekend if the snow arrives in the quantity which is forecast for Friday and Saturday; and Choc was to have been at Haydock Park anyway!


ITV is broadcasting football; the Radio Times states that a new episode of Midsomer Murders is due to be shown between 20:00 to 22:00 this evening.  I’m gutted, I hate football.  I shall do some clothes washing instead ... as I have loads!

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Two runners of interest today, at Lingfield:

Buddy Love (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 3½ furlongs] (15 ran).

Midnight Thomas (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 4th in the ‘Junior’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (All weather) (12 ran).


A number of runners of interest at Newbury tomorrow; subject to a 09:00 precautionary inspection:

12:50 Seventh Sign (Alan King/Choc) – Juvenile Hurdle

13:55 Uxizandre (Alan King/Choc) & Dalavar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle

15:00 Urgence D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) & One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Mares’ Novices’ Chase


The 1991 Epsom Derby winner, Generous, has passed away aged 25.  More


There’s sad news regarding jockey Jimmy Derham; he’s been refused a licence by the doctors to return to race riding, so retirement is the only option following a serious neck injury incurred in 2011.     


AP aims to follow in the footsteps of Dick Francis and John Francome; he’s going to write a racing thriller.  More  He also rode a double today at bottomless Ffos Las!  More


When I tweeted Choc to congratulate him on yesterday’s winner, he told me they’ve had lots of snow in the Cotswolds and the hats which I knitted for him and William are getting plenty of use! J


Fortunately temperatures didn’t fall far overnight, so most of the pavement ice had already melted by the time I set off for work at 08:15.  And, as it’s been a fine day today, most of the lying snow has also gone.  The forecasters are currently predicting some light snow in the Ascot area on Saturday; we shall see.  But I think it’s going to be academic anyway ... because Choc has provisional riding engagements at Haydock Park!  What is the weather like in the northwest at the moment?  I’ve never visited Haydock Park, but I have driven past it a number of times, as I stay just down the road during the Aintree Festival! 

The heating was left ticking over last night due to the cold, so I was able to sit in bed in comfort to watch the remaining 5 races from Kempton Park and complete my diary notes; I snuggled down to sleep at 01:00.  I then spent my lunch-hour today typing up around 50% of the notes I’d made, so it won’t be long until it’s completed, and possibly even tonight!  That will leave my evenings free for the remainder of the week ... and it would appear that I’m at home this weekend too. 

Monday 14 January 2013

Plumpton went ahead today, and Choc rode a winner J:

Valdez (Alan King/Choc) won the Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran); Choc’s 29th winner of the season.

Midnight Sail (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Handicap Chase (6 ran).


Two runners of interest tomorrow, at Lingfield:

14:00 Buddy Love (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 3½ furlongs]

16:10 Midnight Thomas (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – ‘Junior’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (All weather)


All being well, Champion Court will be heading to Haydock Park on Saturday for the Graduation Chase.  More


A couple of well-known Irish horses have been retired today – Voler La Vedette and Weapons Amnesty


St Albans had a light dusting of snow overnight, with more from late morning until mid-afternoon.  The roads aren’t too bad but, typically, the pavements consist entirely of compacted snow.  It was beginning to thaw as I walked home, because numerous drips of very cold water fell from the trees onto my head.  With temperatures dropping overnight, the pavements are going to be lethal tomorrow morning.  And we might get a final dusting of snow later this evening as the same weather front returns from the east once more.  


Being a bit of a sad old mare, I drafted some of my Kempton Park race notes before 07:00 this morning!  Hopefully, I’ll be able to do some if not all of the remaining 5 races before turning in tonight.  But I must watch the second part of Lewis too, at 21:00.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Fakenham was abandoned, following a second inspection at 10:00.  It didn’t help Choc, as he needed to set off long before that because it takes around 3½ hours (150 miles across country) to get from the Cotswold to the racecourse.  He was actually a passenger with Andrew Tinkler and was hoping to get some extra sleep on the way (a snooze cruise); they had almost reached the racecourse before it was called off.  Not surprisingly he was far from amused.  It’s the expense of driving there for nothing which must be so annoying, not to mention the waste of time.  And it’s just as bad for the horses.


There was no frost in Hertfordshire today (presumably because of yesterday’s strong wind); we had a little bit of sunshine, but temperatures have not risen above 2 degrees centigrade.  It’s jolly cold outside.


There’s racing from Plumpton tomorrow; subject to a 08:00 inspection.

13:10 Valdez (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

15:10 Midnight Sail (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase


As I’ve been out visiting family in Bedfordshire today, I tried to get a head start with my Kempton Park photographs; uploading them at midnight!  As I took a number, there are two sets to look at – Races 1 to 3 and Races 4 to 7.  Needless to say, my outing hasn’t helped my diary writing schedule, which might be in trouble if I go racing again next Saturday.  Mind you, if the weather takes a turn for the worse as is forecast, there may not be any weekend racing trips available for me to take. 

Saturday 12 January 2013


L'Unique r.jpg


Choc salutes the crowd as he returns

aboard L’Unique having won the Juvenile Hurdle



I had an excellent day out at Kempton Park; the racing was very good, even though it wasn’t Channel 4 or RUK’s feature meeting (which was Warwick).  And Choc rode a winner, a second, a third and a fourth from five. J  I love it when he’s in the mix for the races, and therefore returns to the Winners’ Enclosure. 


It was very cold though, raw in fact.  Far too cold to wear jockey silks; I was okay not warm, despite having worn 3 thermal vests, 3 cardigans and two fleeces plus coat ... don’t even try to imagine how long it takes for me to go to the loo!!!  So I can never afford to be desperate!   


Kempton Park:

L’Unique (Alan King/Choc) won the Juvenile Hurdle (5 ran); Choc’s 28th winner of the season. 

Hold On Julio (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).

Araldur (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th & Secret Edge (Alan King/Peter Hatton) finished 10th in the Lanzarote Hurdle (Listed) (18 ran).

Stoney’s Treasure (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase (9 ran).

Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).


Admittedly, both Araldur and Turn Over Sivola benefitted from last flight departures; but jumping is the name of the game.


Here is the report about L’Unique’s win.  More  A shame about Lidar, but hopefully he’ll have a long and happy retirement.



Franklino (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (15 ran); an excellent result following his long layoff.

West End Rocker (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 12th in the Handicap Hurdle (18 ran); both Sunnyhillboy and The Package were pulled up.

Godsmejudge (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Classic Chase (Handicap) (13 ran).

Reddy Tobouggie (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th in the ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (12 ran).



Havingotascoobydo (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (5 ran).


I saw a number of races broadcast on the big screen overlooking the Parade Ring at Kempton today; although no commentary is provided.  It was therefore guesswork as to who was doing what in most of the races, but I did recognise Godsmejudge in the Classic Chase; Alan King was watching too whilst in the Paddock ahead of Kempton’s final race.  I waited to see the outcome, and I didn’t know who’d collared Wayne’s mount close home.  As a result, I hadn’t reached the course-side rails by the time Choc cantered past on the way to the start aboard Turn Over Sivola. 


For the record, it was Rigadin De Beauchene who won the Classic. More


Barry Geraghty had a rewarding ... and exciting day at Kempton Park – Niall Hannity has tweeted this photo of him nearly parting company with Tetlami during the Novices’ Chase, but they still won.



My Kempton Park racing notes are going to be incident packed, with quite a few fallers today.  Looking at the replays from Warwick and Wetherby, there seem to be a lot of mishaps at these fixtures too. 


Forgotten Gold must have been okay following his run at Cheltenham in December when he appeared sore after finishing 2nd to Super Duty, as he ran at Warwick today.  However he unseated when hampered at the second last.


The information signs on the M3 and M25 warned of snow tomorrow.  Evidently the worst of the weather is going to arrive on Monday ... and possibly stay until early February!  My idea of heaven would be to be snowed in with Choc, but I’m sure he would think otherwise!


Tomorrow, if it doesn’t snow(!), Choc will be at Fakenham for two riding engagements:

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

14:40 Fair Trade (Alan King/Choc) – Maiden Hurdle

Friday 11 January 2013

A couple of runners of interest at Huntingdon today and this is how they fared:

Ali Baba (Alan King/Peter Hatton) finished 2nd in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

Dundee (Alan King/Choc) finished 14th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (15 ran)


Another disappointing bumper runner, with Alan King hoping he’d acquit himself well today (see Geoff Lester’s blog, link below).  Lotus Pond was similarly disappointing in the same colours (Trevor Hemmings) on Wednesday.


Anyway, tomorrow there are runners of interest at Kempton Park, Warwick and Wetherby:


Kempton Park:

12:20 L’Unique (Alan King/Choc) – Juvenile Hurdle

13:30 Hold On Julio (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle; Alan hopes to rekindle his interest ahead of a shot at the Grand National

14:05 Havingotascoobydo (Martin Keighley) – Handicap Chase – this is his second preference (see Wetherby)

14:40 Araldur (Alan King/Choc) & Secret Edge (Alan King/Peter Hatton) – Lanzarote Hurdle (Listed)

15:15 Stoney’s Treasure (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

15:50 Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle



12:40 Franklino (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle; returning after 566 days off the course - I remember him breaking down at Uttoxeter. 

14:25 West End Rocker (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle; another effort to rekindle his interest following a disappointing outing in this year’s Becher Chase.  Sunnyhillboy and The Package also run in this one.

15:35 Godsmejudge (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Classic Chase (Handicap)

16:05 Reddy Tobouggie (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – ‘Newcomers’ Standard Open NH Flat Race



14:15 Havingotascoobydo (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase


Choc will be at Fakenham on Sunday; further details tomorrow.


Here is a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s latest column in the Sporting Life:



And one to Martin Keighley’s latest Stable Talk column too:



Geoff Lester’s blog on Alan King’s website is also worth a read:



I’m looking forward to my trip to Kempton Park tomorrow; especially as Choc has 5 riding engagements.  The only downside is that he’s in races 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 ... and the light will be fading by the time the last few races are run and my photographs will, no doubt, suffer for it. 


I wonder if by next weekend the weather will have closed in and severely affected the racing programme.  The forecasters are predicting very cold conditions for the next two or three weeks, when my plans might include Ascot, Cheltenham and Sandown.  It’s already going to be ‘purple anorak’ weather again tomorrow.  My three thermal vests, etc, are already laid out ready to go!


I need to pop into Next on my journey out to return the navy blue peplum jacket which I ordered last Friday.  It fits, and I like it, and the colour suits me but, as it isn’t constructed very well, I’m taking it back!  Such a pity. 

Thursday 10 January 2013



Katchit 21 Nov 2009 r.jpg


R I P Katchit


23 February 2003 to 09 January 2013



Very, very sad news today that Katchit has been put to sleep having undergone a couple of operations following a bout of colic.  More  Choc always wished that he had enough money to buy the horse so that he could have given him the long and happy retirement he deserved.


I’ve been reflecting too ... because if it wasn’t for Katchit winning the Champion Hurdle and, as a result, Choc appearing in the news outside of the usual racing channels, I don’t think I’d ever have noticed him.  Thank you Katchit, I owe you.  RIP.


This is reportedly Katchit as a foal ... he’s got a sock on his off-hind, so it could well be.  His dam was called Miracle but I can’t find any information about her, such as being a grey:



And there’s a montage of Katchit photos too:




*  *  *  *  *  *  *


Here is how today’s runners of interest fared:



Court In Session (Martin Keighley/AP McCoy) was pulled up in the Novices’ Chase (5 ran).

The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran).

Any Currency (Martin Keighley/AP McCoy) finished 4th in the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase (14 ran).

Johnny Og (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) won the Standard Open NH Flat Race (Conditionals and Amateurs) (7 ran); Well done to the team, their 20th winner of the season.  And a winner for Ian on his first day back from injury.


A couple of runners of interest at Huntingdon tomorrow:

12:50 Ali Baba (Alan King/Peter Hatton) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

15:50 Dundee (Alan King/Choc) – Standard Open NH Flat Race


*  *  *  *  *  *  *


It’s been three weeks since Choc’s last Horse and Hound column, so another was published today.  Here is an overview.


Choc begins by praising Paul Carberry’s winning ride aboard Monbeg Dude in the Welsh Grand National last Saturday.  The quality of the ride being emphasised if you watch the race replay.  Paul didn’t rush the horse, which didn’t jump very well, and ignored what all the other competitors were doing.  Choc says that Paul exuded confidence, like many Irish jockeys including Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty, and demonstrated nerves of steel to play a waiting game. 


Paul, whose nickname is ‘Alice’ because he used to sing the song Living Next Door To Alice all the time, is very quiet and doesn’t say much in the Weighing Room.  As a member of the extraordinarily talented Carberry family he collaborated with their British equivalent in the Scudamore family – the trainer of Monbeg Dude being Michael, brother of jockey Tom, son of Peter and grandson of Michael Snr. 


Choc says Michael is one of the good guys and fully deserves a big winner.  But he does feel sorry for Jamie Moore who would have been the first choice of jockey, having won aboard Monbeg Dude at Cheltenham on his last run.  Jamie was claimed to go to Sandown Park to ride for his father, Gary.


On a personal note, Choc says he had a great Christmas and New Year with his family.  He looked after William over the New Year period, ably assisted by his mum who looked after his son whilst he was racing.  William is just beginning to understand what Christmas is all about and, at the moment, he is receiving presents wherever he goes.  Choc says he’s a lucky boy.


Choc is finding racing frustrating at the moment; the horses are running well – like Raya Star who finished 2nd in the Christmas Hurdle – but they haven’t been good enough to win the big races. 


He mentions that a lot of Alan’s horses are flat-bred and aren’t designed for ‘hock-deep’ ground, so runners are few and far between.  It’s been a difficult winter to introduce youngsters, the yard has 25 bumper horses waiting to run; fortunately their owners are patient.  He’s looking forward with interest to Festival time, as he wonders if the current form will be turned on its head when the ground dries up. 


Choc was pleased to win a Novices’ Chase at Plumpton last Sunday aboard Salden Licht.  He says the horse jumped carefully and needs to sharpen up a bit but will have gained confidence and should be nicely handicapped over fences. 


Finally Choc gives his view of the new Channel 4 Racing coverage.  He’s not seen much of the afternoon programme but the Saturday morning show has left him unconvinced, as he feels it lacks fun and characters.  He misses the likes of Alastair Down, John Francome, Derek Thompson and even John McCririck.  


Although the presenters are very professional, Choc thinks they need to be careful that the programme doesn’t become too bland.  He wonders if they would be better off with ATR’s Matt Chapman!  He says Matt is not afraid to ‘put his neck on the line’ and approaches racing with a real passion. 


He just hopes that the new format, for the sake of racing, is able to attract casual viewers.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *


katchit 21 Nov 2009 2 r.jpg


Wednesday 09 January 2013

Here are today’s results of interest; Choc rode a winner, but there were disappointments.



Handazan (Alan King/Choc) finished 5th in the Juvenile Hurdle (11 ran).

Toby Belch (Henry Daly/Choc) won the Novices’ Handicap Chase (6 ran); Choc’s 27th winner of the season.

Go Set Go (James Eustace/Choc) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle (19 ran).

Lotus Pond (Alan King/Choc) finished 15th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (16 ran).  He was virtually pulled up; Choc tweeted that the horse seemed okay, but he thinks there must have been something wrong.


Overturn took another step forward in his steeplechasing career, with another victory at Doncaster today. More



Ulys Du Charmil (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran).

King Of Dudes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Juvenile Maiden Hurdle (13 ran); but he was lucky when the probable winner, Bordoni, ran out at the second last!

A whole box full of Martin Keighley runners tomorrow ...



13:10 Court In Session (Martin Keighley/AP McCoy) – Novices’ Chase

13:45 The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Hurdle; Ian returning to action following his second pelvis injury.

14:15 Any Currency (Martin Keighley/AP McCoy) – North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase

15:45 Johnny Og (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Standard Open NH Flat Race (Conditionals and Amateurs)


Wayne Hutchinson has provisional riding engagements at Warwick on Saturday; with Choc listed against runners at Kempton Park ... so I think my fate is sealed for a day at the races! J  It was a beautiful day today; almost spring-like in fact, certainly not typical of early January!  But it’s going to get colder towards the weekend, and damper; with heavy showers forecast for Saturday and maybe wintery showers on Sunday.  Damp weather seems to be the predominant theme when I attend Kempton Park fixtures this season!


Yesterday evening I finally got around to watching the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey; I knew Matthew had been ‘killed off’, because I saw it headlined in a newspaper.  So, as a result, I was in two minds as to whether I would bother to watch it.  Anyway, it’s another new episode of Midsomer Murders tonight; it’s not as good as it used to be, but I still like trying to identify the locations used for filming.

I decided to tape the entire Doncaster card today so, if I’m at a loose end later, I can watch that too.  Not that I have a problem sleeping; in fact, I’m always dozing off even when I don’t want to.  On a number of occasions last evening, I had to rewind the Downton Abbey tape because I missed a few minutes having fallen asleep!  

Tuesday 08 January 2013

Here are today’s results of interest ... not so good for Choc ... but brilliant for the Keighley runners!



Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Novices’ Chase (6 ran); he wore blinkers for the first time today.

Arabian Heights (Alan King/Choc) finished 10th in the Novices’ Hurdle Div II (11 ran).  Too keen?



Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) won & Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran); well done to the team, their 19th winner of the season.


A number of runners of interest tomorrow:



12:40 Handazan (Alan King/Choc) – Juvenile Hurdle

13:40 Toby Belch (Henry Daly/Choc) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

14:40 Go Set Go (James Eustace/Choc) - Handicap Hurdle

15:55 Lotus Pond (Alan King/Choc) - Standard Open NH Flat Race


That’s on off on off on off on off for the VCR then!



13:55 Ulys Du Charmil (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - Handicap Hurdle

15:05 King Of Dudes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Maiden Hurdle

Alan King has a number of entries at Warwick and Kempton Park on Saturday ... and it appears to be shaping up quite nicely for a trip to the latter for me!!! J 

It will make Kempton my most visited racecourse with 24 race fixtures attended, as opposed to my next most visited, Cheltenham, where I’ve been 23 times plus a course-walk with Choc when racing was abandoned.  I always find it amazing that Cheltenham is currently top of my visits league, because it’s a 200 mile round trip to the racecourse!  Mind you, that does include 16 Festival days. 

Monday 07 January 2013

Four runners of interest tomorrow:



14:10 Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase

14:40 Arabian Heights (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle Div II



13:55 Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) & Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle


I’m glad Choc’s races are consecutive, as it makes it easier for me to set up the VCR recorder to tape his races!


I’m pleased to learn that Giles Cross is fine having faded quickly and subsequently pulled up in Saturday’s Welsh Grand National.  More


And Choc replied to someone’s tweet to say that he doesn’t expect Medermit to return to action until next season.  That’s a shame.


Choc has posted a piccie of William ‘enjoying’ his dinner this evening ... actually he thought it was yuck!  


I like peas, runner beans, sprouts, carrots, cabbage, parsnips, cauliflower, courgettes, and of course potatoes ... but I’m not keen on broccoli.  And I don’t like celery.  Actually, sprouts are my favourite vegetable!


And I’d recognise this blaze anywhere ... it’s Blazing Bailey enjoying a day’s hunting. 



Work ... one day down, four to go until the weekend!  It’s going to feel like a very long week ... as I’ve not completed a 5-day one since ... week commencing 29 October!  I’ve no holiday booked for January; two half days and one full day during February (both half days to take mum for hospital ophthalmology appointments); five days in March (Cheltenham Festival week); and three days in April (Aintree Festival).  

Sunday 06 January 2013

Choc was at Plumpton today and his only ride was a winner: J

Salden Licht (Alan King/Choc) won the Novices’ Chase (4 ran).  Choc’s 26th winner of the season and his first of the New Year. 


It’s been very quiet over the Christmas period for Choc, with Alan King not running many of his younger horses due to the prevailing heavy ground; many others not acting on it.  So it’s brilliant for Choc to ride a winner today.


The Sussex National was won by the Gary Moore trained Well Refreshed, ridden by son Joshua.  More


There’s National Hunt racing at Taunton tomorrow; but no runners of interest.

Saturday 05 January 2013 : My birthday ... I’m 21 again!

Here are the results from today’s fixtures:


Sandown Park:

Urgence D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles ½ furlong] (12 ran).



Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).



Hot Whiskey (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran).


The Michael Scudamore trained Monbeg Dude won the Welsh Grand National.  More


John Ferguson trained his first Grade 1 winner when Ruacana was the lucky victor of the Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle.  More


The Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle went to Melodic Rendezvous; the first Grade 1 success for both trainer Jeremy Scott and jockey Nick Scholfield.  In fact it was Nick’s first Sandown winner as a professional!  More


Not such a good day for Ruby Walsh, who was stood down following two falls at Chepstow; but he escaped serious injury.  More


Choc will be at Plumpton tomorrow, for one riding engagement:

13:25 Salden Licht (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Chase


I went for a 4-mile walk this morning ... but I’ve eaten far more than I intended today!  I had croissants for breakfast, then toad-in-the-hole for lunch, followed by trifle.  Then salmon and lettuce sandwiches with tomatoes on the side for tea, plus the end piece of a chocolate log (all that butter icing) ... and some Pringles too.  And a few After Eight Mints and 5 chocolates!


My birthday began by watching the Morning Line in bed; I’m still not keen on their desk-top touch screen.  I then opened my birthday cards and presents; I received an M & S voucher, a BHS voucher, some beads, a ‘chain-mail’ make-up bag, a manicure set and some chocolates.  I then went for the aforementioned walk, before creating a necklace using some of the beads, and then settling down to watch the racing on TV this afternoon.  No special plans for this evening, but hopefully I’ll find something to watch on television and it certainly WON’T be Big Brother!  

Friday 04 January 2013

Four runners of interest today, at Lingfield Park and this is how they fared:

One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 3rd in the Beginners’ Chase (5 ran).

Bobbyjack (Alan King/Choc) finished a neck 2nd & Midnight Thomas (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished last in the Standard Open NH Flat Race Div I [All Weather].  (9 ran).

Soixante Six (Alan King Choc) finished 3rd in the Standard Open NH Flat Race Div II [All Weather].  (10 ran)


Good news and bad news for tomorrow; Choc isn’t riding at Chepstow ... he’s at Sandown Park ... but he has just one riding engagement so I won’t be going to the races on my birthday L


Sandown Park:

15:00 Urgence D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles ½ furlong]



14:45 Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) – Handicap Hurdle



12:55 Hot Whiskey (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle


The re-arranged Dipper Novices’ Chase has been scrapped from tomorrow’s Sandown card due to insufficient runners.  More


Just one ride for Choc at Plumpton on Sunday too; details tomorrow.


I hope Alan King’s ‘soggy’ gallops will dry out soon and that normal service resumes!


Here is a link to the latest edition of Martin Keighley’s Stable Talk.  More


Being a feet, yards and miles kind of girl, rather than metres and kilometres (it’s an age thing), I’d like to think that I used to know how many feet and yards there were in a mile, but I didn’t; until I started reading the race-cards and discovered there are 110 yards in half a furlong ... I did, however, always know there are 8 furlongs in a mile having watched horse-racing from a very young age!  So that’s 110 x 2 x 8 = 1,760 yards and 5,280 feet.  Sorted!


Today I received a Next voucher as a belated Christmas present and some birthday money, so I decided to order a navy blue lace jacket from Next; coincidently I saw it on the website when surfing yesterday, so the voucher and money are very timely!  http://www.next.co.uk/x512092s3#138709x51  It’s available in cream with a peplum too or cream or black without; I fancied the navy blue because the colour suits me, and I love peplums because they make my bottom half look bigger!   


Having been driven crazy by what I thought was a reoccurrence of my sinus problems for the past few weeks, I went to the doctor today and, from the symptoms I described, her thoughts are that it may in fact be acid reflux.  There’s no heartburn associated with it, but my throat feels constricted much of the time and this affects my breathing and I have the desire to constantly clear my throat.  I hate this old age thing, as it’s seems to be downhill all the way from here.  I’ve been prescribed a 3-month course of tablets, after which I am to report back to her. 

A couple of my work colleagues have decided to spend a number of their lunch breaks going for a ‘power walk’ and have suggested I go with them because they don’t know the area very well and they fancy a change of scenery from the local park.  My walks usually take me on a circuit of a smart residential area of St Albans, around two miles in distance.  They have been warned that I walk fast, but I expect they will put me to shame, one being in her late thirties and accustomed to walking her two dogs, and the other in her mid-twenties! 

Having begun to lose weight before Christmas, I pigged out over the festive season and weigh more now than prior to the weight loss!  Damn.  I shall also consider going for a walk tomorrow and/or Sunday.      

Thursday 03 January 2013

After a very quiet couple of days, there are four runners of interest tomorrow, at Lingfield Park; it’s a solely chase and all weather card:

14:20 One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) - Beginners’ Chase

15:20 Bobbyjack (Alan King/Choc) & Midnight Thomas (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Standard Open NH Flat Race Div I [All Weather]. 

15:50 Soixante Six (Alan King Choc) – Standard Open NH Flat Race Div II [All Weather]. 


It is reported on Alan King’s website that his gallops are saturated following all the recent rain; hence why it’s quiet in terms of turf-based runners at the moment. 

And news that Le Beau Bai is proving to be a good patient whilst he recovers from a pelvis injury incurred on the gallops last month.  More

Tuesday 01 January 2013


Happy New Year



My laptop having been reset last October, I now appear to be missing numerous clip-art images, hence the rather plain Christmas and New Year banners.  However, I was well impressed with the birthday cake image with the flickering candle I used on Sunday to mark William’s birthday!    


Choc was at Fakenham for one ride today and this is how he fared:

Watered Silk (Lucy Wadham) finished 5th in the Maiden Hurdle (6 ran); none of the inexperienced ex-flat race horses ran well in the ground, with Choc’s grey mount making a number of errors too.


Having tuned in to see Choc ride at Fakenham, I then switched over to watch Channel 4’s new Racing team in action.  I enjoyed Clare Balding’s visit to the Nicky Henderson yard; it was good to see all his stable stars led out for the cameras.  I think it’s a very good idea during a race to have a caption showing how many fences the runners still have to jump; especially if you are unfamiliar with the racecourse.  The results and information didn’t obscure the screen either, which is good.  But I did think the huge desk-top touch-screen was a bit unnecessary!


National Hunt racing solely from Ayr tomorrow; Hogmanay being a two-day holiday in Scotland.  And I have an inkling that Choc will be at Chepstow on Saturday for the Grade 1 Future Champions Finale Hurdle rather than at Sandown for the Mares’ Listed Hurdle if both of the proposed Alan King runners take part in their respective events.  But we shall see.  Plumpton seems to be the plan on Sunday for Choc but, unfortunately, I’ve arranged to have my hair trimmed on that day so cannot attend.  My race fixtures seem to come along two by two at the moment, so I won’t be surprised if I miss the next couple of Saturdays because his engagements are too far away.


As it was a beautiful sunny day, and a far cry from yesterday, I went for a walk this morning – probably around 4 miles in distance, as it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete.  I’ve overindulged this Christmas and New Year, food that is, not alcohol.  I can’t actually recall the last time I drank any alcohol.  The reoccurrence of my sinus problems causes tiredness and lethargy; which is why I’ve not felt like exercising much just recently. 





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