JULY 2010



Friday 30 July 2010

The brilliant news today is that Choc is making excellent progress J, and has now stopped using crutches, or any other support on his injured knee for that matter ... to find out more, check out Geoff Lester’s blog on Alan King’s website:



And there’s good news regarding Warren Marston too, who returned to race riding today.  He won aboard the ex-Alan King trained Saltagioo at Bangor on his one and only ride of the day.


Martin Keighley also had a couple of runners at Bangor this afternoon, both ridden by Jimmy Derham:

King Ozzy finished 4th in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (6 ran).

I hope Deep Reflection is okay following the Handicap Hurdle, as the race notes state that he was quickly pulled up before the last flight (11 ran). 

I’m hoping to watch the race replays on Racing UK later this evening.


And I’ve not reported the result from Worcester last Tuesday – the Alan King trained Porters War ran prominently for much of the race, but faded in the home straight to finish 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (8 ran).


And a round-up of other racing news from earlier in the week:


The Donald McCain trained Overturn wins the big hurdle race at Galway:

Overturn runs rivals ragged in Galway Hurdle - Horse Racing News | Racing Post


AP McCoy wins the Galway Plate aboard the JP McManus owned Finger onthe Pulse:

REPORT Determined McCoy wins first Plate on Finger - Horse Racing News | Racing Post


Having suffered a serious injury at Goodwood, the Aidan O’Brien trained Age of Aquarius is retired to stud:

Stud career looms for retired Age Of Aquarius - Horse Racing News | Racing Post


The popular sprinter Borderlescott out for the remainder of the season following an injury sustained at Goodwood:

King George Stakes hero Borderlescott out for season - Horse Racing News | Racing Post


The veteran, Nicky Henderson trained, Caracciola is retired: 

Very special Caracciola retired after Goodwood Cup - Horse Racing News | Racing Post


I’ve no special plans for the weekend, so will probably spend most of my spare time working on my current cross stitch project.


Monday 26 July 2010

I seem to be writing almost as many diary entries as when Choc is fighting fit … not that I’m complaining, as any news of Choc, however small, is always welcome!


News today, in Alan King’s blog, that jockey Sam Thomas will be joining the team at Barbury Castle, riding out once a week and competing aboard a number of Alan’s squad of horses during Choc’s absence.  Christian Williams, Charlie Huxley, Gerard Tumelty, Jimmy McCarthy and, of course, Wayne Hutchinson will still be available to ride too.


Choc attended another physiotherapy session last Thursday and is beginning to regain a little more movement in his right knee; he is due to visit his surgeon, John Webb, this coming Thursday (29 July) for a progress check-up.




And in today’s blog, Martin Keighley reports that Choc and Meally, Tom Siddall, Wayne Hutchinson and Warren Marston were ‘lunching’ at The Plough in Ford yesterday …




News from Cheltenham that the ‘notorious’ second last fence (on the Old Course) is to be moved into the home straight to aid safety.  During my first course walk with Choc, he explained and demonstrated that having gained speed down the hill, the ground rises just a few strides before this fence, the landing side being higher than the take off, which often catches out the horses and causes them to fall:

Cheltenham’s ‘Notorious’ second last


Alan King has a runner at Worcester tomorrow evening:

19:25 Porters War – Handicap Hurdle, to be ridden by Sam Thomas!


Sunday 25 July 2010

I’m back in action today, having suffered from a migraine all day yesterday ...


On Friday Martin Keighley had a runner at Southwell, Ponchatrain.  The good news is that Ponchatrain passed the post first, but the bad news is that he lost the race in the Stewards Room, and was demoted to second.   His jockey, Tom Scudamore, who despite doing everything possible to keep his mount running straight, was accused of careless riding, hence the reversal ... but I understand Martin is going to appeal against the decision, so we will wait to see what happens.


Just before I took my lunch break on Friday, I scanned through my favourite blogs and saw that Kim Bailey had referred to an article in that day’s Racing Post about the high number of jockeys currently on the sidelines due to injury ... so I rushed out to purchase a copy.  


Twenty jockeys’ injuries were specifically mentioned in the article – Mark Bradburne (spinal injury); Paddy Brennan (arm fracture); Dave Crosse (leg fractures); Tom David (fractured collarbone); James Davies (broken arm); Dominic Elsworth (concussion sustained last August, with no return date as yet); Andrew Glassonbury (chipped pelvis); Brian Harding (broken arm); Philip Hide (broken wrist/severed tendon); Wayne Hutchinson (leg fractures); Wayne Kavanagh (fractured vertebra); John Kington (dislocated shoulder); Phil Kinsella (fractured neck); Jason Maguire (broken ankle); Warren Marston (fractured vertebrae); Richie McGrath (fractured skull – 2 places); Tom Messenger (broken vertebra and facial injuries); Timmy Murphy (surgery to remove bone spur from hip); Tom Siddall (fractured neck); and last but certainly not least ... the list being in alphabetical order ... Choc (extensive ligament damage to right knee).


There were diagrams showing the remedial work carried out on Tom Siddall, and on Choc too – even the diagrams made me feel nauseous.   It also mentioned the camaraderie experienced by the jockeys when they are on the sidelines together - I just hope that Choc doesn’t get too depressed when his friends return to the saddle and he is, possibly, still out of action ... because that would be sad.  Although, fortunately, fatherhood will keep him occupied from year end onwards J    


Having been discharged from hospital following his recent ankle surgery, Jason Maguire has sent photos of his scars to trainer Kim Bailey, which the latter has published on his website blog!



Thursday 22 July 2010

As I’m still taking an interest in National Hunt racing, despite Choc’s absence, I taped yesterday’s At The Races coverage from Worcester.  Ex-flat race jockey, Kevin Darley, who is now the Chief Executive of the PJA (Professional Jockeys Association) was in attendance having travelled down to the area to meet up with a number of the Gloucestershire based jockeys who are currently sidelined through injury. 


Mick Fitzgerald interviewed Kevin, who mentioned that he’d met up with Tom Siddall, Warren Marston and, of course, Choc to offer help and advice with any financial issues which they might encounter whilst out of action, and also to ensure they get the best possible medical treatment to speed up their return to race riding. 


It’s reassuring to know there are a number of organisations looking after the jockeys’ welfare when they have the misfortune to suffer an injury which incapacitates them for a prolonged period of time.


Tomorrow Martin Keighley has one runner scheduled to compete at Southwell:

14:20 Ponchatrain – Handicap Chase, to be ridden by Tom Scudamore


And, talking of injured jockeys, I notice that Charlie Mann’s stable jockey, Noel Fehily, is scheduled to ride tomorrow, having spent the past few months on the sidelines due to surgery on a shoulder.


Wednesday 21 July 2010

Today Choc gets another mention in trainer Kim Bailey’s blog, Kim having been to visit his stable jockey Jason Maguire yesterday in Gloucester Hospital, where he is awaiting an operation on his injured ankle.  Kim arrived in Jason’s hospital room to find Choc and Tom Siddall (amongst others) already visiting! 




A very great pity that Kim was unable to take that ‘past and present’ jockeys photograph due to the crowded nature of the small hospital room, as I’d love to have seen that ...  all photos of Choc being very welcome!


Another day ... and another winner for Martin Keighley:

Deep Reflection won the Handicap Hurdle at Worcester today, under Jimmy Derham (13 ran).  Martin’s 5th winner of the season.


Tuesday 20 July 2010

Choc’s wife, Meally, has written a new blog for the Eclipse website, giving an overview of his recent injury.  She has included a photograph taken prior to his operation of the horrendous bruise on Choc’s right thigh, and also a picture of him laying on his hospital bed following surgery.


And, as an added bonus, Meally has included a scan of their baby too!

Meally Thornton’s Eclipse Blog Update


Yesterday, trainer Kim Bailey spotted Choc and fellow jockeys Tom Siddall and Sean Quinlan taking a long lunch at the Hollow Bottom pub in Guiting Power!  But Jason Maguire is still in hospital, with his operation now scheduled for Thursday.



Geoff Lester has mentioned Choc once again in the most recent blog on Alan King’s website:



News that Ruby Walsh will miss the Galway Festival, as he’s not quite ready to return to race riding following the injury sustained at Aintree on Grand National day.


There’s racing from Bangor on Dee this evening, and it’s tipping down with rain with many horses now non-runners.


However, Martin Keighley ran a couple of horses in the Handicap Chase – King Ozzy and Le Brocquy.  And the good news is that King Ozzy (who likes softer ground) and was ridden by Richard Johnson, won very easily by 11 lengths having made much of the running.  Le Brocquy, under Jimmy Derham, faded late but just held on to 3rd (6 ran).  Martin’s 4th winner of the season.


Tomorrow, Martin is due to run Deep Reflection in the 16:50 Handicap Hurdle at Worcester.


Saturday 17 July 2010




Firstly I’d like to offer my congratulations to Belinda and Martin Keighley who yesterday afternoon became the proud parents of Harry John Benjamin, who weighed in at 8lbs 13ozs, a brother for Freddie. 


I’m so pleased I decided to watch Channel 4’s The Morning Line broadcasting from Newbury today, as Choc was one of the special guests in the studio (along with Richard Hannon Junior).  It was lovely to see Choc in such good form, and hopefully he’ll make further TV appearances in the months to come. J  And here are further details regarding today’s appearance in my regular Progress Report:


Alan King had a couple of runners at Market Rasen today, and this is how they fared:

Dance with Chance, ridden by Charlie Huxley, was pulled up in the Juvenile Hurdle (15 ran).

King Troy, ridden by his regular pilot Jack Doyle, ran well under top weight and finished 3rd in the Summer Plate Listed steeplechase (16 ran).  Choc’s Morning Line ‘Charity selection’, Polyfast, was pulled up before 3 out!  The race was won by the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Grand Slam Hero, ridden by Graham Lee deputising for the currently sidelined Paddy Brennan.


News today that popular veteran steeplechaser Monkerhostin has been retired.


And also recent news that former Champion Chaser Master Minded has undergone a breathing operation in the hope of regaining his form.


Sadly my niece Kim failed her first driving test yesterday ... which was a surprise ... but evidently she was extremely nervous on the day and, as a result, made a number of errors.  I passed my test first time, but I was of more mature years when I took it!


Thursday 15 July 2010

Since yesterday’s blog, it has been confirmed that jockey Jason Maguire will be absent for a currently indeterminate period, having broken his left ankle and fractured his shin when he was unseated at Worcester yesterday evening.




And, in light of recent issues regarding race-related injury treatment at Worcester Royal Infirmary, I guess Jason might well be relieved that he’s been moved to the hospital in Gloucester!


Jason finished third behind AP McCoy and Richard Johnson is last year’s Jockey’s Championship and, having made a good start again this term with 22 winners, currently finds himself in third place behind AP and Richard once more.


And there’s further news regarding jockey Tom Siddall, who underwent surgery yesterday in order to save his race riding career.  Tom having sustained an injury during this year’s Grand National.




And there’s an article about Wayne Hutchinson’s road to recovery too:




And there’s also more news today regarding the ‘Harry Findlay’ case:







Wednesday 14 July 2010







Choc's birthday card.jpg


Dear Choc


Many Happy Returns of the Day


I hope you enjoy your special day,

with your nearest and dearest friends close at hand.


And, despite your recent reversal of fortune,

I know this coming year will be very special.




With kindest regards and best wishes







PS. I’ll save your birthday card (above) until next year!






Alan King visited Choc today, and here is the progress report from Geoff Lester as promised.  And it’s nice to hear that Choc is in ‘remarkably good form’ J:



Martin Keighley had two runners today and this is how they fared:

Le Brocquy ran well and finished 3rd in the Selling Hurdle at Uttoxeter (9 ran).

Pavanne was pulled up before 3 out in the Selling Hurdle at Worcester (17 ran).


And, oh dear, Jason Maguire was stretched off the course at Worcester having been unseated during the 19:40 race, his left ankle appearing to be the problem.  I just can’t believe how many well-known jockeys have suffered injuries recently.


A few snippets of racing news today:


Firstly the robbery of racing-related trophies from racehorse owner Raymond Mould’s abode:



Steeplechaser Niche Market leaves trainer Bob Buckler’s yard to go into training with Paul Nicholls:



Cheltenham struggles for sponsorship as Boylesports deserts their December fixture:



And I found the report regarding jockey Wayne Hutchinson’s injury sustained on 13 May at Ludlow:


This was the day I went to Eastbourne and arrived back home quite late ... perhaps that’s why I missed the original report ...


There are a couple more National Hunt fixtures this week – Cartmel tomorrow and Market Rasen on Saturday.


Tuesday 13 July 2010

Geoff Lester, writing on Alan King’s website today, reports that Alan intends to visit Choc tomorrow which, of course, is Choc’s 32nd Birthday.  And hopefully he will find Choc in good spirits. 


I also saw the brief TV interview which Alan gave to At The Races presenter Alex Quinn at Windsor races last evening, wherein he spoke about Choc. 


There’s news too, of Wayne Hutchinson’s progress back to fitness, having sustained a broken leg at Ludlow in May.  Although I presumed Wayne was also out of action, I have been remiss, as I don’t have any recollection of reading a report regarding his injury at the time it happened.


And I very much look forward to reading Alan King’s promised update once he’s visited Choc too.




And there is finally some good jockey-related news … Martin Keighley has reported that his stable jockey Warren Marston has been given the go-ahead to start riding out again (which he did today) and he hopes to return to race riding in a couple of weeks’ time.


Martin has a couple of runners tomorrow:

Uttoxeter 14:40 Le Brocquy – Selling Hurdle, to be ridden by Jimmy Derham

Worcester 19:10 Pavanne – Selling Hurdle, to be ridden by Jason Maguire


Still no sign of Belinda and Martin Keighley’s baby putting in its long awaited appearance!


I’ve cheated today and uploaded a post-dated blog page to wish my favourite jockey a very happy birthday for tomorrow, as it would be a pity to leave my greeting until tomorrow evening, when most of his special day has already passed by. 


Sunday 11 July 2010

This weekend didn’t get off to an auspicious start ... I had to call the RAC out yesterday morning as my car wouldn’t start.  That’s the trouble in the summer when I hardly use the vehicle, as it had a flat battery again. And I had to wait 2½ hours for the RAC man to arrive!  I shall have to drive around ‘aimlessly’ more often to keep the battery charged, especially with no race fixtures to attend for the foreseeable future L.  Although I have already promised my friend Lesley that we’d go to Worcester on Friday 06 August for Family Fun and Football day, so that will be my next trip to the races.


Then, last evening, my neighbours decided to set light to a bonfire in their garden, despite having been warned earlier in the week that it would not be a sensible idea to do so when the garden is tinder dry!  Shortly afterwards, with the bonfire raging and threatening to set light to the surrounding shrubbery, the fire brigade arrived!  But, luckily, we all lived to tell the tale!


I was sad to miss the Stratford fixture today, as it is one of my favourites ... for ‘birthday cards’ and ‘jockeys with moustaches’! 


Alan King’s Aohna finished 5th of 12 in the Handicap Hurdle, and AP McCoy won the Handicap Chase aboard the Jo Davis trained Passato, the horse now having run up a sequence of 3 wins this season, the first two with Choc aboard.


There was a problem with the steeplechase course at Stratford, with two horses slipping over during the same race, but on separate circuits, as the field galloped around one of the bends.  Fortunately both horses (Take A Mile and Cherokee Star) and jockeys (Jimmy Derham and Denis O’Regan) were okay following the incidents.  The remaining steeplechases were diverted around the inner bend on the hurdles course.    


Having completed a cross stitch card to congratulate my niece Lydia on her successful driving test, I’ve also made a second one, as my other niece Kim is due to take her driving test this coming Friday!


Friday 09 July 2010

Alan King’s website is keeping everyone up to date with Choc’s progress, so here is the link to today’s report:




And Martin Keighley has also been keeping everyone up to date with Choc’s progress ... so I thank him for that. 

And we are on tenterhooks, Belinda, waiting for baby number 2 to arrive!  July 14th is a very good day, if you can hold out that long ... as your little ‘munchkin’ would be in very good company!


Charlie Huxley will be taking the ride aboard the Alan King trained Aohna in the 15:00 Handicap Hurdle at Stratford on Sunday.  And AP McCoy takes the ride aboard dual ‘Choc’ winning mount Passato in the Handicap Chase at 15:30.


Thursday 08 July 2010

Poor Choc, how devastating.  I had absolutely no idea that his injury was so serious until I read Martin Keighley’s blog earlier today. 




And Alan King’s website too:



I’ve searched the internet for more information, and this evening I’ve set up a special ‘news’ page too:


Choc Injury Progress Report


Chester Barnes on David Pipe’s website and Kim Bailey also report the sad news in their blogs today.


I found this informative article on Wikipedia, and it made me feel sick when I read it.  Poor Choc.




I hope Choc’s operation went well today, and that he’s soon mobile again.  I’m sure he will be seriously missed whilst he’s away, and not just by me.   I don’t think the severity of the news has fully sunk in with me yet, and I feel that I’m going to be a bit tearful later ... 



But hopefully I will have news every now and then, so that I can keep my blog ‘ticking over’ during the months to come, although no doubt it will be fairly quiet.


Just for the record, it is Choc’s right knee which is damaged, not the left one as reported by the presenters on At The Races on Monday.


And rounding up a result from last night:

Martin Keighley’s Chocolat stayed on to finish 7th of 10 in the Handicap Hurdle at Worcester.


And I did receive some good news yesterday ... and send many congratulations to my niece Lydia who passed her driving test at the second time of asking.  And she’s not even 17½ years old yet ... they grow up so fast.


Tuesday 06 July 2010

Choc is currently on the sidelines following the mishap at Newton Abbot yesterday, so Martin Keighley found two able deputies in Sam Thomas and Richard Johnson for his declared runners at Uttoxeter this evening:

Le Brocquy finished 4th in the Selling Hurdle (8 ran).

The Fox’s Decree finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (13 ran).


Just for fun, I choose a horse to finish in the first 3 in every race at this evening’s meeting (like the Placepot but no money changed hands) and I didn’t do too badly, although I choose a number of horses which coincidentally started as favourite in their respective races (ie. I didn’t check the prices before I selected them).

Race 1: Sahrati – won (2/1 2nd Favourite) – an ex-Alan King inmate!

Race 2: Le Brocquy – 4th (13/2)

Race 3: Merry Terry – 2nd (7/2 2nd Favourite)

Race 4: Folie A Deux – won (3/1Favourite)

Race 5: Thehonourablelady – 4th (7/2 Favourite)

Race 6: The Fox’s Decree – 7th (7/2 Favourite)


Martin Keighley has one runner at Worcester tomorrow evening:

20:10 Chocolat – Handicap Hurdle, to be ridden by Jason Maguire


With Warren Marston on the sidelines and Choc now absent too, the Weighing Room ‘pin-up’ boy Sam Thomas rode out for Martin this morning ... however, my ‘pin-up’ boy is very definitely Choc, as not even Sam can ‘hold a candle’ to him!!! J


And I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Choc a very speedy recovery and I hope he’s back in action again very soon.


Monday 05 July 2010

Oh dear, I hate days like these ... when Choc pays a visit to the hospital following a mishap on the racecourse. L 


So ... Choc was at Newton Abbot this afternoon where he had 2 riding engagements:

Tuppenny Piece finished 4th in the Maiden Hurdle (9 ran).

And everything seemed to be going okay in the Beginners’ Chase, although perhaps Choc’s mount Hell’s Bay might not have won, but he was disputing the lead with the eventual winner as they approached the penultimate fence.  And then the horse did the ‘dirty’ on him, ducking out through the inside wing, firing Choc into the front of the obstacle as he did so. The horse was fine and barely lost its footing ... but Choc ended up at the hospital for a ‘precautionary’ x-ray on his left knee. L


Mid-afternoon I’d checked the racing results on my PC at work and saw ‘RO’ against Hell’s Bay’s name and my heart sank, as some of the nastiest accidents occur when a horse runs out, as the jockey is not expecting it to happen.  I’ve watched the accident and viewed some of the later coverage, but not all of it, so there may be further news about Choc which I’ve not discovered yet. 


Martin Keighley has declared a couple of runners at Uttoxeter tomorrow evening:

19:20 Le Brocquy – Selling Hurdle

21:20 The Fox’s Decree – Handicap Hurdle


I notice that Richard Johnson is booked to ride The Fox’s Decree whereas, when I printed out the race-card at lunchtime, Choc was down to ride him (Richard already has a ride in the Selling Hurdle).  Does this mean that Choc has now joined Warren Marston on the official ‘injured list’?  Poor Chocolate has paid far too many visits to hospital since last December ... so I hope he is okay.


Sunday 04 July 2010

As today dawned bright and sunny, I decided to go for a walk this morning, and I took my camera with me and here are a number of photos I shot around the local cathedral and park area.

St Albans 1.jpg

St Albans 2.jpg

Fishpool Street

The Abbey Gateway

St Albans 3.jpg

St Albans 4.jpg

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans 5.jpg

St Albans 6.jpg

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Pub

A section of Roman wall in Verulamium Park

St Albans 7.jpg

St Albans 8.jpg

The Lake in Verulamium Park

Remains of a Roman Gateway


Choc had just one ride at Market Rasen this afternoon and this is how he fared:

Rationing finished 6th in the Standard Open NH Flat race (7 ran)


Tomorrow Choc will be at Newton Abbot, where he has 2 riding engagements:

14:15 Tuppenny Piece – Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

14:45 Hell’s Bay – Beginners’ Chase (Paul Nicholls)


As expected, Rafael Nadal won the Men’s Singles title at Wimbledon.  I watched the majority of the match on TV ... whilst dipping into coverage of Market Rasen too!  


It’s been breezy all day, and this evening the clouds have finally rolled in!


Saturday 03 July 2010

Another hot and humid day in the southeast of England.


It’s been quiet on the National Hunt racing front for the past 3 days, so this is my first blog of the new month.


Choc is due to ride at Market Rasen tomorrow afternoon, where he has just one riding engagement:

17:20 Rationing – Standard Open NH Flat race (Tim Easterby)


Disappointing outcomes to the Wimbledon tennis for the past couple of days, with Andy Murray losing his Men’s Singles semi-final match, and Serena Williams seeing off the opposition to win her 4th Women’s Singles title. 


One lady who attended last Sunday’s Lee Mead concert has written an amusing tome about the event:



Another quiet weekend at home for me, but plenty of time to concentrate on my latest cross stitching project.




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