MARCH 2009



Tuesday – 31 March 2009

Choc is back in action tomorrow when he has one ride at Exeter:

14:10 Noticeable – Novices’ Selling Hurdle (Alan King)


I found this recent article (dated 29 March 2009) from the Irish Tribune – asking whatever happened to the 3 contenders they’ve pictured from the 2000 Grand National – Paul Carberry aboard Bobbyjo; Ruby Walsh aboard Papillon; and Choc aboard Torduff Express!


Evidently AP McCoy is in no rush to decide which horse he’s going to ride in the National, so I’ll be on tenterhooks for a little while yet as I’m desperate to know which of JP McManus’ horses Choc will pilot. And hopefully it will be a safe one ...


Graham Lee had a nasty fall at Wetherby and was stood down for the remainder of this afternoon.  He’s due to ride the fancied Kilbeggan Blade in Saturday’s big race.


The Aintree Festival is approaching fast, and I wish I was going on all 3 days, but unfortunately my finances can’t quite stretch to that.  But I’m sure I’ll enjoy Friday and Saturday, and the opportunity to see Choc ride is always a pleasure.J


Sunday – 29 March 2009

Choc rode one mount at Newton Abbot today:

Valleyofthedolls finishing 4th in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.


He’s not scheduled to ride for the next couple of days, as there’s solely Newcastle tomorrow, and Wetherby on Tuesday.  


I visited the At The Races website last evening to vote for the Lesters Jump Ride of the Year 2008 – Choc aboard Nenuphar Collonges of course, although I did admire the other rides too!  I hadn’t realised the general public’s vote was required, otherwise I’d have put a link on my blog ... unfortunately the website states the closing time and date was 23:00 yesterday (28 March).

My email Google alert has found this article from the Yorkshire Post newspaper, regarding Choc’s support for 2 up-and-coming point to point riders (Gemma Tutty from Yorkshire and Tom Cheesman from Kent):


And I’ve finished and uploaded my Cheltenham Day 3 diary – so another productive day!


Saturday – 28 March 2009

Today Choc rode at Lingfield Park, but success eluded him:

Enfant de Lune finished 11th in the Novices’ Hurdle (14 ran)

Ballingaddy finished 11th in the Handicap Chase (14 ran)

My Way de Solzen was again very disappointing having completed 8th and last of the finishers in the Handicap Chase (12 ran)

Prince du Seuil was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran)

Turfenmill finished 13th in the NH Flat Race (14 ran)


Tomorrow Choc has just one ride at Newton Abbot:

17:10 Valleyofthedolls – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


I’ve spent time working on my Cheltenham diaries today, and have now uploaded my entry for Day 2 ... two down, two to go!


Friday – 27 March 2009

I’m so pleased for Choc, as he had a fabulous afternoon at Fontwell Park, riding no less than 4 winners and a 3rd place:

Call Me A Legend won the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (6 ran).  Choc’s 105th winner of the season.

Blazing Desert won the Maiden Hurdle (7 ran).  His 106th winner of the season – breaking his best ever ‘winners in a season’ total.

Hills of Aran then won the Handicap Hurdle (7 ran) – 107th of the season.

In the Handicap Chase, Tosula finished 4th but was promoted to 3rd.  This followed the disqualification of the winner which failed to weigh in at the correct weight (8 ran).

Sadly, You Know Bridie had to be pulled up after suffering what appeared to be a catastrophic injury, which marred an otherwise wonderful day.  Martin Keighley’s Heezagrey unseated Tom O’Brien at the 7th flight in this event. (17 ran)

And finally High Gales won the Maiden NH Flat Race (12 ran).  Choc’s 108th winner of the current campaign.




Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Lingfield, where he has 5 rides:

14:50 Enfant de Lune – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:25 Ballingaddy – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

16:35 My Way de Solzen – Handicap Chase (Alan King).

17:10 Prince du Seuil – Handicap Hurde (Alan King)

17:45 Turfenmill – NH Flat Race (S Gollings)

Alan King had originally decided that My Way de Solzen might benefit from a change of stable but, following a suggestion from Paul Nicholls, the horse was given a breathing operation and returns to action tomorrow.  It will be interesting to see if there’s any sign of his old form.   


I’d love to take a trip to Lingfield, but I’ve got to save myself for the ‘big one’ next weekend ... as my friend Lesley and I will be travelling up to Aintree early Friday for 2 days of the Grand National meeting.  Our first visit to the event and the course!  And my first visit to Liverpool ...


I forgot to mention that Choc has received 2 award nominations for this year’s Lesters (the Awards Ceremony will be held on Thursday 9th April at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham).  Firstly, Jump Jockey of the Year, the other nominees are AP, Noel Fehily, and Richard Johnson.  Plus Jump Ride of the Year aboard Nenuphar Collonges in the Albert Bartlett at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.  The other nominees are Johnny Farrelly riding Phoenix des Mottes at Newton Abbot, AP McCoy riding Mylo also at Newton Abbot, and James Reveley riding the ill-fated Endless Power at Aintree. 


I can think of a nomination for next year’s Jump Ride of the Year too – Choc aboard Busy Isit at Sandown on 6th March 2009, although I imagine he will have strong competition from AP for his ride aboard Wichita Lineman at this year’s Cheltenham Festival!  


Thursday – 26 March 2009

Evelith Forrest was withdrawn from the Handicap Hurdle at Towcester today, so no riding news about Choc to report.  And I’ve just checked the At The Races results page and I’m disappointed that Martin Keighley’s horses didn’t do too well today.  I’ll have to watch the video recording if I have time this evening. 


Choc is making up for lost time tomorrow, with 6 rides scheduled at Fontwell Park:

14:10 Call Me A Legend – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

14:45 Blazing Desert – Maiden Hurdle (Alan King)

15:55 Hills of Aran – Handicap Hurdle (Keith Goldsworthy)

16:30 Tosula – Handicap Chase (Neil Mulholland)

17:05 You Know Bridie – Handicap Hurdle (Neil Mulholland)

17:40 High Gales – Maiden NH Flat Race (J J Lambe)

So he must be going all out to exceed his best ever total of 105 winners attained last season.


Yesterday there was news of a Grand National ride for Choc – he and Noel Fehily have been lined up to partner whichever of the JP McManus owned horses AP McCoy rejects.  The choice is Butler’s Cabin, L’Ami and Can’t Buy Time.  I hope L’Ami is a safer conveyance than last year, as he put an end to Mick Fitzgerald’s career when falling at the 2nd obstacle.  Whichever one Choc rides, my main concern is that he comes back safe and sound. 


Wednesday – 25 March 2009

Another unsuccessful day for Choc:

Pagano fell at the first flight in the Handicap Hurdle ... Oops!  (9 ran).  Choc was okay, so that was the main thing.

Tokahy finished 7th in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (12 ran).


Last evening I watched the recording of yesterday’s racing at Southwell, and I thought Martin Keighley’s Badly Bruised ran very well, especially as he lost the lead, falling back into 3rd position, but stayed on really well to finish 2nd. 


Tomorrow Choc is returning to Towcester, where he has 1 ride for Alan King:

15:55 Evelith Forrest – Handicap Hurdle

I imagine it’s unusual for Towcester to have racing fixtures on 2 consecutive days, and it’s not one of Choc’s favourite venues as he doesn’t seem to have much luck there.  And I have to look out for 2 of Martin Keighley’s horses too – Anabaa’s Secret and my favourite, the enigmatic Poliglotti (aka Peppa Pig). 


Tuesday – 24 March 2009

Not such a good day for Choc today:

Paradise Regained finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle, although that was last of those which completed!  (6 ran)

Latin Scholar finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase. The Martin Keighley trained, Won More Night, finished in 12th position.  (14 ran)


Tomorrow Choc is travelling to Towcester, where he has 2 rides scheduled:

15:10 Pagano – Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

16:10 Tokahy – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (S Pike)

I wish I could go tomorrow, as Towcester is a mere 50 miles from my home, but we’ve got a very tight deadline at work so I can’t take the time off ... L


Monday – 23 March 2009

Choc had a very successful day at Kempton Park, where he rode 2 winners, his other mount finishing 2nd.

Tarotino won the Novices’ Chase (4 ran) – Choc’s 103rd winner of the season

Patsy Finnegan won the Handicap Hurdle (7 ran) – his 104th winner of the season

Stoney’s Treasure finished 2nd in the NH Flat Race (10 ran).  Alan’s other runner, Mr Valentino, finished 5th under Wayne Hutchinson.

That’s the second time Choc has won aboard Tarotino this season, and the third time aboard Patsy Finnegan.


Choc will be travelling to Southwell tomorrow, where he has 2 rides for Alan King:

14:10 Paradise Regained – Handicap Hurdle

17:10 Latin Scholar – Handicap Chase


Choc needs just one winner to equal his best ever seasonal total (07/08) and two (obviously) for his best total ever.


Sunday – 22 March 2009

So how did Choc get on today ...

Greenwich Meantime, making his hurdles debut at the age of 9, finished 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle.  He pulled hard for the first half of the race but ran quite well.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Kempton Park, with 3 rides for Alan King:

15:15 Tarotino – Novices’ Chase

16:25 Patsy Finnegan – Handicap Hurdle

17:30 Stoney’s Treasure – NH Flat Race


Poor Seamus Durack had a nightmare at Stratford yesterday, when he accidently missed the water-jump and received a 12 day ban for his troubles, which will rule him out on Grand National day.


There was more trouble at Huntingdon, when 5 riders took the wrong course in the 16:10 – Michael O’Connell, Graham Lee, Jamie Moore, Henry Oliver, and Danny Cook.  UK Racing’s commentators needed clarification as to when the resulting bans come into force – 14 days – I knew that!  (But that is because of Choc’s 1-day ban relating to the Lake Legend incident at Huntingdon.)  Mind you, in the commentators’ defence, evidently the rules are updated on a regular basis.  Bans of 12 days were metered out to each, the first day of which will be Sunday 05 April, the day after the Grand National. That’s fortunate for Graham Lee, as he has been booked to ride Kilbeggan Blade in the big event at Aintree.  Luckily the jockey bans will have been served by the time the Scottish Grand National arrives, should any of them have mounts in that race. 


Saturday – 21 March 2009

The first day of Spring ... and what a beautiful day it was.  I spent the afternoon at Newbury races and needed just a cardigan until around 15:45, although I confess I haven’t dispensed with my thermal vest yet!   


Kandjar D’Allier finished 8th in the Handicap Chase (11 ran)

Katess finished 3rd in the Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Final (8 ran)

Dancingwithbubbles was also 3rd in the Mares’ NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (13 ran)

Dormouse finished 6th in the ‘Junior’ Bumper NH Flat Race (16 ran). 

Martin Keighley’s Golbelini finished just ahead of Choc in 5th, Silent Affair finished 6th at Stratford.


Just one ride for Choc at Huntingdon tomorrow:

14:40 Greenwich Meantime – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


Friday – 20 March 2009

Choc had just one ride at Newbury today:

Penharold finished 7th in the Maiden Hurdle (9 ran).

AP made it 8 out of 8 when riding at Newbury for Nicky Henderson this season when Mr Gardner won this race, despite him being aboard the less fancied of the trainer’s two runners in the race!


Tomorrow Choc will be back at Newbury, where he has 4 rides scheduled:

14:20 Kandjar D’Allier – Handicap Chase (Alan King)

14:50 Katess – Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase Final (Alan King)

15:30 Dancingwithbubbles – Mares’ NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Alan King)

17:15 Dormouse – ‘Junior’ Bumper NH Flat Race (Mrs A L M King)

Martin Keighley also has a runner, Golbelini, in the 17:15 at Newbury, and Silent Affair in the 17:10 at Stratford.


I will be at Newbury tomorrow, and will then pop in to see my friend Denise on my way back, as she lives in Caversham.  As Choc has just one ride scheduled for Huntingdon on Sunday, I’ll forego a trip to the course on this occasion.  Besides it will give me the chance to write my Newbury diary and upload any photos, not to mention the opportunity to continue working on my diary drafts from Cheltenham (the first drafts having now been completed for all 4 days). 


Thursday – 19 March 2009

A very quiet blog today ...


Choc will be back in action tomorrow, where he has 1 ride scheduled at Newbury for Alan King:

14:40 Penharold – Maiden Hurdle


My diary writing is coming along well, as I now have drafts for Day 1, 2 and 3 of the Festival, and Day 4 is around 50% complete too. 


Wednesday – 18 March 2009

Choc rode at Warwick today, where he had 2 rides for Alan King:

West End Rocker finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (6 ran).

Enfant de Lune was pulled up in the Novices’ Hurdle, his rein having snapped!  Mind you, ‘pulled up’ didn’t exactly describe it, as the horse was bolting out of control for quite some time, first to the inside of the hurdles, then to the outside ... I’m going to watch the full race coverage later to see if they show more, but I presume Choc had a lucky escape and is okay after his adventure (12 ran). 


Choc has no rides scheduled for tomorrow.


News has come through that Paul Nicholls’ grey, Neptune Collonges, won’t run for 12 months, as he injured a tendon in last week’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.


Tuesday - 17 March 2009

Choc rode at Kempton Park today:

China Gold finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (6 ran).

Nikos Extra finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran), having blundered badly 3 flights from home.  In the same race, The Hairy Lemon showed an improvement in form having reverted to hurdles again.


Martin Keighley’s Anabaa’s Secret finished 7th in the Novices’ Selling Hurdle at Exeter (10 ran).


Tomorrow Choc is scheduled to ride at Warwick, where he has 2 rides for Alan King:

14:50 West End Rocker – Novices’ Chase

15:25 Enfant de Lune – Novices’ Hurdle


My evening is already mapped out … further research and work for my Cheltenham diaries! 


Monday – 16 March 2009

Choc rode at Taunton today, where he had 2 rides for Alan King:

Alflora Dora finished 3rd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (13 ran).

And Swansbrook finished 3rd in the NH Flat Race (14 ran).  Alan’s other runner, Roko Dancer under Wayne Hutchinson, finished 2nd in the same race.  Wayne Hutchinson won the 16:20 aboard stable-mate Long Hop. 


Heezagrey finished 5th at Hereford for Martin Keighley (17 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Kempton Park.  He has 2 rides, both for Alan King:

15:05 China Gold – Novices’ Hurdle

15:40 Nikos Extra – Handicap Hurdle


My Cheltenham diaries are progressing well – I have completed the first draft of Thursday’s diary, and have now commenced writing the entry for Day 2.  Wednesday’s is going to be the shortest one, as I wasn’t giving the final 3 races my full attention, as I was worried about Choc following his fall during the Queen Mother Champion Chase.


Sunday – 15 March 2009


choc & jane resized.jpg


Do you like my fabulous mug and coaster?  They are my belated birthday presents from my friend Lesley.  She waits until she knows exactly what I’d really like, and I don’t mind at all, as my birthday is in early January and far too near to Christmas.  So it’s like having a birthday AND an Official birthday, just like the Queen.  Last year she gave me a photo from OPL of Choc holding the Champion Hurdle trophy, which was much appreciated.


My first task today was to wash my car.  It was filthy, and is going for its first service tomorrow so I thought I’d better make an effort.  I then started to make a few notes for my Cheltenham diaries – what a mammoth task that will be ... so you’ll have to bear with me.


I’ve started with the Day 3 (Thursday) videos, because I wanted to find where Choc was interviewed by Racing UK after he’d walked the course with his father (as I’d seen the ‘soundless’ video on the big screen at Cheltenham, and had noticed Choc standing on the steps outside the Weighing Room when he returned too).  He was dressed in a long sandy coloured coat, and was wearing a white shirt with yellow tie, and his hair was beautiful ... as always I am overwhelmed by his cuteness.  And he had his ‘going’ stick with him, the one which he received as a Christmas present. He told us about his fall from Big Zeb – the horse having paddled through the fence – he described it as a heavy fall but the main problem was that he was kicked by both the horses which were following him.  Ouch.  ‘Kicked in the guts’ he said, and the doctors were concerned about his kidneys too, which was why he was sent to the hospital for tests.  However, he confirmed that the course doctor, Dr John Disney (who is also his GP) had cleared him to ride on Thursday.  He also stated that Big Zeb was okay and that’s the main thing ... eh, no, I think the main thing is that you are okay Choc!  


It was a beautiful day at Fontwell Park ... I wish I was a little more solvent and also that I could have spared the time to go there today too.

Santia won the NH Novices’ Hurdle, giving Choc his 101st winner of the season. (11 ran)

Greenbridge fought off the challenge by Just Amazing (ridden by Sam Thomas) to win the Beginners’ Chase – Choc’s 102nd winner of the season. (8 ran)

Quizzene finished 9th in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran)

Unfortunately, Sharajan under Jimmy McCarthy fell at the 2nd last fence at Southwell, when looking like the probable winner.  But Miss Overdrive won the Mares’ bumper (Division I) when ridden by Gerard Tumulty.  Then Chilli Rose won Division II under Wayne Hutchinson. 


Luke Harvey had the pleasure of interviewing Choc before racing today, and also asked how his injury was. Choc confirmed he has a big bruise, but the main problem is lower down ... alluding to the fact that he also got kicked in the wedding tackle and is feeling rather sore.  Poor Choc.  L  And Luke again spoke with Choc after he’d won aboard Greenbridge.


And Choc’s not yet got a ride in the Grand National (I had already realised that D’Argent is too far out of the handicap to qualify this year) so he is hoping to get a decent spare ride. (And a safe one I hope.)


Martin Keighley had 3 runners at Southwell today:

Ross Leader ridden by Richard Johnson (his 1st ride for Martin) won the Handicap Chase – but it was very scary as the horse had faded to almost a standstill at the line and only just held on! (14 ran)

Getupintime, under Gerard Tumulty, was pulled up quite early in the Maiden Hurdle (14 ran)

Won More Night, ridden by Andrew Tinkler, tripped and fell after landing over the first hurdle in the final straight, but luckily got up okay and cantered away.  She had run well up to the point of departure. (16 ran)


Choc will be riding at Taunton tomorrow, where he has 2 rides for Alan King:

14:20 Alflora Dora – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

17:20 Swansbrook – NH Flat Race


Martin’s charge, Heezagrey, will be trying his luck at Hereford again tomorrow, having finished 2nd by the shortest of distances on his last run.  So that’s in the 15:10 Handicap Hurdle and he’s being ridden by Timmy Murphy.


I received very good news late yesterday regarding the exhibition tennis match to be held at Wimbledon on Sunday 17 May.  My friend Denise has heard from her friend Jean, who ran Tim Henman’s fan club, and she’s got 2 tickets going begging because a couple of Tim’s fans aren’t too bothered about attending ... so we are going instead!  To support Steffi and Andre of course! J


I think there may be a couple of opportunities to go racing next weekend (Newbury on Saturday and/or Huntingdon on Sunday), so I’ll have to see if Choc rides at either or both of these fixtures.  But there are alternative meetings on both days which he may ride at and that I won’t be able to attend because of the distances from my home.  I also hope the weather warms up and stays nice, as I’d really like to dispense with my winter coats!


Saturday – 14 March 2009

I’m feeling absolutely shattered following my 4 days at the Cheltenham Festival, and it’s now time for reflecting:


Day 1

Highlight of the Day: Katchit regaining some form to finish 6th in the Champion Hurdle.

Disappointment of the Day: Choc’s mount Medermit finishing a very close 2nd to Irish raider, Go Native, in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.  I wanted him to win of course!


Day 2

Highlight of the Day:  Martin Keighley’s charge, Benbane Head, finishing in 10th place in the bumper, the 2nd best of the ‘home’ runners (beaten a mere head by the errant Pepe Simo) – the first 8 finishers were Irish trained horses.  His stable lad, Danny Hiskett, won the £100 prize for Best Turned out too.

Disappointment (Disaster?) of Day: Choc being hurt when he fell from Big Zeb during the Champion Chase.


Day 3

Highlight of the Day:  Choc reporting fit and healthy following his visit to Cheltenham General Hospital having been kicked by his mount when he fell during the Champion Chase on Wednesday.  But it wouldn’t have mattered had he been stood down for a day or two as a precaution, just so long as he’s okay.

Disappointment of the Day:  Voy Por Ustedes losing out to Imperial Commander in the Ryanair Chase.

I know this is nothing to do with the Festival but tickets for an exhibition tennis match to mark the completion of the roof on Centre Court at Wimbledon went on sale on Thursday, so as soon as the ticket lines opened, my friend Denise tried for 55 minutes before she got through, only to be told that the event had sold out within the first 5 minutes.  Damn.  It is to be a match between Tim Henman partnering Kim Clijsters and Andre Agassi partnering his wife Steffi Graf.  As a long-standing and loyal fan of Andre, I’m gutted that we cannot attend.  Although it is a mainly corporate event, the organisers also permitted large group bookings from members of the public ... so no wonder they sold out so quickly, it’s just ridiculous.


Day 4

Highlight of the Day:  2 Highlights in fact - Wayne Hutchinson riding his first ever Festival winner aboard Oh Crick in the final race of the meeting (The Grand Annual Steeplechase).  This also gave Alan King his only winner during the 2009 Festival.  Oh Crick is certainly a landmark horse – as he provided Alan with his 500th career win on 01 January 2008, and today his 700th career win!  Oh Crick is owned by David Sewell, who also owns the talented Araldur, and it’s a first winner at the Festival for him too.  Secondly is Paul Nicholls’ incredible training feat which enabled Denman to finish 2nd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Disappointment of the Day:  Walkon finishing 2nd to Zaynar in the Triumph Hurdle, thus denying Choc of his last real hope of a winner at this year’s Festival.


And my question of the day is ... why does Ruby Walsh always photograph so well?  I took a shot of him returning down the horse-walk on Master Minded, then on Big Bucks and finally on Kauto Star, and they are all good photos!


Channel 4’s Morning Line quiz drew our attention to the fact that only two professional English jockeys rode a winner at this year’s Festival – Felix de Giles and Wayne Hutchison, and they had to wait until the final 2 races of the meeting (The  Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Steeplechase – Johnny Henderson, being Nicky Henderson’s late father, was instrumental in the 1960’s for saving Cheltenham racecourse from developers).


There’s good news regarding Paul Carberry, as today he was released from Cheltenham General Hospital.  He was treated for a punctured lung and a minor tear to his liver following his fall from Jaamid during the Jewson’s Novices’ Chase on Thursday.  He travelled back to Ireland by ferry, as he cannot fly for 3 weeks due to the nature of his injuries.


There’s confirmation that Voy Por Ustedes will again be aimed for the Melling Chase at Aintree, and both Katchit and Franchoek will go for the Aintree Hurdle.  Medermit also goes to Aintree.  However, Blazing Bailey will miss that meeting and the Punchestown Festival, and will now be schooled over fences.


So now back to news of today’s action, Choc having ridden at Uttoxeter:

King’s Revenge finished 9th in the Handicap Hurdle

Having blundered badly at the 4th flight, Noticeable finished 6th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Bormo finished 6th in the Novices’ Hurdle

I hope Choc isn’t having a crisis of confidence, following his disappointments at the Cheltenham Festival ...


Tomorrow Choc will be travelling down to Fontwell Park in West Sussex, where he has 3 rides for Alan King:

14:20 Santia – NH Novices’ Hurdle

14:55 Greenbridge – Beginners’ Chase

16:30 Quizzene – Handicap Hurdle

I must pay another visit to Fontwell Park, but now is not the time, as I’m in recovery mode for the next few days!


Friday – 13 March 2009 – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 4

The 2009 Cheltenham Festival drew to a close today, but Choc’s fortunes didn’t change – as he had no winning rides this year.  And Alan King had to wait until the 26th and last race to have a winner, when Oh Crick under Wayne Hutchinson, took the Grand Annual Steeplechase.  The horse was carrying just 10 stone, so unfortunately Choc couldn’t do the weight.  However Choc dressed in his civvies did come to the Winners’ Enclosure to watch the presentation ceremony, and his parents and brother were watching from the steppings. 


Anyway, more details of today’s rides:

Walkon finished a gallant 2nd to Zaynar in the Triumph Hurdle (18 ran)

Thetwincamdrift finished 8th in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (17 ran)

Halcon Genelardais was pulled up with a circuit to go in the Gold Cup (16 ran)


Martin Keighley’s Picture in the Sky pulled up in the Albert Bartlett.


Choc finished with 3 x 2nd places, 2 x 3rd places, 1 x 4th place


And the final winning tallies were:

Ruby Walsh x 7

Barry Geraghty x 3

AP McCoy x 1

Paul Carberry x 1

Nina Carberry x 1

Mr Sam Whaley Cohen x 1

Tom O’Brien x 1

Paddy Flood x 1

Mr B T O’Connell x 1

Timmy Murphy x 1

Aiden Coleman x 1

Paddy Brennan x 1

Mr W Biddick x 1

Mr JJ Codd x 1

Mr Richard Burton x 1

Wayne Hutchinson x 1

Davy Russell x 1

Felix de Giles x 1


As Ruby rode 7 winners in total, that’s 27% of the races!  Kauto Star was a very impressive Gold Cup winner and the first horse ever to regain the trophy, and I can’t believe how well Denman ran to finish a good 2nd. 


Choc seems to be okay following Wednesday’s fall, as he will be riding at Uttoxeter tomorrow, where he has 3 rides for Alan King:

14:35 King’s Revenge – Handicap Hurdle

15:40 Noticeable – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

16:10 Bormo – Novices’ Hurdle


It’s been a very busy 4 days for me and I’ve driven 800 miles, leaving home between 07:00 and 07:30 and not getting home until 21:00 each day, and 22:00 today.  But I must do it again next year!  I’ve a busy weekend ahead of me – with photos to upload and diaries to write – I just hope I can remember the details, as I’ve not had chance to make any notes for the past 2 days! 


Thursday – 12 March 2009 – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 3

The fates are still conspiring against Choc, as he experienced another disappointing day at the Festival.  Having passed the doctor’s examination this morning he was allowed to ride today, but good fortune does not seem to have been conferred upon him. L


Pennek finished 3rd in the Pertemps Final (22 ran).

Voy Por Ustedes finished 2nd in the Ryanair Chase, having blundered badly 4 fences from home.  The race was won by Imperial Commander under Paddy Brennan, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. (10 ran)

Blazing Bailey finished 8th in the World Hurdle (14 ran)

Choc gave up his ride upon Turkish Surprise – presumably he is still feeling sore following yesterday’s fall.  Wayne Hutchinson took over the ride but he pulled the horse up.


Just 3 rides for Choc tomorrow, all for Alan King:

13:30 Walkon – Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

14:40 Thetwincamdrift – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

15:20 Halcon Genelardais – Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1)

Another disappointment for Choc is that Bensalem doesn’t run in the Albert Bartlett following a dirty scope.


Picture in the Sky runs for Martin Keighley tomorrow, in the Albert Bartlett.


Paul Carberry and Oliver Greenall were taken to hospital today so I wish both of them a speedy recovery.


Once the Festival is over, I hope Choc will take a few days box rest so that he can return fit and well to continue his quest for winners.  And I know it’s Friday 13th tomorrow, but please can Choc have a little bit of luck, as I’m sure there is enough to go round ...


Winning Jockeys (after Day 3)

Ruby Walsh x 5

Barry Geraghty x 2

AP McCoy x 1

Paul Carberry x 1

Nina Carberry x 1

Mr Sam Whaley Cohen x 1

Tom O’Brien x 1

Paddy Flood x 1

Mr B T O’Connell x 1

Timmy Murphy x 1

Aiden Coleman x 1

Paddy Brennan x 1

Mr W Biddick x 1

Mr JJ Codd x 1


Choc has 2 x 2nd place, 2 x 3rd place, 1 x 4th place


Wednesday – 11 March 2009 – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 2

What a horrible day, and everything started off so well ... I arrived in Cheltenham early so I walked down to the town to visit one of the recruitment agency branches which I do the administration for.  It was great to meet the branch staff, as I’ve only ever spoken to them on the telephone. 


Then it was back to the races, where Choc was scheduled for 4 rides:

Junior finished 10th in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Karabak finished 2nd under AP McCoy.


Then disaster struck when Big Zeb fell in the Champion Chase, in the process kicking Choc in the kidneys. It was horrible, as I knew something was wrong when there was an announcement for Alan King and Karen McLintock to report to the Weighing Room (as they were the trainers of Choc’s later rides today). Choc’s valet, Phil Taylor, was on the steps outside the Weighing Room, on the look-out for Alan too.  Then there was an announcement explaining what had happened to Choc, although they stated that he had been kicked in the stomach.  I stayed beside the Parade Ring and viewed the later races on the big screen as I didn’t wish to go down to the rails anymore.  And when I was listening to the Festival radio channel whilst queuing to leave, it was mentioned that Choc had gone to Cheltenham Hospital for tests.  I then had to drive the 100 miles home with no further news available ... so I am greatly relieved to read the reports that Choc is fine.  He is also expected to ride tomorrow provided he’s cleared to do so by the doctor.  Evidently he felt much better half an hour after the fall, and the trip to the Hospital was just precautionary. 


The rides Choc missed:

Saticon finished 3rd in the Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle under Wayne Hutchinson (22 ran).

Bygones of Brid finished 23rd of 24 in the Bumper under Graham Lee.


Benbane Head finished 10th in the Bumper for Martin Keighley.


Provided Choc passes the doctor tomorrow, his rides (all for Alan King) will be as follows:

14:05 Pennek – Pertemps Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle)

14:40 Voy Por Ustedes – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)

15:20 Blazing Bailey (Grade 1)

16:00 Turkish Surprise (Grade 3)


Winning Jockeys (after Day 2)

Ruby Walsh 4

Barry Geraghty 2

AP McCoy 1

Paul Carberry 1

Nina Carberry 1

Mr Sam Whaley Cohen x 1

Tom O’Brien x 1

Paddy Flood x 1

Mr B T O’Connell x 1


Choc has 1 x 2nd place, 1 x 3rd place, 1 x 4th place


I’ll have company at Cheltenham tomorrow when my sister-in-law, Anita, takes her first ever trip to the races!


Tuesday 10 March 2009 – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY 1

Just a short blog today, as I arrived back from Cheltenham at 21:00 and need my beauty sleep tonight!


Medermit was beaten by a neck into 2nd place in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) – I gave this horse as an each-way tip to my friend Mark and to a work colleague, so I wonder if they were on! (20 ran).

Nenuphar Collonges finished 3rd in the  William Hill Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (21 ran).

Katchit finished a very creditable 6th in the Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) (23 ran).  The winner was Punjabi, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, the horse had finished 3rd to Katchit last year.

Crystal D’Ainay was pulled up in the Cross Country Handicap Chase (16 ran).

Over Sixty finished 4th in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (21 ran).


Martin Keighley’s first runner at the Cheltenham Festival, Wychwoods Legend, finished 14th in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle.


Tomorrow Choc has 4 rides at Cheltenham:

14:05 Junior – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Alan King)

15:20 Big Zeb – Champion Chase (Grade 1) (Colm Murphy)

16:40 Saticon – Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (Alan King)

17:15 Bygones of Brid – Champion Bumper NH Flat Race (Grade 1) (Karen McLintock)

I wonder how well Karabak will perform in the 14:05 – Choc was very disappointed to lose the ride when the horse was purchased by JP McManus.


Martin Keighley’s Benbane Head also goes in the Champion Bumper.


Winning Jockeys (after Day 1)

Barry Geraghty 2

AP McCoy 1

Ruby Walsh 1

Paul Carberry 1

Nina Carberry 1


Choc has 1 x 2nd place, 1 x 3rd place, 1 x 4th place


Monday 09 March 2009




Fabulous news … Choc rode his 100th winner of the season today. J That’s his 2nd second century in a season, so presumably his new target will be to exceed last year’s total of 105 winners.


Here’s more detail about how he got on at Stratford today, where he had 2 rides:

Silk Hall won the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle enabling Choc to reach the magic milestone of 100 winners this season (9 ran).

Norman the Great was pulled up before the 3rd last flight in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran).  Alan’s other runner, Pagano, finished in 5th position.


Choc has 5 rides booked for Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival, all for Alan King, as follows:


13:30 Medermit – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

14:30 Nenuphar Collonges – William Hill Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

15:20 Katchit – Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

16:00 Crystal D’Ainay – Cross Country Handicap Chase

16:40 Over Sixty – David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 2)


Very fittingly, Martin Keighley’s Wychwoods Legend runs in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle.  Good luck Martin.  This will be his first runner at the Festival, and he has two other runners later in the week (Benbane Head in the Champions Bumper and Picture in the Sky in the Albert Bartlett).


I’m going to spend the remainder of this evening sorting out my outfit for Day 1 of Cheltenham, and probably the outfits for the rest of the week too!   And I must remember to set up my videos to tape both Channel 4 and Racing UK’s coverage of the Festival. 


Sunday 08 March 2009

A busy day for me – at 08:00 I topped my car up with petrol in preparation for my trip to Cheltenham on Tuesday.  When I returned, I washed the car and vacuumed the inside too, as I will have company at the races on Thursday when my sister-in-law Anita will be coming along (her 1st ever visit to the races), and on Friday when my friend, Lesley, will be in attendance. 


Then I did my washing, after which I watched the recording of yesterday’s Sandown fixture.  Then I got side-tracked into creating a number of necklaces (having purchased some glass pendants a week or two ago). This afternoon I watched the racing coverage from Warwick and Market Rasen, but have barely started to write my Sandown diary!   Another task I’ve yet to complete is to choose my Festival outfits from my wardrobe! 


Anyway, back to the racing.  Choc rode at Warwick today:

Blistering finished 8th and last of those which completed the course in the Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran). Another disappointing run from the horse.

In the Handicap Chase, Minella Four Star ran well but, having cleared the last, had a tired and nasty looking fall although Choc was thrown well clear.  He had just been headed for the lead, so probably would not have won.

Choc quickly ran across to subdue the horse, and it did get up okay.  (6 ran)


Martin Keighley’s Custers Last Stand pulled up in the Conditional Jockeys race under Charlie Huxley.  The weather was atrocious during the race, the course having been hit by a hail storm!


At Market Rasen, Dominic Elsworth had a nasty fall.  I hope he’s okay for Cheltenham.  And Tom Siddall rode an amazing double on a 33-1 shot, and a 28-1 shot!


Choc is scheduled for 2 rides at Stratford tomorrow, both for Alan King.

14:10 Silk Hall – Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle

16:10 Norman the Great – Handicap Hurdle


Tomorrow evening Choc will be taking part in a Cheltenham preview event at the Royal Oak in Prestbury.  Sam Thomas, Joe Tizzard and Tom Scudamore will also be taking part.


And I notice Choc has been booked to ride Andreas in the Grand Annual for owner Trevor Hemmings and trainer Paul Nicholls.  Andreas having been 1 of Choc’s 4 winners at the Festival in 2007.


Saturday 07 March 2009

Sandown 7 Mar 09 red g.jpg




Martin Keighley’s Any Currency

at Sandown today



I enjoyed my day out at Sandown Park, although I’m a little disappointed that Choc didn’t ride his 100th winner of the season today.  But, as I had hoped, Choc did take part in the Paddy Power Space-Hopper race, so I took some lovely photos of him.  Although the space-hopper proved to be an unsafe conveyance, as he fell off it!   


Bakbenscher finished 2nd in the NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (18 ran).

Trigger the Light finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase. Alan’s other runner, Stolen Moments, finished 4th. (7 ran)

The Irish raider, Native Clan, finished 6th in the Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle.  The feature race was won by Dave’s Dream ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Nicky Henderson (19 ran).

Polly Potter finished 3rd in the EBF/DBC Mares’ NH Flat Race Final.  Asturienne finished 9th (18 ran).


Any Currency (pictured above) finished in 8th place in ‘Bakbenscher’s’ race.  It was a competitive race, with 18 runners, so hopefully Martin will be satisfied with his run.  Having ridden Any Currency in the first race at Sandown Park, Warren Marston dashed down the M4 to Chepstow to ride Sarrococca, but he finished last of those which completed the course. 


What an amazing ride Choc gave Busy Isit yesterday.  I can’t believe he stayed aboard the horse, let alone won the race! 


Just 2 rides for Choc tomorrow, at Warwick:

14:35 Blistering – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

16:35 Minella Four Star – Handicap Chase (Alan King)


As I’ve got chores to complete at home, I’m not going to Warwick tomorrow. I’d love to see Choc ride his 100th winner of the season (especially as it will be just the 2nd time he’s reached this seasonal milestone), but I’m sure he won’t mind a belated congratulations.


Friday 06 March 2009

Today Choc rode at Sandown Park, where he had 2 rides:

Busy Isit won the Handicap Chase, giving Choc his 99th winner of the current campaign. (7 ran.)

Cracboumwiz finished 2nd in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).

And stable-mate Ellen Tilley, with Wayne Hutchinson aboard, won at Wincanton.

I've not watched the video yet, but it sounds like Choc had a pretty exciting ride aboard his winner, Busy Isit:

"Sprawled badly 1st, rear, recovered and in touch 4th, hit next, went 3rd and hit 7th, blundered 12th, hit 4 out and ridden, led and bumped 3 out, soon ridden clear".

Very good news regarding Martin Keighley’s 2 runners at Leicester today – Ross Leader won, and Stockton Flyer was runner-up in the same ‘amateur rider’ event!  Congratulations go to Martin, and good luck for tomorrow at Sandown when Any Currency runs in the EBF Paddy Power NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (14:05 race).  And Sarrococca runs at Chepstow too.

More good news for Martin, as all three of his Cheltenham entries have been confirmed – they’ve all beaten the ballot!


As hoped, Choc will be riding at Sandown Park tomorrow, where he has 4 rides:

14:05 Bakbenscher – NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

14:35 Trigger the Light – Handicap Chase (Alan King). Wayne Hutchinson is riding Alan’s other runner, Stolen Moments.

15:10 Native Clan – Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (A L T Moore).

15:35 Polly Potter – EBF/DBC Mares’ NH Flat Race Final (Alan King). Wayne will be riding stable-mate, Asturienne.


So it’s another day out at the races for me – yippee! 

Evidently there is going to be a parade of ex-racehorses which have succeeded in other equine sports following their retirement from racing.  And to raise money for Comic Relief, there will be a space-hopper race in the paddock at 12:45 with some of the top jockeys and trainers taking part.  (Will Choc take part I wonder?  He’s always game for a laugh!)


And I wonder if Choc will reach the 100 winners milestone tomorrow? … J


Thursday 05 March 2009

A very good day for Choc, who had 2 rides at Lingfield Park:

Enfant de Lune won the Novices’ Hurdle by 10 lengths, giving Choc his 97th winner of the season (11 ran).

Aohna won the NH Flat Race by a neck – his 98th winner of the season (11 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be at Sandown Park, where he has 2 rides:

14:45 Busy Isit – Handicap Chase (Mrs F M Shaw)

17:05 Cracboumwiz – NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)


Martin Keighley has two runners in the Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase at Leicester tomorrow – Ross Leader and Stockton Flyer.  And Any Currency is scheduled to run in the Paddy Power NH Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown on Saturday. 


Hopefully Choc will again be at Sandown Park on Saturday so that I can pay a 5th visit to the course. 


However I’m in 2 minds about Sunday.  I need to keep on top of my chores and my diaries as the Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, but if Choc’s 100th winner of the season has not yet been attained and he is in with a chance of reaching this milestone at Warwick on Sunday then I will be gutted if I miss it!


Wednesday 04 March 2009

Choc had just 1 mount today at Fontwell Park:

Tosula finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase – only 4 completed the course (9 ran).


Tomorrow Choc is cantering off to Lingfield Park, where he has 2 rides, both for Alan King:

14:20 Enfant de Lune – Novices’ Hurdle

17:30 Aohna – NH Flat Race


Tuesday 03 March 2009

The weather looked foul at Exeter, very wet and windy, so it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise if some of the horses performed below their best. 


So here is news of how Choc fared today:

Patton finished a distant 3rd in the Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran).

Valleyofthedolls ran in the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle but was pulled up (14 ran).

Topless was also pulled up in the Handicap Chase event (14 ran).  Choc’s mount was a grey, but had become a mud-brown colour following its run!  The race, which was the Devon National, was won by the aptly named Teeming Rain ridden by AP McCoy.

And finally, Manly Money was a non-runner.

The Randy Bishop was in action at Exeter too but was pulled up in the 16:00 race.


Choc has a quiet day tomorrow, with 1 ride at Fontwell Park:

15:00 Tosula – Handicap Chase (Neil Mulholland)


Hayley Turner was injured in an accident on the Newmarket gallops today, when the horse she was riding broke a leg and she was thrown to the ground, knocking her unconscious.  She was taken to hospital for tests, and will be kept in overnight.  But hopefully she’ll be okay.


Monday 02 March 2009

Firstly, my best wishes go to Choc’s mum.  She’s not very well at the moment so I wish her a speedy recovery.   


Just one ride at Stratford for Choc today:

Blazing Desert ran on to take 2nd place, 1¾ lengths behind the winner, in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (15 ran).

The amusingly named Transvestite, ridden by AP McCoy, finished in 7th place.


Tomorrow Choc will be riding at Exeter, where he has 4 rides scheduled:

14:30 Patton – Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:00 Valleyofthedolls – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (Alan King)

15:30 Topless – Handicap Chase (Neil Mulholland)

16:30 Manly Money – Handicap Hurdle (Anthony Honeyball)


I did a search for this website on Yahoo today, and I’m on the front page!  And if I search under ‘Choc Thornton’ (as opposed to Robert Choc Thornton) I’m the third entry on the list, behind two entries for his own website … how fabulous is that?


Noticeable was unclaimed when winning at Doncaster last Friday.


Just 8 days to go until the start of the Cheltenham Festival and I’m looking forward to it very much.  


News came through this afternoon that Choc has been booked to ride Big Zeb, the principal Irish hope for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.


Sunday 01 March 2009

I went to Huntingdon races today. But I had a minor disaster with my camera, and then my brain!  I was happily taking photographs until preparing to take one of Choc as Rustarix jumped the open-ditch in front of the stands – when an error message appeared saying there was a problem with my digital picture card. It said I should clean the contacts or reformat the card.  I cleaned it, as I didn’t wish to obliterate my photos, but to no avail.  Then I had a ‘blonde’ moment – which is quite difficult as I’m a brunette – because I forgot that I could still take photos by removing the card and saving them in the internal memory. Doh!  And, you guessed it, I’ve tried to upload the photos I took before the problem arose and, not surprisingly, all I got was an error message on my PC. So I apologise that there are no photos of today’s action, and it’s such a pity as I know I took a number of nice ones.  L


Anyway, this is how Choc fared today:

Latin Scholar finished 5th in the Maiden Hurdle Division I (9 ran)

Mount Helicon finished 2nd in Division II of the same (9 ran)

Rustarix won the Novices’ Chase, although there were only 2 runners!  Choc’s 96th winner of the season.

Sam Lord finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).


Tomorrow Choc will be at Stratford, for just 1 ride:

16:00 Blazing Desert – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Alan King)

When I was watching Racing Replay a few days ago, the commentators were amused that a horse was called The Randy Bishop ... and it made me wonder what had happened to Transvestite – and I’ve just noticed that he is also running in the 16:00 at Stratford, with AP aboard!


A few weeks ago, Richard Phillips mentioned the Adlestrop Club’s Cheltenham Preview event would take place tomorrow evening and he is hoping that John Francome, Richard Johnson and Choc will be part of his star studded panel to give their Festival pointers.  I’d definitely become a member of Richard’s Adlestrop Club if I lived in the Cotswolds, as they hold some interesting events.




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