MARCH 2012

 

 

Saturday 31 March 2012

Uttoxeter:

Godsmejudge (Alan King/Choc) won the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles] (8 ran); Choc’s 46th winner of the season. J

Gospel Preacher (Alan King/Choc) pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs] (8 ran).

Golden Electra (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (18 ran).

Management (Alan King/Choc) finished last in the Handicap Chase (9 ran).

 

Stratford:

Teshali (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

 

Three runners of interest at Ascot tomorrow:

14:20 Forresters Folly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Kings Bayonet (Alan King/Choc) – Maiden Hurdle

17:15 Balzaccio (Alan King/Peter Hatton) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

 

Although the ‘fuel panic’ has eased for the time being, I decided to fill up my tank this morning ... at 06:45!  There were no queues at the Sainsburys petrol station, but a number of their pumps were out of action and most of the remaining ones were occupied when I got there, despite the early hour! 

 

My older brother, Nick, almost ran out of fuel this week.  He was working over in Welwyn, he’s a builder, and tried to fill up his van but the first petrol station he tried had totally run out of fuel and a second one had too long a queue.  He just managed to reach home, almost running on fumes, but fortunately a tanker had just arrived to make a delivery to the local petrol station at the end of his road so he was able to fill up after all.  A close shave.

 

I also cleaned my car today; there being a hose pipe ban coming into operation in my area tomorrow.  And I’ve completed my Newbury diary.  Click here to read. 

Friday 30 March 2012

One runner of interest yesterday, at Ffos Las:

One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

 

And there was one runner of interest today, at Wetherby:

Ishikawa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 11th in the Handicap Hurdle (14 ran).

 

A number of runners of interest tomorrow:

Uttoxeter:

16:10 Godsmejudge (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles]

16:45 Gospel Preacher (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs]

17:15 Golden Electra (Alan King/Choc) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

17:45 Management (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

 

Stratford:

15:55 Teshali (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman) – Handicap Hurdle

 

The good news is that Choc will be at Ascot on Sunday, but the bad news is that he will have just one ride; so a quiet weekend at home for me. 

 

I’m not sure whether I will be going to the Lambourn Open Day after all; with the current uncertainty regarding fuel supplies caused by the misplaced panic over a strike which may never happen.  Typical.  And this year’s afternoon entertainment is due to feature camel racing ... why do I always miss the camel racing?

 

I enjoyed my day yesterday; a trip to Birmingham culminating with an Osmonds concert at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.  I drove to my friend Lesley’s home, left my car there and we went in her car to Milton Keynes to catch a train.  I’ve got a good sense of direction but the roads in Milton Keynes all look the same to me, hence the change of driver.  We caught the 11:10 train to Birmingham New Street; although technically, it was the train to Northampton, which separated into two, the front four carriages heading for Crewe and the remaining four carriages for Birmingham.  Someone lost the plot though as, at Coventry, a passenger alighted from the train and complained to staff that the train wasn’t going to Stafford ... no, that’s because he’d sat in the wrong half of the train! 

 

The train stopped at a number of smaller stations too, so we arrived in Birmingham at 13:10.  We then headed for the Bullring Shopping Centre, where we bought a drink and a snack in Starbucks, before looking around the shops.  I wasn’t that impressed, it was very similar to many large shopping centres.  We had lunch at the Handmade Burger Co at around 16:00; after which I dropped into the local branch of the company I work for, for a quick chat.  So I’ve visited our Cheltenham branch when in Cheltenham and now the Birmingham branch when in Birmingham; I’m becoming a bit of a globetrotter.   

 

As mentioned earlier, the concert took place at the Symphony Hall, which is part of the ICC; I had actually visited the centre a number of years ago, when my employer held their annual conference there.  As it was early, around 18:00, we paid a visit to the Starbucks outlet within the centre, before waiting for the doors of the concert hall to open at 19:00.

 

The concert began at 19:30; there was a supporting act ‘The Dropouts’, consisting of the musicians who accompanied the Osmonds later in the evening; they performed four or five songs before the interval.  Finally it was time for the main event – Merrill, Jay and Jimmy Osmond commenced their act, as always, with Crazy Horses.  Unfortunately, Wayne Osmond has been unable to participate in this tour as intended, as he’s recently suffered a stroke and was unable to travel by plane due to the drugs he is prescribed.  Poor Jimmy, who will be 49 next month, still has to perform Long Haired Lover From Liverpool! 

 

The best recent concert I attended was at Wembley only three or four years ago, when the whole family performed – Donny, Marie, Jimmy, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay.  Even Alan made a brief appearance too; he suffers from MS.  Sorry, it takes me back to my childhood!  Mind you, Lesley and I were only 7 or 8 rows from the stage on that occasion and I had a migraine headache the next day due to the noise affecting me badly!  

 

The concert finished just before 22:00; we rushed back to New Street Station ... but we just missed the penultimate London-bound train of the evening.  We had to wait an hour for the final train available.  It was a Virgin train, and stopped at only a few stations.  We arrived back in Milton Keynes at 00:10; drove back to Lesley’s house where I picked up my car to return to Hertfordshire.  I got home at 01:10; and today was a work day.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday 28 March 2012

One runner of interest tomorrow, at Ffos Las:

14:50 One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Handicap Hurdle

 

Tomorrow evening I’ll be attending an Osmonds concert in Birmingham and, as Lesley and I will be going by train from Milton Keynes, I don’t expect to get home until around 01:00 on Friday morning! 

 

With the imminent threat of a petrol tanker strike, I’m now worried that I won’t be able to buy enough petrol to reach Aintree, let alone get back home again too.  That’s just great.  My car is supposed to do around 400 miles on one tank of petrol, if driving sensibly!  It’s a 400 mile round trip to the racecourse, and I need to fill up whilst away too, as my hotel for Friday night is approximately 17 miles away from the course.  Damn.  Do I make contingency plans to go by train?  Watford Junction being my nearest station on the northwest line.

 

Plans to go to the Lambourn Open Day may have to be shelved this year too.  Unfortunately, I can always get to work, regardless of any fuel shortages which may arise ... as I run on Weetabix fuel at that time of the morning!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Here are today’s results:

 

Hereford:

Tuscan Gold (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran).

Trade On (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) finished 6th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

 

Market Rasen:

Midnight Sail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase (6 ran).

Dunraven Prince (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran).

 

I’ve totally lost it ... my head is so full of work related things that I forgot to change my satellite channel from RUK to ATR today, so I failed to tape Choc’s race at Hereford!  I’m a numbty!

 

Racing at Taunton and Ludlow tomorrow, but no riding engagements for Choc.  And he’s got an enforced holiday on Thursday and Friday ... not that he was likely to ride anyway, with Newcastle and Ffos Las on Thursday and Newcastle and Wetherby on Friday.

 

Choc has tweeted another picture of young William, this time playing with a digger truck:

http://twitter.com/#!/Choc_Thornton/status/184594572524003328/photo/1

 

Shock news today that Graham Lee is switching codes and will become a full-time flat race jockey!  More

I’m going to start adding the race comments to the draft of my Newbury diary this evening.  So far, without those comments having been added, I’ve written over 3,000 words.

I worked over 9 hours without a break today ... but things appear to be under control again ... at least for the time being!  Had I not re-arranged by sinus operation to take place on 19 April, tomorrow would have been the day! 

Monday 26 March 2012

A number of runners of interest tomorrow:

 

Hereford:

14:10 Tuscan Gold (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

15:40 Trade On (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

 

Market Rasen:

15:20 Midnight Sail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

16:50 Dunraven Prince (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle

 

I notice, from Twitter, that Choc is looking after William this evening, and overnight, so presume that is why he’s going to Hereford tomorrow, rather than travelling all the way to Market Rasen.  It will allow him to spend more time with his son; which is just as it should be. 

 

Click here to view a photograph of William enjoying his tea, which Choc posted on twitter this evening: http://twitter.com/#!/Choc_Thornton/status/184343834749190144/photo/1

 

Another nightmare day at work ... we used to have 7 people plus a manager but, over the past 3 years, it’s been reduced down to just two people plus a manager and it’s frequently a struggle to meet deadlines with the amount of work coming in.  Despite missing my lunch-break today, I’ve failed to meet the requested turnaround time on a task because I was given insufficient notice; I will have to finish it in the morning.  Oh well, I’m not a miracle worker! 

Sunday 25 March 2012

Today Choc had one riding engagement at Wincanton:

Rustarix (Alan King) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase (4 ran).

No riding engagements for Choc at Towcester tomorrow.  Alan King has warned that he may not have many runners this week due to the forecast for continuing dry weather.  And Choc will be serving a 2-day ban this coming Thursday and Friday, having been punished following his ride aboard Medermit at the Festival.

 

I know I’m going to have a quiet Easter, with the only day out being a trip to the Lambourn Open Day on Good Friday.  But, needless to say, all of my Cheltenham diaries need to be completed, so I won’t be at a loss for something to do.  Thursday was my favourite day of the Festival this year, so I plan to start with that day. 

 

I’ve uploaded the photographs I took at Newbury yesterday.  I enjoyed my day out; the weather was beautiful, although I did get a little burnt; I took a trip to the start of race 5, the 3 miles 2½ furlong Handicap Chase; and, of course, Choc rode a winner.  I also congratulated him personally on his win.  An excellent day.

Click here to view photographs.

Saturday 24 March 2012

 

tante sissi wins r.jpg

 

A photo-call for the winner of the Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Race Finale:

Choc and Tante Sissi

 

Today Choc was at Newbury ... and he won the feature race of the day J

However, there was a ‘sting in the tail’, as he was awarded a 4-day ban for careless riding L :- Saturday 7th, Easter Sunday 8th, Bank Holiday Monday 9th and Sunday 15th April (the bans side-step Aintree due to the grade 1 races at the fixture). There are no National Hunt fixtures on Tuesday 10th or Wednesday 11th April; hence 3 days before and 1 day after the Festival.

 

The full results are as follows:

Way Back When (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 5th in the EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase Finale (Listed Handicap) (6 ran).

Tante Sissi (Alan King/Choc) won & Night Rose (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the EBF Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Finale (Limited Handicap – Listed Race); Choc’s 45th winner of the season.  More

Quotica De Poyans (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase [3 miles 2½ furlongs] (10 ran).

Mister Stickler (Alan King/Choc) finished 5th in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 1 furlong] (7 ran).

High Ball Roller (NJ Vaughan/Choc) finished 12th in the ‘Junior’ Bumper Standard Open Flat Race (13 ran).

 

Stratford:

Mister Chancer (Alan King/Peter Hatton) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (8 ran).

 

Tomorrow Choc will be at Wincanton, where he has one riding engagement:

15:25 Rustarix (Alan King) – Handicap Chase

I seem to have arrived back from Newbury with a décolleté almost as bright pink as the top I was wearing.  Fortunately I did remember to put sun-block on my face! 

And, of course, we lose an hour tonight ... so I guess I ought to get to bed in good time.

Friday 23 March 2012

Today Choc had 2 riding engagements at Newbury, and this is how he fared:

Desert Joe (Alan King) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles and half a furlong] (10 ran).

Romulus D’Artaix (Alan King) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (7 ran).

 

Tomorrow, again there is racing at Newbury:

14:05 Way Back When (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase Finale (Listed Handicap)

14:40 Tante Sissi (Alan King/Choc) & Night Rose (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - EBF Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Finale (Limited Handicap – Listed Race) 

15:40 Quotica De Poyans (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - Handicap Chase [3 miles 2½ furlongs]; with Quotica’s recent track record, I’m pleased Wayne is taking this possibly risky ride ... 10 stone 2 lbs generally being too light for Choc to ride.

16:15 Mister Stickler (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 1 furlong]

16:50 High Ball Roller (NJ Vaughan/Choc) – ‘Junior’ Bumper Standard Open Flat Race

 

Stratford:

17:25 Mister Chancer (Alan King/Peter Hatton) – Handicap Hurdle

 

As beautiful weather is forecast this weekend, I hope to take a trip to Newbury tomorrow.  That’s provided I feel okay in the morning; I was feeling a little dizzy earlier this evening.  I’m putting it down to a very stressful week at work ... my department has been in temporary offices this week; the workload has been extremely heavy; we’ve been living out of crates, so it’s been a nightmare to find anything; not to mention the numerous trips up and down the stairs to fetch bulk print items from the photocopier.  Arrrggghhh! 

I can never remember feeling as frustrated at work as I’ve felt this week.  Hopefully it will settle down on Monday when we move into our newly decorated office.  Oh how I wish I could win the lottery and retire!!!  And it would give me so much more time to devote to my website and hobbies.

There aren’t that many more fixtures/events that I can attend between now and the end of the season – Newbury tomorrow, Ascot Sunday week, the Lambourn Open Day on Good Friday, 2 days at Aintree (Friday and Saturday) and Sandown Park at the end of next month.  My friend Denise will be coming along to the Lambourn Open Day this year; it’s always nice to have company.

And I’ve finished and uploaded my Kempton Park diary.  Click here to read. 

Thursday 22 March 2012

Today’s results from Chepstow are as follows:

Golden Firebird (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (13 ran).

Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr N Slatter) won the Handicap Hurdle (16 ran); Martin’s 34th winner of the season.  Congratulations to the team.

 

Tomorrow, Choc has 2 riding engagements at Newbury:

15:15 Desert Joe (Alan King) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles and half a furlong]

15:50 Romulus D’Artaix (Alan King) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

 

I’m hoping to complete my Kempton Park diary this evening; it’s just a ‘short-version’ one, without the detailed race descriptions but, nevertheless, there will be around 1,400 words.

 

Choc’s latest column has appeared in Horse and Hound published today, his sole topic being the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Choc writes that it was just one of those weeks when Alan King’s stable was out of luck.  None of the horses ran badly, but they didn’t run quite well enough to win.  Seven of his 12 rides were placed, and by the end of the week he was pretty fed up with standing beside the third place marker in the Winners’ Enclosure!

 

He says that Tuesday set the tone for the week, with Montbazon not jumping as fluently as he can and finishing a close fourth.  Vendor ran well in the Fred Winter to finish 3rd, it being somewhat of a lottery with 24 novice horses running in the race.

 

Medermit ‘ran a cracker’ in the Ryanair.  Choc writes that his mount came off the bridle down the back straight, but he always tries hard and Choc thought he might win going to the last fence.  Choc thinks he’s proved that he needs 3 miles and should run well at Aintree.

 

Everything went to plan in the World Hurdle, with Smad Place ‘running out of his skin’ to finish 3rd.  It was one of his easiest rides of the Festival.

 

Choc writes that it would have been easier to stomach his third place in the Triumph Hurdle aboard Grumeti had his mount been beaten by one of the fancied horses, such as Baby Mix or Saddler’s Risk.  But Countrywide Flame was a 33-1 shot who had been beaten by the Alan King trained Secret Edge back in October!

 

Raya Star ran ‘flat’ after a long season; Kumbeshwar ran his heart out to finished 3rd in the Grand Annual.  Lovcen also did well to finish 4th in the Albert Bartlett; both he and Smad Place will be exciting novice chasers next season.

 

The equine performance of the week was Sprinter Sacre’s win in the Arkle; Choc writes that he was breathtaking to watch and made very good horses ‘look like trees’!

 

Choc’s choice for the best jockey performance was Noel Fehily’s victory aboard Rock On Ruby in the Champion Hurdle.  Although being a top class jockey for years, he’s inexplicably remained somewhat on the fringe.  He’s a good judge, good tactically, excellent over an obstacle and strong in a finish; nearly always in the right place at the right time too.  Noel is very tough and has had his fair share of injuries; especially when he hurt his wrist shortly after having gained second jockey status aboard Paul Nicholls’ horses in Ruby’s absence.  Choc says his Champion Hurdle win was good compensation. 

 

However, Choc was underwhelmed by the Gold Cup; and Long Run has lost his sparkle.  He thinks that no-one was surprised when Kauto Star was pulled up; Choc hopes they will retire him now.  However, Choc admires the way that Paul Nicholls was totally up-front with regards to Kauto’s fall and subsequent training; a lot of the criticism was totally unfair. 

 

Choc had only ever once heard a horse being applauded when he pulled up, and that was Istabraq in his fourth Champion Hurdle attempt.  He says it’s a measure of their greatness and the esteem with which National Hunt champions are held.

 

But that shouldn’t take anything away from AP McCoy’s win; it just shows how great a jockey he is to keep producing rides like that.  Having won the Midlands and Welsh Grand National, Synchronised demonstrated that it takes a proper stayer to win a Gold Cup.

 

Choc congratulates Cheltenham’s Clerk of the Course and Racing Director Simon Claisse and his team for doing a fantastic job with the going.  He says they have the manpower and money, but it is still very hard to get consistency in watered ground, especially with the undulations at Cheltenham, but they achieved it.  Choc was able to ride on the ground with complete confidence all week.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Here are today’s results of interest:

 

Hereford:

Monturgeon (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (9 ran).

Soir D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) was a non-runner in the Handicap Chase.

Franklin Roosevelt (Warren Greatrex/Choc) won the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs] (10 ran).  Choc’s 44th winner of the season. J

 

Haydock:

Jetnova (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

 

Warwick:

Gold Ingot (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (9 ran).

 

Choc has one riding engagement tomorrow, at Chepstow:

14:10 Golden Firebird (Alan King/Choc) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

16:20 Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr N Slatter) – Handicap Hurdle

 

I was doing some research for my Cheltenham diaries and discovered that Choc has received a 2-day ban following his ride aboard Medermit in last Thursday’s Ryanair Chase ... Oooops:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Robert Thornton, the rider of MEDERMIT (FR), placed third, on the run in. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip in an incorrect place. The Stewards suspended Thornton for 2 days as follows: Thursday 29 and Friday 30 March 2012.

 

On ATR’s website there is an article outlining Martin Keighley’s hopes for the future regarding his stable star Champion Court, who ran so brilliantly in the Jewson’s Novices’ Chase at the Festival.  More

Tuesday 20 March 2012

News today that, following a disappointing run at Cheltenham, Hold On Julio is one of a number of defectors from the field of next month’s Grand National.  More  That currently leaves Choc without a mount in the big race, as Wayne Hutchison has been promised the ride aboard West End Rocker. 

 

Tomorrow there are a number of runners of interest:

Hereford:

15:40 Monturgeon (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

16:45 Soir D’Estruval (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

17:15 Franklin Roosevelt (Warren Greatrex/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4 furlongs]

 

Haydock:

14:40 Jetnova (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle

 

After which, the jockey will ton it down the M6 and around Birmingham to reach Warwick:

17:35 Gold Ingot (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

Monday 19 March 2012

National Hunt racing takes place at Exeter tomorrow, but Choc has no riding engagements.

 

More information from Paul Nicholls regarding Kauto Star’s future.  More

 

It’s a mega-shame that the BBC has lost all its broadcasting rights for horseracing; I don’t mind the Channel 4 coverage in general, but the adverts drive me mad!  The Grand National won’t be quite the same again.  More

 

I’ve just discovered that the Olympic Torch relay will go directly past my home on Sunday 08 July ... how wicked is that?

 

I’ve uploaded the photographs I took at the Cheltenham Festival:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

I now have to draft my five outstanding diaries ... starting this evening!

Sunday 18 March 2012

News that Medermit may be stepped up in trip before the end of the season, with a tilt at the Aintree Bowl.  More

 

National Hunt racing takes place at Southwell tomorrow, but no riding engagements for Choc.

 

Back to work tomorrow; time has flown, especially as I’ve spent only 2 days at home during the past 9 days!  I went to see Strictly’s Anton and Erin in ‘Let’s Do It’ last Sunday, then spent 4 days at the Cheltenham Festival, followed by Saturday at Kempton Park and today I took my mother to visit my younger brother and his family for Mothers’ Day.  No wonder I woke up with terrible bags under my eyes this morning!!! 

 

Despite this, early this morning I uploaded the photographs I took at Kempton Park yesterday.  Click here to view.

 

And, hopefully, I’ll have time to upload my Cheltenham Festival photographs before I turn in tonight.  That leaves me with a mere five diaries to write ... and with the prospect of around half a dozen more before the end of the National Hunt season ... aaarrrggghhh!  Never mind, most years it takes me until mid-June to catch up with the backlog.

Saturday 17 March 2012

 

Kempton Park for blog r.jpg

 

As hoped, I went to Kempton Park today.  Having suffered from thirditis and fourthitis at Cheltenham; Choc now has seconditis ... I can’t wait for him to catch firstitis!

 

I missed a couple of runners (Balzaccio and Indiana Oscar) when checking the cards last evening, so I’ve added these to the list too ... well, it was late and, having driven 800 miles during the past 4 days, I was (and still am) the worse for wear!:

 

Kempton Park

Ulys Du Charmil (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles] (12 ran).

Forresters Folly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 7th & Hindon Road (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs] (8 ran).

Pantxoa (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd & Balzaccio (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) finished 11th in the Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

Unforgettable (Robin Dickin/Choc) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Handicap Chase (5 ran).

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

Soixante Six (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th & Shady Lane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 6th & Indiana Oscar (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 8th in the Maiden Open NH Flat Race (10 ran).

 

I was so engrossed with Choc’s progress aboard Suburban Bay that I didn’t realise that Canni Thinkaar was a fatality, having been pulled up injured after the third last fence.  RIP.

 

Uttoxeter

Willoughby Hedge (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) finished 4th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (16 ran).

 

Ffos Las

Fitandproperjob (Martin Keighley/Dave Crosse) finished 7th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (11 ran).

 

No runners of interest tomorrow, at Newton Abbot or Carlisle.

 

I took lots of photos today ... the light wasn’t great, but there are a number of nice ones I can upload and I will endeavour to do so shortly.  

Friday 16 March 2012

 

Synchronised for blog r.jpg

 

Synchronised and AP McCoy triumph in the Gold Cup

 

The ‘Winners’ on Day Four:

JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) : Countrywide Flame / JJ Quinn / Dougie Costello

Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle : Alderwood / T Mullins / AP McCoy

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) : Brindisi Breeze / Lucinda Russell / Campbell Gillies

Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) : Synchronised / Jonjo O’Neill / AP McCoy

Christie’s Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup : Salsify / R Sweeney / Mr CJ Sweeney

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle : Attaglance / Malcolm Jefferson / Harry Haynes

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup : Bellvano / Nicky Henderson / Paul Carberry

 

And the Choc / Martin Keighley related runners at Cheltenham fared as follows:

Balder Succes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) fell at the 4th flight & Grumeti (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) [2 miles 1 furlong] (20 ran).

Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) finished 13th & Court In Session (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 23rd in the County Hurdle (Grade 3) [2 miles 1 furlong] (26 ran).

Hard To Swallow (Martin King/Alain Cawley) finished 17th & Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles] (20 ran).

Wolf Moon (Martin Keighley/Charlie Huxley) finished 16th in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs] (24 ran).

Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3 Handicap) [2 miles ½ furlong] (21 ran).

 

Choc’s 2012 Festival ends in disappointment for him; no winners.  I hope he is not too despondent.  Perhaps Aintree will be better, I certainly hope so. 

 

I’ve just looked at tomorrow’s cards and have discovered that Choc has 6 rides at Kempton Park ... so it appears that I may have plans for tomorrow and my Cheltenham photos and diary drafts will have to wait for a while!

 

Kempton Park

13.45 Ulys Du Charmil (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles]

14:50 Forresters Folly (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Hindon Road (Alan King/Choc) - Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs]

15:25 Pantxoa (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle

16:00 Unforgettable (Robin Dickin/Choc) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

16:35 Suburban Bay (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Chase

17:05 Soixante Six (Alan King/Choc) & Shady Lane (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Maiden Open NH Flat Race

 

Uttoxeter

17:30 Willoughby Hedge (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

Ffos Las

17:40 Fitandproperjob (Martin Keighley/Dave Crosse) – Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

I had a Cheltenham-related ‘experience’ as I was driving home.  Approaching Oxford there is a set of traffic lights, followed by a roundabout and then another set of traffic lights; the red light was showing on the latter set, so I pulled up behind the vehicle in front of me, an Audi.  My headlights illuminated a name and sponsorship on the car – Dougie Costello, NH Hunt Jockey; sponsored by Maxilead Metals.  How strange is that?

Thursday 15 March 2012

 

Choc Day 3 for blog r.jpg

 

The most beautiful mane at the Festival!

Choc is interviewed by Rishi Persad

 

The ‘Winners’ on Day Three:

Jewson Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) : Sir Des Champs / Willie Mullins / Davy Russell

Pertemps Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle) : Cape Tribulation / Malcolm Jefferson / Denis O’Regan

Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) : Riverside Theatre / Nicky Henderson / Barry Geraghty

Ladbrokes World Hurdle : Big Buck’s / Paul Nicholls / Ruby Walsh

Byrne Group Plate (Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle) : Salut Flo / David Pipe / Tom Scudamore

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders) – Sunnyhillboy / Jonjo O’Neill / Mr Alan Berry

 

And the Choc / Martin Keighley related results:

 

Cheltenham

Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 2nd in the Jewson Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) [2 miles 4 furlongs] (10 ran).  Champion Court ran brilliantly and jumped like a stag; it’s a shame he found one better.

Medermit (Alan King/Choc) finished a close 3rd in the Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) [2 miles 5 furlongs] (12 ran).  Choc’s mount performed extremely well; he deserves a big race victory soon.

Smad Place (Alan King/Choc) finished an excellent 3rd in the World Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles] (11 ran).

Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Mr RG Henderson) fell at the last & Benbane Head (Martin Keighley/Matt O’Connor) finished 9th in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders) [3 miles 1½ furlongs] (23 ran).

 

Towcester

Awesome Bella (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd & One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished 3rd in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (10 ran).

 

The runners of interest tomorrow, at Cheltenham, are as follows:

13:30 Balder Succes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Grumeti (Alan King/Choc) – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) [ 2 miles 1 furlong]

14:05 Raya Star (Alan King/Choc) & Court In Session (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – County Hurdle (Grade 3) [2 miles 1 furlong]

14:40 Hard To Swallow (Martin King/Alain Cawley) & Lovcen (Alan King/Choc) - Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles]

16:40 Wolf Moon (Martin Keighley/Charlie Huxley) – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs]

17:15 Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Choc) – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3 Handicap) [2 miles ½ furlong]

 

As it’s a nightmare to escape from Cheltenham on the final day of the Festival, in previous years I’ve not even tried to leave the racecourse until around 19:00.  So, as it takes around 2½ hours to get home, I may not write a blog tomorrow evening.  Besides, I’ll probably be shattered!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

 

Choc for blog day 2 r.jpg

 

Choc, following an interview with RUK’s Alex Steedman

 

The ‘Winners’ on Day Two:

 

Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices Chase) : Teaforthree / Rebecca Curtis / Mr JT McNamara

Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) : Simonsig / Nicky Henderson / Barry Geraghty

RSA Chase (Grade 1) : Bobs Worth / Nicky Henderson / Barry Geraghty

Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) : Finian’s Rainbow / Nicky Henderson / Barry Geraghty

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) : Son Of Flicka / Donald McCain Jnr / Jason Maguire

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) : Une Artiste / Nicky Henderson / Jeremiah McGrath – the jockey’s first Festival winner ... and Nicky Henderson’s 44th, the winning most Festival trainer in history

Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1 Standard Open NH Flat Race) – Champagne Fever / Willie Mullins / Mr PW Mullins

 

And the Choc related results, etc:

 

Cheltenham

Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Mr RG Henderson) unseated during the Diamond Jubilee NH Chase [4 miles] (19 ran).

Batonnier was a non-runner, so Choc swapped to Secret Edge (Alan King) and finished 12th in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [2 miles 5 furlongs] (17 ran).

Walkon (Alan King/Choc) ran well and finished 5th in the RSA Chase (Grade 1) [3 miles ½ a furlong] (9 ran).

Vendor (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd & Ardlui (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 15th in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) [2 miles ½ a furlong] (24 ran).

 

Another bad day for fatalities; Abergavenny died as a result of a fall, and Featherbed Lane broke a leg on the flat, both during the Coral Cup. 

 

Huntingdon

Kings Bayonet (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 3rd in the Maiden Hurdle (16 ran).

Rivermouth (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) won the Handicap Chase (9 ran).

Next Man In (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5½ furlongs] (10 ran).

Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 2 furlongs] (11 ran).

Tomorrow’s runners of particular interest are as follows:

 

Cheltenham

13:30 Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Jewson Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) [2 miles 4 furlongs]

14:40 Medermit (Alan King/Choc) – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) [ 2 miles 5 furlongs]

15:20 Smad Place (Alan King/Choc) – World Hurdle (Grade 1) [3 miles]

16:40 Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Mr RG Henderson) & Benbane Head (Martin Keighley/Matt O’Connor) – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders) [3 miles 1½ furlongs]

 

Towcester

13:55 Awesome Bella (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & One More Cookie (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

 

And you have to laugh ... I arrived at the Parade Ring at around 11:00 and didn’t realise that RUK’s Alex Steedman was interviewing Choc in the Winners’ Enclosure whilst I was just a few metres away!  Obviously I spotted Choc as he walked back towards the Weighing Room.  To hide my embarrassment, I can’t even deny I was there, because I could be clearly seen in the background when they showed the interview on TV, re-arranging my scarf and rummaging in my handbag!  I’ve totally lost it! 

 

It was unspeakably awful trying to escape from Cheltenham this evening ... it took me 40 minutes, because the traffic police had blocked my usual route, so I couldn’t reach my short-cut to miss all the traffic. 

Tuesday 13 March 2012

 

Choc & Montbazon for blog.jpg

 

Choc aboard Montbazon

 

Here are the ‘Choc’ related results from Cheltenham:

Montbazon (Alan King) finished 4th in the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [ 2 miles ½ a furlong] (19 ran).

Hold On Julio (Alan King) finished 10th in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (Grade 3) [3 miles ½ a furlong] (19 ran).

Bless The Wings (Alan King) finished 10th in the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) [ 2 miles 4 furlongs] (20 ran).

 

The ‘Winners’ on Day One:

 

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) : Cinders and Ashes / Donald McCain Jnr / Jason Maguire

Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase : Sprinter Sacre / Nicky Henderson / Barry Geraghty

JLT Specialty Handicap Chase : Alfie Sherrin / Jonjo O’Neill / Richie McLernon – the jockey’s first Festival winner

Champion Hurdle : Rock On Ruby / Paul Nicholls / Noel Fehily – the trainer’s first Champion Hurdle victory!

Cross Country Handicap Chase : Balthazar King / Philip Hobbs / Richard Johnson

David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle : Quevega / Willie Mullins / Ruby Walsh

Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase : Hunt Ball / Keiran Burke / Nick Scholfield – the trainer’s and jockey’s first Festival winner (although, of course, Keiran rode a winner last year).

 

Hunt Ball for blog.jpg

 

Hunt Ball wins the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase

 

Unfortunately there is often a sad postscript to major racing fixtures, and today was no exception.  Commiserations to the connections of old stagers Garde Champetre and Scotsirish who both suffered fatal injuries during the Cross Country Chase; and Educated Evans who went wrong during the final race of the day.

 

Tomorrow’s runners of interest are as follows:

 

Cheltenham

13:30 Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Mr RG Henderson) – Diamond Jubilee NH Chase [4 miles]

14:05 Batonnier (Alan King/Choc) & Secret Edge (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [2 miles 5 furlongs]

14:40 Walkon (Alan King/Choc) – RSA Chase (Grade 1) [3 miles ½ a furlong]

16:40 Vendor (Alan King/Choc) & Ardlui (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) -  Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) [2 miles ½ a furlong]

 

Huntingdon

14:20 Kings Bayonet (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Maiden Hurdle

14:55 Rivermouth (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Handicap Chase

15:35 Next Man In (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5½ furlongs]

16:15 Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 2 furlongs]

Having begun my journey home at 17:50 today, I was gutted that it took me 30 minutes to ‘escape’ from Cheltenham, much of the time having been stuck in the queue to leave the car park!  I arrived home at 20:35, having travelled back via the A40, M40 and M25.

Montbazon ran well, but I was a little disappointed with the showing of Choc’s other two rides today; although I must remember that it’s very difficult to win a race at Cheltenham.  But hopefully he will have better luck tomorrow.

Monday 12 March 2012

Taunton

Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) pulled too hard ‘early doors’ and finished 5th in the Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle (6 ran).

 

Plumpton

Diamond Sweeper (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the NH Novices’ Hurdle (14 ran). 

 

In his post-race interview, Wayne mentioned that Choc rode both Grumeti and Balder Succes this morning and, although Choc has not made a definite decision as to his ride in the Triumph, Wayne feels that he is favouring Grumeti. 

 

Tomorrow, surprise, surprise, Choc will be at the Cheltenham Festival, where he has 3 riding engagements:

13:30 Montbazon (Alan King) - William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) [ 2 miles ½ a furlong]

14:40 Hold On Julio (Alan King) - JLT Specialty Handicap Chase (Grade 3) [3 miles ½ a furlong]

17:15 Bless The Wings (Alan King) – Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) [ 2 miles 4 furlongs]

 

A decision has been made and Grands Crus heads for Wednesday’s RSA Chase, rather than the Gold Cup.  More

 

And Kauto Star has been given the final go-ahead and will line up in Friday’s Gold Cup.  More

 

I can feel the nervous excitement starting to build, but I guess that is what it’s all about!  

 

Today has been ‘final preparations’ day.  I walked down to the local supermarket at 08:00 this morning to buy a copy of today’s Racing Post, after which I cleaned my car.  I’m not quite sure whether the latter is an error of judgment as, last year, my car got extremely dusty on Day 2 of the Festival; so I washed it down before setting off on Day 3, only for it to be plastered with dust and filth from the Cheltenham car park on Day 4!  I have never in my life been so embarrassed at the state of my car as I was when I filled it up with petrol upon arriving back home on the Friday evening!

 

At 09:30 I drove down to my local M & S superstore, as I wanted to buy a pair of patterned navy blue tights, just in case I wear my new navy blue skirt this week.  At noon I walked to the dentist, as I had booked my quarterly dental hygienist appointment for today.  I have extremely good teeth, but my gums aren’t very good; gum disease being hereditary!  However, I’ve still got 28 teeth ... 4 having been removed when I had them straightened many moons ago.  And I’ve still got those 4 missing teeth; they are stored in a small trinket pot which I’ve placed on my bookshelf!  If they all fall out, then I can always make them into a necklace!!! 

 

Just a few jobs left; I’ve set up Sky Plus and just need to set up the VCR to record the Channel 4 coverage, and to set my alarm clock for a 04:30 wake-up call. 

Cheltenham here I come!!!

Good Luck Choc

I hope you have a wonderful, and safe, Festival.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Today, Choc was at Warwick, and this is how he fared:

Chilli Rose (Alan King/Choc) finished 2nd in the Mares’ Novices’ Chase (3 ran); only to be expected, as the race was won by Pepite Rose who has now won three consecutive races since 29 February.  I gather the connections needed to run Pepite Rose 3 times over jumps in order to qualify for the EBF Mares’ Final which takes place at Newbury at the end of this month.

Dunraven Prince (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Novices’ Hurdle (14 ran).

Trigger The Light (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson), who is a Warwick specialist, won the Handicap Chase (8 ran).

 

There are 3 National Hunt fixtures tomorrow and runners of interest at two of these:

 

Taunton

14:20 Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Choc) – Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle

 

Plumpton

14:30 Diamond Sweeper (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

 

Here is a link to an article regarding Alan King’s hopes for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. More

 

Also, news that Medermit is almost certain to run in Thursday’s Ryanair Chase, as opposed to the Gold Cup. More

 

I enjoyed my afternoon out at the Colosseum in Watford; and my 16 minute journey aboard the ‘Abbey Flyer’ to Watford Junction.  I caught the 12:28 train.  Normally fares are collected on board the train but, due to a shortage of staff today, fares were paid at the barrier at the end of my journey; it cost just £4.50 return. 

 

The ‘Let’s Do It’ show starring Strictly’s Anton du Beke and Erin Boag began at 15:00, so this gave me plenty of time to look around the shops before meeting up with my friend Lesley, her dad and his friend June.  Needless to say I didn’t escape from M & S empty-handed, purchasing a navy blue skirt with hem detail.  I’m not sure yet whether it will get an outing at Cheltenham, if not, then definitely Aintree!    

 

The show lasted for 2 hours and, in addition to the ballroom dancing, we were treated to a live orchestra, and a number of songs performed by Lance Ellington, who sings on Strictly, too.  The dresses Erin wore were beautiful – she reckons she has around 540 available for the current tour!  There were a number of humorous ‘interludes’ too, with Erin and Anton answering questions put forward by the audience.  The touring show is well worth attending if you have the opportunity.

 

Having caught to 18:07 back to St Albans, I walked home the remainder of the way ... 2 miles, which included climbing the steepest hill in the city, Holywell Hill.  But I feel fit, if a little tired! 

The Osmonds are appearing at the Colosseum this coming Wednesday evening ... but, of course, I’ll be travelling back from Cheltenham so can’t make it.  That’s why Lesley and I will be going all the way to Birmingham to see them on 29 March!

I finished the second Rico scarf before turning in last night; and I’ve felt a whole lot better today, so hopefully I’ve not picked up any bugs which are going around. 

Saturday 10 March 2012

Today, Choc was at Sandown Park and this is how he fared:

Torphichen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 10th & Devil To Pay (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Listed).  The race was won by the Charlie Longsdon trained Paintball. It was odd, because I saw horse No.15 cantering to the start and thought ‘that looks like a nice horse’ ... it was the 20-1 shot Paintball! (24 ran).  More

Call Me A Star (Alan King/Choc) won & The Wicked Kipper (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) finished a creditable 6th in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race Final (Listed) (17 ran); Choc’s 43rd winner of the season.  More

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be at Warwick:

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

15:05 Dunraven Prince (Alan King/Choc) – Novices’ Hurdle

16:05 Trigger The Light (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

 

You’ll love this youtube video, which was re-tweeted by Choc’s friend, ex-jockey and BHEST’s Racing to School’s Lead Education Officer, Ollie McPhail.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h57yh2AarNw

 

I’ve knitted one Rico Loopy scarf today ... and started a second one too!  I’ve not been feeling 100% though; there’s a virus going around with symptoms of a sore throat and nausea.  But I’m hoping this is a ‘blip’ and solely related to my ongoing sinus problems.  I can’t afford to feel under the weather now, with only two days to go until the Festival; especially as it’s one of just two proper holiday breaks I have per year, the other being two days away in Liverpool for the Grand National.  I don’t ‘do’ lying on a beach type holidays.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m going to see Strictly Come Dancing’s ‘Anton & Erin’ at the Colosseum in Watford.  It’s going to be a bit of an adventure, as I’ve decided to go by train from St Albans Abbey Station to Watford Junction; I’ve never actually travelled on this route before, although it takes just 16 minutes!  The show starts at 15:00 and lasts for around 2 hours, so travelling by public transport shouldn’t be an issue.  

Friday 09 March 2012

Choc was at Wincanton this afternoon, and this is how he fared:

Night Rose (Alan King) finished 4th in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (8 ran).

Denali Highway (Alan King) finished 5th in the Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran).

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be at Sandown Park:

15:15 Torphichen (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Devil To Pay (Alan King/Choc) - Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

15:50 Call Me A Star (Alan King/Choc) & The Wicked Kipper (Martin Keighley/Danny Hiskett) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race Final (Listed)

 

News today that Invictus is a definite non-runner in next Wednesday’s RSA Chase.  More

 

Kauto Star undertook a racecourse gallop at Wincanton today; Paul Nicholls is pleased with his progress.  More

 

Here is a link to Martin Keighley’s weekly column in the Gloucestershire Press.  Click here to read.

 

A reminder that Martin’s yard will appear in the regular ‘Dark Horses’ feature on Channel 4’s Morning Line tomorrow.

 

And a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s column on the Sporting Life website too.  More  During the Festival, Wayne will write a daily column for the Sporting Life.

 

This link arrived in my mailbox yesterday:

http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Choc-hopes-extra-special-festival-victory/story-15430674-detail/story.html

 

As things currently stand, I’m going to give Sandown a miss tomorrow ... I love Sandown Park BUT, with the Cheltenham Festival looming, I don’t think I can cope with a day out tomorrow, an outing to see Strictly Come Dancing’s ‘Anton & Erin’ on Sunday, then one day’s leave before 4 days at Cheltenham ... with me driving to and from the course every day!!!  I’ll be like a zombie by this time next week. 

Thursday 08 March 2012

Today there is good news and bad news regarding a couple of Alan King’s intended Festival runners.

 

Firstly, the good news is that Triumph Hurdle hope, Grumeti, is back on track following slight lameness earlier this week.  More

 

The bad news, however, is that Invictus is a doubtful runner in the RSA Chase, having suffered a set-back.  More

 

Choc’s pre-Festival column has appeared in this week’s Horse and Hound, and he writes that the horse he was most looking forward to riding, above all others, was Invictus; so that’s a great shame. 

 

Anyway, here is an overview of his column:

 

Choc is being very positive about the forthcoming Festival, and he believes he has his best book of rides for several years.  He can’t wait for the tapes to go up on the first day.

 

Tuesday:

Montbazon will be his ride in the first race of the day, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.  The yard has been delighted with the horse’s progress since Christmas; he’s an easy horse to ride and, with a bit of luck, could go close.

 

In the third race of the day, the JLT Specialty Chase, Choc will be aboard Hold On Julio; this is the race Choc won last year aboard Bensalem.  He writes that they are two totally different types of horse, Bensalem travels well during a race, whereas Julio will gallop all day and the further he goes, the better he goes.  Choc says the handicapper has given him a nice racing weight, and he hopes he will still have a little bit in hand!  If he runs well, he will then go to the Grand National.

 

At the time of writing, Choc’s only other ride of the day may be aboard Bless The Wings in the 2½ mile Novices’ Handicap Chase (he also holds an entry in Thursday’s Byrne Plate).  The horse has surpassed all expectations and Choc hopes the handicapper has not been too harsh.  

 

Wednesday:

Batonnier is running in the Neptune Investments.  He won on Festival Trials day, and is a chaser in the making who will probably act over 3 miles in the future.  A good each-way shot with a chance of winning.

 

Invictus, prior to the set-back reported earlier, was due to run in the RSA Chase.  Choc said that a lot depended on whether Grands Crus goes for this race or the Gold Cup, but he was delighted with Invictus’ recent Ascot success and, if he could only ride one horse at Cheltenham, this would be it.  

 

Vendor is the favourite for the Fred Winter Novices’ Hurdle.  Alan King is extremely keen on this horse; he runs off a handicap mark of 129.  Choc thinks Vendor may be his best chance at the Festival.  Stable-mates, Firefighter and Ardlui also run in this race. 

 

Thursday:

Medermit may run in the Ryanair Chase or wait for the Gold Cup on Friday.  It will all depend on the ground – quick and he’ll run in the Gold Cup, slow and Medermit will run in the Ryanair.  Choc says he’d like to ride a Grade One winner for the owners, as they were very good to him during his recent marital problems.

 

Smad Place goes in the World Hurdle.  The horse had run two solid races this year, winning the first and being second in the other when giving lots of weight away.  Choc is realistic with Big Buck’s in the race, knowing they will be going for a place, but Smad Place is a good horse and should finish in the first four.

 

Friday:

The Triumph Hurdle, in which Grumeti and Balder Succes compete.  Grumeti reminds Choc of Penzance, the stable’s 2005 Triumph Hurdle winner; Balder Succes is still developing.  Choc says both have a good chance, and he doesn’t know which one he will ride yet.

 

Raya Star will be running in the County Hurdle.  Choc says you need luck in this race but the horse travels and is quick and neat over his hurdles.  He worked brilliantly last Saturday and Choc thinks he’s an each-way shot or better.

 

Lovcen is a horse Choc likes; he’s engaged in both the Albert Bartlett and the conditional jockeys’ race later in the afternoon.  Obviously Choc hopes he will run in the former, so that he gets the ride.  The horse stays every yard of 3 miles.

 

Finally, in the last race of the Festival, Kumbeshwar would be his ride.  Choc says he’s a ‘cracking servant’; he stays and gallops and jumps, but may be at the mercy of the handicapper.  Choc hopes the horse will wear blinkers, which might just give him enough improvement.

 

And last, but not least, Choc mentions Blazing Bailey who was retired after pulling up at Newbury last Saturday.  It’s sad to see him retire but Choc is happy that the horse is healthy and presumes he may go hunting or something similar.  He says that it’s been a joy to be associated with him and he will never forget his Grade One win at Punchestown, his Cleeve Hurdle win or his Liverpool Hurdle win in 2008.

 

Choc is a little confused ... he thought Blazing Bailey’s latter win was in 2009 when it helped him to be top jockey at Aintree.  It was Walkon, Oh Crick and Voy Por Ustedes who won at Aintree in 2009, helping him to the top jockey title.  Oops ... but I do have the benefit of being able to look back at my blog for April 2009 and at Blazing Bailey’s form guide on the ATR website. 

 

Choc will be at Wincanton tomorrow, where he has two riding engagements:

14:00 Night Rose (Alan King) – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

15:45 Denali Highway (Alan King) – Novices’ Hurdle

 

Steve Millar, who presents ATR’s Stateside coverage, said that the long-range weather forecast for the Festival is sunny and 13 degrees on Tuesday; a little cloudier on Wednesday, again 13 degrees; colder on Thursday, a mere 4 degrees; and then ‘nice’ again for Gold Cup day!  And dry throughout.  Perhaps I should wear my long black skirt, with leggings underneath, on Thursday.

As I’m on holiday next week, I have to pack up my work things tomorrow, as my department is being moved to a different office within the building whilst I’m on leave.  It’s not the first time I’ve undergone an office move; in fact it’s my third office move and the seventh desk move!  But I have been there over 15 years!!!

Wednesday 07 March 2012

Choc was at Fontwell Park this afternoon, where he had one riding engagement:

Hurricane Milly (Alan King) was pulled up in the Maiden Hurdle (14 ran).

 

No runners of particular interest tomorrow; Choc has no riding engagements. 

 

There’s positive news today, regarding Grumeti.  More

 

Niche Market and Massini’s Maguire will not run in the Grand National.  More

I was sad to read on the Racing Forum Memorial page that Rougham, Drybrook Bedouin and Will Scarlett all lost their lives earlier this week.  Will Scarlett finished a tailed off 4th in the Pendil Novices’ Chase during my visit to Kempton Park at the end of last month; Rougham and Drybrook Bedouin were stalwarts of the National Hunt circuit. 

Tuesday 06 March 2012

Martin Keighley had a couple of runners at Exeter today, and this is how they fared:

Hail Tiberius (Alain Cawley) finished 7th in the Handicap Hurdle (13 ran).

Always Bold (Alain Cawley) was pulled up in the Devon National Handicap Chase (12 ran).

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be at Fontwell Park, where he has one riding engagement:

14:00 Hurricane Milly (Alan King) – Maiden Hurdle

 

Grumeti has had a slight setback, having spread the plate from his off-fore hoof; the toe-clip went into his foot and made him lame.  Fortunately, Alan King expects him to recover within a couple of days.  The toe-clip is the ‘riser’ located on the outside edge of the horseshoe which fits against the hoof wall.  More

 

News today that Peddlers Cross will side-step a clash with Sprinter Sacre and run in the Jewson Novices’ Chase instead.  More

As mentioned previously, Choc attended the Adlestrop Club’s Cheltenham Festival Preview yesterday evening.  Here is a link to trainer Richard Phillips’ blog entry, complete with a photograph of the panel.  http://www.richardphillipsracing.com/Blog.html

Having worked intensively on my Newbury diary, I was able to upload it yesterday evening.  Click here to read.

I can’t believe it’s less than 7 days until the start of the Festival ... and I’ve got only 3 more working days left until I’m on leave; and I’m not returning to work until 19 March!!! 

Monday 05 March 2012

Today, Choc was at Hereford, where he had 2 riding engagements:

Medinas (Alan King) won the NH Novices’ Hurdle (15 ran); Choc’s 42nd winner of the season. J

Frizzo (Alan King) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).

 

Choc has no riding engagements tomorrow; but Martin Keighley has a couple of runners at Exeter:

15:00 Hail Tiberius (Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle

15:30 Always Bold (Alain Cawley) – Devon National Handicap Chase

 

As mentioned yesterday, Choc is attending the Adlestrop Festival Preview this evening, as a member of the panel; as is Andrew Tinkler. 

Sunday 04 March 2012

A number of runners of interest at Huntingdon today; the weather was foul, with sleet and snow, and fast deteriorating ground.  This is how the horses fared:

Junior Jack (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) won the Handicap Chase [2 miles 4½ furlongs] (6 ran); Martin’s 33rd winner of the season.

Cold Knight (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

De Forgotten Man (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) fell at the last when booked for 4th in the Handicap Chase [3 miles]; he was exhausted.  RUK reported that he got up okay, after ‘resting’ for a while.  I hope De Forgotten Man has a change of luck soon, he certainly deserves it.  (7 ran)

Desert Robe (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 2nd in the Standard NH Flat Race (Conditionals/Amateurs) (7 ran).

 

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

14:15 Medinas (Alan King) – NH Novices’ Hurdle

15:45 Frizzo (Alan King) – Handicap Hurdle

 

I forgot to check the Doncaster results for Friday!  I’m going a little senile in my old age ... or perhaps I was just very excited to report that Choc rode 2 unexpected winners at Newbury that day!!!  Anyway, here are those belated results:

 

Lidar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the Novices’ Chase (4 ran).

Tante Sissi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (5 ran).

Midnight Sail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase (5 ran).

 

There’s a tribute to the now retired Blazing Bailey on Alan King’s website today:   http://www.alankingracing.co.uk/news/news1.php

 

At The Races also picked up the Blazing Bailey story.  More

We stayed after racing at Newbury to watch the first few lots go through the sale ring of the DBS Auctions yesterday.  We saw a horse sold for £120,000; and thought that was a lot of money to pay for a National Hunt racehorse ... but shortly after we left, a horse called Classical Twist sold for £220,000; a record amount at the Newbury bloodstock sales! 

I’ve been watching Racing UK and today’s Prix Agitato at Auteuil was a farce; firstly one of the jockeys took the wrong course, then the would-be winning jockey looked over the wrong shoulder as he approached the line, dropped his hands and was caught for first place.  What a rubbish ride ... I’d be livid if I was a punter.  

As has been the custom in recent seasons, Choc will be a member of the Adlestrop Club’s Cheltenham Festival preview panel tomorrow evening.  I’d love to be able to attend one day; tickets sell-out a few weeks before the event. 

I’ve uploaded the photographs I took at Newbury yesterday.  Click here to view.

And, last but not least, I’ve completed the first draft of my Newbury diary. 

Saturday 03 March 2012

 

Blazing Bailey - happy retirement for blog.jpg

 

Happy retirement Blazing Bailey!

 

 

Today, Choc was at Newbury and this is how he fared:

Godsmejudge (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ a furlong] (14 ran).

Blazing Bailey (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Veterans’ Handicap Chase (10 ran); having been a very good servant to the yard, Blazing Bailey has now been retired.  I wish him well and hope he has a long and happy retirement.

Araldur (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase (12 ran).

Teshali (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 8th; Gospel Preacher (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th; Ruling Party fell (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs] (15 ran).

Valdez (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th; Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) finished 6th; Kenai Peninsula (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) finished 7th in the DBS Spring Sales Bumper (Standard Open NH Flat Race) (15 ran).

 

I don’t know what it is about Newbury, but I’ve been there on 12 occasions and I’ve seen Choc ride a winner just once during all those visits.  Could it be a gypsy curse?  As that damn gypsy was back selling her heather in the car park and being a nuisance to race-goers again today! 

 

Doncaster

Sir Harry Ormesher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ furlong] (7 ran).

As expected, West End Rocker (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was a non-runner in the Grimthorpe Chase (Handicap). 

 

A number of runners of interest at Huntingdon tomorrow:

14:40 Junior Jack (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 4½ furlongs]

15:10 Cold Knight (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle

15:40 De Forgotten Man (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Chase [3 miles]

17:10 Desert Robe (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Standard NH Flat Race (Conditionals/Amateurs)

 

It was good to meet up with my friend Lesley today and I very much enjoyed her company at the races; however I do feel a little disappointed now, because Choc didn’t ride a winner today.  But I guess it’s going to be an anti-climax after the excellent day’s racing at Ascot a fortnight ago and Choc’s winner at Kempton Park last Saturday.

 

I’m planning to have a quiet day at home tomorrow, spent updating my website to include today’s trip to the races.    

Friday 02 March 2012

As hoped, Choc had much better luck at Newbury today: J J

Romulus D’Artaix (Alan King) won the Novices’ Handicap Chase (10 ran); Choc’s 40th winner of the season.

Henry San (Alan King) finished 8th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

Tickity Bleue (Alan King) won the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (14 ran); Choc’s 41st winner of the season.

 

Choc was particularly strong in his finishes today; and has been since the whip rules changed last year!  Both of today’s winners looked like they were struggling turning into the home straight, but Choc’s perseverance gained the day.  In fact, Choc admitted on Twitter that he fancied neither of his winners before their respective races ... he thought Henry San was going to be his best ride of the day!!!

 

Tomorrow, Choc will be at Newbury once more:

14:05 Godsmejudge (Alan King/Choc) – Greatwood Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ a furlong]

14:40 Blazing Bailey (Alan King/Choc) - Veterans’ Handicap Chase

15:10 Araldur (Alan King/Choc) – Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase

16:20 Teshali (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley); Gospel Preacher (Alan King/Choc); Ruling Party (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Greatwood Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs]

17:30 Valdez (Alan King/Choc); Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Charlie Huxley); Kenai Peninsula (Alan King/Ciaran McKee) – DBS Spring Sales Bumper (Standard Open NH Flat Race)

 

Doncaster

14:20 Sir Harry Ormesher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ furlong]

15:25 West End Rocker (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Grimthorpe Chase (Handicap).  The horse’s participation is very much ground dependent.

 

Grand National winner Ballabriggs makes his seasonal reappearance in the Premier Chase at Kelso tomorrow.

 

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

 

I’m planning to go to Newbury tomorrow; my friend Lesley is coming along too.  It will be nice to have company at the races, as sometimes my trips can be a little lonely.  I’ve been trying to find an outfit to wear ... and I’m gutted that my jeans are all straining at the seams!!!

Thursday 01 March 2012

Today, Choc was riding at Taunton:

Bygones in Brid (Alan King/Choc) took a fatal fall at the first flight in the Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran). Very sad.  But I am very relieved that Choc is okay.    

Soleil D’Avril (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Handicap Hurdle (11 ran).

 

Hopefully better luck for Choc tomorrow, at Newbury:

15:30 Romulus D’Artaix (Alan King) – Novices’ Handicap Chase

16:00 Henry San (Alan King) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

17:10 Tickity Bleue (Alan King) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race

 

Doncaster:

15:05 Lidar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Chase

15:40 Tante Sissi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle

16:50 Midnight Sail (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase

 

The big news story today is that Kauto Star in only 50-50 for the Gold Cup having suffered a bad fall when schooling last Friday.  Story 1 and Story 2  As Kauto is a ‘National Treasure’ I personally don’t think he should be risked, having suffered a setback at this late stage.

 

West End Rocker is likely to go straight to Aintree, with the ground at both Newbury and Doncaster likely to be too fast this weekend.  More

 

There are a number of stories relating to Alan King’s Cheltenham Festival runners:

 

Article 1 – King’s Men Primed for Battle

Article 2 – King ponders Medermit Festival Aim

Article 3 – Thornton Facing Triumph Conundrum

 

And, last but not least, here is an overview of Choc’s latest Horse and Hound column which was published today:

 

Choc writes that he couldn’t be more pleased with his comeback, having ridden six winners in 10 days; and his arm feels ‘as good as gold’.  He realises that he is very lucky to have a job as a stable jockey, which means he can restrict himself to riding for the yard and thus look after his arm.  It would be far tougher to be a freelance jockey.

 

Choc gives much credit to the team at Oaksey House who have helped him during his recovery, and recommends them to anybody in racing who suffers a bad injury.

 

He writes about the fantastic feeling he had when riding Montbazon to victory at Newbury, his first winner since his return.  And about Invictus’ win at Ascot the following day – he says that the horse’s jumping ability comes pretty close to that of My Way De Solzen, who he won the Arkle aboard in 2007.

 

Choc talks about Balder Succes and Grumeti, the former who also won at Ascot; the latter winning at Kempton Park last weekend.  They are both really nice horses, but totally different types of animal.  Grumeti is stronger physically for a 4-year-old, whereas Balder Succes is rangier and still has some developing to do.  Both will line up in the Triumph Hurdle.

 

He says that Medermit tried his heart out when finishing second in the Ascot Chase; every day they change their minds as to whether he will run in the 3¼ mile Gold Cup or the 2½ mile Ryanair Chase.  If the ground is soft, Medermit will almost certainly run in the Ryanair, where he would renew rivalry with Riverside Theatre; but, if a horse has a live ‘each way’ chance in the Gold Cup, then Choc thinks he should go for it.  They will continue to deliberate until the Festival.

 

Choc is pleased that the whip rules have been relaxed again ... although, with ‘discretion’ now being used, it will mean different things to different people.

 

And, finally, he mentions the ‘infamous’ Racing For Change article, regarding the perils of being a jump jockey, which was subsequently high-jacked by the National press.  Choc says he didn’t know he had 24 ribs ... and certainly hasn’t broken all of them as written by the newspapers.  It was stated that he’d had 367 falls from around 8,000 rides, which is 5% (1 in 20); not the accepted average of 10% falls from rides (1 in 10).

 

He specifically mentions the Daily Mail website who asked ‘Is this Britain’s unluckiest jockey?’ Certainly not; and they failed to mention that he’s ridden over 1,000 career winners and 16 Cheltenham Festival winners too.  He reckons that Racing For Change need to get their facts right if they wish jockeys to co-operate with their ideas for promoting racing. 


 

 

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