MARCH 2013


Sunday 31 March 2013

One runner of interest today, at Plumpton:

Balder Succes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished Sussex Champion Hurdle (Handicap) (11 ran).  The horse didn’t jump particularly well and didn’t appear to enjoy himself either.  However, he was doing his best work at the end of the race, closing to finish 5th.


Runners of interest at Fakenham (subject to an 08:00 inspection) and Huntingdon tomorrow:



15:15 Awesome Bella (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

17:15 Calypso Princess (Alan King/Jimmy McCarthy) & Midnight Cataria (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) – Mares’ Maiden Open NH Flat Race



14:10 Kuda Huraa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle Div I

17:10 Fine Words (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Intermediate Open NH Flat Race


Choc woke from his twitter ‘slumber’ having seen this photograph tweeted by Channel 4; no prizes for guessing who the jockey on the bottom left of picture is!  The year is 2002, his mount is Supreme Charm and they finished 5th of the 11 who completed that year – his better ever result in the race.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Just one runner of interest today, at Haydock Park:

Patsy Finnegan (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished a gallant 2nd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 6 furlongs] (16 ran).

Jockey Tom Garner, brother of Ollie, broke his collarbone when his mount was squeezed for room and fell on the flat during the second race at Haydock today.  I gather it’s a repeat injury. 

And one tomorrow, at Plumpton:

16:00 Balder Succes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Sussex Champion Hurdle (Handicap)


Here is a link to Martin Keighley’s column in this week’s Gloucestershire press.  More


As usual, the Daily Express is going overboard, claiming that we are now entering a mini-Ice Age ... they’ve always got an obsession with something – it used to be Princess Diana, now it’s the weather!  Mind you, if the weather doesn’t improve by Friday, I’ll be getting my long black skirt out of the cupboard again, along with my leggings and my thermal vests.  Following on from Cheltenham and heading into Aintree it’s not been a fashion parade this year, it has been a quest to keep as warm as possible. 


Aintree in 2009 was quite cold, 2010 was warm, 2011 was warmer still (fabulous in fact), last year was cold, and this year ... probably arctic! 


I don’t know why I bother epilating my legs, as they’ve not been seen for months!  It’s been so cold that my skin has been dry and itchy since I got back from Cheltenham; I’ve never had this problem before.  


Now that I’m transferring the racing action directly onto DVD, I can play then pause the recording and type up my racing notes as I go along ... hopefully this will reduce the time it takes to complete each diary.  It’s working well so far, as I’m well in sight of completing and uploading Day 1.  

Friday 29 March 2013

A really chilly day which, although beginning with bright sunshine, unfortunately soon clouded over.


But I had a day out anyway, as I drove down to Caversham near Reading to visit my friend Denise.  We had planned to go to the Lambourn Open Day which, of course, was cancelled.  But, in the event, she has been suffering from tonsillitis for the past few days and has also hurt her foot, so would have been a ‘non-runner’ had it gone ahead! 


Denise is a ‘craft’ person like me and, having attended a course last Saturday, she’s thinks her next serious hobby may be crafting with polymer clay!  She showed me the items she made during the tutorial and they are really good.  So that’s Den’s birthday presents sorted!


A further report has been issued regarding amateur jockey JT McNamara who suffered a serious neck injury at Cheltenham.  More


Here is a link to news from last night’s Lesters ceremony in Birmingham.  More


Albertas Run has been retired following a disappointing run in this year’s Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.  More


Just one runner of interest tomorrow, at Haydock Park:

15:50 Patsy Finnegan (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 6 furlongs]

I’ve no more plans for the Easter weekend ... except working on my Cheltenham diaries ... and attempting to resist my three Easter eggs – Buttons, Flake and Maltesers! 

Thursday 28 March 2013

Runners of interest at Ludlow this afternoon and this is how they fared:

Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Hurdle (6 ran).

Urgence D’Estruval (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Handicap Chase (8 ran).


I see Extra Bold competed in the Hunters’ Chase – I remember Choc winning aboard him in 2008, when trained by Richard Lee.  In fact he was Choc’s 5th winner of the 2008/2009 season!


I didn’t think to check for Jumpers’ Bumpers races but, having read Martin Keighley’s blog, I can report three additional runners, at Southwell, and a winner!  You have to take into account that I’ve slightly lost the plot at the moment!!!

The Fox’s Decree won the 14:55 Jumpers’ Bumper (11 ran).  Martin’s 27th winner of the season.

Monty’s Revenge finished 8th in the 16:05 Jumpers’ Bumper (12 ran).

Always Bold finished 6th in the 17:40 Jumpers’ Bumper (9 ran).


Proposed redevelopment plans for Cheltenham were announced today; here is a link to the animated ‘fly-over’ of the course on You Tube.  The current boxes and Royal Box are definitely out of keeping with the main grandstand; the passageway you walk through to get from the Parade Ring to reach the Members’ Lawn is a total bottle-neck and it was horrendous on Gold Cup Day, as people were sheltering from the rain and blocking up the thoroughfare!  So I’m rather looking forward to any improvements which can be made to the infrastructure.


Choc is attending the Lesters in Birmingham this evening; evidently he was so keen, that he was the first to arrive!  I presume there will be some televised snippets on ATR in due course, hopefully this weekend.  So I will be on the lookout for my favourite jockey and, you never know, he might be interviewed to find out how his recovery is progressing.  

Wednesday 27 March 2013

I notice that Walkon has an entry in the Topham Trophy over the Grand National fences at Aintree on Ladies Day; I wish it wasn’t so ...


Two runners of interest at Ludlow tomorrow:

15:35 Midnight Appeal (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle

16:10 Urgence D’Estruval (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase


All my Cheltenham diaries have been topped and tailed, so now all I have to do is write about the races themselves!

Monday 25 March 2013

The atrocious weather has now claimed the Lambourn Open Day.   So that’s my plan for an Easter outing scuppered.


Starting with Choc’s injury at the beginning of this month, everything seems to be going awry at the moment ... 


This evening, I cancelled the first night of my hotel booking for Aintree, as I’ve decided to partially cut my losses.


There is scheduled to be racing at Fontwell Park tomorrow, but no runners of interest.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Benbane Head was a non-runner at Wincanton today.


Ugly Bug won the Novices’ Hurdle today; after a mega struggle against two rivals.  I like Ugly Bug!  Handsome is as handsome does!


Tomorrow’s fixtures at Towcester (snow) and Taunton (water-logging) have been abandoned.


Martin Keighley tweeted to say that he’d purchased two new horses at yesterday’s DBS sales at Newbury racecourse – Castle Cheetah and Mortlestown. 


I must be feeling very old as, when I retire, I’m contemplating moving to a retirement flat in Cheltenham! 


Again no surprise when I tell you that I’ve been working on my Cheltenham diaries today; I’ve topped and tailed Day 4 and made major in-roads into Day 3 too.  Day 2 exists as part handwritten notes, part typed-up notes.

I have also decided to split both Day 1 and Day 4 into Parts I and II; as my printer refuses to print the entire document, stopping mid-task and sending me an error message.  That suggests the files are too large on this occasion.  I’m not sure yet whether I will divide both Day 2 and Day 3 into two parts. 

But I’m much happier now that I’ve got all four diaries seriously underway, as I have to write them while I can still remember what happened; the ‘scribbles’ in my notebook are not always enough. 

Saturday 23 March 2013

The snow materialised ... and the horseracing did not ... apart from Southwell on the all weather! 


I awoke to around an inch of slushy snow on the ground this morning; it stopped before lunchtime but started again this afternoon and more has settled.


It’s just two weeks until Aintree ... I felt cold there last year ... and I really don’t wish to be dressed in a multitude of thermals this year.


One runner of interest at Wincanton tomorrow:

15:55 Benbane Head (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle


When I’m more solvent, I fancy doing a course to learn how to make jewellery items using dichroic glass.  I have a number of dichroic glass pendants in my collection, but it would be nice to actually design and create some myself.  For example:  More  


Apart from walking down to the local supermarket to buy a newspaper, a carton of milk and a packet of garden peas(!) I’ve been at home in the warm, spending time writing my Cheltenham diaries.  Tuesday’s diary is already mega ... over 5,000 words, and that’s before I’ve even begun to write the race descriptions!

Friday 22 March 2013

A couple of runners of interest today, at Newbury:

Iolith (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran); a very promising run having been off the track due to injury for 714 days. 

Midnight Prayer (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) finished 4th in the ‘Hands and Heels’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys and Amateur Riders) (13 ran).


Tomorrow, runners of interest at Newbury ... if the weather doesn’t get the better of all fixtures, with Bangor, Stratford and Kelso already having been lost.


14:20 Urgence D’Estruval (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - EBF/TBA Mares’ Novices’ Chase Finale (Listed Handicap)

14:55 Call Me A Star (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – EBF Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Finale (Listed Limited Handicap)

16:05 Handazan (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

16:40 Reddy Tobouggie (Alan King/Gerald Tumelty) & Money For Nothing (Alan King/Charlie Huxley) & Wilde Blue Yonder (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – DBS Spring Sales Bumper (Standard Open NH Flat Race)


Here is a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s Sporting Life column this week.  More


Nicky Henderson and connections are considering the possibility of stepping Sprinter Sacre up in trip to 2½ miles, with the possibility of running at the Aintree Festival.  More


Not surprisingly, I have no plans for the weekend ... and they are now even forecasting that Hertfordshire will be hit by the current snow showers overnight and tomorrow.  But, of course, I have more than enough things to keep me busy indoors ... namely four Cheltenham racing diaries to write. 


With the BBC Television Centre closing down tonight, I was wondering where Strictly Come Dancing will be filmed later in the year ... Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire evidently!

Thursday 21 March 2013

One runner of interest today, at Chepstow:

Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr N Slatter) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (6 ran).


A couple of runners of interest tomorrow, at Newbury:

16:25 Iolith (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle

17:30 Midnight Prayer (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) – ‘Hands and Heels’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys and Amateur Riders)


Snow is expected in North Wales, the Midlands and Northern England overnight and tomorrow morning; the ‘rubbish’ weather is never ending ... and many racecourses have called inspections.  More


Choc had hoped to go to Miami for Easter ... but, being holiday season, he couldn’t get a flight.  He’s decided to go to the Lesters in Birmingham next Thursday evening instead.  It’s not quite the same though and he’s gutted!


I’ve just been watching the final episode of ‘Planners’ on BBC2; one of the developments seeking planning permission was to build on Starvehall Farm in Cheltenham.  Sadly, the plans were passed and new homes will be built on the land in New Barn Lane, plus some of the adjoining playing field.  I felt very sorry for the tenant farmer who’d lived there for 40 years; he grazed horses and Dexter cattle on the land.  It also provided ‘private’ off-site parking during the Cheltenham Festival. 

Wednesday 20 March 2013

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

Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle (4 ran).

Annacotty (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) won the ‘Fixed Brush’ Novices’ Hurdle (11 ran); Congratulations to the team, their 26th winner of the season. 


One runner of interest tomorrow, at Chepstow:

15:15 Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr N Slatter) – Handicap Hurdle


Huntingdon has been abandoned. 

Reading people’s tweets, there seem to be lots of people suffering from the post Cheltenham ‘blues’.  I know how they feel, as I feel very depressed at the moment ...

Tuesday 19 March 2013

It’s the calm after the storm ... not a lot going on so far this week, especially with the cold and wet weather continuing. 


A couple of runners of interest at Haydock Park tomorrow:

14:40 Seymour Eric (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Hurdle

16:50 Annacotty (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – ‘Fixed Brush’ Novices’ Hurdle


I don’t ‘do’ football, however Michael Owen has announced that he will retire from the game at the end of this season.  More


I still feel tired and drained following Cheltenham week.  I need some early nights to recuperate.  I’ve set up the files ready to type up my Cheltenham diaries and I think I’ll initially handwrite some notes, rather than spend hours on my laptop at the moment; especially following a day sat in front of my PC at work!

Sunday 17 March 2013

Check out the news in Geoff Lester’s latest diary entry on Alan King’s website.  More


American jockey Tommy Smith, victor in the 1965 Grand National aboard Jay Trump, has passed away. More  


Racing at Southwell tomorrow but no specific runners of interest.


I’ve been working hard ... mad fool ... to upload the photographs which I took last week.  I am my own worst enemy as, apart from the Lambourn Open Day and Aintree, there are no horseracing related outings on my agenda for the foreseeable future and therefore I have more spare time in which to do this than I could ever have envisaged just 14 days ago. 


I’ve also transferred all bar Day 2 of the Festival recordings to DVD.  Day 2 is more of a problem, as I need to edit out Huntingdon!   


Back to work tomorrow ... I really think I need a holiday to recover from my ... holiday!


Click here to find the photo index and thus view my Cheltenham photographs.

Saturday 16 March 2013


muddy skirt.jpg

muddy water.jpg

soggy badge and programme.jpg

Mud splashed skirt

The colour runs, but this

is more dirt than dye!

My soggy programme

and badge



Apologies that there hasn’t been a blog entry for the past couple of days.  I began writing a Thursday blog but it was soon apparent that I was too tired to concentrate, also conscious that it was well past 23:00 with another 04:15 alarm call looming, so I called it a day before it was finished.  And I was exhausted when I got home yesterday too.  Although, having said that, I still awoke before 07:00 this morning. 


However, I have written these entries in retrospect (below).  And I’ve moved my Festival ‘wardrobe’ photographs to a separate link, as it’s been taking too long to upload my March blog each day. 


There’s been a further news bulletin regarding injured amateur jockey, John Thomas McNamara.  More


Choc re-tweeted this photograph, it was taken by ex-jockey, now valet, Chris Maude.


Runners of interest at Kempton Park today and this is how they fared:

Uriah Heep (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th in the Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles] (18 ran).

Salmanazar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs] (9 ran).  It was Wayne’s 25th winner of the season.

Tante Sissi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up in the Handicap Hurdle (7 ran).

Fine Words (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was one of four non-runners but The Pirate’s Queen (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty) stayed on strongly to finish 2nd to the Nicky Henderson trained hotpot (14 ran). 


When interviewed at Kempton today, Alan King confirmed that all his Festival runners were okay following their efforts, although Kumbeshwar was stiff this morning having taken a heavy fall yesterday; but he said that physio treatment should sort that out.  Wayne was okay too, as he rode today. 


Alan King mentioned that Uriah Heep would revert back to the flat if he didn’t show more today than on his debut ... presumably the trainer will now persevere with a national hunt career, at least for the present.


David Pipe’s aptly named Big Occasion won the Midlands Grand National run at Uttoxeter today.  More


National Hunt racing at solely Carlisle tomorrow, so no runners of interest.


I’m feeling very disappointed in my favourite jockey today, I won’t elaborate ...

Following a very tiring week, I now need to regain my motivation to update this website once more.

Friday 15 March 2013


Bobs Worth.jpg


2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner:

Bobs Worth ridden by Barry Geraghty



There have been some wet days at Cheltenham during the five years I’ve attended and, as I recall, these always seem to coincide with Gold Cup day.  However, today certainly takes the biscuit.  It was raining when I left home, but had cleared by the time I’d reached Aylesbury.  But, after a promising start to the day in Cheltenham itself, rain ... or should I say almost horizontal rain, arrived at 11:45 and continued until 14:45; by which time my coat was soaked although, fortunately, it doesn’t penetrate the material. 


Okay, it was my own fault that I decided to stand beside the course-side rails as I have all week, but the stands really are too far away to take photographs.  And, yes, I did initially have the choice, there being plenty of room under the shelter of the roof when I walked down to the lawn beside the course-side rails.  


It was raining, but not heavily, when I left Cheltenham at 19:30.  Fortunately, the worst of it didn’t arrive until I’d completed the journey to Burford.  I’ve driven that section in the pouring rain, in 2010, and it’s no joke when heavy vehicles splash the windscreen when passing by in the opposite direction, momentarily blinding me.  But conditions had worsened by the time I’d reached the eastern end of the Witney bypass and I found it extremely difficult to see at all, regardless of those heavy vehicles.  I know age is a handicap to night driving, but I didn’t think it would happen quite so soon. 


By the time I arrived home at 21:35, I was soggy, muddy, tired and fed up!!!  I will seriously have to consider staying down in the area for future visits to the Festival, as four consecutive days setting out from home is just too much at my age.  And, following a chat with the Manager of my employer’s Cheltenham branch, I may have the inside track on this, as she knows people who take in paying guests over the Festival period!  


Day Four results:

King of Dudes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 13th (last of the finishers) in the JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) (26 ran).

Manyriverstocross (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the County Handicap Hurdle (28 ran).

Havingotascoobydo (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) was pulled up in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (23 ran).

Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) fell & Oh Crick (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) finished 10th in the Grand Annual Handicap Steeplechase (23 ran).


Ruby Walsh was top jockey with 4 winners; Bryan Cooper and Barry Geraghty rode 3 apiece; AP McCoy 2.  Other winning jockeys were Brendan Powell (Junior), Mr Sam Waley-Cohen, Mr Patrick Mullins, Sam Twiston-Davies, Davy Russell, Wayne Hutchinson, Davy Condon, Richie McLernon, Joe Tizzard, Paul Carberry, Liam Treadwell, Mr Ryan Hatch, Barry Cash, Mr Colman Sweeney and Harry Derham.

Willie Mullins was top trainer with 5 winners; Nicky Henderson trained 4; Nigel Twiston-Davies, Colin Tizzard and Tony Martin 2 apiece.  Other trainers with winners were Jim Culloty, Alan King, Gordon Elliott, Tony Martin, Jonjo O’Neill, Charles Byrnes, Venetia Williams, Peter Maher, Dessie Hughes, Rebecca Curtis, Paul Nicholls and Thomas Mullins.

It was Ireland 14 UK 13 ... so not such a good Festival for the home-based team.  The away team was strong this year and the prevailing ground will also have aided their efforts. 

The St Patrick’s Derby Charity race was won by Age of Glory ridden by Brian Bunyan.  Although now London-based, the jockey was born in Kildare Town in Ireland and the horse is also trained in Ireland by his brother Darren.  So we can’t even claim this event to make it a score-draw!

I gather both Graham Lee and Richard Hughes rode in Wednesday’s bumper ... but I didn’t notice, as Choc had made his appearance by that time! 

Runners of interest at Kempton Park tomorrow:

14:15 Uriah Heep (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles]

15:25 Salmanazar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs]

16:35 Tante Sissi (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle

17:40 Fine Words (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & The Pirate’s Queen (Alan King/Gerard Tumelty)


Is Wayne going to be okay to ride tomorrow?  He limped away very sore following his crunching fall from Kumbeshwar in the Grand Annual, and that would be very bad fortune for the Alan King yard if both his main jockeys were on the sidelines for an extended period.  Fortunately Kumbeshwar appeared none the worse following this mishap.


Thursday 14 March 2013

Unfortunately today’s main news from Cheltenham involves amateur jockey JT McNamara who sustained a very serious neck injury involving two vertebrae when coming to grief in the Kim Muir.  More  


Davy Russell has also been admitted to hospital having been diagnosed with a punctured lung.  More


And Matuhi became the first (and hopefully last, although one is obviously too many) equine casualty when falling at the last fence in the Byrne Group Plate.  It was reported as an untreatable spinal injury.  The vets spent a long time with the horse, but nothing could be done.  His body was being transferred to the horsebox as I walked past on my way to the cross-country course.  I refused to look, as these beautiful animals deserve dignity in death, but morbid curiosity did get the better of others.  RIP.


It was one of those days, as there was a serious road accident on the southbound A34 this morning, with a driver being airlifted to hospital.  The incident occurred around 10 minutes before I got there and I almost got caught in the long tailback queuing towards Bicester.  Both carriageways were closed to allow the air ambulance to land. I followed a ‘local’ driver and turned off the road, travelling through Wendlebury to rejoin an almost deserted A34 further on.      


Cue Card for blog r.jpg


Cue Card and Joe Tizzard return

having won the Ryanair Chase


Day Three Results:


Bakbenscher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 7th in the Pertemps Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle) (24 ran).

Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Jason Maguire) finished 5th in the Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (8 ran).

Smad Place (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 3rd in the World Hurdle (Grade 1) (13 ran).

Bless The Wings (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was pulled up before the last & Walkon (Alan King/Paddy Brennan) finished 5th in the Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase (22 ran).  Wayne had no option, as Matuhi was lying on the far side of the fence.

Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 9th in the Cross Country Chase (16 ran).


Runners of interest on Day Four:

13:30 King of Dudes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

14:05 Manyriverstocross (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – County Handicap Hurdle

16:40 Havingotascoobydo (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

17:15 Kumbeshwar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Oh Crick (Alan King/Mr Joshua Newman) – Grand Annual Handicap Steeplechase

With the late running of both the Cross Country Chase and Charity race, I didn’t escape from Cheltenham (in other words reach the A40) until 19:20 this evening, arriving home at 21:25; visiting the local petrol station en route. 

Wednesday 13 March 2013


Medinas wins Coral Cup r.jpg


Wayne Hutchinson is thrilled to have

ridden his second Festival career winner


Day Two results:

Godsmejudge (Alan King/Mr Nico de Boinville) finished 3rd in the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase) (16 ran).

Two Rockers (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished last in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (8 ran).

Medinas (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won & Meister Eckhart (Alan King/Aidan Coleman) finished 2nd in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (28 ran).  Having won the Welsh Champion Hurdle with Wayne aboard, it was always going to be his ride.

McVicar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 16th in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle (24 ran).

Johnny Og (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) was a non-runner in the Champion Bumper (Grade 1) due to lameness.


It even crossed my mind that I should do an each-way bet on both Medinas and Meister Eckhart ... but I couldn’t be asked!  I so wish I had, with Medinas a 33-1 shot.  I saw him run live at both Cheltenham and Kempton, and at Ffos Las on TV ... 33-1 was a ridiculously long price!


Forgive me for not doing an overview of the other races, but I want to go to bed tonight ... not tomorrow morning!


Injured Choc for blog.jpg


As hoped, Choc paid a visit to the Festival today, and I snapped a number of photographs of him (one of these above) whilst he was in the Winners’ Enclosure celebrating Medinas’ win.  Sadly, on this occasion, it proved impossible to speak with him. L


Runners of interest on Day Three:

14:05 Bakbenscher (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - Pertemps Final (Listed Handicap Hurdle); unfortunately Seymour Eric was balloted out, missing the cut by one.

14:40 Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Jason Maguire) – Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)

15:20 Smad Place (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – World Hurdle (Grade 1)

16:00 Bless The Wings (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Walkon (Alan King/Paddy Brennan) – Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase

17:15 Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Cross Country Chase


And there is yet another inspection tomorrow, with temperatures due to plummet again overnight ... I’m bored with this.  It’s beginning to feel more like an arctic expedition every day!

Tuesday 12 March 2013


Hurricane Fly r.jpg


Hurricane Fly regains his Champion Hurdle crown


I’ve experienced some cold days at the races, could today be the worst?  Almost ... as my first ever visit to Ascot will never be surpassed!  Mind you, in those days as an inexperienced race-goer, I probably didn’t wear enough layers!  I wore 9 layers today and, on the whole, the only problem were my fingers ... but that’s because I take off my heavy duty pair and replace them with wrist-warmers when I’m in photographer mode.


It has been a long day, as I left home at 06:40 and got back at 20:40.  As always, it was a nightmare to escape from the town of Cheltenham ... it gets worse every year, with the traffic police causing the bottlenecks! 


Results from Day One:

Balder Succes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) was hampered and unseated in the Champion Hurdle (9 ran); but he did win the best turned out award!

The Cross Country Chase has been postponed until Thursday so Any Currency will get his opportunity then.


Champagne Fever won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Simonsig won the Arkle Chase.  More

Bottom weight Golden Chieftain took the JLT Specialty for Brendan Powell Junior and the Tizzards

Hurricane Fly regained his Champion Hurdle crown.  More

Quevega took her fifth Mares’ Hurdle.  More

And new father, Sam Waley-Cohen, won the Novices’ Handicap Chase aboard Rajdhani Express. 


Day Two runners of interest:

13:30 Godsmejudge (Alan King/Mr Nico de Boinville) – John Oaksey National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase)

14:05 Two Rockers (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

16:00 Medinas (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) & Meister Eckhart (Alan King/Aidan Coleman) – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

16:40 McVicar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) - Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle

17:15 Johnny Og (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) - Champion Bumper (Grade 1)


Choc went to see his specialist today and it all depends upon how his arm heals as to whether he will need an operation.  On Thursday morning he is going to have a further scan on his back, but everything is stable at present.  


Another early start tomorrow ... and I will need to wrap up warm again.  Also, there’s going to be a precautionary inspection at 08:00; by which time I’ll have reached Oxford!

Monday 11 March 2013


One more sleep to go!


Remain positive, remain positive, remain positive ... although I’m going to miss Choc like hell this week, I’m going to do my utmost to enjoy my trips to the Cheltenham Festival, despite it being absolutely freezing!!! 


Besides, I have a feeling Aintree is going to be worse, as it’s a long way to travel without any hope of seeing my favourite jockey.  I think I’ll ask my friend Lesley if she’d like to go to the Grand National again next year, as on the two occasions she’s accompanied me, Choc has ridden at Aintree on the Saturday.  When on my own, Choc has gone to Chepstow and this year he is injured.  So perhaps Lesley is my lucky charm!      


Okay, back to the small matter of the Cheltenham Festival ...


Clerk of the Course, Simon Claisse, is confident there will be no hitches due to the weather.  More


There are just a couple of runners of specific interest on Day 1:


15:20 Balder Succes (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Champion Hurdle

16:00 Any Currency (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Cross Country Handicap Chase


There are only 12 declarations for the Supreme Novices – Cause Of Causes, Champagne Fever, Cheltenian, Dodging Bullets, Fire King, Jezki, My Tent Or Yours, Ostentation, Pique Sous, Puffin Billy, River Maigue, and Un Atout.  Melodic Rendezvous misses the race, not being 100% at the moment due to a dirty scope.  More


Seven runners in the Arkle – with Simonsig and Overturn the leading fancies.  More


The JLT Specialty Handicap Chase has 24 acceptances (presumably the maximum) with a lot of well known horses, including Midnight Chase due to take part; I’m pleased to see that Wayne Hutchinson retains his ride aboard the Sue Smith trained Cloudy Too, who he won aboard at Haydock last month.


Just 9 runners in the Champion Hurdle – Balder Succes, Binocular, Cinders And Ashes, Countrywide Flame, Grandouet, Hurricane Fly, Khyber Kim, Rock On Ruby and Zarkandar.  More  Alan King has decided to let Balder Succes take his chance, it’s a small field, the horse can operate on the ground and he’s hoping to pick up place money.


Fingers crossed for Any Currency in the Cross Country Chase; but I will be torn as to whether to go across to the centre of the racecourse as usual or remain on the lawn with easy access to the Winners’ Enclosure, just in case.  As it takes ‘hours’ to re-cross the course due to weight of spectator numbers!  Thinking about it, Thursday and Friday, when they use the New Course, might be the ideal opportunity to spend time viewing the races from centre course ... just for a change of scenery. 


Obviously Quevega is going for her fifth successive victory in the Grade 2 Mares’ Hurdle.


Finally the Novices’ Handicap Chase, where the 20 runners include Restless Harry.  Also, one of my favourites, the Tom George trained Forgotten Gold, ridden by Paddy Brennan is declared for this.  Alan King’s entry, Urgence D’Estruval, was balloted out. 


I notice that Paddy Brennan has been booked to ride my favourite ‘currently racing’ grey, Walkon, in Thursday’s Byrne Group Plate.  Alan King has two runners in the race, with Wayne Hutchinson aboard Bless The Wings, as he always is.  In addition to being available, I expect Paddy has been chosen because he rode the McNeill Family owned Olofi to victory in the Grade 3 Racing Post Hurdle (ex-Greatwood Hurdle) at last November’s Open Meeting. 


Finian’s Rainbow has not been declared as a runner in the Champion Chase and probably won’t run at the Festival, the ground having gone against him this year. 


Having tried the Sporting Life website once more, I managed to load up Wayne Hutchinson’s weekly column late yesterday although, of course, it’s now out-of-date!  More


As everywhere, it’s raw cold in Hertfordshire ... but dry ... or at least it has been until sunset.  The snow did fall at Plumpton, and I hope it doesn’t move any further north overnight, as I wouldn’t fancy my chances of driving to Cheltenham and back (200 miles round trip) if it did.  I leave home just before 06:30 to beat the queues and don’t expect to arrive back before 20:30 or thereabouts. 


My tickets, badges and parking docket have been sorted into separate envelopes, and Tuesday’s is in my handbag.  I’ve set up the Sky Box to record all the Channel 4 Morning Lines, RUK’s Mark Your Cards and their daily live coverage.  I shall record Channel 4’s live racing coverage on my VCR.  I’m glad I’ve not deleted Cheltenham 2012 from the hard disk as, with Choc absent, I’ll leave those and delete 2013 instead, once I’ve transferred this year’s action to DVD!   


I’ve completed a dress rehearsal for tomorrow, literally ... I put on as many layers of clothing as I thought I could fit under my coat (in this case the faux sheepskin coat as opposed to the faux sheepskin jacket) and I managed 9.  I just hope that ‘Michelin Woman’ doesn’t get stuck in the turnstiles!


Now I’m not going to get my hopes up too high, as one of my mottos is ‘If you never expect anything, you’ll never be disappointed’ ... but ... there may be just a chance that Choc will pay a flying visit to the Festival on Wednesday.  So with this in mind I shall go prepared, and will wear my favourite outfit of the week on that day and contact lenses too; my eye is much better.  It’s definitely not odds-on, but it may be 2-1, which is good enough for me!

And of course I hope the news is good when Choc attends his appointment tomorrow, with no operation required.

Sunday 10 March 2013

William ‘Big Willie’ Kennedy, as opposed to William ‘Little Willie’ Thornton, tweeted a statement yesterday, saying that women spend a year of their lives choosing which outfit to wear ...


Okay, so it does take me ages to decide upon my outfits, especially for Cheltenham and Aintree, but less so this year when the most important aim is to keep warm rather than to look particularly stylish! 


Click here to view


There were a number of runners of interest today and this is how they fared:


Market Rasen:

Faultless Feelings (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Ollie Garner) finished 3rd in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (10 ran).



Typhon De Guye (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (12 ran).

Uxizandre (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran); it was Wayne’s 23rd winner of the season.  Ugly Bug was pulled up.

Trigger The Light (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 4th in the Handicap Chase (10 ran).


Having lost Stratford due to flooding, Plumpton and Taunton will go ahead tomorrow subject to their respective 08:00 precautionary inspections.  However, no runners of interest at these fixtures.


So far, I’ve seen just a few snowflakes and frozen sleety bits at home in Hertfordshire.  There were snow flurries at Market Rasen, but not enough to settle during the racing.  Warwick appeared to have missed the snow so far; but it was reported to have settled in Leicestershire.  Choc’s first tweet of today, from the Stow-on-the-Wold, or should that be Snow-on-the-Wold, area just before 07:00, was ‘Snow’! 


And the covers are all in place on both the Old and New courses at Cheltenham, plus the vulnerable parts of the cross-country course.  More


Someone tweeted this photograph to Choc yesterday evening ... I really like it, and would love to hang it on my wall!


I love my new smart-phone ... because I don’t have to log onto my laptop to catch up with Choc’s tweets!  It’s wicked! 


I had intended to wash my car today but, in the event, it’s far too cold and the brake pads/discs will probably freeze up if I did!  A couple of times it has occurred due to moisture, when left standing under the carport for an extended period.  The second time was surprising as, since the first time it happened, I never park it with the handbrake on when at home, I just leave it in first gear.  However, I did clean the windscreen and all the windows.  Besides, it will probably look filthy by the time I’ve been towed out of the car park at Cheltenham each day LOL !!!  I do hope I’m only joking ...


My Newbury diary has been completed and uploaded.  Click here to read. 


And I think it may be a two water-bottle kind of a night tonight!!!

Saturday 09 March 2013

A number of runners of interest today and this is how they fared:


Sandown Park:

Valdez (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 11th in the Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Listed) (19 ran).

Our Pollyanna (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 8th in the Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed) (13 ran).



Merlin’s Wish (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 2nd in the Novices’ Chase (5 ran).

Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle (13 ran).


Tomorrow there are more runners of interest:


Market Rasen:

15:50 Faultless Feelings (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Hurdle

17:20 The Fox’s Decree (Martin Keighley/Ollie Garner) – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle; Ollie is Martin’s newly appointed Conditional Jockey.



14:00 Typhon De Guye (Martin Keighley/Alain Cawley) – Handicap Hurdle

15:00 Uxizandre (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle; Ugly Bug is running in this race too.

16:00 Trigger The Light (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Chase


Alan King’s Assistant Trainer Noel Williams, having completed the relevant training course not so long ago, has confirmed that he is setting up as a trainer in his own right in July.  His operation will be based at Whiteshoot Stables in Blewbury near Didcot in Oxfordshire. 


Stratford has lost Monday’s fixture due to water-logging.  More


The Gordon Elliot trained Jessies Dream has been put down following a gallops accident this morning.  More


I’ve been feeling at a great disadvantage because I didn’t have a smart-phone to message instant reaction via twitter ... you know the scenario – Choc takes a crashing fall (like at Kempton Park in November) and I can’t send a timely message asking if he’s okay or to say that I’m glad he’s okay.  Or, of course, like on Wednesday just gone, when just before lunchtime I read on the internet the devastating news that his injury was worse than expected and he will be missing Cheltenham.  I felt terribly guilty that I couldn’t send a message to him until after I’d arrived home at 18:00; when many others had tweeted him already.  It makes it look like I don’t care enough when, of course, I probably care far too much for my own good.    


At work we are permitted 60 minutes internet quota time per day on restricted websites, such as large retail stores; the Attheraces/Racing Post websites also fall into this category.  Needless to say, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked completely, otherwise no work would ever get done ... there’s already far too much time wasted by people using their mobiles stealthily whilst working at their desks!


So having received that final push into action, Wednesday lunchtime I visited my local O2 shop and am now the proud owner of a Samsung Ace smart-phone ... my funds don’t stretch as far as an iphone ... but it has taken me until this morning to finally switch it on to send my first ever smart-phone tweet.  The young lad serving in the shop put the new sim card in the phone for me; as I have a new phone number, because I’ve decided to keep my faithful old Nokia phone for the time being ... besides, people won’t want to steal my antique pay-as-you-go mobile!  And maybe not a ‘bog-standard’ android phone either!


If you forgot to tune in to Channel 4 at 07:00 this morning to watch ‘Jump Boys: Channel 4 Racing’, there’s another opportunity to see it on Tuesday evening at 23:45, just prior to the Festival Highlights programme.  It followed the fortunes of Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and Davy Russell during last season, and included was a short snippet of Choc and Kumbeshwar following their fall at the Punchestown Festival.  


My eye is much better now; the remaining fluid has drained away from under the eye and the eyelid is just a little red towards the inside of the eye.  It would probably be sensible for me to avoid wearing contact lenses for the next few days and I’ll play it by ear as the Festival progresses. 


I collected my two pairs of new glasses on Tuesday and they are proving to be a godsend as regards sitting at my computer and for close up work.  Mind you, I’ve already got confused as to which pair I’m wearing, as I set off to the shops during my lunchbreak on Thursday wearing the VDU pair instead of my old glasses for distance work!  Yes, I know I should have purchased a pair of varifocal glasses but they are very expensive and my ‘distance’ glasses don’t need to be replaced at the present time - I’ve got four pairs (!) – two with non-reflective coating and two without.  But I do have a habit of sitting on them, thus bending the frames out of shape!!!


I’ve been taking stock in light of Choc’s injury.  I’ll be going to Cheltenham on all four days ... weather permitting ... and, at present, I think that I will go to Aintree as usual, for Day 2 and Day 3; but bypass Day 1, for which for the first time I have a ticket this year, and this will reduce to just one night my planned hotel stay.  I had been mulling over going on just the Saturday, but would still need to travel up during the day on Friday and stay overnight, so I might as well attend on Ladies Day too. 


Time and events have already conspired to prevent a visit to Sandown this season, but there will be a Good Friday outing to the Lambourn Open Day, when my friend Denise will accompany me.  I just hope I don’t get stuck in any car parks due to the wet underfoot conditions ... but at least I know where my Fiesta’s screw-in tow bar is now kept – in the glove compartment – having stored it there since being stuck in a field in Lambourn during a previous Open Day!!!  It was so embarrassing and ‘girly’ not to know where the manufacturer had originally sited it!  My work colleague, Michelle, has already diarised to attend this Easter event with me next year! 


My Newbury diary is almost finished and I hope to upload it before I turn in tonight J


And Choc has tweeted a photo of young William enjoying an afternoon snooze:

Friday 08 March 2013

One runner of interest at Sandown Park this afternoon:

Araldur (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle (8 ran).


Runners of interest at both Sandown Park and Chepstow tomorrow:


Sandown Park:

15:15 Valdez (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

15:50 Our Pollyanna (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed)



14:30 Merlin’s Wish (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Novices’ Chase

15:05 Mauricetheathlete (Martin Keighley/Mr Nicky Slatter) – Handicap Hurdle


Unfortunately I cannot insert a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s column this week as my still out-of-date browser has finally given up the ghost and will no longer load up the Sporting Life site.  Damn.  That’s a shame, as I’ve had to postpone the purchase of a new laptop because my car servicing bill was so expensive last month ... over £700 ... ouch, ouch, ouch.


But I can read Martin Keighley’s Stable Talk column; this week he outlines his hopes for Cheltenham.  More


Choc is due to see the specialist next Tuesday.  But I’m hoping that, should he not wish to mope around at home any longer, he might, just might, take a trip to the Festival later in the week.  I know he’s not a keen racing spectator but, when quizzed, he wouldn’t commit himself one way or the other; it all depended upon how he felt, mentally.  So, fingers crossed ... 


I thought it was strange when Choc mentioned Raya Star as a Champion Hurdle contender when Alan King wrote in his Weekender column that he would have just one horse engaged in an event on Tuesday, that being Urgence D’Estruval.  I’ve now checked the entries and Raya Star has disappeared from the 5-day acceptance list, so it must be a recent decision; he is in the same ownership as Champion Hurdle hope Grandouet. 


It doesn’t look good on the weather front for this weekend and into Monday or even Tuesday ... snow in places in fact.  That will put the kybosh on my travel arrangements for the Cheltenham Festival if the white stuff materialises.  This year’s Festival is certainly turning out to be unlucky 2013 ...   


With temperatures set to plummet again, I think I will have to get my ‘heavyweight’ wardrobe ready.  So that’s faux sheepskin jacket, faux sheepskin coat and purple anorak.  Long black handkerchief hem skirt, with tights and leggings underneath.  I have two long skirts, maybe three, and I think I may need them.  And heavyweight scarves ... plus my Dappy Hat!


And my Newbury diary?  I’ve written over 5,000 words so far and am hoping to upload it sometime this weekend.


Thursday 07 March 2013

One runner of interest tomorrow, at Sandown Park:

16:00 Araldur (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Handicap Hurdle


Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrh ... I’ve had a very frustrating day at work – the department installed a new printer/photocopier a few months ago and it is so slow in comparison to the last one (but a money saving measure).  It’s forever jamming, colleagues print on each others ‘paper’ by mistake, every now and then the quality deteriorates so we are forever reprinting items, and today the file I was trying to print was so large that it produced an error message after printing 64 of the 98 pages, so I ended up with a number of unfinished copies.  Eventually I .pdf’d the PowerPoint file and it printed okay ... but I had to work unpaid overtime to complete and bind 9 copies of the 14 which were requested.  However, the salesman accepted that, as he wanted to go home for the day too!


My stye seems to be getting better, it burst last evening and the redness has subsided, although I still have fluid just above my cheekbone; hopefully this will disappear soon.  I’ve been using one of the GoldenEye ointments and blink eye drops and they have definitely helped.  


An edition of Choc’s Horse and Hound column has appeared in this week’s issue.  As he dictates the content on a Sunday, it was submitted before his unfortunate fall and outlines his hopes for the Festival.  I shall précis the article as I always do but, first, I shall transcribe the report which appeared in today’s Racing Post regarding his injury. 


Double injury puts Thornton out of the festival


Robert Thornton was yesterday facing up to missing both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals after learning injury had ruled him out for the rest of the season, writes Graham Green.


The rider, 34, broke his right arm and also fractured three vertebrae in a crashing fall at Southwell on Monday.  He spent much of Tuesday searching for a favourable medical opinion before being forced to accept the quest was fruitless. 


Thornton was the leading rider at the 2007 festival and the following year won the Champion Hurdle on Katchit.  His mounts next week would have included Walkon, whose likely target is the Byrne Group Plate.


“I’m absolutely gutted,” said Thornton, who was initially thought to have escaped serious injury when Our Phylli Vera, trained by his boss Alan King, came down in a handicap hurdle at the Nottinghamshire track.


“I probably didn’t have the strongest team for Cheltenham compared with past years, but it’s the festival and no jump jockey wants to miss it.  But I suppose that’s life, unfortunately.”


Thornton was out of action for nine weeks after breaking the same arm at Hereford in December 2011 and anticipates being sidelined for a similar period.


He said: “I’ve fractured three vertebrae in my spine, but it sounds a lot worse than it is, they are only minor, and although I’ve broken the same arm again, the plate from the previous injury is keeping it aligned.  I’m going to see a specialist next week but don’t think surgery will be necessary.  I’m hoping it’ll just be a matter of rest for the next six to eight weeks. 


“I was fairly sore after the fall but was okay until it got worse that night and the next day, and I decided to get it checked out and explore every avenue with regards riding, but it was obviously impossible.”


The latest injury setback for Thornton is a blow for King too, who said: “It’s a great shame and I feel very sorry for him.  I knew things weren’t looking good on Tuesday night and he rang me again this morning to tell me.  I’d have thought Wayne Hutchinson will ride most of our runners next week, but I could be doubly represented in quite a few races, so we’ll have to work on that.”


*  *  *  *  *  *  *


And outlining his latest Horse and Hound column:


Choc begins by telling us that although Alan King’s Festival team may not be as strong this year as in the past, he thinks the yard has plenty of good each way chances; and anything can happen at Cheltenham.


Choc expected to have around 10 rides for his retaining yard, so he had been hoping that any trainers or owners who read his column might offer him any spare rides, as he was available and keen.  He’s ridden 16 Festival winners so far and has set a goal of 20 before he retires.


One of the rides he was most looking forward to was Smad Place in the World Hurdle.  He says the race is wide open with the absence of Big Buck’s and, although Oscar Whisky is a worthy favourite, he thinks you can definitely make a case against him.


Choc states that Smad Place is in good form and, although he’s not an out and out stayer over three miles on heavy ground, the likelihood of good to soft at Cheltenham will suit him.  He’d be disappointed if the horse doesn’t finish in the first four.


Choc then mentions Walkon, who he was due to ride in the Byrne Group plate on Thursday.  Choc schooled him alongside Bless The Wings and Godsmejudge a few mornings ago and they all performed brilliantly. 


He mentions that Walkon ran two very good races in the two big Cheltenham handicaps before Christmas and, although it may have left him a bit exposed in the handicap, the horse likes the course and should run well.


Choc believes the yard’s best chance of the week will probably be Godsmejudge in the four-mile National Hunt Chase on Wednesday, in which he’ll be ridden by Nico de Boinville [that’s a good booking!].


He says that Raya Star may be a 50-1 chance in the Champion Hurdle, but he’ll be a great ride and could run very well.  Choc thinks his run at Wincanton should be dismissed – the ground was like glue and he will enjoy the better going at Cheltenham.


Choc then goes on to mention his fancies for the big races:


He believes that Hurricane Fly will win the Champion Hurdle again.  As Rock On Ruby’s form hasn’t been quite as good this year and Zarkandar may just lack a bit of class in this top race.


The Queen Mother Champion Chase will be all about Sprinter Sacre, as he’s head and shoulders above any other two-mile chaser.  Choc thinks it’s a shame that there are no horses like Master Minded around at present to give him a proper race.


In the Arkle, Choc’s heart says Overturn, unbeaten in three novice chases, but his head says Simonsig.  He thinks the grey has the necessary gears to pick Overturn off.


If Choc had the opportunity to ride any horse at the Festival, he’d choose Silviniaco Conti; because he’s got pace, he stays and he jumps very well.  He thinks the horse has had the perfect preparation too, whereas Bobs Worth hasn’t run since the Hennessy.  And that would worry him if he was a betting man.


Choc thinks it’s interesting that Long Run will be wearing first-time cheek pieces for the Gold Cup.  He understands that they might make him concentrate on his jumping but Choc wonders if, after all the races he’s had, he might just be ‘minding himself’ now.


Choc mentions riding a horse (Mortimers Cross) at Newbury on Saturday for trainer John Needham; the trainer gave Choc his first ride at the Cheltenham Festival in 1996.  It was in the Kim Muir and Choc was 17 at the time.


He finished mid-division, but says it was a great experience.  He can remember well the roar from the stands as the runners travelled up the hill – it was the first time he’d ever heard the crowd during a race.  And he can’t wait to hear that noise again. [L]


The Festival is the most important meeting of the year for the jockeys.  But he says that for anyone who enjoys the nightlife following the races, and if they happen to be in Stow-on-the-Wold, he recommends the Bell Inn [well, there’s a thing!].  They have live music every night and fantastic food; he says you’ll be missing out if you don’t call in.


He ends by telling everyone to have a great week but to remember one thing ... “You never see a bookie on a bike...”

Wednesday 06 March 2013


race 4 d r.jpg


Get well soon lovely Chocolate



Very bad news was delivered today – following x-rays, it has been discovered that Choc has broken his right arm again and also sustained spinal damage having taken a heavy fall at Southwell on Monday. 


Needless to say, I hate it when Choc gets hurt at any time of the year, but he will be particularly gutted to miss the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree too.  He visits a specialist next week to discover whether he will need surgery on his back.


Here are a couple of reports I found earlier:


No runners of interest tomorrow.


The news of Choc’s injury has totally ‘knocked the stuffing’ out of me ... so I’ve got no further with my Newbury diary today.  I’ll endeavour to get back into the mood tomorrow, but it may be difficult.


I know it’s extremely trivial when compared to Choc’s injuries, but I’m going to have to bathe my eye tonight as I’ve developed a stye on my lower right eyelid again and the surrounding area is swollen.  This is the second time within 18 months that I’ve succumbed, and I’m sure it’s linked to the dry eye syndrome which has been plaguing me for the past two or three years.  I shall speak with my doctor about it when I ask for a further supply of acid reflux tablets later this month – the latter have worked wonders with my very annoying throat clearing problem.   

Tuesday 05 March 2013

Not surprisingly, Choc didn’t ride today; Jamie Moore took the mount aboard Musical Wedge and finished 3rd.  Nor did Choc take part in yesterday evening’s Adlestrop Festival Preview. 


As Our Phylli Vera is owned by the Let’s Live Racing syndicate, they have taken a special interest in the welfare of their horse and her jockey following yesterday’s fall and here is a link to their news page with an update:


Imperial Commander is out of the Gold Cup having succumbed to a lung infection.  More


Cue Card will run in the Ryanair Chase, not the Champion Chase.  More


No runners of interest tomorrow.


As I’m thinking that I’ll be home all weekend, foregoing a trip to Sandown Park ahead of the very busy Festival week, I’ve taken my foot off the ‘gas’ as regards writing up my Newbury diary.  I have four more evenings plus three whole days to complete it, so I’m pacing myself!  Current plans are to hand-draft two or three further races tonight (I’ve completed two so far, including typing up my notes), leaving the remainder for Wednesday and Thursday.

Monday 04 March 2013

Choc was at Southwell today, but had a nasty fall from his second mount, bringing down one of the other runners.  I checked my Skybox replay as soon as I arrived home, so saw the incident and was very relieved when news later came through that he was okay.


This report, from Lewis Porteous, appeared on the Racing Post’s website:

Robert Thornton took a sickening fall from Our Phylli Vera in the 2m handicap hurdle (4.50). As well as hitting the turf with considerable force, Thornton was thrown in front of Lilac Belle, bringing that horse and jockey Killian Moore down. “He’s very sore but he’s okay,” said weighing room colleague and close friend Gerald Tumelty before clerk of the course Roderick Duncan confirmed the jockey had avoided serious injury. Both horses and Moore returned unscathed.



Awesome Bella (Alan King/Choc) finished 6th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs] (7 ran).

Our Phylli Vera (Alan King/Choc) fell 3 out in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles] (15 ran).


Ffos Las

Creepy (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished a neck 2nd in the Maiden Hurdle (16 ran).


If fit, Choc will be at Exeter tomorrow, where he has one riding engagement:

15:30 Musical Wedge (Miss C Dyson) – Devon National Handicap Chase


William Kennedy, who I follow on twitter, tweeted this photograph of Choc, presumably taken inside the newly refurbished The Bell in Stow-on-the-Wold – their favourite pub at the moment:


Choc is due to be a panel member at the Adlestrop Cheltenham Festival Preview tonight from 19:00.  I wonder if he will feel up to it.


Sunday 03 March 2013

When it dawned cold and bright today I wished I’d gone to Huntingdon, despite a mountain of chores to do at home ... but, in the event, all the Alan King runners ran poorly and, reflecting the mood, the skies had clouded over by lunchtime too. 


This is how Choc fared at Huntingdon this afternoon:

Arabian Heights (Alan King) finished 12th in the Maiden Hurdle [2 miles ½ furlong] (15 ran).

Dalavar (Alan King) finished 13th in the Handicap Hurdle (16 ran).

Kauto The Roc (Alan King) pulled up in the Handicap Chase (12 ran).

Soixante Six (Alan King) finished 11th in the Maiden Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs] (14 ran).


I hope the horses haven’t got a virus or something at this vital stage of the season ...


Three runners of interest tomorrow:



16:15 Awesome Bella (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs]

16:50 Our Phylli Vera (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles]


Ffos Las

14:15 Creepy (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Maiden Hurdle


The Venetia Williams trained Katenko is making good progress having undergone an emergency colic operation on Friday evening.  More


Having taken numerous photographs yesterday, it took until teatime to select and upload them ... but the task is now complete.  Click here to view:


Equestrian Activities – Rayef & Kauto Star, etc.

Races 1 & 2

Race 3

Race 4

Races 5 to 7

I’ve had a busy day, multi-tasking; I’ve done my pre-Festival clothes washing; I’ve watched RUK’s racing coverage of yesterday’s fixtures, selecting and transferring the Newbury races to DVD; all whilst working on my photograph uploads and watching this afternoon’s coverage from Huntingdon!


I take a notebook with me to the races so that I can make notes during the day to help with my diary writing ... I didn’t get chance yesterday, so I’d better make a start on my draft as soon as possible.    

Saturday 02 March 2013


Kauto Star for blog.jpg


Kauto Star goes through his new dressage paces,

with Laura Collett aboard


Choc for blog r.jpg


In the Parade Ring,

Choc prior to his ride aboard Midnight Sail



Here is a link to the report about Kauto Star’s appearance at Newbury today.  More  


I took a total of 183 photographs during my excursion although, unfortunately, Choc didn’t make it into the Winners’ Enclosure following any of his 6 rides. L  But, looking on the bright side, I did get to see a lot of him.



Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Choc) finished 5th in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ furlong] (12 ran).

Mortimers Cross (JL Needham/Choc) finished 7th in the Veterans’ Handicap Chase (9 ran).

Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Choc) finished 10th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles ½ furlong] (13 ran).

Midnight Sail (Alan King/Choc) was pulled up in the Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase (11 ran).

Go Set Go (James Eustace/Choc) finished 10th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs] (14 ran).

Simply A Legend (Alan King/Choc) finished 7th in the ‘Junior’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (18 ran).


A touch of seventhitis and tenthitis today!  



Champagne N Caviar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished last in the Novices’ Hurdle (5 ran).


Choc will be at Huntingdon tomorrow, where he has 4 riding engagements:

14:30 Arabian Heights (Alan King) – Maiden Hurdle [2 miles ½ furlong]

15:30 Dalavar (Alan King) – Handicap Hurdle

16:00 Kauto The Roc (Alan King) – Handicap Chase

17:00 Soixante Six (Alan King) – Maiden Hurdle [2 miles 4½ furlongs]


Equine artist Liz Armstrong has tweeted this photograph of the jockeys heading to the Parade Ring prior to the final race ... Choc is disputing the lead with Paddy Brennan!


And Crunchie, ridden by jockey Freddie Keighley, leads the string!

I feel tired this evening, so I’m off to bed well before midnight and hoping for an early start on my website in the morning.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday 01 March 2013

Runners of interest at Newbury and Doncaster today and this is how they fared ... it was a thirditis and fourthitis kind of day for Choc!



Handazan (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Juvenile Hurdle (14 ran).

Kenai Peninsula (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the NH Novices’ Hurdle (18 ran).

Patsy Finnegan (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Handicap Chase (14 ran).

The Mumper (Alan King/Choc) finished 4th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (9 ran).

Taffy Dare (Alan King/Choc) finished 3rd in the Mares’ Standard Open Flat Race (11 ran).



Call Me A Star (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) won the Mares’ NH Novices’ Hurdle (7 ran).

Miss Exhibitionist (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) finished 5th in the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (6 ran).


Having thought that perhaps today would be the better of the two days at Newbury, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that Choc has 6 rides tomorrow J and, of course, Kauto Star will be performing too More



14:05 Iron Chancellor (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles ½ furlong]

14:40 Mortimers Cross (JL Needham/Choc) – Veterans’ Handicap Chase

15:15 Turn Over Sivola (Alan King/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles ½ furlong]

15:50 Midnight Sail (Alan King/Choc) - Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase

16:25 Go Set Go (James Eustace/Choc) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 5 furlongs]

17:35 Simply A Legend (Alan King/Choc) – ‘Junior’ Standard Open NH Flat Race



16:05 Champagne N Caviar (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson) – Novices’ Hurdle


Here is a link to Wayne Hutchinson’s column in the Sporting Life.  More


And a link to Martin Keighley’s Stable Talk column too.  More


This is so cute ... and why I don’t eat lamb very often and the reason I feel guilty when I do!


I had a surreal experience when driving back on the M25 from Kempton Park on Saturday.  I overtook a flatbed lorry carrying a huge green teapot, on the side of which was painted More Th>n.  Our local newspaper has reported that the company filmed at advert in St Albans City Centre last Sunday, the teapot being one of the props.  The advert is due to premier on TV on 18 March.


I hate it when I lose things ... I couldn’t find my moisturiser this morning, knowing that I’d moved it from its usual storage place having intended to use it last evening.  I searched for 15 minutes this morning but, having failed to locate it, I eventually opened a new pot.  I looked again this evening ... and found it inside a huge canvas bag in which I store some of my sweaters!  I probably just laid it down on the top of the clothes when looking for something else and it slipped down the side, becoming hidden.  I must have become totally sidetracked, because obviously I didn’t apply it when intended.  


I’ve had a nightmare day ... the computer system failed at about the same time as I logged off at lunchtime and when I logged back on, all my desktop shortcuts had disappeared, along with all the documents I kept for easy access on the desktop, my Word autotext entries (and there were a lot) and all my Explorer favourites.  Not only did it take over an hour for one of our technical guys to set me up again so that I could continue working, but I was totally at sea for the remainder of the day.  I fear it will take me ages to set everything up again to my liking.  It was purely bad luck, as no-one else in my particular department was affected; although others in the building were.  I wouldn’t normally log off at 12:45 but, today, I had an appointment for an eye check.  Typical.  


My aforementioned eye check went well, there were no problems discovered, and my long-distance vision hasn’t changed so I don’t need new glasses for distance work.  However, as my near-sighted vision has deteriorated and it was ‘buy one, get one free’, I’ve ordered a pair of glasses to wear whilst working at my computer and a second pair for even closer work, such as jewellery making or reading a book!  My employer contributes towards the cost of any glasses which might be required due to VDU use, so it will cost me just £59.00 ... a bargain! 


I’m going to wear my lucky ‘Magic Branches’ necklace again to the races tomorrow; as Choc has won the last twice I’ve worn it!


I’ve just been watching today’s coverage from Newbury and, as a time-filler, they showed highlights from the 2008 Cheltenham Festival.  Those were the days, three winners for Choc – Captain Cee Bee, Katchit and Nenuphar Collonges – just goes to show what ammunition and confidence can do!



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