Tuesday 30 September 2014

Here are today’s results from Chepstow:

Primo Capitano (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 2nd in the Maiden Hurdle (14 ran).

Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Christopher Ward) finished 3rd in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles] (14 ran).

Creepy (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) won the Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase in style (6 ran); Well done to the team, their 6th winner of the season.

Midnight Thomas (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 5th in the Handicap Chase [2 miles & ½ furlong] (6 ran).

Right On Roy (Martin Keighley/Tom Bellamy) finished 11th in the Standard Open NH Flat Race (for Conditional & Amateur Jockeys) (12 ran).


There’s no National Hunt racing tomorrow.

Oh well, that’s September done and dusted ... hopefully by the end of next month there will be some upbeat news regarding Choc’s return. 

Monday 29 September 2014

There were two runners of interest at Newton Abbot today and this is how they fared:

Laser Blazer (Alan King/Richard Johnson) won and Classic Colori (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) finished 4th in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong] (7 ran).


Here is an overview of the day’s racing at the Devon course, with talented Court Minstrel notably winning over the larger obstacles at his first attempt.  More


There’s National Hunt racing at Sedgefield and Chepstow tomorrow with a boxful of runners of interest at the latter:

14:00 Primo Capitano (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Maiden Hurdle

14:30 Always Bold (Martin Keighley/Christopher Ward) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles]

15:40 Creepy (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) – Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase

17:20 Midnight Thomas (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Chase [2 miles & ½ furlong]

17:55 Right On Roy (Martin Keighley/Tom Bellamy) – Standard Open NH Flat Race (for Conditional & Amateur Jockeys)


I had a flu jab today, my first ever, and that should protect me from any flu viruses which I might come into contact with this winter season.  Mum was looking after me when I caught flu back in February and she’s had a flu jab for many years and has not succumbed to any strains of the virus since 1984. 

Sunday 28 September 2014

Oh dear ... there is not good news for Choc, who found out last Wednesday that his T1 vertebra just below his neck hasn’t completely fused yet.  L  As a result he’s had to stop riding out and won’t be back on the track for another month.  He is due to revisit his consultant neurosurgeon, Peter Hamlyn, on 25 October.


However, Wayne Hutchinson is more fortunate and has been cleared to return to race-riding at Warwick next Thursday.


So I guess I’m now 50/50 for Cheltenham Showcase Saturday, as I’d arranged to go with my friend Lesley and her friend Chris.  But I may just go anyway, as I’m suffering National Hunt racing withdrawal symptoms at the present time!  But Kempton Park Jumping Sunday will now be a no-show for me.


There are two runners of interest tomorrow, at Newton Abbot:

15:30 Laser Blazer (Alan King/Richard Johnson) & Classic Colori (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) – Novices’ Handicap Hurdle [2 miles 1 furlong]


I went for a walk this morning ... or should that be route march?  The back pain I’d been experiencing whilst walking disappeared last Wednesday, so I’m now up to speed once more.  I probably did around 3.5 miles in total, as it took me one hour and ten minutes. 


Having returned home, I tuned into Racing UK to watch Lydia Hislop’s film about racecourse-based veterinarian care for racehorses, featuring Sandown Park as the example.  It was very interesting and gave me an additional insight into what goes on behind the scenes on a race-day and the detailed care given to these beautiful animals. 


After the horrific photographs of poor Wigmore Hall being despatched following serious injury published last weekend by that disgusting left-wing rag the Daily Mirror, it set the story straight about the excellent veterinary care racehorses receive during the course of their working life.  If they sustain an injury which may be treatable, everything is done to offer pain relief and stabilise the problem to prevent further injury; they will then be taken back to the veterinary hospital for further assessment and treatment.  It is now common practice to euthanize a seriously injured horse rather than shoot it, and will become even more prevalent as more young vets join the ranks of the profession.  One of the vets explained that shooting a horse also presents additional health and safety risks to the people involved.


This afternoon I tuned in to watch the end of the Ryder Cup golf; Europe won, retaining the trophy.  Samuel Ryder funded the tournament at its outset and spent much of his life in St Albans.  More  There are plans to create a statue of the entrepreneur in the city but, due to objections from market traders, it will not be sited outside the Old Town Hall but placed next door to Ladbrokes half way up the main shopping street.  I think it’s disgraceful that the planners have let themselves be bullied into this change of location. More

Saturday 27 September 2014

Just one runner of interest today, at Market Rasen, and this is how he fared:

Pantxoa (Alan King/Richard Johnson) finished 6th in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 6½ furlongs] (12 ran).


There’s no National Hunt racing tomorrow.


Today I read the recently published ‘If Horses Could Talk’, the autobiography of ‘horse whisperer’ Gary Witheford (with assistance from Brough Scott).  Gary and his horses gave a demonstration at Kempton Park last October, which I wrote about in my diary of the day.  The book is well worth reading if you get the opportunity. 

Friday 26 September 2014

Just one runner of interest tomorrow, at Market Rasen:

14:50 Pantxoa (Alan King/Richard Johnson) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 6½ furlongs]


Trainer Toby Balding, uncle of Clare and Andrew, and brother of Ian, has passed away aged 78.  More


Sadly the retired Wolf Moon, who was trained by Martin Keighley and won five times including twice at Cheltenham, has been put to sleep having sustained a broken leg whilst in his field.  Martin describes him as a super looking and very kind horse.  RIP Wolf Moon.


No plans for the weekend, as usual, although I look forward to Part II of Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow evening ... and Dr Who!!!  Just three weeks now until the Cheltenham Showcase/Kempton Park weekend and I’m hopeful that Choc may be back in action by then. 

Wednesday 24 September 2014

I received a hard copy of the Injured Jockeys Fund annual newsletter a few days ago and there’s an article about Choc and Wayne using the facilities at Oaksey House to recover from their current injuries.  I’ve found a link on their website to the electronic version, my favourite jockey features on page 5, but please read the entire newsletter as it’s very interesting.


I confess to being very angry today.  We had a Head Office meeting this morning and, as part of the presentation, commendations which had been received from the people we work for were read out.  Who should get a commendation but the other member of my team who does exactly the same job as I do and when referring to working unpaid hours recently told someone “you’ve got to be kidding, if I can’t get it done within normal office hours it doesn’t get done”.  How can we ever work as a team with attitudes like that?  Yours truly got no mention whatsoever despite the fact I work my bl**dy socks off, working for up to 10 hours unpaid each week.  Talk about being kicked in the teeth.  Nice to know that all my hard work is very much appreciated NOT.  More fool me to think that is was.

Tuesday 23 September 2014

It’s still very quiet on the National Hunt front; but news from the flat racing sphere that Kingman has been retired. 


Just in case you missed it, I did, Celestial Halo has also been retired:


Steve Ayres has tweeted a photo of himself with Balder Success:


I’ve purchased my ticket for Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup day on 29 November.  That leaves just my Cheltenham Festival advance tickets to buy now and I’ve got until 13 December when the discount period ends.  Club tickets for the first three days cost £65 each, and Gold Cup Day £79, plus parking and postage. 

Sunday 21 September 2014

Here are the results for my ‘runners of interest’ at Plumpton today:

My Lad Percy (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) was a non-runner in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 2 furlongs]

Fighter Jet (Alan King/Aidan Coleman) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 1½ furlong] (6 ran).

Prettyasapicture (Alan King/Aidan Coleman) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles] (8 ran).


There’s now no National Hunt racing until Perth on Wednesday. 


My niece Kim will be celebrating her 22nd birthday on Thursday with a trip to Newmarket races with her boyfriend Sean and her brother, my nephew, James.

I seem to have run out of things to do at the weekend at present; but I am on standby to go racing when Choc returns to racecourse action.  My fingers are crossed that he’ll be back in time for the weekend of Cheltenham’s Showcase fixture and Kempton Park’s first jumps meeting of the season in October.  But I did go for a walk today; a fairly brisk walk at that, of at least two miles.

STOP PRESS – A quote from Alan King published on his website today:

"Both Choc Thornton and Wayne Hutchinson, who missed the summer months through injury, are back riding out again, and I would like to think that they would be passed fit to resume riding on the racecourse in early October.

Saturday 20 September 2014

There’s National Hunt racing at Uttoxeter and Plumpton tomorrow, with three runners of interest at the latter:

15:30 My Lad Percy (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 2 furlongs]

16:30 Fighter Jet (Alan King/Aidan Coleman) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles 1½ furlong]

17:30 Prettyasapicture (Alan King/Aidan Coleman) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles]


I always think that these particular Plumpton/Uttoxeter Sunday fixtures mark the start of the main National Hunt season, as autumn has now arrived.  Although, of course, it cranks into top gear at Chepstow on the second Saturday of October. 


Returning from injury, Jason Maguire had two rides at Newton Abbot yesterday and won on the first of them, finishing third of three on the other.


I understand Choc has been working out at Oaksey House to get fit for his return.  William recently asked him to stop smoking, but Choc is putting it off until he retires or has at least lost some weight.  The older you get the harder it becomes to shift those pounds ... don’t I know it! 


I lost over a stone in 2008 ... without dieting (!) ... but it’s all gone back on again due to a number of minor health issues I’ve experienced during the intervening years.  I’m again at risk of adding even more weight due to lack of exercise because of my bad back, although I did go out for a walk a couple of times this week during my lunch-breaks at work. (Yes, I actually had time for a lunch-hour!)  And I never do things by halves because I took my usual two mile route ... I just walked it slower than usual!  I walked to work and back every day this week too but, again, at a slower pace than is normal. 

Thursday 18 September 2014

National Hunt’s ever decreasing September break has come and gone and there’s racing at Worcester and Newton Abbot tomorrow but no runners of interest.  However ...


Amazingly, following horrific injuries sustained at Stratford on the eve of last season’s Cheltenham Festival, Jason Maguire returns to the saddle at Newton Abbot tomorrow.  More


TV sports presenter Jill Douglas has tweeted a photograph of Cheltenham’s ongoing redevelopment, looking down towards the Parade Ring:


My back appears to finally be on the mend; I missed just one day’s work.  My solution was to sleep sitting upright in an armchair, which I did for six consecutive nights!  However, having returned to my bed last night, once again I experienced mobility problems this morning, so it may be back to the drawing board once more ...

And I’ve completed my diary relating to Martin Keighley’s Public Open Day too.  Click here to read.

Thursday 11 September 2014

The Jump Jockeys’ Derby took place at Epsom today; the winning jockey was Andrew Tinkler, the finishing order for the remainder of the 10-runner field was Jamie Moore, Sam Twiston-Davies, Brendan Powell, Harry Skelton, Dougie Costello, Nick Scholfield, Richie McLernon, Tom Cannon and Michael Byrne. 


Tickets for Kempton Park’s Winter Festival are now available on their website and here is the link; I bought mine yesterday:


Here is a link to Dave Crosse’s most recent Love The Races blog.  Choc gets a mention and there’s another opportunity to view footage of the 15 August 2008 haircut which took place at The Plough in Ford.  More


And continuing in the nostalgia vein ... the first of these relates to the above:


Here is a link to Eclipse magazine’s interview with Choc which took place at Haydock in 2009:


And the interview following Lovcen’s win at the Aintree Festival 2012:


I’ve spent the day resting, with regular gentle exercise, and my bad back seems to have improved somewhat.   I didn’t go to work today, as I had a problem sitting from lying and standing from sitting this morning.  And I could barely climb the stairs when I woke during the night.  But hopefully I’m on the mend now.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Both My Lad Percy and Bold Tara were non-runners today; the former due to a bruised foot and the latter didn’t eat up her feed following her self-aborted trip to Worcester.  Martin describes her as ‘grumpy’ by nature; she does bite too.  


My back was too painful for me to walk to work today, so I got a lift to and from the office.  I lasted the day, including around two hours overtime ... yes, I am crazy!  But I have a horrible feeling I will be cast in my box again tonight!  I’ve resorted to sleeping on the sofa, as I’ve been trapped in bed by pain on three occasions now. 


I did some skipping on Friday and Saturday, which didn’t help, but my back ‘went’ on Monday evening just before I got into bed.  Another big problem has been the need to bend over the work photocopier to un-jam paper in the bottom tray for the past two or three months; it happens every few minutes when printing single-sided copies and we print a hell of a lot.  Our Systems department refuse to get someone in to service the machine.  Added to that is the necessity to carry heavy boxes of printed paper ready for despatch every few days too.  I’m getting far too old for this game, especially with the spectre of possible osteoporosis on the horizon.

Tuesday 09 September 2014

Here are the results for my ‘runners of interest’ at Worcester today, and more seconditis unfortunately:

Bold Tara (Martin Keighley/Conor Smith) refused to race in the ‘Hands and Heels’ Handicap Chase (Conditionals/Amateurs).

Kyles Faith (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 2nd in the Handicap Chase [2 miles 4 furlongs] (5 ran).

The Kvilleken (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) finished 2nd in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles] (10 ran).


For the record, Bless The Wings finished 3rd of 7 at Perth. 


There are two runners of interest tomorrow, at Uttoxeter:

15:15 My Lad Percy (Martin Keighley/Richard Johnson) – Beginners’ Chase

16:25 Bold Tara (Martin Keighley/Killian Moore) – Handicap Hurdle [3 miles]


Choc has agreed to take part in the Pogo Pandemonium to be held in aid of the NSIF on Saturday 24 January 2015 at Newbury racecourse.


And here is the link to the website mentioned in the tweet:!pogo-pandemonium/c17aj


Well I was going to start my Open Day diary but, in the event, I’ve had backache all day ... followed by a severe and extremely painful muscle spasm earlier this evening which resulted in me getting stuck on my bed for a while!  It was not a great idea to lie down for a rest ... 

Monday 08 September 2014

Here are my ‘runners of interest’ tomorrow, at Worcester:

14:40 Bold Tara (Martin Keighley/Conor Smith) – ‘Hands and Heels’ Handicap Chase (Conditionals/Amateurs)

15:10 Kyles Faith (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Chase [2 miles 4 furlongs]

16:10 The Kvilleken (Martin Keighley/Ian Popham) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles]


Bless The Wings, now trained by Gordon Elliott, runs in the 19:00 at Perth.


News today that Frankie Dettori has lost the ride aboard star French filly Treve.  More


As promised, I’ve uploaded the photographs I took at Martin Keighley’s Open Day yesterday:

Click here to view Part I

Click here to view Part II

Tomorrow I shall begin drafting my diary of yesterday’s events. 

Sunday 07 September 2014


Thomas for blog.jpg




Dinky for blog.jpg





I spent much of today in the Cotswolds, at Martin Keighley’s Public Open Day, followed by a visit to The Plough in Ford.  Strangely enough, the pub has a table-tennis table in their garden ... so I was right regarding the recent photo of William playing ping pong having been taken at The Plough!


Above are pictures of Freddie Keighley’s pony Thomas and Harry Keighley’s pony Dinky.  I will upload photographs of the horses tomorrow, after which I shall commence writing a diary entry. 


Here are this weekend’s results:


Saturday – Stratford:

Kuda Huraa (Alan King/Richard Johnson) finished 4th in the Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & ½ furlong] (4 ran).


Sunday – Fontwell Park:

Gimme Five (Alan King/Paddy Brennan) finished 2nd in the Juvenile Hurdle (7 ran).


Balthazar King triumphed in France today, winning the Grand Cross-Country de Craon for the second year running.  More


There’s National Hunt racing from Newton Abbot and Perth tomorrow but no runners of interest.


Following tonight’s Strictly Come Dancing ‘introduction’ programme, here is a list of this year’s couples or, as Tess Daly would say, Cupples! 


Professional Dancers – ‘Celebrity’

Aliona Vilani – Gregg Wallace

Iveta Lukosiute – Thom Evans

Janette Manrara – Jake Wood

Joanne Clifton (new 2014) – Scott Mills

Karen Hauer – Mark Wright

Kristina Rihanoff – Simon Webbe

Natalie Lowe -  Tim Wonnacott

Ola Jordan – Steve Backshall
Aljaž Skorjanec – Alison Hammond

Anton du Beke – Judy Murray

Brendan Cole -  Sunetra Sarker

Kevin Clifton – Frankie Bridge

Pasha Kovalev – Caroline Flack

Tristan MacManus (new 2014) – Jennifer Gibney

Trent Whiddon (new 2014) – Pixie Lott


My favourite, Artem Chigvintsev, has defected this season to the American version of the show ‘Dancing with the Stars’. 

Friday 05 September 2014

There are a couple of runners of interest this weekend:


Saturday – Stratford:

15:55 Kuda Huraa (Alan King/Richard Johnson) – Handicap Hurdle [2 miles & ½ furlong]


Sunday – Fontwell Park:

14:10 Gimme Five (Alan King/Paddy Brennan) – Juvenile Hurdle


The Newbury redevelopment is fast taking shape:


It’s going to be a busier weekend than recently for me, with a planned trip with my friend Lesley to Martin Keighley’s public open day on Sunday.  I love the Cotswolds, they are beautiful and, of course, the lovely Choc lives there too!

With this in mind, here is a link to Martin’s column in this week’s Gloucestershire press.  More

Next weekend I fancy taking advantage of one of the free of charge open days in the St Albans area; my choice being a tour of the tower of St Albans Cathedral.  I don’t like heights, but I was christened in the Cathedral, as were my two brothers, and my parents were married there too.

Thursday 04 September 2014

It’s good to see Sire De Grugy chilling out following training:


News that the Martin Keighley-trained Typhon De Guye went to Doncaster Sales, but he is reported to have found a nice home where he will be taking part in ladies point-to-points and hunter chases.


Havingotascoobydo has found a new home with Helen Diment who worked for the yard and Spring Moon, who had to retire a while ago due to injury, is now a dressage horse with a lady named Judy McKinnon.


My immediate manager, Michelle, has recently taken over a share of an ex-racehorse; the mare is now called Reeva, she raced just once, and I’m hoping to find out her registered racing name in due course!  Michelle loves mares ... I’m a little less keen, probably because I used to have an unwelcomingly exciting time as a child when riding one named Sherbet.  She was rather slow and used to drop off the rear of the column of riding school horses and ponies before setting off up the lane at the canter to catch them up; she also used to buck if given half the chance! 


The riding school bought Lollipop and chestnut Sherbet at the same time; I loved Lollipop, he was a bright bay with a pretty face.  He did tend to put on weight though, so he was a little bit ‘Thelwell’.  Unfortunately this resulted in him breaking his knees on a couple of occasions having slipped on the road; on the second occasion he had to be tethered in his stall to ensure he couldn’t lay down, just in case he wasn’t able to get to his feet again.


But he did recover, and I was offered a ride on him shortly afterwards.  And it turned out to be an exciting ride, as all the riding school horses and ponies bolted across Harpenden Common that day!  Luckily back in the day the roads weren’t as busy as they are now, for we traversed a number during the stampede.  But I did manage to pull him up sooner than some of the others did their mounts, but not before we’d galloped past the riding school owner’s mother’s house in the posh area of East Common.  I dismounted and walked Lollipop back; a number of the animals and their riders were found in a field further on!  


That was probably the most surreal experience I ever had during my early riding days!  The most painful was suffering concussion when falling off a horse named Joe in Knebworth Park many years later.  And I’ve had a creaky neck since that day, now the seat of my cervical spondylitis (arthritis in the neck).

Tuesday 02 September 2014

News that Peddlers Cross has been retired, having lost his racing sparkle.  More


Another retirement, from race-riding, is Paul Nicholls’ 19-year-old nephew Harry Derham; a loss of confidence evidently.  More


Jockey Andrew Thornton has taken the ‘ice bucket challenge’:


This ‘sign’ is brilliant, found via the Barbury Castle Horse Trials twitter feed:


There’s National Hunt racing at Southwell tomorrow, but no runners of interest.

Monday 01 September 2014

It’s very quiet on the racing front, with no news to impart today ... I’m saving up a few bits and pieces for tomorrow!



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