DIARY – ASCOT
SATURDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2011
Master Minded, winner of the Amlin 1965 Chase
Another very busy week at work ... nothing changes ... so we were short-staffed on the first day (Friday) of this fixture so I couldn’t make it to the track; however, knowing that Medermit was due to run in the Grade 2 Amlin 1965 Chase on this Saturday, I was more than hopeful that Choc would have a number of riding engagements this day. Upon checking the racecard, I discovered he had 4 rides, in the final 4 races on the card; gates opened at 10:45.
As always, I couldn’t decide what to wear! Too many racing outfits, obviously! As I thought the weather had got slightly colder since my last visit to Ascot, although still unseasonably mild, I decided upon a thermal vest, and a long-sleeved thermal vest, a black ribbed (and frill edged) cardigan, a black frill edged cardigan (this is a favourite, but quite old now), purple fleece, purple (frill edged) cardigan, turquoise gillet, purple anorak, woolley tights under grey trousers, and black wedge shoes.
I awoke at around 07:00, showered, washed and dried my hair. Soon it was time for breakfast of two slices of buttered toast and two large croissants. I then watched The Morning Line, the guest today being Paul Nicholls; with Kauto Star taking on Long Run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, and Master Minded running in the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot.
Before I set off, the ticket arrived which I’d ordered for Hennessy Gold Cup Day at Newbury the following Saturday. The ticket ordering facility on Newbury’s website had been unavailable when I wanted to book my ticket in late October. As such, I had decided to order via the BHA website instead and had been concerned that the ticket had not been delivered yet; I’d checked my booking eight days ago (I think Weatherbys may run the service for the BHA), and again yesterday, and was told they had been in contact with Newbury racecourse, who had promised to despatch the tickets during the past few days. It was therefore a relief that it had now been delivered.
I left home at 10:00, my route taking me to join the M25 at Junction 21A. I travelled anti-clockwise to Junction 15, and headed westwards along the M4. Usually I notice Windsor Castle on the horizon as I drive towards the Slough Central junction, but today I didn’t ... although, of course, it’s still there! Anyway, I left the motorway and headed southwards down the dual carriageway to the traffic-light controlled roundabout at the far end of it. Unlike three weeks previously, today there was no queue of traffic in Imperial Road, and my journey went smoothly on my route past Legoland and onwards to Ascot.
I turned left at Swinley Bottom and drove through the underpass. The side gate to the car park was open today but, by the time I’d realised this, it was too late; I continued to the mini-roundabout on Ascot High Street, turned right and entered the car park via the main entrance. I was directed to park ... close to the huge cedar tree ... but just beyond the reach of its branches. Whew!
Having parked up, I set off for a ‘route march’ up the High Street to reach the ticket office. I purchased a grandstand ticket for £17, entered via the turnstiles and bought a race-card from the kiosk opposite the gate. Following a brief visit to the loo, I returned to the balcony above the Weighing Room. By now the sun had appeared; I wish I’d brought my sunglasses with me, as the sun is low in the sky during the autumn and winter. I had actually thought about putting them in my handbag but, as it was a little dull and misty when I’d set off, I’d decided against it. Typical.
Whilst I was waiting for proceedings to start, I noticed Alan King’s Travelling Head Lad, Matt, arrive to deliver the silks to the Weighing Room. I saw Jason Mcguire head down the steps, having visited the main grandstand area and, of course, at 11:50 my favourite jockey arrived. He was dressed smartly today, wearing his long neutral coloured coat, his beautiful blonde locks flowing!!!
Soon it was time for the first race of the day, off time 12:25. For the first three races, I stood on the balcony above the Weighing Room to see the horses arrive in the Parade Ring. Once the horses had left the Paddock, I headed through the ground level of the grandstand to find a vantage point from which to view the race.
The start of this event was towards the end of the straight leading to Swinley Bottom.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Crafti Bookie and Mush Mir; these were followed by Valid Reason, Deireadh Re, Bowntobebad and High Kite.
It was a long run to the first flight, Mush Mir had gained a 4 lengths advantage by the time they reached it. Valid Reason was now in second, the remainder of the field bunched in rear. Crafti Bookie began to drop back through the field.
Heading up the home straight on the first occasion, the order was the blinkered Mush Mir from Valid Reason, Bowntobebad, Deireadh Re, Crafti Bookie and High Kite. The field was still closely grouped as it headed past the winning post with one circuit to go.
Valid Reason took the lead at the fifth flight; Crafti Bookie was now at the rear of the field, being pushed along and was tailed off by the time they reached Swinley Bottom. As the field headed along the back straight, Bowntobebad began to tail off too. Turning into the home straight, Valid Reason still held the lead, from Mush Mir and Deireadh Re, the latter becoming the challenger as they approached 2 out.
Valid Reason and Deireadh Re jumped the last in unison, but Dean Ivory’s charge stayed on and asserted on the flat to win by 1¾ lengths; Mush Mir having made a mistake 2 out was 24 lengths back in 3rd, High Kite failing by a neck to catch him was 4th.
It was a victory for my local trainer, who trains near Radlett in Hertfordshire. Better known for his runners on the flat, I recall that I sometimes used to see a string of horses on the gallops trained by his father Ken when I commuted to London by train many moons ago. I worked in London for 6 months, and that was more than enough!!!
I returned to the Parade Ring to see the winning horse arrive back in the Winners’ Enclosure.
Once the horses had left the Parade Ring ahead of the next race, I headed through the grandstand concourse to find a vantage point in the stands. The start for this race was at the beginning of the straight heading down to Swinley Bottom, with almost two full circuits to travel.
Then they were off. The field was led away by the mare, Bounds and Leaps, under Tom Scudamore; in rear was Ballagio.
Tom’s mount soon set up a clear advantage; Ballagio and Night Graduation colliding as they jumped the fourth fence, but both survived.
Around Swinley Bottom on the first occasion, the order was Bounds and Leaps, Princely Hero, Le Corvee, Iheardu, Graduation Night, Bishophill Jack and Ballagio.
Bounds and Leaps led up the home straight on the first occasion, from Princely Hero, Graduation Night, Iheardu, Le Corvee, and Ballagio. Bishophill Jack dropped off the tail of the field and Jason Maguire pulled him up before heading out onto the second circuit.
Still leading, Bounds and Leaps landed steeply over the first obstacle down the side of the track, struggling to keep her feet but she failed; both horse and jockey were okay. This left Princely Hero and Graduation Night to now dispute the lead, from Iheardu, Ballagio and Le Corvee, the latter two losing touch as they travelled down the back straight.
Graduation Night asserted three out, and led into the home straight. He was clear of his field 2 out, and continued to stay on strongly over the last to win by 4½ lengths from Princely Hero, with Iheardu 18 lengths back in 3rd. Le Corvee was ridden into the last but refused, making a hole in the wing as he stopped; both he and jockey Lee Edwards were fine. Ballagio was pulled up, so only 3 finished.
Once more I returned to the balcony area above the Weighing Room to see the horses arrive back in the Winners’ Enclosure.
When the horses had left the Parade Ring ahead of Race 3, I ventured through the grandstand concourse to find a location in the stands from which to view the race.
Like the first race of the day, the start of this event was towards the end of the straight leading into Swinley Bottom.
Then they were off. The runners were led away by Am I Blue, from the grey Little Carmela.
Turning into the home straight on the first occasion, the order was Am I Blue, Little Carmela, Benefique, Emmaslegend, Cool Friend, Annimation, Synthe Davis, Overyou, Lady Karinga, Marie Deja La and American Ladie.
Irish raider, Benefique, took over the lead after the third flight; Overyou flattened the 4th. Synthe Davis blundered at the 7th. Despite a number of the runners were being pushed along as they travelled around Swinley Bottom, the field was still closely packed.
Heading into the back straight Benefique still led from Emmaslegend, Lady Karinga, Synthe Davis, Cool Friend, Annimation and American Ladie. There was a bad mistake by the grey, Little Carmela, 3 out when in rear.
Emmaslegend led around the final bend, from Benefique, Cool Friend, Lady Karinga and Annimation. The former soon went clear and galloped away to win by 12 lengths; Annimation stayed on to take second, with Cool Friend in third and Lady Karinga 4th.
Once again I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back to be unsaddled; this time I stood near the ‘bridge’ over the walkway, in order to get a better view of Master Minded and Medermit ahead of the next race. Besides I could also see Choc waiting inside the Weighing Room for Alan King to arrive to collect his saddle ahead of his ride aboard Medermit!
Once the horses were heading out to the course, I set off to find a vantage point in the stands. The start for this race was in Swinley Bottom.
Then they were off. The lighter grey, Stagecoach Pearl, led them away, although he had a tendency to jump to his left. In second position was The Sawyer, then Master Minded, Somersby, Medermit and Kalahari King, the latter making an error at the fourth fence.
Stagecoach Pearl was clear as the runners turned into the home straight for the first occasion. The order behind him continued to be The Sawyer, Master Minded, Somersby, Medermit and Kalahari King. Graham Lee thought Kalahari King had ‘gone wrong’ as he headed towards the ninth fence, pulling him up sharply. However, his fears were unfounded; the horse was fine.
Stagecoach Pearl continued to lead around Swinley Bottom, from Somersby, Master Minded, Medermit and The Sawyer. Somersby was travelling so well that he took the lead before 5 out; Master Minded in close pursuit, from Medermit. The other two runners were now becoming remote.
Somersby led into the home straight but was headed two out by Master Minded, the latter leading over the last and was well in command at the line, winning by 3 lengths. Somersby finished 2nd and Medermit, who got a little close to both 3 out and 2 out, finished a further 9 lengths away in 3rd. The Sawyer was 28 lengths back in 4th; Stagecoach Pearl also completed.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Medermit arrive back, Choc to unsaddle his mount and speak with connections before he retired to the Weighing Room. I then walked around to the far side of the Parade Ring in order to find a good location from which to take photographs of the competitors in the next race.
Choc’s mount in this race was Katchit, returning from a year’s break following injury. Once the runners had left the Parade Ring, I set off through the grandstand concourse to view the race.
The start for this event was in Swinley Bottom. Lough Derg was noticeably reluctant to circle with the other horses at the start.
The field was led away by Jason Maguire aboard Overturn, from Oscar Whisky piloted by Barry Geraghty. They were followed by Lough Derg, who received a couple of backhanders to encourage him to set off; he was followed by For Non Stop, Orsippus, King Of The Night and Katchit.
Up the home straight, Overturn continued to lead, from Oscar Whisky and Orsippus; Katchit was at the rear of the field, with Lough Derg, still reluctant, preceding him. Orsippus made an error at the sixth and was soon struggling.
Overturn retained the lead down the back straight. Oscar Whisky landed on all fours over the third last flight. Jason’s mount was being pushed along before 2 out, with Barry driving his horse to close. They were neck and neck as they approached the last, but Oscar Whisky stepped at it and fell, leaving Overturn to take the spoils. Jason’s fourth winner this week, following his return from injury.
For Non Stop completed 27 lengths back in second and Choc, who never gave up aboard Katchit, finished 20 lengths behind that in third. King Of The Night was fourth. Oscar Whisky and Barry Geraghty were fine following their mishap.
Despite finishing only third, Katchit had won prize money of £7,983 ... well worth the effort! I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc return, unsaddle and head for the Weighing Room.
As the Betfair Chase took place at Haydock Park during this break in proceedings, the race was broadcast on the big screen at the far end of the Paddock. The trainers, connections and jockeys in the Parade Ring watched the race, as did the spectators on the steppings. Barry Geraghty and Choc stood with Alan King to view the event. There was spontaneous applause when Kauto Star won the race; in fact it was quite emotional.
Once the runners for the Ascot race had left the Parade Ring, I headed back to the grandstand to view this steeplechase. Choc’s mount in this race was Torphichen.
The start of this event was in the back straight, with one fence to jump before heading into the home straight on the first occasion, with that and one full circuit to travel.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Fix The Rib, from King Edmund, Dan Breen and Takeroc. Possibly unsighted, the Barry Geraghty ridden favourite, Anquetta, fell at the first; Choc’s mount was slightly impeded by the fall. After an excellent day on Friday, today was one Barry Geraghty might wish to forget. Horse and jockey were fine.
Torphichen made an error at the third; possibly having lost a little confidence since the incident at the first. Away from the stands Fix The Rib and King Edmund continued to dispute the lead, from Takeroc, Dan Breen, Rileyev, Torphichen, I’msingingtheblues, De Boitron, Darceys Dancer and Gilbarry. Rileyev was awkward at the 4th fence.
Gilbarry and Darceys Dancer made mistakes at the open-ditch. The order around Swinley Bottom was King Edmund, Fix The Rib, Takeroc, Torphichen, Dan Breen, Rileyev, De Boitron, I’msingingtheblues, Darceys Dancer and Gilbarry.
Torphichen closed on the inside as the runners travelled down the back straight, Takeroc and Rileyev upsides him. The field entered the home straight, with King Edmund holding a very narrow advantage over two out; I’msingingtheblues, Takeroc and Rileyev took it in unison.
I’msingingtheblues took over before the last and and went on to win by 3¾ lengths from Rileyev who took 2nd on the run-in, Takeroc completed in 3rd, King Edmund in 4th, Darceys Dancer in 5th and Torphichen faded into 6th.
Choc unsaddled his mount in the area reserved for unplaced horses and walked back through the walkway tunnel to return to the Weighing Room. It was soon time for the final race of the day, in which Choc’s mount would be Turn Over Sivola.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight, with that and one full circuit to cover.
The field was led away by Be All Man, from Amron Lad, You’re So Special, Papillon Parc, Captain Wilson, Harry Topper, Thom Thumb, Turn Over Sivola taking a keen hold, Crystal Swing, Population, Ifyouletmefinish, Off The Wall, Just Blue and Hatters River.
Be All Man had a 3 length advantage as he began the journey down to Swinley Bottom, the remainder of the runners closely packed. Choc’s mount travelled on the inside of the field, still keen. Heading into Swinley Bottom, Just Blue was being pushed along in rear. Heading out of Swinley Bottom, Turn Over Sivola had progressed into 6th place.
Be All Man lead into the home straight; Population, although carrying his head to one side, was travelling well and took over at the head of affairs 2 furlongs out. He quickened clear within the final furlong and, easing down, won by 2¼ lengths. The long time leader, Be All Man, stayed on well to take a clear second, from Off The Wall. Turn Over Sivola, having looked dangerous turning into the home straight, weakened inside the final furlong to finish 4th.
I returned to the Parade Ring to see Choc unsaddle his mount in the spot reversed for the fourth placed horse.
Choc having returned to the Weighing Room for the final time today, it was time for me to set off for home. Having ‘route marched’ back down Ascot High Street to the car park to collect my ‘trusty steed’, I left immediately. There were no holdups at any time during my journey home, the road to Windsor was clear, as was the M4 and M25. I arrived home at 17:15, in plenty of time to eat my tea before tuning in to BBC1 to watch Strictly Come Dancing.
This week’s show was broadcast from Wembley Arena. Everyone seemed to be raving about the programme taking place in front of a huge crowd, but I thought it lacked the intimacy of the TV studio and I was disappointed by it. For the record, Russell Grant and his professional partner Flavia Cacace were eliminated this week. Surprisingly, the pair who received the second lowest number of votes were Holly Valance and professional partner Artem Chigvintsev (he’s my favourite!). I think celebrities Harry Judd or Chelsee Healey will win this season’s show. Robbie Savage or Anita Dobson ought to be the next to depart.