PART II

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

LADIES’ DAY

FRIDAY 05 APRIL 2013

 

 

topham l r.jpg

 

A well-deserved drink for Walkon

having finished 2nd in the Topham Chase Handicap

 

Click here to read my Ladies’ Day Diary Part I

 

It was soon time for the fourth race of the day; the Topham Chase which is run over the Grand National fences.  The start of the race was at the far end of the home straight, with 2 fences to jump before The Chair. 

 

The favourite for this race was There’s No Panic, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Ruby Walsh.  Always Waining had won this race for the past three years, but this year the horse would instead run in tomorrow’s Grand National. 

 

Two greys in the race, my beloved Walkon trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson in the absence of the injured (and also beloved by me) Choc Thornton, and Arctic Ben. 

 

The horses had reached the starting area, taken a look at the first obstacle, and had their girths checked prior to the race.   

 

The runners were taking a clockwise turn but a number pulled away to begin their walk up to the tape, the remainder halted their turn to join them; surprising really as the assistants had barely completed the checking of the stragglers’ girths.  However, Brian Harding aboard Billy Cuckoo and Ruby Walsh aboard There’s No Panic had decided it wasn’t a ‘goer’ and made no attempt to follow the majority as they sped towards the tape.  Tom O’Brien also realised it was going to be a false start and steered Gus Macrae away from the others and prevented his mount from crossing the line. 

 

The yellow flag denoting a false start was waved by a steward standing in front of the first fence and the infringing jockeys directed their mounts around the first fence before they were able to pull up; Jamsie Hall went the furthest distance, his jockey meandering across the course in an effort to stop his mount.

 

The runners returned to the start, lined up again ... but got too close once more, with a couple of horses ducking under the tape.  Back to square one. 

 

They then lined up for a third time; but the runners to the inside got a flyer, with a number to the outside of the track not happy.  On this occasion, Gus Macrae didn’t even have time to turn around to face in the right direction before the jockeys had decided to set off!      

 

Race 4

Topham Chase Handicap (Grade 3)

Distance

2 miles 5 furlongs 110 yards (18 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

29

 

They lined up for a fourth time ... and then they were finally off!  Hooray.

 

Heading to the first, prominent were Reynard, Hector’s Choice, Montoya’s Son, Dunowen Point, Fistral Beach, Gullible Gordon, Sizing Santiago, Pacha Du Polder, Little Josh and Arctic Ben; Mister First was ... last!  Hector’s Choice dived through the first fence but survived. 

 

Having cleared the second fence, the field galloped towards the Chair; Montoya’s Son and Dunowen Point now disputing the lead.  Chance Du Roy, Gonebeyondrecall and State Benefit all made errors at the fence.  The runners then cleared the water-jump and I was relieved to see that Walkon appeared to be enjoying himself and was travelling happily in mid-field.

 

The horses then set off into the country for the one and only time, crossing the Melling Road and heading for the line of six fences which culminate with Becher’s Brook.  Montoya’s Son led the way, from Dunowen Point, Sizing Santiago, Gullible Gordon, Pacha Du Polder, Fistral Beach, Giorgio Quercus, Little Josh, Regal D’Estruval, Tranquil Sea, Billy Cuckoo, Arctic Ben, Hector’s Choice, Walkon, Last Time D’Albain, Tartak, Triolo D’Alene, Lambro, Jamsie Hall, Bennys Mist, Criqtonic, Reynard, Dashing George, Gus Macrae, Gonebeyondrecall, There’s No Panic, Mister First, State Benefit and Chance Du Roy. 

 

The runners cleared the first of these safely.  Fistral Beach, the grey Arctic Ben and Last Time D’Albain all made errors at the next; the latter’s jockey, Bryan Cooper, briefly losing an iron.  Cutting out the running as they headed to the open-ditch were, to the inside, Dunowen Point with jockey Jason Maguire sporting the well-known yellow, blue and grey Leslie colours, to his outside the Peter Bowen-trained Gullible Gordon ridden by Jamie Moore, to his right was another Peter Bowen-trained runner, Sizing Santiago, ridden by Brian Hughes, and wider still Regal D’Estruval piloted by Liam Treadwell.   

 

The first casualty was Tartak who fell at the next fence; front ranked Regal D’Estruval departed at the following one, his jockey Liam Treadwell picking up an injury as a result.  Little Josh had progressed through the field to dispute the lead with Dunowen Point as the runners headed to Becher’s Brook.  Dashing George, who had been travelling in rear, was behind when pulled up before the fence.  All the remaining 26 runners cleared it safely; modifications having left the fence a shadow of its former self.  There’s No Panic made an error in rear. 

 

Walkon had progressed into fifth or sixth position as they travelled towards the Foinavon fence.  Again all the runners cleared this fence safely.  Dunowen Point led over the Canal Turn from Little Josh, Gullible Gordon, Sizing Santiago, Montoya’s Son and Walkon; Fistral Beach and Reynard made errors here. Having jumped Valentine’s, Billy Cuckoo was pulled up when in last position.

 

Dunowen Point led over the next, from Little Josh, Gullible Gordon and Sizing Santiago; Walkon was travelling behind Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount and, having made notable progress with a clear run up the inside, especially at the Canal Turn, Barry Geraghty’s mount Triolo D’Alene was now tracking the leaders.  Around three from the back, Mister First unseated his rider at this fence.    

 

The next fence was the final open-ditch.  Little Josh put in an extra stride before the fence, ploughed through it and fell.  David Bass was unseated as Giorgio Quercus sided-stepped to avoid the faller; further back in the field Ruby Walsh was unseated when There’s No Panic had nowhere to go as Little Josh struggled to regain his feet.  To the inside of the track, State Benefit ridden by Andrew Tinkler fell independently.  Two Nicky Henderson runners had departed at this obstacle.

 

The remaining horses cleared the next without serious incident, although Jamsie Hall made an error when tailed off in rear.  Also out the back were Gonebeyondrecall and Chance Du Roy.  Returning across the Melling Road, Dunowen Point continued at the head of affairs, from Gullible Gordon, Sizing Santiago, Triolo D’Alene and Walkon.  Also making up ground on the wide outside as they headed towards two out was Last Time D’Albain.  The tailed-off Bennys Mist was pulled up here.

 

Barry Geraghty angled out around Dunowen Point prior to jumping the second last and was upsides as they cleared it; they headed toward the final fence which they jumped in unison.  Last Time D’Albain cleared it in third position with Walkon fourth.  The leaders headed towards the elbow, Barry driving his mount into the lead.  As they passed to the outside of the Chair, Walkon began to stay on, closing on the leader ... but he’d run out of time; Triolo D’Alene won by ¾ of a length at the line. 

 

Last Time D’Albain completed in 3rd, with long-time leader Dunowen Point in 4th and Gullible Gordon 5th.

 

I was so proud of Walkon, he’d run fantastically but had to settle for second yet again.  He’d been beaten by Al Ferof in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, then by Unioniste in the big December Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and now by Triolo D’Alene in the Topham.  Hopefully his time will come, as he certainly deserves a big win for all his game efforts this season and in past seasons too. 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Triolo D’Alene

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson

2nd

Walkon

Wayne Hutchinson

Alan King

3rd

Last Time D’Albain

Bryan Cooper

Liam P Cusack

4th

Dunowen Point

Jason Maguire

Donald McCain

5th

Gullible Gordon

Jamie Moore

Peter Bowen

6th

Tranquil Sea

Andrew McNamara

EJ O’Grady

7th

Sizing Santiago

Brian Hughes

Peter Bowen

8th

Montoya’s Son

Wilson Renwick

Tim Vaughan

9th

Chance Du Roy

Richard Johnson

Philip Hobbs

10th

Lambro

Paul Townend

Willie Mullins

11th

Gus Macrae

Tom O’Brien

Rebecca Curtis

12th

Fistral Beach

Daryl Jacob

Paul Nicholls

13th

Criqtonic

Nick Scholfield

Paul Nicholls

14th

Arctic Ben

Jake Greenall

Henry Daly

15th

Renard

Sam Thomas

Venetia Williams

16th

Hector’s Choice

Denis O’Regan

Richard Lee

17th

Jamsie Hall

Davy Condon

Gordon Elliott

18th

Gonebeyondrecall

Martin Ferris

NF Glynn

19th

Pacha Du Polder

Ryan Mahon

Paul Nicholls

 

And those which did not finish:

 

Pulled Up

Before 17th

Bennys Mist

Aidan Coleman

Venetia Williams

Brought Down

15th fence

There’s No Panic

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

Unseated

15th fence

Giorgio Quercus

David Bass

Nicky Henderson

Fell (fatality)

15th fence

Little Josh

Sam Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies

Fell

15th fence

State Benefit

Andrew Tinkler

Nicky Henderson

Unseated

14th fence

Mister First

Andrew Lynch

R A Hennessy

Pulled Up

Before 14th

Billy Cuckoo

Brian Harding

Tony Coyle

Pulled Up

Before 10th

Dashing George

Tom Scudamore

Dr Richard Newland

Fell

9th

Regal D’Estruval

Liam Treadwell

Dr Richard Newland

Fell

8th

Tartak

Dougie Costello

Tim Vaughan

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS ROOM:

The Stewards considered the apparent improvement in form of the winner, TRIOLO D’ALENE (FR), ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Nicky Henderson, compared with its previous run at Sandown on 5 January 2013, where the gelding finished eighth beaten 64 lengths over 3 miles 1 furlong on soft ground with heavy patches. They noted the trainer’s explanation that the gelding has been working better at home of late and appreciated the better ground today. They ordered TRIOLO D’ALENE (FR) to be routine tested.

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Starter that the riders attempted to line up for the start before being instructed to do so. They interviewed the following riders, Ryan Mahon, Andrew J McNamara, Sam Twiston-Davies, Wayne Hutchinson, Richard Johnson, Daryl Jacob, Paul Townend, Denis O’Regan, Jason Maguire, Bryan J Cooper, Sam Thomas, David Bass, Aidan Coleman, Barry Geraghty, Nick Scholfield, Dougie Costello, Andrew Tinkler, Tom Scudamore, Davy Condon, Martin Ferris, Jamie Moore, Brian Hughes, A E Lynch, Jake Greenall and Wilson Renwick and the Starters. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the start the Stewards found the riders in breach of Rule (D)44.4 and suspended them for 1 day as follows: Friday 19 April.

With Walkon having finished 2nd and now holding an engagement in the Winners’ Enclosure, I decided to return to see him arrive back.  With experience of the procedures for opening and closing the walkway gates, my route back involved crossing to the Lord Sefton side because, that way, I would have a clear ‘run’ back to the Weighing Room steppings, without the risk of being delayed by a closed gate close to the Parade Ring itself.  I would follow this route for the remainder of the fixture; entering via the correct gate to the Earl of Derby Terrace area, and exit via the Lord Sefton! 

Walkon’s owners, the McNeill Family, made a big fuss of their horse; he deserved it.

When interviewed on TV, Nicky Henderson revealed that Triolo D’Alene had pulled off a shoe overnight whilst in his stable the previous weekend and had subsequently trodden on it; it had then been touch and go as to whether the horse would be sound and make it to Aintree at all. 

Alan King had one runner in the next event, Uxizandre.  The favourite for this race was At Fishers Cross at 11-8, having won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. 

I returned to the Earl of Derby Terrace enclosure ahead of this race; but stood behind the gate once it had been closed, rather than venture back to the terrace steps.

The start of this race was half way down the home straight, with just over 2 circuits to travel. 

 

Race 5

Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles 110 yards (13 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

9

 

And then they were off.  The runners were led away by Gevrey Chambertin, from Master Of The Sea, Yesyoucan, Road To Riches, At Fishers Cross, Just A Par and Uxizandre; Buachaill Alainn and Kris Cross brought up the rear.

 

The runners cleared the first flight and headed past the winning post with two complete circuits to go; the David Pipe trained runner with three lengths advantage over the field.  The horses travelled around the grandstand turn and out into the country, the pace a steady one.  Yesyoucan, on the inside of the field, was a little keen as they cleared the three flights in the back straight.

 

There was no change at the head of affairs as the horses headed into the far turn; Buachaill Alainn and Kris Cross continued to bring up the rear.  Into the home straight for the penultimate time, Gevrey Chambertin led, from Yesyoucan, At Fishers Cross, Road To Riches, Uxizandre, Master Of The Sea, Buachaill Alainn, Just A Par and Kris Cross. 

 

The runners cleared the three flights without problem, although Master Of The Sea was a little bit awkward at the third in the line; Kris Cross wasn’t travelling particularly well in rear.  The field passed the winning post and travelled around the grandstand bend before heading off into the country for the final time.

 

Gevrey Chambertin still led as they cleared the three flights in the back straight; Road To Riches travelled at this girth; At Fishers Cross had made progress and travelled easily to the outside of the runners.  Kris Cross was becoming detached, ahead of him Just A Par wasn’t fluent four out. Heading into the far turn, Buachaill Alainn was beginning to struggle too; but the jockeys aboard the latter two continued to work hard to keep their mounts in touch with the body of the field.

 

Travelling around the final turn and into the home straight, At Fishers Cross was now upsides the long-time leader.  Master Of The Sea was disputing third with Road To Riches, the latter now being pushed along.  Yesyoucan was being ridden, behind him Wayne Hutchinson was pushing his mount along too. 

 

Having cleared three out, AP McCoy cruised into the lead, Gevrey Chambertin now fading as Master Of The Sea took second position.  Staying on were Buachaill Alainn and Just A Par; having looked in trouble before the far turn, they were now in fourth and fifth. 

 

The runners jumped two out; At Fishers Cross continued to put daylight between him and his nearest rivals, Uxizandre had jumped out to his left as he crossed this flight.  The leader cleared the last and AP McCoy pushed him out to win by an easy 8 lengths at the line.  Buachaill Alainn and Just A Par battled it out for second on the run-in, the latter prevailing. 

 

Master Of The Sea completed in 4th, with Uxizandre 5th.  Gevrey Chambertin finished in 6th, Yesyoucan 7th and Road To Riches 8th; Kris Cross had been pulled up before 3 out. 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

At Fishers Cross

AP McCoy

Rebecca Curtis

2nd

Just A Par

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

3rd

Buachaill Alainn

Jamie Moore

Peter Bowen

4th

Master Of The Sea

Sam Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies

 

Once again I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back. 

 

Ahead of the next race I set off to find a good vantage point close to the horse-walk exit point; I was rewarded with an excellent view, and photo opportunity, as the two Alan King runners were led out to the course.   

 

These runners were Meister Eckhart who’d finished second to stable-companion Medinas in the Cheltenham Festival’s Coral Cup and Manyriverstocross who’d finished 3rd in the County Hurdle.  Super-sub Wayne Hutchinson had chosen to ride the latter, with Aidan Coleman reunited with the former.  Meister Eckhart was the favourite for this race, at odds of 15-2.  Manyriverstocross was a 10-1 shot.

 

The starting gate for this event was part way down the back straight, with one and three quarter circuits to travel. 

 

The jockeys appeared eager to be off, forming into a ‘pack’ quite early; they trotted away from the start, turned through the gap in the guiding rails between the chase to the hurdles course and trotted back up towards the tape ... then trotted away again.  They turned through the same gap once more, and trotted back towards the tape, passing to the outside of the initial flight in the back straight as the first obstacle was the following hurdle. 

 

Race 6

Handicap Hurdle (Listed)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (11 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

21

 

Then they were off.  The flashy chestnut, Broadway Buffalo, led them away; almost upsides were Cotton Mill and the first-time blinkered Saddler’s Risk.  These were followed by General Miller, Funny Star, one of the greys Barbatos, Get Me Out Of Here, Meister Eckhart, Grandads Horse, the other grey Native Gallery (who had accompanied Looks Like Slim on a racecourse gallop at Kempton Park, Choc aboard the latter), Punjabi, Minella Forfitness, Clerk’s Choice, Khyber Kim, Hazy Tom, Bar De Ligne,

Peckhamecho, Simply Ned, Manyriverstocross, Salubrious and St Devote. Peckhamecho made an error at the second flight. 

 

The runners galloped around the far turn and set off down the home straight for the first occasion.  At the rear of the field, St Devote was less than fluent at the third hurdle.  One of the competitors, probably Grandads Horse in mid-pack, hit the next; the orange protector strip flying back through the field to land on the turf a few yards after the obstacle.  Heading over the next flight and down towards the lollipop with one circuit to go, Broadway Buffalo continued to cut out the running from Cotton Mill, Saddler’s Risk, General Miller and Punjabi.

 

The field travelled around the grandstand turn; at the rear were Simply Ned, Native Gallery and Peckhamecho.  There was no change at the head of affairs as the horses cleared the first in the back straight; where Rebecca Curtis’ runner was a little slow.  Having jumped the next, Barbatos was now prominent just to the outside of the leaders.  Hazy Tom had dropped to the back of the field quickly and would be pulled up after the next; he’d broken a blood vessel.  Native Gallery was at the back of the main pack, along with Khyber Kim.

 

Heading into the far turn, Broadway Buffalo continued to lead; Cotton Mill travelling to the outside at his girth.  They held a two lengths advantage over the pack.  By the time they began the turn into the home straight, Funny Star had begun to tail off, Kyber Kim was struggling, so was Simply Ned; at the rear of the main group were Grandads Horse, Peckhamecho, Native Gallery and Saddler’s Risk.  Manyriverstocross was making stealthy progress through the field. 

 

The David Pipe-trained runner was still narrowly ahead over the third last; Cotton Mill was now being ridden along by Denis O’Regan; Meister Eckhart to their inside took a narrow lead as they approached two out.  But Minella Forfitness was just cruising to the stand-side, Clerk’s Choice travelling almost as well just behind him, as was Salubrious. 

 

Unfortunately Manyriverstocross’ challenge was interrupted when he encountered traffic problems after two out; firstly as Broadway Buffalo began to fade, then Wayne had to angle him off Cotton Mill’s quarters and finally Salubrious wandered across in front of him too!   

 

Heading to the final flight, Meister Eckhart and Minella Forfitness were battling for the lead; the latter marginally ahead as they cleared it; Clerk’s Choice was a couple lengths behind, with Salubrious in 4th.  On the run-in Minella Forfitness asserted and went on to win by 1½ lengths from Clerk’s Choice, Master Eckhart finished 3rd and Manyriverstocross collared Salubrious to claim 4th.  Peckhamecho stayed on to complete in 6th. 

 

Nicky Henderson’s fourth winner of the day!  Ear plugs had been worn by the winner.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Minella Forfitness

David Bass

Nicky Henderson

2nd

Clerk’s Choice

Sam Twiston-Davies

Michael Banks

3rd

Meister Eckhart

Aidan Coleman

Alan King

4th

Manyriverstocross

Wayne Hutchinson

Alan King

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS ROOM:

WHY THEY RAN BADLY

Paul Nicholls, the trainer of FUNNY STAR (FR), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding had a breathing problem.

Charlie Longsdon, the trainer of HAZY TOM (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding bled from the nose.

I set off at a brisk walk to find a vantage point on the steppings below the Weighing Room to see the horses arrive back in the Winners’ Enclosure. 

 

Before the next event I returned to the course-side rails within the Earl of Derby Terrace prior to the runners exiting onto the track. 

 

Alan King had two runners in the final race of the day, Our Pollyanna (sporting the Medermit colours) ridden by Barry Geraghty and The Pirate’s Queen ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.  The latter was the favourite, having finished 2nd in a Kempton Park bumper, six lengths behind a Nicky Henderson hotpot called West Wizard. 

 

There were 16 mares and 3 fillies (Giveagirlachance, Kayfleur and The Pirate’s Queen) taking part; thoroughbreds remain fillies until they are 5 years old, as opposed to other horses and ponies where they are classed as mares when they turn 4.  I guess it’s because all thoroughbreds ‘celebrate’ their birthday on 01 January each year. 

 

The starting gate for this race was in the far corner of the track. 

 

Race 7

MaresStandard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Listed)

Distance

2 miles 1 furlong

No. of Runners

19

 

The horses exited from the holding pen and then they were off.  The runners headed along the top of the track, negotiated their first bend and turned into the home straight for the initial time.  In the front rank were Our Pollyanna, Molly’s A Diva and Supreme Present; these were followed by Brijomi Queen, Abigail Lynch, Carole’s Spirit, Free Thinking, Cailin Annamh, Celestial Island, Giveagirlachance, The Pirate’s Queen, Keshi Pearl, Kayfleur, Rathvawn Belle, Be My Present, Nouveau Moulin, Centasia, Legacy Gold and Taradrewe.

 

Having completed their run down the home straight on the first occasion, the runners headed past the lollipop and around the grandstand turn.  There was no change at the head of affairs, with Molly’s A Diva leading from Our Pollyanna and Supreme Present; Legacy Gold was at the rear of the field. 

 

Heading into the back straight, Nick Schofield’s mount continued to lead, Alan King’s second string disputed second with Supreme Present; Kayfleur was clearly visible on the outside of the pack, The Pirate’s Queen covered up to the inside in mid-field, travelling behind the Waley-Cohen representative, Free Thinking.  Legacy Gold began to progress on the outside of the runners, as Taradrewe dropped to the back of the field. 

 

Molly’s A Diva remained ahead as the runners negotiated the top turn and entered the home straight for the final time; Supreme Present received a couple of backhanders as they began the spread out across the course to make their challengers.  Abigail Lynch had already tailed off by this stage. 

 

With a sweeping run around the outside of the field, and heading down the stand-side of the racecourse, was one of the Irish raiders, Legacy Gold; she took the lead soon after passing between the wings of the absent third last flight and well over two furlongs out.  AP McCoy’s mount, Cailin Annamh, followed the leader through to take second, with Carole’s Spirit upsides her.  Fighting it out for the minor places at this stage were Centasia, Giveagirlachance, The Pirate’s Queen, Kayfleur and Taradrewe. 

 

Mr Steven Crawford’s mount stayed on strongly and forged clear to win by 4 lengths at the line from Cailin Annamh.  Carole’s Spirit just held on to 3rd from Centasia.  The Pirate’s Queen was 6 lengths back in 5th, Kayfleur 6th and Taradrewe 7th. 

 

Of the early pacesetters, Molly’s A Diva completed in 13th, Our Pollyanna in 16th position and Supreme Present 17th.  

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Legacy Gold

Mr Steven Crawford

Stuart Crawford

2nd

Cailin Annamh

AP McCoy

Jessica Harrington

3rd

Carole’s Spirit

Daryl Jacob

Robert Walford

4th

Centasia

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS ROOM:

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Sampling Officer that Robbie Power had provided a breath sample which was found to contain alcohol in a concentration above the threshold level for breath samples. They interviewed the rider, the Clerk of the Scales and the Sampling Officer. Having heard their evidence the Stewards found the rider in breach of Rule (D)65 and referred the matter to the British Horseracing Authority. Under Rule (D)66 the Stewards suspended Power from riding for the rest of the day.

WHY THEY RAN BADLY

Andrew Tinkler, the rider of ABIGAIL LYNCH (IRE), unplaced, reported that the mare stopped quickly.

 

I returned to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure for the final time today to see the placed runners arrive back.

 

The horses having been unsaddled and the prizes presented, it was time for me to leave.  I decided to nip to the loo before I caught the bus back to the car park, just in case I was held up in traffic during my journey to the hotel.  I was surprised that the toilet was deserted, and that the floor wasn’t strewn with the usual rubbish as is the normal state of affairs at the end of Ladies’ Day!  Although I think many race-goers had already departed due to the cold temperatures today.

 

I then walked back to the gate and strode across the home straight to reach the bus stop.  As always, there were plastic beer cups thrown on the grass, although probably not as many as is usually the case at the end of the day!  I always feel very sorry for the staff who have to clear up everyone’s mess.  One full bus was just driving away from the stop, so the waiting bus was almost empty and I readily got a seat for my return journey.

 

Once the bus was almost full, the driver set off in a clockwise direction along the roadway to the inside of the Mildmay park course track.  Having alighted, I headed across the sand-covered crossing point in the back straight, keeping to the right to avoid a vehicle returning from the heliport area.  I exited through the awning-covered entrance/exit, before turning right and walking down the roadway to reach the car park and collect my vehicle.

 

Unlike when at home, when fatalities are reported to the viewer on a timely basis, news of this nature is never officially announced when actually at the racecourse; today was no different.  However, I kind of knew that something had occurred; firstly with an announcement for Nigel Twiston-Davies or his representative to report to the Weighing Room; secondly with a further announcement that the Stewards were inquiring into the running of the fourth race but that it did not affect the result; and, finally, later in the afternoon when I was standing on the steppings below the Weighing Room, I overheard an unknown ‘media’ person mentioning during a mobile telephone conversation that an RSPCA representative was being interviewed nearby. 

 

Plus, on the observation front, I noticed that Sam Twiston-Davies was looking a little sad when he was led out of the walkway ahead of race 5 aboard Master Of The Sea.  I was hoping that it would not be the popular Little Josh who’d been lost; although any one of the horses will mean something to someone and their loss will be sorely felt.  I checked the twitter feed on my smart-phone when I’d returned to my car; I was dismayed to discover that my fear was true.  Little Josh had fractured his near-side shoulder when falling and had to be put to sleep.

 

Upon watching the RUK recording at a later date, it was clear that Sam’s mount had been injured; but the broadcast feed shown on the large screen at the racecourse is shot from a different angle and therefore I had been unaware.  It was also very clear that Ruby Walsh, who’d been brought down in the incident at the 15th fence, was quickly on his feet, sprinting across the racecourse to catch hold of the loose Little Josh with the hope of preventing further injury.  Sam was still prostrate on the turf at this point.  Unfortunately, having been extensively assessed by the veterinary staff, the only action possible was to humanely put the Nigel Twiston-Davies runner to sleep. 

 

I also read on twitter about Ruby’s efforts in this instance; he’s an excellent horseman in so many ways ... ‘Peter Perfect’ in fact.  He’s your Pete Sampras or Roger Federer of the racing world, but I’m an Agassi and Choc Thornton kind of girl.  They have to work hard, it’s sometimes emotional, but I find it very rewarding when they win!   

 

As further evidence that many had left the racecourse early, having reached the driveway there was no queue in sight; just one, presumably drunken, idiot meandering along the left-most coned lane.  Fortunately he eventually moved to the side and I was able to drive past, over the Anchor Bridge, and take a left onto Aintree Lane (the stewards preventing a right-hand turn anyway).  The queue tailing back from the Ormskirk Road traffic lights was probably the shortest I’d ever known after Ladies’ Day; just two changes thereof before I was able to turn right and head towards the signals outside Asda, which were also on red. 

 

I had ensured that I kept to the outside lane along this stretch of the road, so that I was in the correct lane for the M57.  I was stopped by a red light at the next set of traffic lights too, before turning right to approach yet another set of traffic lights, also on red!  Once they had changed to green, I drove another couple of hundred yards before turning a sharp right and heading off the roundabout to travel down the southeast bound carriageway of the M57.  It’s a very oddly configured junction, being a very large roundabout with intersecting roads!  The A59 (Ormskirk Road) continues through the junction; the M58 begins here too and heads eastwards to the M6. 

 

I drove down the M57, leaving at its junction with the A580 to drive in an easterly direction towards the M6.  The A580 is a dual carriageway, very straight, with just a couple of roundabouts but a number of 4-phase traffic-light controlled junctions along its stretch between the M57 and Golborne; the latter is a short distance east of the M6; my route taking me close to Haydock Park racecourse on the way. 

 

My first preference for accommodation is Premier Inn; rather than Travelodge.  Last year I had to settle for the latter, although I think I’ve sussed the fact that Premier Inn doesn’t have rooms available to book in the Aintree area for the Grand National period until later in the summer ... and after they’ve had an opportunity to fix their room prices at a higher rate than usual for the relevant days!  Normally one can book rooms at the hotel chain a year in advance, but not in this instance.  Bearing this in mind, I delayed my booking and managed to source a room in my preferred 2010 / 2011 Golborne Premier Inn location once more, so would stay there again tonight.

 

I arrived at the hotel at around 19:00, parking in the rear car park; the Inn is situated on an industrial estate, and has an adjacent Table Table pub/restaurant too.  The first year I’d booked into this location, I’d been situated on the first floor, immediately overlooking the restaurant.  In 2011 the rooms we’d been allocated (I’d been accompanied to the fixture by my friend Lesley on that occasion) had been located at the far end of the first floor corridor overlooking the back of the hotel; which room would it be today I wondered?

 

Having placed my coat and shoes in the boot of my car, I dragged my trolley suitcase and carried my ‘food’ bag around to the Reception.  I booked in, confirmed that I’d be eating breakfast in the restaurant the following morning, paid my bill and was handed my key.  Room 52 – it was on the second floor; I was relieved that I was travelling light this weekend.  There is a lift but I have an aversion to using them; I really wouldn’t want to get stuck inside one!  Although the receptionist did suggest that perhaps I should consider placing just my luggage in it, then climb the stairs to collect them from the lift at the top.

 

I made it up the four short flights of stairs and through the fire-door out onto the corridor.  I walked down the hallway, through another fire-door and the room was immediately on my right, overlooking the rear car park.  Once inside, there was a double-bed and a single occasional bed too, very useful to place my bags upon.  I gazed out of the window to discover that my car was parked immediately opposite.

 

When I booked the room I’d made a restaurant reservation for 20:00, so I had 50 minutes to kill before my evening meal.  I switched on the TV to watch The One Show, although the signal reception was a little poor.  At 19:50 I set off to Table Table; I had to wait just a minute or two before a table was ready for me.  I ordered a J2O (apple and mango flavour), a chicken, mushroom and ham pie, topped with cheese and herb crumble, plus chips and peas.  As it turned out, I didn’t particularly enjoy the meal, so I rewarded myself with a Rocky Road sundae for desert! 

 

Having settled the bill, I returned to my room.  What to do now I wondered?  I checked twitter to see if Choc had sent any recent messages ... yes, a picture of a photograph from an article in FHM magazine.  The picture was of AP McCoy, who was the subject of an article in their May issue but, also in the shot was a naked rear view of Choc having a wee!  Nice arse!  Very nice arse!!!  That cheered me up no end, and other ladies had tweeted messages of admiration back to him too.

 

Being 21:00, I tuned into Alan Carr’s Grand National special on Channel 4; the programme included segments filmed at the Cheltenham Festival on Gold Cup Day.  I’d seen Alan at Cheltenham too.  Being quite tired, I got ready for bed at around 21:30, dozing off to sleep only to awake after Alan’s show had finished.  I switched off the TV. 

 

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Click here for photos – Aintree Festival Ladies’ Day - Races 1 & 2

Click here for photos - Aintree Festival Ladies’ Day - Melling Chase

Click here for photos - Aintree Festival Ladies’ Day - Topham Chase

Click here for photos - Aintree Festival Ladies’ Day - Races 5, 6, 7

 

 

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