Race 7 l.jpg


Meister Eckhart is full of beans ahead of his run in the final race of the day


Click here to read my Grand Opening Day Diary Part I


It was soon time for the fourth race of the day; the Fox Hunters’ Chase for amateur riders 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 one of the Irish representatives Mossey Joe, trained by Enda Bolger, priced at 11-8.  Last year’s winner, 14-year-old Tartan Snow was back to have another attempt, this time ridden by Mr Derek O’Connor; last year’s winning jockey Jamie Hamilton having deserted him to ride the 11-year-old Pentiffic. 


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


There was an incident ahead of the race when Brunswick Gold got rid of his jockey Mr Stuart Robinson and promptly set off in the reverse direction along the turf to the outside of the Grand National course, heading towards the Canal Turn.  At some point he diverted and found himself upon the tarmac road which runs to the inside of the track; initially cantering and then trotting he evaded the attempts of a number of groundstaff to catch him. 


In an effort to be reunited with his errant mount, the jockey hitched a lift from another member of the groundstaff on one of the small maintenance vehicles; they began by heading out towards the Canal Turn too, only to realise that their quarry had in fact gone far further, so they returned once more.  In fact Brunswick Gold was still upon the roadway, but to the other side of the track and heading in the direction of the grandstands and stables.  Eventually he was caught having slowed, and one of the outriders soon cantered up to collect the escapee and lead him back to safety.  Not surprisingly the horse had been withdrawn from the race; his adventures over for the day.


Race 4

Fox Hunters’ Chase (Amateur Riders)


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

No. of Runners


Boxer Georg, Brunswick Gold (withdrawn), Cottage Oak, Court Red Handed, Dead Or Alive, Douglas Julian, Earth Dream, Fresh Air And Fun, Harry Flashman, Himalayan Express, Island Life, Keenan’s Future, Mossey Joe, Orfeo Conti, Pentiffic, Richard’s Sundance, Sizing America, Supreme Doc, Swallows Delight, Tartan Snow, Warne, Cool Friend


The loose horse having been captured, the go-ahead was given and soon they were off.  Amazingly the race started less than a minute behind schedule.  The favourite Mossey Joe and second favourite Warne were in the front line as they jumped the first fence.  At the back of the field, the first casualty was Supreme Doc who unseated his rider, Jamie Codd; the jockey still on crouched down on hands and knees but help arriving as the horses headed towards fence number two.  (I’m omitting the Miss or Mr prefixes which denote amateur status because every rider taking part in this race is an amateur!)


Warne and Mossey Joe were disputing the lead as they cleared fence number two, the latter towards the inside of the track.  Showing up close behind were the white-faced chestnut Harry Flashman, Island Life and Richard’s Sundance.  To the outside of the field Pentiffic ploughed through the fence, his nose touching the ground as he recovered but his jockey was unbalanced by the error; he waivered to his left, and back to his right ... but he’d had lost his right iron and after a few strides gravity claimed him! 


The remaining nineteen headed to the chair, where Island Life who had already lost ground from his prominent early position lost further with a slight error.  Dead Or Alive was well behind the others at this early stage.  The field headed over the water-jump, around the bend and out into the country; Warne and Mossey Joe still leading the way.  Behind this duo was Earth Dream against the rail, Harry Flashman, Boxer Georg and Richard’s Sundance.   As they crossed the Melling Road, Dead Or Alive was a long way behind the field but still carried on.


Warne continued to lead the way under Sam Waley-Cohen, a length behind was Mossey Joe.  All the runners safely negotiated the first two in the line of fences leading down to Becher’s Brook.  However, Boxer Georg had lost his place completely having drifted back through the field and he had only four or five horses behind him when he dived through the top of the open-ditch and unseated Patrick Mullins.  The tailed-off Dead Or Alive was pulled up before reaching this fence.


Sizing America blundered at the eighth fence; now at the rear of the field were Island Life and Keenan’s Future, ridden by the only two lady riders in the race!  Come on girls, don’t let the side down!  Warne had begun to put distance between himself and his pursuers by the time he jumped the next, the fence before Becher’s; his sole company the two loose horses.  The field was beginning to string out now; all the horses negotiated the famous fence within incident.  In second place continued to be Mossey Joe, followed by Earth Dream, Court Red Handed, Fresh Air And Fun, Cottage Oak, Richard’s Sundance and Harry Flashman. 


Both Richard’s Sundance and Fresh Air And Fun made errors at the Fionavon fence; with Will Biddick losing the fight with gravity.  Warne continued to extend his lead as he approached and flew over the Canal Turn; he was preceded by one of the loose horses (Supreme Doc).  Some way back in the field, Orfeo Conti made an error at this fence. 


Having cleared Valentine’s without incident, the leader did suffer a spot of bother as the loose horse wandered in from the right and crossed his path on the approach to the next fence, but got over safely.  There was an error here by Cottage Oak, who landed steeply and whose nose almost touched the turf as a result.  Also from Himalayan Express against the inside rail whose jockey almost went out the rear door; he held on grimly to the horse’s reins and managed to survive.  Orfeo Conti also slightly blundered in the latter’s wake.


The leader continued on to the next, the final open-ditch, which he cleared with ease.  Mossey Joe continued to travel in second position, from Earth Dream, Cottage Oak, Court Red Handed, Tartan Snow, Richard’s Sundance and Swallows Delight; these were clear of the remainder.  Warne retained the advantage as he cleared the third last and headed across the Melling Road, pursued by Mossey Joe and the improving teenager, Tartan Snow.  His nearest pursuer had closed to within a couple of lengths as they headed around the final bend and faced up to the penultimate obstacle; the leader jumped this upsides one of the loose horses (Pentiffic), and Mossey Joe still hadn’t bridged the remaining gap.


Sam Waley Cohen had actually let his mount take a breather because, having cleared the last, he began to extend his advantage once more.  His main danger now, as he approached the elbow, were the two loose horses, especially Pentiffic who wandered across his path and forced Sam to switch towards the far rail to avoid further trouble.  Having now got a clear run, Warne galloped on to win by 13 lengths at the line.  Tartan Snow belying his years completed in 2nd, with Mossey Joe fading into 3rd and Earth Dream 4th.  


That will teach Jamie Hamilton to desert last year’s winner Tartan Snow for a younger model!!!  His 100-1 victory last year hadn’t been such a fluke after all.  Last to finish was the tailed-off Harry Flashman. 


My vantage point can sometimes be an exciting place, during a race, with loose horses arriving at the gallop and sometimes finding it hard to apply their brakes!  On this occasion, the infamous number 15, Pentiffic galloped up to the gates following the race, the on-foot ‘horse wranglers’ quickly in attendance to catch hold of him.  He had his reins trapped around one of his forelegs, they struggled to unbuckle them but eventually succeeded and he was led away to the stables.  In some instances during the Festival the wranglers strung a white tape across the entrance to the pull up area once a loose horse had entered it to prevent the animal escaping back onto the racecourse once corralled. 


It was reported that all horses and all riders were fine following the race.








Mr Sam Waley-Cohen

BR Hamilton


Tartan Snow

Mr Derek O’Connor

W Coltherd


Mossey Joe

Mr D Skehan

Enda Bolger


Earth Dream

Mr James Fergus

JP Ferguson


Cottage Oak

Mr G Crow

JJ O’Shea


Court Red Handed

Mr MJP Kendrick

Mrs S Case


Richard’s Sundance

Mr Matthew Hampton

Victor Dartnell


Himalayan Express

Mr J Martin

Mrs D Plunkett


Swallows Delight

Mr D Mansell

Mrs Julie Mansell


Sizing America

Mr W Telfer

Miss S Randell


Douglas Julian

Mr T Hamilton

Miss Katie Scott


Island Life

Miss G Andrews

S Flook


Keenan’s Future

Miss A Stirling

S Rea


Cool Friend

Mr O Greenall

Oliver Greenall


Orfeo Conti

Mr O Wedmore

Miss Grisell


Harry Flashman

Mr N Orpwood

Greg Aitken


And those which did not finish:



11th fence

Fresh Air and Fun

Mr Will Biddick

A Ralph


7th fence

Boxer Georg

Mr Patrick Mullins

Willie Mullins

Pulled Up

Before 7th

Dead Or Alive

Mr G Wheeler

Miss Grissell


2nd fence


Mr J Hamilton

Venetia Williams


1st fence

Supreme Doc

Mr Jamie Codd

MT O’Donovan


On this occasion I stayed at the corner next to the walkway, still within the Earl of Derby Enclosure when the gates were opened.  As a pair of mounted huntsmen preceded the winner as he returned, Sam Waley-Cohen rode his mount directly into the walkway entrance, rather than go via the walkway in front of the stands like the other placed horses.  He entered first, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed horses following behind him.


The Stewards held an enquiry into the use of the whip by Mr D. Skehan, the rider of MOSSEY JOE (IRE), placed third, from the final fence. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race, they found him in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2 in that he had used his whip above the permitted level. They suspended Mr Skehan for 11 days, on dates which will be notified to him by the British Horseracing Authority.

The favourite for the following race was Claret Cloak at 7-2.  It was also now time for Choc’s second ride of the day, aboard the Alan King-trained Turn Over Sivola, who has been suffering from a very bad bout of seconditis all season; with five runs over fences which resulting in four seconds and a third.   

The starting gate for the next race was in the far corner of the track; the cross fence being the first obstacle. 


Race 5

The Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3)


2 miles (12 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners


Oiseau De Nuit, Arnaud, Off The Ground, Claret Cloak, Dare Me, Astracad, Sound Investment, Changing The Guard, Anquetta, Kings Grey, Anay Turge, Turn Over Sivola, Parsnip Pete, Sew On Target, Gus Macrae, Last Shot


And then they were off.  The field was led away by the Irish raider Arnaud.  Clearing the first fence the subsequent order was Sew On Target, Astracad, Anquetta, Sound Investment, Anay Turge, Kings Grey, Gus Macrae, Oiseau De Nuit, Last Shot to the wide outside, Off The Ground, Parsnip Pete, Turn Over Sivola against the rail (where else?), Dare Me and Claret Cloak, with the diminutive Changing The Guard at the rear.


The runners then headed around the bend and into the home straight on the first occasion.  There were no problems in the jumping department at the next, nor the open-ditch, or the fourth fence either.  By the time the runners were approaching the winning post with one circuit to go, the Dr Newland’s representative was a few lengths adrift of the main body of the field. 


Heading into the bend opposite the new grandstands, Arnaud still led, very narrowly from Sew On Target, Astracad, Sound Investment and Anquetta.  Turn Over Sivola was held-up, four from the back.  Tom Scudamore’s mount took over at the head of affairs as they progressed around the turn and headed into the back straight.  Having cleared the next fence, Arnaud and Astracad joined the leader, the former soon taking over once more.  Changing The Guard had now relegated Last Shot to the back of the field. 


The next obstacle is an open-ditch.  Near the rear of the field Dare Me blundered; branches of spruce from the ‘apron’ now lay on top of the birch.  Last Shot received reminders at this point.  Astracad led over the fourth and final fence in the back straight; in third position Parsnip Pete made an error but it didn’t stop his momentum.  Turn Over Sivola still had only four rivals behind him and, heading into the final turn, was caught on heels as Sew On Target quickly dropped back through the field.


Up front, the visored Astracad led, from Parsnip Pete to the outside of Arnaud.  Behind these were Kings Grey, Gus Macrae, Anquetta and Claret Cloak.  Having jumped the cross-fence, which all the runners cleared without incident, Parsnip Pete loomed up on the outside of the leader, ready to make a challenge.  Choc had manoeuvred his mount away the rails in order to make progress and but was still stuck behind Claret Cloak and Anay Turge as they exited the bend.


As the rail terminated and made space available Choc steered his mount to the inside once more, initially aiming for a gap between Kings Grey and Claret Cloak as they jumped three out. Parsnip Pete now led, from Astracad and Arnaud.  Nearing the final open-ditch, Turn Over Sivola was switched to the inside of Kings Grey but that gap closed as they cleared the jump; this left him still in sixth position as they headed across the Grand National course and faced up to the final fence. 


Parsnip Pete continued to gradually extend his lead over his rivals; Turn Over Sivola received a number of reminders (I counted eight) before he rose over the last.  Choc had galvanised his mount into action however, because he was now in third position a length behind Claret Cloak.  The horses began to reel in the leader but, despite both Choc’s and Noel Fehily’s best efforts, they ran out of time; Parsnip Pete triumphed by 1½ lengths at the line.  Turn Over Sivola finished 2nd with Claret Cloak a further 1½ lengths back in 3rd.  Astracad completed in 4th.      







Parsnip Pete

Paddy Brennan

Tom George


Turn Over Sivola

Choc Thornton

Alan King


Claret Cloak

Noel Fehily

Emma Lavelle



Sam Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies

I returned to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure for the first time today.  Turn Over Sivola must be one of the most frustrating horses in training ... he’s run over fences six times now, finishing second on five occasions, and third once!


The Stewards held an enquiry into the running and riding of CHANGING THE GUARD, ridden by Denis O’Regan and trained by Dr Richard Newland, which was well behind in the early stages of the race before staying on from two out under apparent tender handling, to finish eighth beaten 18 ½ lengths. They interviewed the rider and the trainer. They also heard observations from the Handicapper. The rider stated that his instructions were to make the running. However, he added that when the runners lined up the gelding was reluctant to go forward and therefore he lost his position. He further added that having got behind when trying to make ground in the latter stages, CHANGING THE GUARD hung left handed and did not jump fluently. The trainer confirmed that he wanted CHANGING THE GUARD to make the running and was disappointed that he had missed the break at the start. He added that the gelding has a history of hanging left. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the race the Stewards noted their explanations.

The Stewards considered the apparent improvement in form of the winner, PARSNIP PETE, ridden by Paddy Brennan and trained by Tom George, compared with its previous run at Ludlow on 20 March 2014, where the gelding finished sixth of eight beaten 11 ¾ lengths. They noted the trainer’s explanation that the gelding is better suited by the sounder surface. They ordered PARSNIP PETE to be routine tested.

The favourite for the penultimate race was Oscar Whisky at odds of 7-4.  There was an Alan King representative in this race, the JP McManus-owned Uxizandre, today ridden by AP McCoy.  Choc had ridden the horse at the Cheltenham Festival and finished a close second to Taquin Du Seuil who had been partnered by AP McCoy that day; Oscar Whisky had fallen at the first on that occasion.  Uxizandre has to run left-handed, hence its visits to Cheltenham and Aintree; he also likes to bowl along in front because when held-up he sulks and disappoints! 

Ahead of the next race, the supervisor of the Aintree on-foot ‘horse wranglers’ came out to warn the gate stewards that Western Warhorse would be leaving the Parade Ring early and the jockey might not mount until he got onto the course.  Evidently there was even a possibility that the ‘crazy’ horse might be led out via the gate leading from the cooling down area to the far side of the Lord Sefton stand.  They were advised to stand well back from the railings if he was led out via the walkway.


In the event, the handlers led Western Warhorse out via the horse walkway, legging Tom Scudamore up when he was close to the entrance.  However, the horse plunged forward, crashing against the open gates which form the railings at this point in the proceedings, and then careered into the end of the plastic rail which divides the walkway in front of the stands from the pulling-up area and the course itself.  In the process he dislodged Tom from his back.  However, trainer David Pipe hung on to the horse and it didn’t get loose, the jockey was legged up again and he set off to the start.  The horse is a maniac and a jockey must be too agreeing to ride him!  


Therefore having exited onto the racecourse, the runners headed to the starting gate, which was at the beginning of the back straight.  Having reached the start, Tom Scudamore kept his mount away from the other four; they circled in an organised group lead by Uxizandre heading around and around the small section of rail dividing the chase and hurdles track at this point.   


Race 6

The Pinsent Masons Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)


2 miles 4 furlongs (16 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners


Dodging Bullets, Fox Appeal, Oscar Whisky, Uxizandre, Western Warhorse


Then they were off.  Western Warhorse joined the others and travelled almost upsides of Uxizandre; the latter holding the inner as they headed towards the first fence.  Tom’s mount took a keen hold and jumped this obstacle in the lead.  Oscar Whiskey brought up the rear.  The initial obstacle cleared without incident, the horses travelled to the second, with Western Warhorse gradually wandering across to the rail; AP switched his mount to the outside shortly thereafter. 


The David Pipe runner had established a three length lead as the runners headed over the open-ditch; Oscar Whisky still help-up in rear.  There were no problems as the field jumped the fourth; they then headed around the top turn to jump the cross-fence, the leader’s advantage reduced.  Fox Appeal hit the top of it.  AP McCoy’s mount kept close tabs on Western Warhorse as the leading duo drew a few lengths clear of the remainder entering the home straight. 


Uxizandre jumped the next ahead, wandering over to his left on the run to the open-ditch; it was now Tom’s turn to switch his mount to the outside, where he wasn’t particularly fluent.  Dodging Bullets had now been switched to the inner and disputed third place as they travelled to the fence opposite the main stands.  All the runners cleared this fence well.


The horses then galloped down past the winning post and now had one circuit to travel; Uxizandre held a one and a half length advantage at this point and Oscar Whisky still narrowly brought up the rear.  The two leaders had set up a lead of around seven or eight lengths by the time they negotiated the bend and arrived at the first fence in the back straight.  Fox Appeal, who was travelling in third position, got a little close to this fence and pecked on landing.


The field travelled on to the next, where there were no noticeable jumping errors, before heading to the open-ditch.  Again the horses took this in their stride; Uxizandre and Western Warhorse disputing the lead, the other three were line across the track disputing last place.  Oscar Whisky jumped to his right over the final fence in the back straight and was relegated to sole last. 


The leading duo were three of four lengths clear of the remainder, lead by Dodging Bullets, as they entered the far turn.  Uxizandre jumped noticeably left over the cross-fence.  The Paul Nicholls runner blundered here, with Sam Twiston-Davies administering reminders to his mount as they turned into the home straight; it was to no avail as Dodging Bullets continued to lose ground and found himself at the back of the field approaching three out.


The runners cleared the third last without incident, Uxizandre and Western Warhorse still holding a clear lead, the former receiving a back-hander and a number of slaps down his neck on the run to the penultimate fence.  Tom Scudamore’s mount was beginning to tire, his jockey gathered his reins and issued encourage, also in the form of slaps down the neck, but soon to no avail as Uxizandre began to pull away from him. 


Oscar Whisky was now staying on and passed Western Warhorse shortly after two out; he had AP’s mount in his sights and had closed the deficit to two or three lengths as they jumped the last.  However, try as he might, Uxizandre battled on and held him at bay; the winning distance 1½ lengths at the line.  Compensation for his narrow defeat in the Grade 1 event at the Cheltenham Festival.


Western Warhorse completed in third, 26 lengths back; he beat Fox Appeal by a short-head.  Dodging Bullets was 5 lengths adrift of these in last place.    


The following week it was announced that Western Warhorse had picked up a tendon injury during the race and was likely to miss the 2014/2015 season as a result.  More








AP McCoy

Alan King


Oscar Whisky

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson


Western Warhorse

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe


Fox Appeal

Aidan Coleman

Emma Lavelle

Being an Alan King winner I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure once more to see the placed horses arrive back. 




Sam Twiston-Davies, the rider of DODGING BULLETS, unplaced, reported that the gelding ran flat.

I remained on the steppings to await Choc’s arrival ahead of his third and final ride of the day; his mount being top-weight Meister Eckhart.  He was first to exit the Weighing Room and descend the steps along with Wayne Hutchinson, the latter riding stable-mate Two Rockers in this race.

However, I ensured I had returned to my favoured vantage point before the horses began to exit the Parade Ring.  Choc’s mount was on its toes today, necessitating Travelling Head Lad Matt Howells to duck out of the way as he proceeded towards the horse-walk exit point; thus I was expecting a good run from the horse today. 


The favourite for this race was Irish raider Busty Brown at odds of 7-1. 


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


Race 7

The Dominican Republic Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)


3 miles and half a furlong (13 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners


Meister Eckhart, Jetson, Riverside Theatre, Edgardo Sol, Cantlow, Seefood, Two Rockers, Return Spring, Any Given Day, On The Bridge, Uncle Jimmy, Busty Brown, Close House, Crowning Jewel, Doctor Harper, Kaylif Aramis, Big Easy, Utopie Des Bordes, Pateese, Josies Order, Carole’s Destrier, Spirit Of Shankly


Then they were off.  The 22-strong field was spread wide across the track as they headed towards the first flight.  In the frontline from the inside was the mare Utopie Des Bordes, Jetson, Carole’s Destrier, Josies Orders, Seefood and the grey Any Given Day.  On this occasion Choc wasn’t travelling against the rail, he was centre midfield aboard top weight Meister Eckhart.  Two Rockers was towards the outside near the rear of the field; Wayne presumably wishing to give him as good a view of his obstacles in light of his mishap at the first at Ascot earlier in the season, when Choc had been aboard. 


At the rear of the field, Riverside Theatre blundered at the first flight; Barry Geraghty grimly hanging on to the reins in order to regain his balance once more.  Jetson was extremely keen; his head in the air as his jockey restrained him heading down to the winning post on the first occasion.  The leaders were five wide across the track ahead of the tightly packed field.  Heading around the turn, Meister Eckhart travelled in eighth position; Two Rockers just five from the back.


Having negotiated the bend the runners headed into the back straight, Utopie Des Bordes leading the field towards the second flight; at the rear of the field was Crowning Jewel.  There were no significant errors from any of the runners as they safely negotiated the three flights therein. David Bass’ mount continued at the head of affairs as the field headed into the far turn; Jetson now far more settled travelling just behind the leader, from Josies Orders, Return Spring, Any Given Day out wide, Big Easy, Carole’s Destrier, Seefood, Doctor Harper and Meister Eckhart. 


The field entered the home straight and jumped flight number five, where Crowning Jewel made an error in rear of the pack.  The runners cleared the next hurdle; they’d now completed one circuit of the track.  And still there were no major changes in the order as they jumped the next and headed down past the winning post now with one circuit to go.  The steady three-mile pace meant that the runners remained closely grouped.


Utopie Des Bordes led the field around the bottom bend and into the back straight once more; the pace now increased and the runners began to string out, which meant the competitors got a better view of each obstacle.  Still no casualties at the next or the following flight; although there were a few errant hooves as the flight looked a little the worse for wear by the time the backmarker had cleared it.  They galloped across the pathway and headed towards the final obstacle in the back straight.  Having jumped his, Riverside Theatre found himself second from last, with just Crowning Jewel behind him.


The runners headed into the far turn, and the mare continued to lead the way from Jetson, Josies Orders, Any Given Day, Carole’s Destrier, Meister Eckhart and Seefood; Return Spring to the inside was now being ridden along.  Kaylif Aramis was making headway towards the outside of the field; and ahead of him Doctor Harper more so.  Into the home straight they headed, fanning out across the track as they approached and jumped three out; and still Utopie Des Bordes led the way but she was being hotly pursued by Jetson, Doctor Harper and Meister Eckhart. 


The leaders galloped on down to and cleared the penultimate flight; back in the field, On The Bridge clipped the wing and two ‘spears’ of debris flew towards the infield.  The main protagonists were to the far side of the track, with Kaylif Aramis under Sam Twiston-Davies choosing to make his challenge down the near side; Choc also switched his mount to make his run between Jetson and Kaylif Aramis. 


Tom Scudamore’s mount jumped into the lead at the last, both he and Utopie Des Bordes now wandering towards the nearside, the latter momentarily squeezing up Meister Eckhart between herself and Kaylif Aramis.  But Doctor Harper kept on well and went on to win by 1¾ lengths at the line.  Kaylif Aramis claimed 2nd with Meister Eckhart half a length away in 3rd.  Jetson completed in 4th and the long-time leader Utopie Des Bordes 5th. 


Two Rockers completed in 14th.  Of those who had followed the early pace, Seefood finished 17th, Carol’s Destrier 18th, Return Spring 21st and Any Given Day last. The favourite Busty Brown completed in 10th.  







Doctor Harper

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe


Kaylif Aramis

Sam Twiston-Davies

Nigel Twiston-Davies


Meister Eckhart

Choc Thornton

Alan King



PD Kennedy

Jessica Harrington

With Choc having finished in third place, I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see him arrive back.  If you are standing on the steppings below the Weighing Room, the unsaddling positions for the placed horses, left to right as you view them are, third, winner, second, fourth; this being the case, Choc rode his mount into the farthest spot from the walkway entrance.

He dismounted and unsaddled his mount, debriefed connections, removed his helmet and then weighed out on the scales placed on the podium.  Following this he headed back to the Weighing Room. As is often the case, he was accosted by punters wishing for an autograph and a photo opportunity; he is always happy to oblige. 

And, you’ve guessed it, finally he was accosted by yours truly!!!  I was stood higher up the steppings, to his right as he climbed back to the Weighing Room.  Having greeted him, I kissed him on the right cheek, he was stubbly again today; the third time in a row!  I also commiserated with him about his second and thirditis, he said “Tell me about it”.  I wished him “better luck tomorrow” as he departed for the Weighing Room. 

The final race of the day was sponsored by the Dominican Republic, with an additional memento for the winning jockey of rum and chocolates ... that’s a shame, Choc would have loved the chocolate!  And may have liked the rum too for all I know!


The Grand Opening Day gets a big thumbs up from me; I enjoyed the atmosphere far more than the following two days.  The reason is because it’s quieter, and true horseracing fans can enjoy the quality of the racing without it being spoilt by some spectators.  


The Stewards held an enquiry into the running and riding of CROWNING JEWEL, ridden by James Reveley and trained by Keith Reveley, which finished sixteenth beaten 37¼ lengths. They interviewed the rider and also heard observations from the Handicapper. The rider stated that his instructions were to try a change of tactics from the gelding’s usual way of being ridden and to settle him in. He added that he was happy with his position in the early stages of the race but that CROWNING JEWEL failed to pick up when asked for an effort in the home straight. He further added that it was likely that the gelding would go chasing in future. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race the Stewards noted his explanations.


Richard Johnson, the rider of RETURN SPRING (IRE), unplaced, reported that the gelding felt wrong.

There was just time to nip to the loo before heading along the concourse, and walking across the racecourse to catch a bus to take me around the perimeter roadway so that I could alight near the Melling Road.  I then returned to my car only to find it was covered in blotchy dust; worse to the driver’s side being the windward side of the car today.  Typical.  That Sahara dust gets everywhere.  I ate the two remaining cheese rolls before leaving the car park at 18:10.  I wondered if it was quiet leaving the racecourse because Bjorn Again were performing from 18:00 in the Equestrian Centre and thus encouraging the younger racing fans to remain within the main concourse area later into the evening.

There was no queue encountered on my route up the drive or over the Anchor Bridge.  Having turned left, Aintree Lane was also clear until a short distance before the 4-phase traffic lights intersection with the Ormskirk Road.  Having arrived at the junction after a couple of signal changes, I turned right, drove past Asda to reach the next set of traffic lights.  A further right turn, then through two more sets of lights, and a final right turn took me onto the M57 motorway and I headed south.

I left the motorway at the second junction, heading down the slip-road to join the A580.  I drove along the dual carriageway, heading east towards the M6.  The speed limit for much of the way is now 60mph.  The route passes through several sets of traffic lights together with one roundabout before the M6 junction is reached.  Following that it’s a second, smaller roundabout, before the Golborne Premier Inn is spotted on the left hand side of the road.  A left turn at the next set of traffic lights takes me into an industrial estate, then a left at the roundabout and left again into the car park of the hotel.

Having parked up I sorted out my coat and jackets, placing my black coat in the boot and putting on my mauve jacket to walk to reception.  I wheeled my trolley case behind me, put my handbag across my shoulders, another bag over my right shoulder and also carried two other shopping sized bags; where are all the Sherpas when you need them! 

Having struggled through the door to the Reception I booked in for my two-day stay.  Room 33 this year, on the first floor I was told.  Front or back I wondered; front overlooking the main road and restaurant car park, or back overlooking where my car was parked.  Having headed through the fire-door, I then pushed open the door to the stairwell, climbing the two short flights of stairs to the first floor and through another fire-door into the first floor corridor; I never use the lift in case it gets stuck with me in it!!! 


Searching for the door number, it transpired 33 was the first room on the left through a final fire-door, overlooking the restaurant, car park and A580, facing south.  I had to put down my bags in the corridor before unlocking the door and struggling to get them all inside.  Phew, all done. 


Having arrived at the hotel at around 18:40, I had over an hour to kill before I was due to head over to the restaurant for my evening meal.  I changed into my blue jeggings and oversized blue cardigan, retaining a couple of the thermal t-shirts and hoping I wouldn’t get too hot whilst eating my meal.  I spread out my next two days clothing on one side of the bed, and my camera battery charger and phone chargers on the table.  I began charging the first of two camera batteries I’d used today. 


I noticed a text message had arrived from my friend Denise; she mentioned that her asthma was very bad at the moment ... that Sahara dust again ... I understand it was causing havoc to those people with existing breathing problems.  Having exchanged a few texts, promising to catch up in a telephone call soon, I went down to the restaurant just before 20:00, as booked.


Having checked in, I was offered a two-seater table in the main restaurant thoroughfare; it was rather dark and dingy though.  I try to avoid that ‘old favourite’ of fish and chips, so today I chose chicken topped with bacon and cheese, accompanied by a side-salad.  Dessert was a banoffee sundae; yummy.  I also drank two glasses of apple and mango J2O.  The food was fine but, as the restaurant was busy tonight, the service took 90 minutes, which was an excessive amount of time. 


Having settled the bill, which was over £18, I returned to my room at 21:30.  Jockey School on Channel 4 started at 22:00, although I dosed off mid-way through having already got into bed!  I then awoke part way through the ‘How to win the Grand National’ programme, also on Channel 4 ... I have a feeling I’ve seen it before, last year?  And I went off to sleep again before the end of that programme too, waking up an hour or so later to switch off the TV!

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