PART I

DIARY – AINTREE FESTIVAL

GRAND OPENING DAY

THURSDAY 07 APRIL 2016

 

 

 

Race 3q.jpg

 

Cue Card, winner of the

Grade 1 Bowl Chase

 

 

 

After an exhausting Cheltenham Festival, when I was forced to miss Day 3 because of overwhelming tiredness, I was determined to build up my reserves ahead of Aintree.  This included taking a step back from my Cheltenham diary writing, once I’d finished topping and tailing them; there’d be plenty of time during the summer to catch up again.

 

A little like those connected with the racing world, the pressure is off after the Cheltenham Festival, with owners, trainers and jockeys able to enjoy the Merseyside event to a greater degree than the National Hunt showcase.  These days, I’m also chilled about heading off to Liverpool for three days.  In fact, I didn’t even feel like packing until early Tuesday morning, when I put aside a few bits and pieces before I headed off to work. 

 

I packed further items on Tuesday evening, and completed the task on Wednesday; a day off.  Having set up the Sky HD box to record RUK’s highlight programmes on all three days and also the entire coverage of Grand National Day, I was ready to turn in at 20:30.  That would have been all well and good, had it not been for the fact that the final episode of Series 2 of Grantchester was broadcast at 21:00 that evening.  I had to watch it, so didn’t get to sleep until after 22:00.  

 

Thursday almost started off with one of those ‘nightmare’ moments; the ones which happen in dreams when you miss something or someone because you’re late!  I set the alarm for 03:15; when the alarm sounded I decided to wait until my heart had stopped pounding at the shock of waking so early, only to doze off to sleep again.  I don’t have a ‘snooze’ option on the alarm clock.  I eventually woke again at 03:45, now with just one and three quarter hours to prepare ahead of departure.

I showered, washed and dried my hair, before applying make-up and eating a breakfast of two Weetabix, with banana, blueberries and raisins.  I drank just half a cup of tea, as I knew I’d be desperate to spend a penny at some point during my journey otherwise.

Today’s outfit was three thermal t-shirts (grey with black doves, purple and violet); redcurrant V-neck ribbed M & S sweater, purple fleece, black fleece gillet, black Dottie Perkins peplum skirt, black thermal tights, black BHS coat (my Aintree coat), plum-coloured Hotter shoes (purchased in their sale for £21).  A mauve and purple M & S scarf and black/grey M & S handbag.  Jewellery was the Fired Creations necklace and earrings as worn for the past two Aintree Festivals.  I had meant to wear a black and beige striped peplum cardigan but, in the event, I left it hanging on the wardrobe handle by mistake!

Purple M&S fleece.jpg

Black M&S Fleece Gillet.jpg

£20 BHS Coat r.jpg

Purple fleece

Black fleece gillet

BHS £20 coat

Redcurrant M&S Riibbed sweater.jpg

Dotty P Peplum skirt.jpg

Stripey M&S Peplum.jpg

Redcurrant V-neck ribbed

M & S Sweater

Dorothy Perkins peplum skirt

This is the cardigan I

accidently left at home!

Handbag Chelt & Aintree 2016.jpg

Jewellery Aintree & Sandown 2016.jpg

M&S Scarf & M&S Snood.jpg

M & S handbag

Fired Creations necklace and earrings

Purple/mauve M & S scarf pictured with horse design snood

Shoes & Boots Aintree 2016.jpg

Plum-coloured Hotter shoes (centre)

 

Having loaded up the car, I was ready to depart at 05:40; just 10 minutes later than planned.  My route took me via Harpenden to join the M1 at Junction 9.  In hindsight, the delayed departure may have been auspicious, because there were road-works on the M1 between junctions 11 and 12 due to the construction of a new bridge over the motorway (there’s to be a new junction here too), and these usually took place between 22:00 and 06:00 – so it may have affected me had I left earlier.  

Further up the motorway, nearing Northampton, I had a panicky moment when I saw an information sign telling motorists that the road was closed ahead; it transpired to be an error, because it referred to overnight road-works which had already been completed.  The 50mph speed limit was still in place for a long stretch of the motorway, as it had been last year; it is being improved to become a ‘smart’ motorway – evidently that means using technology to relieve congestion - variable speed limits and use of the hard shoulder as an additional lane when required.  

As always on my outbound journey to Aintree, I continued on the M1 to Junction 23A, which is the Nottingham/Derby turning.  I then headed in a westerly direction, along the dual carriageway of the A50.  Having encountered solely one or two light rain showers so far, this became persistent heavy rain as I approached Uttoxeter.  I noticed that the Travel Lodge close to the town had now been taken over as an office space by JCB; the Staffordshire town is their UK base.  As I was later than on previous trips, there was already a tailback of traffic through the underpasses by the time I’d reached Stoke-on-Trent. There was another traffic jam as I headed down towards Junction 15 of the M6.

Already wanting to spend a penny, I would have stopped off at one of the Services on the M6, rather than wait until the M62, but it was still tipping it down and I didn’t want to get out of the car!  The heavy rain had stopped by the time I reached the Mersey Bridge. Having joined the M62 westbound carriageway, I confess that I left it at junction 9 by accident; there were road-works and, by the time I realised this, I was heading up the slip-road!  But I styled it out by negotiating the roundabout and rejoining the motorway via the other slip-road! 

Burtonwood Services is adjacent to Junction 8, and I was 20 minutes behind schedule when I arrived.  I popped to the loo, ate two cheese rolls and filled up the petrol tank before heading back to the motorway.  A couple of new industrial estates have sprung up in recent years, and I nearly ended up entering one of them as I negotiated the roundabout above the M62!  The vehicle in front of me almost made the same mistake too.

At Junction 6, I transferred onto the M57 and headed towards Southport.  Aintree racecourse is just a mile or two from the northern termination of the M57; I reached the racecourse at 10:20, twenty minutes later than scheduled.  I showed my ticket to the stewards manning the entrance, and they waved me through, the parking docket was already hanging from the rear view mirror.  It made a change for there not to be a ‘jobs worth’ steward manning the Anchor Bridge entrance. 

The security checks went very smoothly ... and the car bonnet closed first time too!  That’s fourth-time lucky.  I was directed to park in section 07, the third car from the roadway.  Having put on my coat and scarf, and changed into my Hotter shoes, I walked up to the entrance, hoping to meet up with my friend Sandra.  In the event, she’d got a little lost on the way to the racecourse, but I did see her drive by; I walked back towards the car park area hoping to meet up shortly afterwards. 

Whilst I was loitering on the roadway for Sandra to appear, a lady and gentleman asked if I was ‘Choc Thornton’s Superfan’.  OMG, I’m infamous.  It transpired that they owned horses and Choc used to ride them.  The horses’ names were Bearaway and New Bird; research tells me Bearaway was trained by Heather Dalton, after which he transferred to Donald McCain.  New Bird started off with Alan King, then Heather Dalton again, before ending up with Ian Williams.  Choc rode Bearaway 9 times during the 2004/2005 season and New Bird 15 times between 2000 and 2006!  I didn’t catch their names, and this information doesn’t appear to be recorded for ex-racehorses, but they did ask that I pass on their best wishes to my favourite ex-jockey when I see him!

Having met up with Sandra, we cleared through security – a bag check and a body scan – before walking across the Melling Road and racecourse to catch a bus to the grandstands side of the site.  Having arrived, we went in search of race-cards, and found a young lady close to the left luggage kiosk selling them.  Badges weren’t issued for a number of enclosures this year, including ours, so we had to find out how to obtain the wristbands which were being used instead. 

Sandra enquired about these at the information desk close to the left luggage point, and we were told that there would be a manned desk close to the Earl of Derby Terrace enclosure which would issue them.  We headed over in that direction, and soon found the collection point, beside the horse walkway leading to the racecourse.  However, the guys issuing the wristbands were not ‘up to speed’, it being the first day!  We even had to ask for our tickets back as, initially, they were going to be retained.  So, instead, they punched a hole in each ticket and then handed them back to us. 

We decided the wristband idea was okay, provided you arrived early, as later in the day a long queue formed to collect them.  The wristbands were very familiar, as they’ve been used at Wimbledon for years and I still retain them as mementos of those ‘Agassi’ days! 

We then headed to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure where we stayed for a while; although I did pop to the loo in order to clean my shoes which had got dirty from the trip across the racecourse.  While we waited for the action to begin, there was a small ceremony outside the Media Centre, in which it was officially named ‘The Alan Lee Media Centre’ in memory of The Times’ Racing Correspondent who died suddenly last December aged just 61.  He was also a regular panellist on ATR’s Sunday Forum, and was one of my favourite guests; he always talked a lot of sense ... unlike the ghastly John McCririck!  

The RoR Parade took place ahead of racing today; the participants were Cinders And Ashes, Comply Or Die, Danny John Boy, Denman, Liverpool, Mad Moose, Midnight Chase, Monet’s Garden, Naunton Brook, and Peddlers Cross.

Cinders And Ashes is based with Jackie and Brian Storey in Cumbria; his specialties are dressage and showing.  He is still owned by Donald and Sian McCain and Dermot Hanafin.  Comply Or Die lives in Gloucestershire with Verity Green, ex-wife of his winning jockey Timmy Murphy; he’d recently taken up dressage and was very good at it.  Danny John Boy is looked after by Leanne Crawford and takes part in showing, dressage and eventing.

Denman continues to enjoy team chasing under the guiding hands of Charlotte Alexander.  Liverpool, with a racing career that was less than distinguished, has excelled in showing and hunting since his retirement.  And what can one say about the one and only Mad Moose?  Having been banned from racing because on a number of occasions he refused to start, Mad Moose moved to Sophie Burkin’s yard and has enjoyed going hunting and, latterly, been taking part in dressage too. 

Midnight Chase, formerly trained by Neil Mulholland, enjoys hunting and eventing; he lives with his owner’s daughter, Sally Hayward.  Popular grey Monet’s Garden continues to enjoy showing.  Naunton Brook has been taking part in showing and show-jumping, having initially been the mount of a field master out hunting.  And finally, Peddlers Cross; he also lives with Jackie and Brian Storey and takes part in show-jumping.  He is still owned by Mr & Mrs Tim Leslie. 

There was, however, a sad postscript to the RoR Parade, with Comply Or Die passing away only a few weeks later.

Ahead of racing, we went to find our vantage point at the site where the course-side rails joined the walk-way exit gate; there was just enough room for someone to squeeze in between the gate and a large waste bin when the gates were open!!!  It was not an issue once the gates were closed, as you can stand behind them.   

The favourite for the first race was Sizing John, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Jonathan Burke; price 11-4.

Having exited onto the racecourse, the runners headed to the starting gate, which was at the beginning of the back straight. 

 

Race 1

Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (16 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

8

Arzal, Aso, Bouvreuil, Garde Le Victoire, L’Ami Serge, Rock The World, Sizing John, Volnay De Thaix

 

And then they were off, with Arzal already two or three lengths ahead as the eight runners cleared the first fence.  Sizing John and Aso disputed second position, with clear daylight to the remaining five led by Volnay De Thaix.

The Harry Whittington runner continued at the head of affairs as they jumped fence number two.  Aso jumped it big and nodded on landing; Rock The World nodded on landing too.  The third fence was the first of the open-ditches, which the leader jumped well, as did the other seven.  They then headed across the sand pathway which leads to the steeplechase car park, before reaching the final obstacle in the back straight.  Again all the runners cleared this fence without incident.

Arzal held an uncontested lead as they entered the top bend; the remaining jockeys happy to let him set the pace.  The leader jumped the cross-fence well, as did the others, and they headed around the turn and into the home straight on the first occasion.  Travelling at the head of the main group was Sizing John, with Aso at his quarters; they were followed by L’Ami Serge, Volnay De Thaix, Rock The World, Bouvreuil, and Garde La Victoire. 

Aso stepped through the next fence but survived.  The following fence was the second open-ditch and they all cleared this safely.  Arzal was at least ten lengths ahead as they continued across the Grand National track before reaching the eighth fence.  Bouvreuil was the least fluent at this one.  The leader continued to bowl along happily at the head of affairs as they headed down past the winning post with one circuit still to travel; Garde La Victoire continued to bring up the rear.

Arzal put in a spring-heeled leap at the first fence in the back straight; the others jumped it well also.  All eight runners cleared the next in their stride.  The following fence was again an open-ditch; L’Ami Serge jumped up to dispute second position with Sizing John as they cleared it.  They headed over the pathway once more, before reaching the final fence in the back straight; having been relegated to the back of the field, Rock The World made an error here.

The runners headed into the top turn, with Arzal continuing to lead by half a dozen lengths.  A number of jockeys in the pack were just beginning to niggle away at their mounts.  The horses continued to the cross-fence, where all cleared it okay apart from Garde La Victoire.  Jockey Richard Johnson asked him for a big jump but he put down on him and got far too close to the obstacle; he was also travelling very close to the birch wing.  The horse landed steeply and ploughed into the turf, throwing his jockey over his head.  Fortunately the momentum allowed Richard to scramble clear of the horse’s hooves as Garde La Victoire got to his feet and continued after the others; no harm done to either horse or jockey. 

Meanwhile, Arzal had his remaining rivals on the stretch as he headed down to the third last fence; Sizing John, Bouvreuil, Volnay De Thaix and Aso was all being driven along by this point, and Rock The World was detached at the rear of the field.  It now appeared that L’Ami Serge would be the only possible danger to the long-time leader.  But having jumped the fence he, too, came under pressure. 

Arzal’s jockey, Gavin Sheehan, remained almost motionless until after his mount had jumped the final open-ditch, two from home.  L’Ami Serge remained well in touch with him, although he did hit this fence; Sizing John also made an error here, and stumbled after the fence as he battled with Bouvreuil for third position. 

Gavin did resort to his whip as he headed down to the last and this galvanised his mount to stretch the advantage over his pursuer.  The leader flew the final fence and was then driven out to the line unchallenged; his winning margin 8 lengths.  L’Ami Serge, although no match for the winner today, finished 16 lengths ahead of the third-placed horse, Sizing John, with Bouvreuil in 4th position.      

Unfortunately there was a sad postscript to the race, with the news reported by Racing UK:

http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/42625/harry-whittington-absolutely-gutted-following-death-of-aintree-winner-arzal

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Arzal

Gavin Sheehan

Harry Whittington

2nd

L’Ami Serge

Daryl Jacob

Nicky Henderson

3rd

Sizing John

Jonathan Burke

Henry De Bromhead

4th

Bouvreuil

Sam Twiston-Davies

Paul Nicholls

 

We decided not to return to the stepping above the Winners’ Enclosure following the race.

 

Race 1 - 1:40pm

MERSEYRAIL MANIFESTO NOVICES' STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)

 

No Stewards Enquiry.

 

The favourite for the next race was the Triumph Hurdle winner, Ivanovich Gorbatov, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Barry Geraghty.  Alan King had a runner in this race too, namely Sceau Royal, ridden by Daryl Jacob.  The favourite kept the others waiting, as he was tardy heading out of the Parade Ring; the cause being that his noseband had been adjusted.

 

The starting gate for this race was at the far corner of the track, the horses initially heading along a short stretch of the course before turning into the home straight with that and one full circuit to travel.  Having been circling to the inside of the track once their girths had been checked, the runners were called out onto the course and instructed to head away from the starting gate before turning and approaching the tape which had now been strung across the course.

 

Race 2

Anniversary 4-Year-Old Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (9 hurdles to negotiate)

No. of Runners

9

Azzuri, Diego Du Charmil, Doubly Clever, Footpad, Ivanovich Gorbatov, Khezerabad, Romain De Denam, Sceau Royal

 

And then they were off.  The runners were led away by Azzuri, from Apple’s Jade, Sceau Royal and Khezerabad; bringing up the rear was Romain De Senam. 

Having started over in the far corner of the track, close to the Anchor Bridge crossing, it was a long run to the first flight.  They headed along the top of the racecourse before bearing left around the turn and into the home straight on the first occasion; all 9 runners cleared the first hurdle in their stride.  Azzuri appeared to be enjoying himself at the head of affairs and they’d soon jumped the second; again with no noticeable problems.  The leader hit the third flight, having got a little close to it; it did not affect his momentum.

The field continued its journey down to the winning post, now with one circuit to go.  Azzuri led, from Apple’s Jade, Sceau Royal, Khezerabad, Ivan Gorbatov, Diego Du Charmil, Doubly Clever, Footpad and Romain De Senam.  The runners then headed around the bottom turn and out into the country. 

Azzuri continued to set a good pace, and he was four lengths clear of his rivals as they headed over the first flight in the back straight.  Apple’s Jade led the main group, with Doubly Clever, Footpad and Romain De Senam beginning to lose touch.  The runners jumped the next, by which point Khezerabad was drifting back towards the rear of the main group.  The horses had soon reached the final flight in the back straight, where Footpad and Ruby Walsh departed!  The Willie Mullins second-string turned a somersault but got to his feet quickly; no harm done.

Meanwhile Azzuri led the runners around the top turn, from Apple’s Jade, Sceau Royal, Ivan Gorbatov, Diego Du Charmil and the improving Romain De Semain.  Khezerabad and Doubly Clever were now tailed off; both were pulled up before the next.

Azzuri continued to lead as they entered the home straight, but Apple’s Jade had soon taken his measure and was a length up as they jumped the third last.   Sceau Royal, travelling in third position, made a slight error at this one.  Having taken the lead, the filly continued to extend it, the others now toiling in her wake.  She flew the penultimate flight, with Azzuri, Ivanovich Gorbatov and Diego Du Charmil now battling it out for the minor honours.  Having faded, Sceau Royal and Romain De Senam were both endeavouring not to finish last!

The race was already over by the time the filly jumped the final flight, and she went on to win by 41 lengths, easing up.  Ivanovich Gorbatov got the better of the game Azzuri, to claim second position by half a length.  Diego Du Charmil was a further 4½ lengths back in fourth, Romain De Senam 5th and Sceau Royal the last to finish in 6th. 

The filly never ran on the flat, and never ran in a bumper, this being only her fourth start.

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Apple’s Jade

Bryan Cooper

Willie Mullins

2nd

Ivanovich Gorbatov

Barry Geraghty

Aidan O’Brien

3rd

Azzuri

Harry Skelton

Dan Skelton

4th

Diego Du Charmil

Sam Twiston-Davies

Paul Nicholls

 

We didn’t return to the Winners’ Enclosure following the race, choosing instead to remain in position close to the horse-walk exit point. 

 

Race 2 - 2:15pm

THE BETFRED ANNIVERSARY 4-Y-O JUVENILE HURDLE RACE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)

 

No Stewards Enquiry.

 

The Stewards noted that APPLE’S JADE (FR), trained by W. P. Mullins, would wear earplugs.

 

The favourite for the next race was Cue Card, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Paddy Brennan; price 6-5.  It was a chance to redeem himself following a nasty fall during the closing stages of this season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. 

The starting gate for this race was at the far end of the home straight, with that and two full circuits to travel.  The horses circled out on the track whilst girths were checked then, as the start time approached, the horses were ridden away from the starting gate before turning and walking in. 

 

Race 3

The Betfred Bowl Chase (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles 1 furlong (19 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

9

Cue Card, Djakadam, Don Poli, Dynaste, Houblon Des Obeaux, Irish Cavalier, Saphir Du Rheu, Taquin Du Seuil, Wakanda

 

And then they were off, with Dynaste and Don Poli leading the runners over the first; Taquin Du Seuil was at the rear of the field.  The second fence was an open-ditch, and Houblon Des Obeaux jumped it more slowly than the others.  There was a long run to the next, due to crossing the Grand National racecourse.  The grey Dynaste led them over it, from Don Poli, Djakadam, Wakanda, Saphir Du Rheu, Cue Card, Irish Cavalier, Taquin De Seuil and Houblon Des Obeaux.

There was a bizarre incident as the 9 runners headed down towards the winning post with two circuits to go.  The inside running rail (slip rail in fact, without supports) had been dislodged, at one end, and this resulted in Dynaste and Djakadam breasting it, and Saphir Du Rheu and Taquin Du Seuil also having to avoid the rail which was latterly lying on the ground.  However, all 9 runners continued in the race, with Dynaste and Djakadam leading them around the bottom turn and into the back straight for the first time. 

The horses continued over the next without incident, with Cue Card improving his position as they headed towards the fifth; at the rear of the field, Houblon Des Obeaux made an error here.  The following fence was the second open-ditch, which Cue Card had to reach for.  The runners then headed over the last in the back straight led by Djakadam and Don Poli, from Dynaste and Cue Card.      

They entered the top bend and jumped the fence at the far end of the racecourse.  Ruby continued to dictate the pace aboard Djakadam, from stable companion Don Poli, followed by Dynaste, Cue Card, Saphir Du Rheu, Wakanda, Irish Cavalier, Taquin Du Seuil and the pushed along Houblon Des Obeaux.  The runners then headed around the bend and into the home straight with one circuit now completed.

Cue Card got a little bit close to the next fence, the 9th.  The following fence was an open-ditch, where Wakanda was the least fluent.  They continued across the National course to reach the 11th fence, which they all jumped well and the order remained unchanged.  The runners then headed down past the winning post with one circuit now to travel; the rogue running rail which had caused the incident on the previous circuit had now been replaced. 

All the runners were travelling okay at this point of the race, apart from Houblon Des Obeaux which continued to struggle and was adrift at the rear of the field; Aidan Coleman administered reminders.  However, upon entering the back straight, the jockey decided to call it a day, leaving eight runners to head out on the final circuit. 

Djakadam continued to lead, although he did hit the next fence having got too close to it.  Further back in the field, to the outside, Wakanda also blundered here; his jockey going to the buckle end of the reins to steady himself.  The error by the leader allowed Don Poli to draw almost alongside as they headed over the next, with Cue Card now in third position; with the defection of the Venetia Williams runner, Taquin De Seuil now brought up the rear and just ahead of him Wakanda was being pushed along. 

Djakadam put in a good leap at the penultimate open-ditch as he continued at the head of affairs.  The runners headed across the sanded track which leads back to the Steeplechase car park, before reaching the final fence in the back straight.  The two Willie Mullins runners were galloping stride for stride as they entered the top turn, Cue Card was a couple of lengths behind the duo, with Saphir Du Rheu four lengths further back and Dynaste a couple of lengths behind him; Irish Cavalier, Tarquin De Seuil and Wakanda were even further adrift.

The remaining eight headed over the cross-fence and entered the home straight, just three fences now to jump.  The leading three were travelling far better than the remainder and continued to extend their advantage.  Djakadam now had to give best to his nearest rivals as they reached the third last, with Don Poli and Cue Card jumping it in unison.  The latter, with his customary high head carriage, now proved the stronger as they headed down to the final open-ditch and he was a couple of lengths clear of his rivals as they jumped it.

Cue Card continued to extend his lead as they headed across the Grand National track on their journey to the final fence.  Djakadam appeared to rally, initially, but Don Poli soon gained the upper-hand once more in that particular battle.  Saphir Du Rheu currently held onto fourth position, ahead of Dynaste, Taquin De Seuil and Irish Cavalier; Wakanda was pulled up before the last. 

Cue Card cleared the last fence well and, having now set up a lead of 12 lengths on the initial run to the line, jockey Paddy Brennan was able to ease his mount as the winning post approached; the official winning distance 9 lengths.  Don Poli, having been given a more positive ride than usual, completed in 2nd, with Djakadam a further 8 lengths away in 3rd.  Dynaste stayed on to claim 4th, finishing five lengths further back, and Taquin Du Seuil claimed 5th, with Saphir Du Rheu the final horse to complete.  Irish Cavalier had fallen at the last, when a modest 4th.   

I wonder what would have happened in the Gold Cup had he stood up that day.  Would Don Cossack have won, or Cue Card?  Evidently Cue Card has run at Aintree on three previous occasions, finishing second every time!

It transpired that the rogue rail incident was a result of carelessness by an official photographer (Alan Crowhurst of the Daily Mail evidently) … that old chestnut again!

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Cue Card

Paddy Brennan

Colin Tizzard

2nd

Don Poli

Bryan Cooper

Willie Mullins

3rd

Djakadam

Ruby Walsh

Willie Mullins

4th

Dynaste

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe

 

With Cue Card the victor, I set off at top speed towards the Winners’ Enclosure; you have to be quick too, otherwise the gates are closed to allow the horses to re-enter the horse-walk and access is cut off as a result.  I caught Sandra slightly on the hop, so we got split up for a few minutes as we both headed back to the Winners’ Enclosure at different paces.   

 

I found a space on the steppings from which to view the proceedings and I had time to video Cue Card as he entered the Winners’ Enclosure.  I stayed for the presentation also, before taking the long route back to the course-side rails – I did a clockwise circuit around the outside perimeter of the Parade Ring in fact!  Sandra and I met up again shortly afterwards. 

 

I also bolted for it at Sandown Park on Season Finale day when I was at the races with my friend Lesley, but she knows what I’m like and where to find me too!  Besides, you don’t have to worry about losing each other now that we all have mobile phones!

 

Race 3 - 2:50pm

THE BETFRED BOWL STEEPLE CHASE (CLASS 1) (Grade 1)


The Stewards held an enquiry to consider how the slip rail by the winning post on the inside of the track became detached and struck DYNASTE (FR) and DJAKADAM (FR) on the first circuit. They interviewed the Clerk of the Course. Having heard his evidence and viewed recordings of the race they were satisfied that a racecourse photographer had caused the section of the slip rail to become dislodged by leaning against it. He also explained that all photographers had been briefed in the morning. The Stewards noted that the Clerk of the Course would be reporting the photographer to the Communications and Promotions department at the British Horseracing Authority as required under BHAGI 5.2.

 

 

That’s it for Part One of my Grand Opening Day diary ...

 

Click here to read my Grand Opening Day Diary Part II

 

 

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