PART I

DIARY – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2014

DAY FOUR - FEATURING THE CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP

FRIDAY 14 MARCH 2014

 

 

 

race 2 a.jpg

 

Montbazon canters up the horse-walk

prior to the County Handicap Hurdle.

 

 

 

FOG ... AGAIN!

 

I was determined to arrive as early as possible ahead of racing on the final day of this year’s Festival; this being the case I set my alarm clock for 03:50 in the morning!   Although that was more by luck than judgment due to it being analogue in nature, with solely figures on its face at 3, 6, 9 and 12!

 

I showered, washed and dried my hair, before eating the now ‘compulsory’ breakfast of two Weetabix with raisins.  However, today, I decided to drink just half a cup of tea, hoping this would prevent me being desperate for the loo by the time I reached Cheltenham!  

 

Today’s outside was black M & S thermal vest, M & S thermal T-shirts layered 3 deep – dark rose, plum and violet, cerise frill-edged cardigan (again); bright purple fleece, black fleece gillet, long black hankerchief hem skirt (I’d given up on displaying my legs by this time of the week having been a little cold yesterday), purple tights, mauve BHS jacket (although I did put my black faux sheepskin coat in the boot of my car just in case), mauve animal print M & S scarf, black and white horse snood, and black mocassin wedge-heeled shoes.  

 

A glance through the curtains revealed a second foggy morning.  Great.  But at least I now knew the location of the switch to operate my car’s rear fog lamps!  Having applied my make-up, etc, I was ready to set off at 05:45.  Again my route took me through the city centre, down Folly Lane, up Bluehouse Hill, heading for Hemel Hempstead.  I joined the A41 bypass having negotiated the ‘magic roundabout’  and driven along Two Waters Road. 

 

Being earlier, there would have been fewer vehicles on the roads this morning ... had I been able to see them through the fog!!!  Having reached the end of the dual carriageway near Aylesbury, there was little sign of damage to the roundabout caused by yesterday’s car accident when a driver had ‘mounted’ it due to the poor visibility. 

 

I drove into Aylesbury, around their ring-road, before re-joining the A41 and heading through Waddesdon and Kingswood to Bicester.  Arriving at the Ambrosden roundabout on the outskirts of the town, I discovered that an articulated lorry had overshot the junction and embedded itself in the middle of the island, having hit a tree.  The emergency services were already in attendance; fortunately, as yesterday, the blockage caused by the lorry did not affect my route. 

 

I headed to the far end of the Bicester bypass, I turned left to travel down the dual carriageway to the junction with the M40.  As I was very early, compared to usual and despite the fog, I got to within 200 yards of the traffic lights before encountering the rear of a traffic queue.  After a couple of signal changes, I was on my way down the A34, leaving at the Peartree Interchange as usual. 

 

Traffic was actually moving around the roundabout faster than it had been doing all week, but it was almost incessant; so still took me a while before a gap permitted me to drive across into the second lane in preparation for entering the short section of dual carriageway prior to the Wolvercote roundabout.  The traffic was moving better than usual down this part of my route, barely stopping today; although, of course, not with much speed!     

 

Having reached the roundabout I turned right and headed out along the A40 into the Cotswolds.  I wasn’t too worried about overtaking vehicles ahead of me having reached the Witney bypass, with visibility still poor.  However I did overtake a small handful as I approached the far end, mindful that I didn’t wish to be stuck behind any large, slow moving vehicle once the road became single track in both directions once again.

 

However, this left me totally alone as I travelled between there and the Burford roundabout; perhaps not such a good idea after all.  I joined the back of a convoy of vehicles at this point so was not alone as I drove the section of A40 between Burford and the Stow/Cirencester Road.  Approaching the Puesdown Inn, the fog suddenly cleared, it was bright and sunny at this point ... but only for a couple of miles, until the dual carriageway section, where visibility closed in once more.  And there were still vehicles who wished to overtake here, despite the fog, and the fact the road headed downhill to a set of traffic lights at the Gloucester road junction where a tailback might form. 

 

Having arrived in Cheltenham I took my usual route to avoid any delays; up Greenway Lane, down Harp Hill, along Priors Road, up Bouncers Lane, across the double roundabouts into Tatchley Lane, New Barn Lane, Swindon Lane and into the car park.  I parked up at 08:15; my journey having taken just 2 hours and 30 minutes despite the fog; my quickest ‘out’ journey of the week ... by 2 minutes!  I’m not sure what my interval times were, such as arriving in Aylesbury, or at Bicester or leaving Oxford. 

 

Again there was plenty of room in the bottom field, and I parked very close to the bottom of the slope.  I couldn’t get as close to the car next door as I’d have liked, because the female passenger had opened her door wide.  The lad who parked next to me on the other side then pulled up too close to my passenger door, typical.  Don’t you dare touch my paintwork with your door when you get out of your car!  He squeezed out; the woman on my right had gone by this time, so I backed out and manoeurved my car to the right.  That solved any possible problem.

 

The visibility was so poor that I couldn’t actually see Swindon Lane from my position in the car park but I decided that I’d actually enjoyed driving in the fog, in a masochistic way!!!  By 09:15, the sun was visible as a shining disc in the sky; the fog would soon burn off and disappear.  At 09:50 I set off to join today’s queue which had begun to form at the turnstiles. 

 

Ahead of me I recognised the guys from Somerset, who I had chatted with whilst at the turnstiles in previous years. The older one had looked out for me on Tuesday but not seen me; probably because I was later in joining the queue that day.  We chatted about the horse racing; it’s always good to have someone to talk to at any time during what can be a lonely day.  

 

Once through the turnstiles, we wished each other a good day and went our separate ways.  Having purchased a race-card I set off down the concourse in the direction of the Parade Ring.  I popped to the loo enroute, although the half a cup of tea had done the trick and I wasn’t desperate today! 

 

I then headed to the Parade Ring, where I was rewarded by seeing Choc; he was sitting on a bench having a cigarette break before returning to the Weighing Room to prepare for the day ahead.  Today he was wearing his long camel-coloured coat with a yellow tie.  It’s always lovely to see him; and it’s not as if it’s stalking, as I always go to the Parade Ring to wait for the action to begin when I’m at Cheltenham ... and elsewhere for that matter too! 

 

Today, eager to reserve my usual place beside the course-side rails ahead of the first race, I set off to reach them even before the Pre-race Preview presented by Martin Kelly commenced.  Damn; this proved to be a big mistake on this occasion and something I could not have predicted. 

 

It turned out that the Prestbury Cup competition between Great Britain and Ireland, awarded to the team with the most winners during the Festival, had already been decided; Great Britain having amassed an unassailable lead.  So, ahead of racing, the trophy was presented to a group of jockeys representing the home team, and included Choc and Andrew Tinkler; it being difficult for Irish British-based jockeys to accept the prize presumably!  And it was Choc who stepped forward to receive the cup, with photographs of this being taken. 

 

And I missed it; I was gutted ... my best and only opportunity to take a photograph of this nature at the Festival had gone.  Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.  For even if I’d run, I wouldn’t have arrived at the Winners’ Enclosure in time.  My one consolation was that there turned out to be a snippet on Channel 4’s coverage and I’d taped it. 

 

Interviewed today, as part of the Pre-race Preview, were a guy who had written a book about Arkle, plus Noel Fehily, Kim Bailey and a representative from Betfred, sponsors of today’s Gold Cup.

 

It was soon time for the first race of the day.  The favourite was the Paul Nicholls-trained Calipto, ridden by Daryl Jacob, price 11-2.  Replacing CD Timmons aboard the 250-1 outsider Achtung was Peter Buchanan (see Stewards Enquiry notes below). 


Being run over a distance of 2 miles and one furlong, the horses cantered up the all-weather horse-walk in front of the grandstand before heading back down the turf and re-entering the all-weather strip to continue their journey to the starting gate at the far end of the home straight. 

 

Instead of exiting onto the racecourse from the corral and beginning immediately, the runners were called out onto the track and were sent up the course away from the starting tape.  Meanwhile, jockey James Best had dismounted from Amoruccio whilst the horse’s saddle was adjusted and re-girthed by one of the Starter’s Assistants.  Having been legged-up onto his mount, the jockey trotted him back past the others to join the rear of the field.   

 

Race 1

Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

2 miles 1 furlong (8 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

15

Abbyssial, Achtung, Amoruccio, Broughton, Calipto, Cherry Tiger, Guitar Pete, Kentucky Hyden, Lindenhurst, Pearl Castle, Plinth, Royal Irish Hussar, Rutherglen, Tiger Roll, Adriana Des Mottes

 

Then they were off, to the cheer of the expectant crowd; Royal Irish Hussar under Barry Geraghty having been pushed wide on the course as they negotiated the corner before passing through the starting gate.  In the front-rank jumping the first were Abbyssial, Guitar Pete, Kentucky Hyden, Pearl Castle and Plinth. 

 

The horses settled into their running order as they undertook the long journey to flight number two, joining the New Course as they did so; Abbyssial now with a clear advantage.  Travelling just behind him were from the inside, Plinth, Kentucky Hyden, Guitar Pete and Royal Irish Hussar; these were followed by Pearl Castle, Rutherglen, Lindenhurst, Calipto and Tiger Roll.  In the final third of the field were Broughton, Adriana Des Mottes, the keen Cherry Roll, followed at the rear by Amoruccio and Achtung.

 

Then, at the second, disaster struck for the leader; he took off too soon, clipped the top and fell.  This caused havoc with those following him, Kentucky Hyden was hampered, as was Calipto and Lindenhurst.  But, worse still, stable-mate Adriana Des Mottes had nowhere to go and was thus brought down.  This left Plinth, Kentucky Hyden and Royal Irish Hussar to dispute the lead as the runners headed up the hill away from the stands.

 

Paul Townend, rider of Adriana Des Mottes was soon up on his feet; Ruby Walsh was sitting up too, assistance quickly arrived and he got to his feet too.  However, he was holding his arm as he headed under the rails.  The two loose horses, none the worse for their falls, galloped up past the packed grandstands and through the winning line.  The race continued, the runners soon entering the back straight; Royal Irish Hussar and Guitar Pete holding a narrow advantage from Plinth, Kentucky Hyden and Tiger Roll as they cleared the third flight.

 

Kentucky Hyden ridden by David Bass and Plinth partnered by AP McCoy joined Royal Irish Hussar and Guitar Pete as they jumped flight number four; the former making a mistake here.  The runners continued their journey along the back straight; negotiating another flight, where Royal Irish Hussar made an error, as did Achtung who began to lose touch with the field as a result.  Cherry Tiger was also under pressure in rear and received a couple of reminders as the runners headed around the dog-leg turn. 

 

Clearing the flight before the far turn, the leading group of eleven was still tightly packed.  Having reached the top of the hill and negotiated the far corner, the runners began their journey down the hill to the penultimate flight.  Still leading the way were Plinth, Kentucky Hyden, Guitar Pete and Royal Irish Hussar; close on their heels and travelling well were Tiger Roll and Calipto.  Having jumped this flight, both Plinth and Royal Irish Hussar had no more to give and dropped off the pace.  This left Kentucky Hyden and Guitar Pete to dispute the lead, with Tiger Roll and Calipto close on their heels.

 

However, upon approaching the second last flight, Daryl Jacob’s stirrup leather had broken, leaving him no option but to rid himself of his irons as he pursued the leaders into the home straight.  His mount Calipto managed to keep in touch with Kentucky Hyden, Guitar Pete and the improving Tiger Roll for a while, but despite his jockey resorting to a number of backhanders in an attempt to compensate, Calipto dropped away.

 

This left Tiger Roll travelling to the nearside to take a narrow advantage over Kentucky Hyden far side and Guitar Pete centre as they cleared the final flight.  Having got his nose in front and with the stand-side rail to help him, Tiger Roll extended his advantage up the hill to the line, winning by 3¼ lengths. 

 

Jockey Davy Russell saluted the air with his whip as he passed the winning post.  Having lost his job as number one jockey to the Gigginstown House Stud, in other words Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, earlier in the season, this victory was sweet.  For in this race he was deputising for the injured Bryan Cooper who had been appointed in his place.  

 

Despite wandering on the run-in, Kentucky Hyden had finished 2nd, with Guitar Pete 1¾ lengths back in 3rd and the unlucky Calipto 4th.  The winner had been trained by Nigel Hawke, winning a juvenile hurdle race at Market Rasen, prior to being purchased to race in Ireland.  

   

When interviewed by RUK’s Lydia Hislop, Paul Nicholls reported that Daryl Jacob had received a kick on the ankle from Abbyssial when he fell.  Therefore was the stirrup leather damaged when this occurred and then went on to fail later in the race?  Presuming this was on the same side which received the kick. 

  

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Tiger Roll

Davy Russell

Gordon Elliott

2nd

Kentucky Hyden

David Bass

Nicky Henderson

3rd

Guitar Pete

Paul Carberry

Dessie Hughes

4th

Calipto

Daryl Jacob

Paul Nicholls

 

There was an announcement for Ted Walsh, father of Ruby, who was working as part of Channel 4’s racing team during the Festival, to report to the Weighing Room.  That didn’t bode well for the jockey; it later transpired that Ruby’s injury was a compound fracture of his right humerus (upper arm). 

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry following a report from the Sampling Officer that C.D. Timmons 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 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 Timmons from riding for the rest of the day.

 

WHY THEY RAN BADLY:

Daryl Jacob, the rider of CALIPTO (FR), placed fourth, reported that his saddle broke approaching the second last flight.

With Ruby Walsh now out of action, this meant a number of jockey changes during the afternoon.  In this race, David Casey swapped mounts from Diakali and rode Arctic Fire instead of Ruby; Diakali was now ridden by Danny Mullins. 

 

The favourite for this event was Cheltenian, trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnson, priced at 5-1.  Choc had a ride in this race, the Alan King-trained Montbazon.  And, OMG, there were 28 horses in this one!

 

Being run over a distance of 2 miles and one furlong, the horses cantered up the all-weather horse-walk in front of the grandstand before heading back down the turf and re-entering the all-weather strip to continue their journey to the starting gate at the far end of the home straight. 

 

Having reached the start, one of the JP McManus-owned runners, Never Enough Time, had to have his saddle and girths re-adjusted.  As with the previous race, the jockeys having taken their horses to look at the example fence within the small corral to the inside of the far bend and had their girths checked, the competitors then congregation out upon the racecourse to circle around ahead of the race. 

 

Diakali arrived at the starting gate a few minutes behind the others, his jockey exercising restraint upon his keen mount.  The delay was probably due to Danny Mullins being called up as a late transfer replacement, rather than any kind of tack or shoe problem.

 

Race 2

Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

Distance

2 miles 1 furlong (8 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

28

Diakali, Flaxen Flare, Cinders And Ashes, Runswick Royal, Upazo, Never Enough Time, Arctic Fire, Montbazon, Lyvius, MInella Foru, Lac Fontana, Deep Trouble, Rainbow Peak, Thomas Edison, Cash And Go, Strongpoint, Dunraven Storm, Cheltenian, Makari, Master Of The Game, Barizan, Jumps Road, Morning Royalty, Tzora, Citizenship, Lough Kent, Anay Turge, Alaivan

 

After this minor delay, they were off, first time.  The big field headed to the first, the blinkered Flaxen Flare taking off slightly ahead of his rivals.  Also in the front rank were, from the inside, Cheltenian, the JP McManus second-string Alaivan, Rainbow Peak and Barizan; back in the field and towards the outside, Lyvius put in a bigger jump than necessary.  Choc aboard Montbazon travelled in mid-field, solely AP aboard Minella Foru to his inside.

 

Having cleared the first without mishap, the runners set off up the long gallop towards the second flight, joining the New Course en-route.  The Andrew Tinkler-ridden Master Of The Game came through to take the lead, from Rainbow Peak to the inside and Barizan sandwiched between them; in fourth place to the outside was Strongpoint.  Cheltenham was now in fifth position, from Flaxen Flare and Alaivan; bringing up the rear Morning Royalty.  Back in the field, Cinders And Ashes made a bad mistake at the second flight and Deep Trouble hit it too.

 

The field negotiated the left-hand bend and travelled up the hill in front of the Best Mate enclosure, with the hooded Master Of The Game remaining at the head of affairs.  The runners soon entered the back straight and headed to flight number three. Travelling just behind the leader were Cheltenian, Rainbow Peak, Barizan and Strongpoint; the former flattened the inside panel of the hurdle as he jumped it.  The horses continued to journey along the back straight; there were no noticeable errors at the next flight.   

   

The runners galloped on towards flight number five, where one of the horses in mid-field flattened a panel of the flight.  The closely packed field then negotiated the dog-leg turn, continuing to climb the hill as they headed towards three out.  In the front rank were Cheltenian, Master Of The Game, the white-faced Rainbow Peak, and Barizan; immediately behind these Lough Kent and Flaxen Flare.  Having cleared the flight, struggling at the rear of the field were Makari, Runswick Royal and Cash And Go. 

 

The field then headed around the far turn; Cheltenian and Rainbow Peak now holding the advantage as Master Of The Game began to drop back, behind these Flaxen Flare and Barizan, Jumps Road, Alaivan, Strongpoint and Never Enough Time.  Rainbow Peak took the lead as the runners travelled downhill to the penultimate flight.  Having gradually drifted back through the field during the course of the race, Montbazon now made progress, taking advantage of momentum built up on this section of the track and a clear run towards the inside.

 

Cheltenian was marginally ahead jumping two out, with Rainbow Peak to his outside; Flaxen Flare and Barizan disputed third.  Montbazon had made ground into fifth at this point.  Entering the home straight, Denis O’Regan’s mount took the advantage, momentarily, with the Alan King-runner soon driven upsides him before taking the lead.  To the standside Lyvius was laying down a challenge; just behind him the fading Barizan was squeezed between the improving Lac Fontana to the nearside and Diakali to his far-side; Arctic Fire having drifted across their path. 

 

Montbazon held the advantage as he jumped the last, but Arctic Fire continued to challenge to the far-side whilst Lac Fontana stayed on strongly to the nearside.  Both challengers drew alongside Choc’s mount as they passed the half furlong post, the battle continuing to the line.  The Paul Nicholls-runner proved the stronger, winning by half a length.  Compensation for Daryl Jacob’s disappointments earlier this week.  Choc congratulated the winning jockey with a low five as he rode his mount back towards the entrance to the walkway.  Why doesn’t it work out for Choc?  His luck never seems to change ...    

 

Arctic Fire of course had finished 2nd, with Montbazon one length away in 3rd.  Diakali completed 3¼ lengths back in 4th.  Twenty five of the runners completed, with the other three pulled-up; Cinders And Ashes, Runswick Royal, and Cheltenian before the last although sound.

 

I had realised already that Choc had overdone it with his whip; possibly panic setting in as another close fought race didn’t go his way.  He was running out of time to get a winner, with just one more ride to go before the close of the Festival; namely Raya Star in the Grand Annual.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Lac Fontana

Daryl Jacob

Paul Nicholls

2nd

Arctic Fire

David Casey

Willie Mullins

3rd

Montbazon

Choc Thornton

Alan King

4th

Diakali

DE Mullins

Willie Mullins

 

Despite Choc having finished 3rd, I decided to remain beside the course-side rails, frightened of losing my place ahead of the next but one race, the Gold Cup.  I hate it when I have to make a choice at busy Festivals ... my decision would have been to return if he’d won, and to hell with the Gold Cup!  

 

When talking about Daryl Jacob after the race, RUK’s Stewart Machin said that ‘everything that can go wrong, had gone wrong’ for the jockey so far this week, so he deserved this win.  And then Lydia Hislop began her post-race interview with the winning jockey by saying ‘without having had an injury, it’s been about as torrid a week as it could possibly be’ ... oh dear, famous last words as it transpired shortly afterwards.   

 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

 

The Stewards noted that ARCTIC FIRE (GER), placed second, had interfered with DIAKALI (FR), placed fourth, who in turn interfered with BARIZAN (IRE), unplaced, who in turn interfered with the winner, LAC FONTANA (FR), approaching the final flight, but after viewing a recording of the incident they were satisfied that it neither involved a riding offence nor improved ARCTIC FIRE (GER)’s placing.

They further enquired into the use of the whip by Robert Thornton, the rider of MONTBAZON (FR), placed third, from the second last flight. 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. The Stewards suspended Thornton for 4 days as follows: Friday 28, Sunday 29, Monday 30 and Tuesday 31 March 2014.

WHY THEY RAN BADLY:

Richard Johnson, the rider of CHELTENIAN (FR), unplaced, reported that the gelding stopped quickly.

The Willie Mullins-trained Briar Hill was the favourite for the next race, price 2-1.  David Casey took the ride aboard the horse, deputising for the injured Ruby Walsh, as the first choice replacement Paul Townend was reported to be feeling under the weather now and stood himself down, having ridden Upazo in the County Hurdle following the misfortune when brought down in the Triumph Hurdle.  The Gigginstown runner in this race, Very Wood, was partnered by Paul Carberry, in the absence of injured Bryan Cooper. 

 

The starting gate for this event is at the beginning of the back straight, with almost two complete circuits to travel.  Upon exiting the walkway, the horses crossed the home straight to canter along the all-weather strip which runs to the outside of the top bend to reach it.

 

I believe Daryl Jacob’s mount Port Melon was the last to leave the Parade Ring and to set off across the racecourse heading to the start.  However, he never reached it, the horse veering off to its right just prior to entering the all-weather strip and then colliding with the rails on the left-hand side of the run-in and crashing into the Channel 4 TV camera position beyond.  Having been standing at the half furlong post, I watched as the drama unfolded in front of me.  But I was not as close as a number of the spectators standing within the Best Mate Enclosure who were just feet away and stood staring at the injured jockey. 

 

At first, I thought that the horse had been fatally injured, struggling to get to its feet initially.  Fortunately medical assistance soon arrived to assess the jockey’s injuries; stewards erecting green screens to protect Daryl’s privacy.  Eventually the injured jockey was put onto a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.  It transpired that Daryl had sustained a broken leg, knee and elbow in the incident.  More

 

Paul Nicholls, the trainer of Port Melon, was nonplussed; he had absolutely no idea what was going on, not having witnessed the incident occur.  His Travelling Head Person, Donna Blake and the stable lass collected the loose horse and trotted it back up the racecourse, unsure whether Daryl would be okay to continue.  Then, after discovering the extent of the jockey’s injuries the horse was led away to return to the stables. 

 

Presuming that the opening to the all-weather strip had not been sealed off with a rail by the time Port Melon had set off on his fateful canter, heading diagonally across the racecourse through a couple of gaps in the rails reduces the space available due to the angles involved. 

 

Meanwhile, the runners had been milling around at the starting gate; on the TV broadcast coverage you could see the jockeys glancing in the direction of the accident and the Starters’ Assistants raising their arms to point in that direction also.

 

Having circled around for a while and even headed off to walk their mounts along the beginning of the back straight, the runners passed to the far side of the first hurdle before returning.  Evidently there was an instruction at one point for the jockeys to dismount whilst matters were resolved, but no-one seemed keen to comply with this, appearing to all remain on board.  

 

Race 3

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Distance

3 miles (12 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

18

Apache Jack, Briar Hill, Captain Cutter, Champagne West, Cogry, Deputy Dan, Kings Palace, Madness Light, Masters Hill, Mosspark, Prince Siegfried, Regal Diamond, Rydon Pynes, Saint Roque, Sausalito Sunrise, The Job Is Right, Urban Hymn, Very Wood; Port Melon withdrawn

And finally they were off and heading to the first hurdle.  The runners were led away by Kings Palace to the inside, the blinkered The Job Is Right centre and, far side, Urban Hymn.  The latter guessed a little at the first flight, and The Job Is Right also made a mistake here.  At the back of the field was the very keen Prince Siegfried, along with Cogry; also held up near the rear were Very Wood and Champagne West. 

The runners then headed to and cleared the second.  Holding the advantage now was Kings Palace, ahead of The Job Is Right and Urban Hymn; just behind these Deputy Dan, Briar Hill, Masters Hill and Apache Jack.  After clearing the third flight, the runners headed around the dog-leg turn to reach flight number four; Urban Hymn drawing alongside Kings Palace as they jumped it.  A little detached from the main body of the field at this early stage of the race were Cogry, Prince Siegfried and Regal Diamond.

Having reached the highest point on the racecourse, the runners turned down hill and began the long run to the next flight.  Urban Hymn held the advantage over Kings Palace, The Job Is Right, Deputy Dan, Rydon Pynes, Masters Hill and Briar Hill; the former two jumped the hurdle in unison.  Having gained momentum on the downward journey, Prince Siegfried was wrestling for his head with jockey Denis O’Regan at the rear of the field. 

The runners entered the home straight for the first time and travelled towards flight number six.  Urban Hymn was marginally ahead of Kings Palace, followed by Deputy Dan, the very dark grey The Job Is Right, Madness Light, Rydon Pynes, Briar Hill, the lighter grey Masters Hill, Apache Jack, Champagne West, Sausalito Sunrise, Captain Cutter, Very Wood, Saint Roque, Cogry, Mosspark, Regal Diamond and Prince Siegfried.  Regal Diamond jumped the flight more slowly than his rivals.

Having passed in front of the grandstands, the runners headed up the hill and out into the country for the final time, soon approaching flight number seven.  In mid-field, Briar Hill clipped the top of the flight and fell; fortunately he didn’t appear to hamper any of his rivals.  The horse was quickly on his feet and trotted away.  Having lost his place and drifted towards the back of the field, Rydon Pynes departed at the following flight, turning a somersault and badly impeding Prince Siegfried in the process.  The fallen horse appeared to be okay.

Once more Kings Palace and Urban Hymn disputed the lead as they headed over flight number nine.  Just behind these travelled Deputy Dan, Champagne West, Masters Hill, Apache Jack and Saint Roque.  The field then negotiated the dog-leg turn with just one more flight to jump before they reached the top of the hill; Apache Jack was less than fluent at this hurdle.  Tom Scudamore’s mount led the runners around the far turn, closely pursued by Deputy Dan, with Champagne West and Urban Hymn a couple of lengths behind them.

The field began the descent towards the penultimate flight; a group of ten having broken away from the remainder of the runners.  Deputy Dan was upsides Kings Palace as they cleared it.  Within this group, Saint Roque on the wide outside, Sausalito Sunrise to the inside, and also Masters Hill made errors at the obstacle.  Kings Palace cried enough as they entered the home straight, with Deputy Dan soon taking a clear lead; he was followed through by Apache Jack, Champagne West and Very Wood.  In their wake, the fancied Captain Cutter was one of those eased and pulled up. 

The leaders headed to the last, Apache Jack and Very Wood cutting down the deficit with every stride.  Deputy Dan was tiring and put in a slow leap at the last, this enabled Very Wood’s stamina to take him into the lead, jockey Paul Carberry driving him out to the line to win by 4½ lengths.  Apache Jack continued to reel in the Oliver Sherwood runner all the way to the line, but fortunately Deputy Dan clung on by a short-head.  Champagne West completed in 4th, with Masters Hill 5th.  Only 8 runners completed; Kings Palace fell at the last having tired quickly.  The remainder were pulled up.

 Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Very Wood

Paul Carberry

Noel Meade

2nd

Deputy Dan

Leighton Aspell

Oliver Sherwood

3rd

Apache Jack

Barry Geraghty

Dessie Hughes

4th

Champagne West

Richard Johnson

Philip Hobbs

 

I remained beside the course-side rails ahead of the feature race of the day.

 

AP McCoy had eased Captain Cutter due to the horse sustaining an injury.  Having dismounted, the horse was walking but was lame.  However, he stood with his weight taken off one of his hind-legs and the stifle twitching.  The horse ambulance was sent to collect him, trundling back up the racecourse past the grandstands to reach the veterinary facility. 

 

Weeks later it was reported that Captain Cutter had been put down due to complications following the injury; it was reported he broke his shoulder during the race; I thought he was lame behind ... but what do I know?

 

Briar Hill suffered a freak injury; he broke his cheekbone during his mid-race fall but was expected to recover well. 

NEWS FROM THE STEWARDS’ ROOM FOLLOWING THE RACE:

 

The Stewards held an enquiry into the fall of PORT MELON (IRE), ridden by Daryl Jacob, on the way to the start. They interviewed two of the ground staff, who were standing close to the incident but were unable to interview Jacob owing to his injuries. Having heard their evidence and viewed recordings of the incident the Stewards found that the fall was caused by the gelding ducking left handed causing it to crash through the rail and fall.

WHY THEY RAN BADLY:

A.P. McCoy, the rider of CAPTAIN CUTTER (IRE), which was pulled up, reported that the gelding lost its action.

 

That’s it for part one of my diary ...


Click here to read my Day 4 Diary Part II

 

 

 

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