DIARY – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2011
DAY 2 - WEDNESDAY 16 MARCH 2011
Top weight, Kumbeshwar ridden by Charlie Huxley,
finishes a very gallant runner-up in the
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Today, my alarm sounded at the expected time of 04:30. I had a shower, and washed and dried my hair. Weetabix for breakfast, my food of choice when in a hurry. I then applied my make-up, which included sun-block; I like to wear it regardless of the weather.
My outfit today was two thermal vests, a bright purple sweater, burgundy cardigan, purple fleece, grey skirt, patterned tights, black wedge shoes (although I took a pair of ankle boots with me too); my purple coat plus suede coloured chenille scarf.
Then onwards to Bicester, where I arrived by 07:30, before setting off in a southerly direction for Oxford. There was no hold-up at the traffic lights at the junction with the M40 but, following this, there were two periods of slow moving vehicles further down the A34. I exited at the Peartree Interchange as usual, today traffic was moving freely around the A44 roundabout, so there was no problem in joining the traffic queue on the slip-road down to the A40.
Once on the A40 the journey across the Cotswolds went smoothly; I arrived in Cheltenham earlier than the previous day, the queue of traffic tailing back from the ‘Six Ways’ junction was shorter than yesterday. Having ‘discovered’ Greenway Lane on the previous evening I could have turned right at this point but, as the traffic wasn’t particularly heavy, I took the usual route, before turning right into Hales Road. As it was before 09:00, parents were dropping their kids off at the primary school in Bouncers Lane, which caused a small delay.
Taking the same route to the racecourse car park as yesterday, I parked up at 08:50. From then until 09:45 I sat in my car, listening to Festival Radio and eating the cheese rolls I’d brought along with me. I then set off to join the queue outside the turnstiles, today the spectators gained access to the enclosures a little early, at 10:25. As usual I needed to spend a penny, following which I purchased a race-card from the kiosk near the Parade Ring.
I then went to sit on one of the benches located on the grass apron in front of the stands; Cleeve Hill was not visible through the mist. Shortly afterwards I was rewarded with my first glimpse today of Choc; he had arrived to walk the course, exiting via the gate at the lower corner of the Club enclosure. He was accompanied by Wayne Hutchinson; Choc was wearing his black winter coat to protect himself against the cold and, of course, his green Hunter wellies. Racing UK’s Alex Steedman spoke with them as they passed; it took around 30 minutes for Choc and Wayne to walk the course, after which, they were interviewed by Alex whilst standing beside the final hurdle.
The Racing UK presenter described Wayne as the ‘Cool Dude’ of the Weighing Room, because of his tidy hair and smart appearance. Alex tried to crack a joke about Wayne’s tie, but I don’t think the jockey ‘got it’! Choc had turned up his coat collar to protect himself against the cold.
Alex asked Choc about his win the previous day aboard Bensalem; Choc said the horse just does what he has to do and would never be ‘spectacular’ in his triumphs. He said the current thought was to put Bensalem away for the season and probably aim for November’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. (Bensalem actually ran at Aintree on Grand National day before having a summer holiday; he finished 5th in the handicap chase.)
Alex then asked him about today’s riding engagements; Somersby – Choc said his ride aboard the horse at Aintree last April had been a disaster. The horse had got ‘wound up’ going out onto the course so he had jumped off him; then he managed to get Somersby kicked by another horse at the start! Today Choc said he would ride the horse to the outside of the field, so he would get plenty of daylight to see the obstacles. He would then ask the horse for more ‘speed’ between the two open-ditches. Choc said Somersby is a good horse and he hoped to be placed at worst.
The presenter questioned Wayne about the going; similar to yesterday came the reply – the slow side of good, and probably good to soft down the back straight. Wayne said it would ‘cater for all’, so there could be no excuses today.
Choc was questioned about Walkon’s chances. He said there were excuses for his slightly disappointing run at Newbury last month, but it would be difficult to win today off of top weight. Again, in the Fred Winter, he thought Kumbeshwar might stuggle under top weight, so he had chosen to ride stable companion Dhaafer who carried 10 stone 10 lbs today. He was expecting a ‘big run’ from the latter. Alex asked Wayne about his ride in the same race, Jubail; the jockey thought he might surprise a few, having beaten today’s favourite, Plan A, at Kempton last autumn.
Wayne was then asked about his mount in the bumper, the Warren Greatrex trained and fancied runner, Knight Pass. The jockey said he loves the horse – he oozes class, is professional and has pace. Alex also asked Choc about his ride in the bumper, the Harry Redknapp trained Bygones In Brid. Choc said he hoped some of Harry’s current good luck might rub off on him too; the horse was ‘quick’ and he was hoping his mount would run well at a big price. There was no mention of Choc’s other ride of the day, Habbie Simpson, who would run in the second race on the card, the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle; but that was probably because he was a 25-1 shot!
I knew I had to congratulate Choc on his win yesterday aboard Bensalem so, as he walked back towards the Weighing Room and had finished a brief telephone conversation on his mobile, I called to him. Choc stopped, and I trotted over. I told him the win was fabulous, and wished him luck for the remainder of the week. I was also permitted to give him a peck on the cheek!
Choc returned to the Weighing Room accompanied by Wayne, and I set off to find a vantage point beside the Winners’ Enclosure in preparation for the Pre-Race Preview. As usual, the presenters were Ian Carnaby and Jonathan Powell. The first item today was the presentation of two cheques to charity – Heros and The Injured Jockeys’ Fund; monies having been raised from the Cheltenham Festival preview evenings. Next, jockey Aidan Coleman was interviewed regarding his rides today; it was also mentioned that he’d missed a day’s racing following a bad fall from Fit To Drive at Sandown the previous Saturday.
Then it was the turn of Michael Dickinson, ex-jockey and trainer, famous for training the first five horses home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Having moved to the USA in 1987 to train horses, he retired from this career 3 years ago, now devoting his time to his business of synthetic racetrack surfaces. Michael spoke about Sam Waley-Cohen, saying that he thought the amateur was a very good pilot and didn’t deserve the criticism he had received. He also wasn’t critical of the trainers who race their charges sparingly, as he felt it was possible to get horses fit by working them at home rather than running them in races. Michael admitted that he loved riding novice chasers when he was a jockey.
Irish trainer Gordon Elliott was the next to be interviewed; he was asked about Ireland’s economic crisis, has it affected the number of horses in his yard? No, he has been okay so far, he has around 60 to 70 horses in his care.
Today was Ladies Day so, as part of the event, Liverpudlian Actress Claire Sweeney was interviewed. She was currently appearing in Tell Me On A Sunday at the theatre in the town, and would be judging the Ladies Day competition entries later in the afternoon.
The final three interviewees were Colm Murphy trainer of Big Zeb, Champion Chase entry and winner last year; Henry De Bromhead, trainer of Sizing Europe, also a Champion Chase entry; plus a representative from sportingbet.com, sponsors of today’s race.
As yesterday, I didn’t wait for the horses to arrive in the Parade Ring ahead of the first race, instead I went to find a good vantage point beside the course-side rails. Alan King had one runner in this race, Double Pride, ridden by amateur rider Mr D Murphy.
The start of this race was in the mid-course chute, with this and the home straight plus two full circuits to travel; thus the horses exited onto the course and cantered up the all weather track around the top bend to reach it.
Then they were off. The field was led away by the Tim Vaughan trained Beshabar, to his inside was Major Malarky, the latter soon reined back off the pace. Sona Sasta and the ex-Alan King trained Chamirey came to join Beshabar as they cleared the second fence; Captain Americo soon upsides too. Major Malarky unseated at the third fence.
Around the far bend Chamirey and Sona Sasta now led, from Beshabar and Captain Americo; they were followed by On His Own, Alfa Beat, Be There In Five, Regal Approach, Some Target and Pearlysteps; held up were Chicago Grey, Arabella Boy, Aberdale, Double Pride and Carlas Dream.
Chamirey and Sona Sasta continued to dispute the lead as the runners galloped up the straight and headed out onto the first circuit; the latter putting in a short stride when taking off at the 13th fence, the second open-ditch; in mid-division Regal Approach made an error.
Sona Sasta still led as the field headed downhill on the first occasion, followed by Captain Americo, the keen On His Own, Beshabar, Chamirey, Alfa Beat, Pearlysteps and Be There In Five; Chicago Grey had made a little progress from the back of the field.
Sona Sasta and Captain Americo led up the home straight for the penultimate time, from On His Own, Beshabar, Chamirey, and Be There In Five. Captain Americo hit the first in the back straight. Double Pride made headway to become prominent on the outside of the field. Arabella Boy hit 4 out and the next too.
Heading downhill for the final time, the ‘flag-tailed’ Beshabar came to join the long-time leader and went on 3 out. He led around the final turn but Be There In Five and Irish raider Chicago Grey were tracking him; the latter was travelling extremely well and came to challenge two out, taking the lead soon after the last and staying on well to win by 4½ lengths. Be There In Five completed in 3rd, with the second grey Alfa Beat in 4th.
Never mind, Beshabar’s time would come – the following month he won the Scottish Grand National under Richard Johnson!
News from the Stewards’ Room following the race:
called before them Mr Derek O’Connor, the rider of the winner, CHICAGO GREY
(IRE), and enquired into his use of the whip on the run in. Having heard his
evidence and viewed the video recording of the race, the Stewards found the
rider in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2, in that he had used his whip in an
incorrect place. They suspended Mr O’Connor for 2 days as follows: Thursday
31 March and Monday 4 April 2011.
I remained beside the course-side rails in preparation for Choc’s first ride of the day, aboard the Alan King trained Habbie Simpson.
The start of this event was in the mid-course chute; thus the horses exited onto the course and cantered up the all weather track around the top bend to reach it.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Aikman, followed by Highland Valley and Tornado Bob; Megastar was held up in rear, Ohio Gold under restraint. Choc aboard Habbie Simpson travelled on the inside of the field, also near the rear. Aikman led into the home straight on the first occasion; the field cleared the next flight and began the long run to the next hurdle. Tornado Bob was in second place, then Highland Valley, First Lieutenant, Minella Class, Accordingtolawence, the hard pulling Oscars Well, Rock On Ruby, So Young, Habbie Simpson, Ohio Gold and Megastar.
Into the back straight, having so far travelled at a comfortable pace, the speed increased and the field stretched out; all the runners were jumping well, apart from Accordingtolawrence who made a slight error at the 4th and another at the 6th flight. The runners soon headed downhill, the aforementioned, who was the first to drop out, fell at the 3rd last.
The long time leader was swallowed up by Oscars Well and Minella Class as they approached 2 out; Habbie Simpson now close up in 4th, blundered and flattened 2 out and lost his place. It was now a dash to the line. First Lieutenant chased Oscars Well and Minella Class around the final bend; they were pursued by So Young and Rock On Ruby, the latter quickly closing on the leaders.
However, Oscars Well stumbled badly having jumped the last flight, handing the initiative to Rock On Ruby; So Young also hit the last. This left First Lieutenant to be driven to close on Rock On Ruby as they galloped up the hill towards the line, the latter winning by a short-head. So Young completed in 3rd; Oscars Well 4th. Ireland 2 UK Nil.
Habbie Simpson, having been outpaced following the error, completed in 9th. Accordingtolawrence’s jockey, Felix de Giles was taken to hospital for a precautionary x-ray to an ankle.
Choc having finished unplaced, once more I remained beside the course-side rails. The next race on the card was the RSA Chase; Choc had no riding engagement in this event.
The start of this race was halfway down the home straight, with just over two circuits to travel; thus the horses cantered up the all weather track in front of the stands before cantering back down the course to enter the lower section of the gallop and exiting part way down thereof.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Aiteen Thirtythree, to his outside was Elysian Rock; they were followed by Bostons Angel, Magnanimity, Master Of The Hall, Wayward Prince, Quel Esprit, Mikael D’Haguenet, Jessies Dream, The Giant Bolster and Wymott, with Time For Rupert bringing up the rear.
Elysian Rock soon went on as the runners headed down the back straight, Aiteen Thirtythree to the inside of the track. Wymott was already being encouraged along in rear. The Giant Bolster unseated Rodi Greene at the 5th fence. Time For Rupert was a little slow at the second open ditch.
The runners headed downhill on the first occasion, Elysian Rock still being taken wide on the course, Aiteen Thirtythree in second. Wymott in rear. Turning into the home straight on the first occasion there was no change at the head of affairs, Elysian Rock led from Aiteen Thirtythree, Quel Esprit, Bostons Angel, Jessies Dream, Master Of The Hall, Wayward Prince, Magnanimity, Mikael D’Haguenet, Time for Rupert and Wymott.
Favourite, Time For Rupert, was already being urged along. Turning into the back straight for the final time, Elysian Rock was now travelling to the inside of the track; the grey Quel Esprit soon came to join him and took over having cleared the water-jump. Near the rear of the field, Ruby Walsh’s mount Mikael D’Haguenet capsized having jumped the first of the open-ditches on this stretch of the course.
Elysian Rock, who was re-challenging for the lead, hit the second open-ditch and dropped back again. Quel Esprit was at the head of affairs as the runners travelled downhill; however, he stepped through 3 out and fell. Fortunately the horse was okay following this mishap. This left Bostons Angel in the lead from Jessies Dream and Master Of The Hall; the latter hampered by the departure and soon fading out of contention.
Jessies Dream and Bostons Angel disputed the lead around the final bend, the former slightly ahead clearing two out. Wayward Prince and Magnanimity were in pursuit; with Time For Rupert under pressure to close on these four. Jessies Dream was still ahead over the last, but Bostons Angel regained the lead on the flat and went on to win by a neck at the line. It was now 3 – Nil to the Irish.
Once more I remained beside the course-side rails in order to retain a good vantage point ahead of the next event.
News from the Stewards’ Room following the RSA Chase:
The Stewards called before them Timmy Murphy, the rider of JESSIES
DREAM, placed second, and enquired into his use of the whip from the last
fence. Having heard his evidence and viewed the video recording of the race,
the Stewards found the rider in breach of Schedule (B)6 Part 2, in that he
had used his whip with excessive frequency and without giving his horse time
to respond. They suspended Murphy for 6 days as follows: Wednesday 30,
Thursday 31 March, Friday 1, Saturday 2, Sunday 3, and Monday 4 April 2011.
And from the BHA’s ‘Why They Ran Badly’ page for this day:
Will Kennedy, the rider of TIME FOR RUPERT (IRE), which finished fifth, reported that the gelding was never travelling. The Stewards ordered TIME FOR RUPERT (IRE) to be routine tested. The Veterinary Officer subsequently reported that the gelding had bled.
It was now time for the feature event of the day, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Choc’s mount, Somersby, was led out early and mounted on course. The remaining runners appeared a short time later and were led around in a circle before sorting themselves into number order prior to being paraded in front of the stands, after which they cantered down to the lower stretch of the all weather track to the start, which was at the far end of the home straight, with one full circuit and a straight to travel.
Then they were off. The race was led away by the giant Mad Max; he’s been tubed to help his breathing and also wore ear plugs today. He was followed by Sizing Europe, French Opera to the inside, Somersby to the outside; Choc taking him wide to get a clear view of the fences. After these four were last year’s winner Big Zeb, then Master Minded, Captain Cee Bee, Woolcombe Folly, I’m So Lucky, Golden Silver and Cornas.
Travelling away from the stands, the order remained more or less the same. Sizing Europe came to join Mad Max at the head of affairs as they jumped the first fence in the back straight; Captain Cee Bee made an error here. Somersby, in third, was being tracked by Master Minded. Sizing Europe, ridden by Andrew Lynch, took up the running as the field cleared the water jump.
Mad Max dragged his hind legs through the eighth, the first open-ditch; Captain Cee Bee hit the ninth. Mad Max’s stable companion, French Opera, made an error at the tenth, the second open-ditch, and lost his place.
Heading downhill for the one and only time, Sizing Europe still held the advantage, from Somersby and Big Zeb; Master Minded had begun to make progress. Choc’s mount then hit 3 out and lost his place, leaving Big Zeb and Master Minded as Sizing Europe’s nearest pursuers. But Ruby’s mount made an awful blunder 2 out, leaving last year’s winner as Sizing Europe’s sole challenger.
However, Andrew Lynch’s mount stayed on well to go clear on the run in, winning by 5 lengths at the line. Big Zeb completed in 2nd; Captain Cee Bee completed in third, Golden Silver in 4th. A clean sweep for the Irish; 4-Nil today. Somersby kept on to finish 5th. Following the error, Ruby eased Master Minded and finished 8th.
A lady, who was attending the races with her boyfriend, asked if I’d been standing by the rails all afternoon. We got talking; she is a Ruby Walsh fan, I explained that I adore Choc! We commented on how cold it was today; we were absolutely frozen. It was far colder than forecast; when I later watched a video recording of the TV coverage for today, even the commentators were making a point about being cold, having been lulled into a false sense that the temperatures today would be almost spring-like!
Choc having finished unplaced, once more I remained beside the course-side rails to retain my good vantage point.
It was now time for Choc’s third ride of the day, aboard the Alan King trained grey Walkon; also in the race was stable mate Trenchant, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.
The start of this race was in the mid-course chute; thus the horses exited onto the course and cantered up the all weather track around the top bend to reach it.
Then they were off. The field was led away by the front running Dantari; he was followed by For Non Stop, Bothy, Carlito Brigante, Walkon prominent on the outside of the field, then the second grey Arcalis. The third grey, Tiger O’Toole, was held up in last place. Straw Bear made a mistake at the second flight.
Around the far turn, Dantari was around 10 lengths clear of the field; For Non Stop, in turn, a few lengths clear of the rest; they were pursued by Carlito Brigante, Walkon, Lightning Strike and Bothy. The horses headed up the straight, it was a long run between the third and fourth flights; Dantari pricked his ears as he approached the hurdle in front of the stands.
Heading into the country for the one and only time, Dantari had a 6-lengths advantage over the field; the order thereafter being (it’s name check time!) For Non Stop, Carlito Brigante, Walkon, Bothy, Lightning Strike, Solix, Aachen, Call The Police, Arcalis, Battle Group, Ballyhaunis, Mohanad, Orsippus, Busker Royal, Aegean Dawn, Straw Bear, Tiger O’Toole, Pistolet Noir, Lord Ragnar, Song Of Songs and the blinkered Trenchant.
Dantari held just a narrow lead as the runners cleared the first in the back straight; Aachen made a mistake 5 out and lost his place. For Non Stop soon came to dispute the lead, from Bothy, Walkon, Carlito Brigante and Orsippus. In rear was Straw Bear. As the field headed downhill, the long-time leader was swallowed up, For Non Stop now going on; his nearest pursuers were Carlito Brigante, Bothy, Orsippus and, on the wide outside, Walkon.
Turning into the home straight, Choc’s mount was in around 7th or 8th position. Carlito Brigante was travelling the best at this stage and took over the lead just before the last, where For Non Stop fell when in second position. The Gordon Elliott trained runner stayed on well to win by 6 lengths from the very consistent Bothy, Orsippus completed in 3rd, with Battle Group in 4th. Top weight Walkon completed in 7th; Trenchant finished in 13th.
Another winner for the Irish; 5-Nil on the day; despite only 3 of the 22 runners in this race being from the Emerald Isle! A second victory today for the maroon and white colours of the Gigginstown House Stud’s owner Michael O’Leary, who is the CEO of Ryanair.
Again, unfortunately, there was no need for me to return to the Winners’ Enclosure, as Choc had been unplaced.
News from the Stewards’ Room following the Coral Cup:
report from the Clerk of the Scales that Davy Russell, the rider of the
winner, CARLITO BRIGANTE (IRE) had weighed in 2lb heavier than the weigh at
which he had weighed out, the Stewards interviewed Russell, in the presence
of the Clerk of the Scales, and the trainer, Gordon Elliot. Having heard their
evidence the Stewards found Russell to be in breach of (B)67.7
and suspended him for 3 days as follows: Wednesday 30 and Thursday 31 March
and Friday 1 April 2011.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight, with one circuit and a straight to travel; thus the horses cantered up in front of the stands before heading back down the course to enter the lower stretch of the all weather track to reach the starting gate.
Then they were off. The runners were led away by Harry Hunt, from Lady Willa; the cheek-pieced Dhaafer was prominent on the outside of the field. Titan De Sarti and Mark Twain were in rear. Kumbeshwar, who was very keen, pulled his way into the lead having cleared the first flight; Mr Muddle came through to take second with the other grey, L’Eminence Grise, now in third.
The runners headed up the straight, on the long run between flights one and two. Near the rear, The Starboard Bow, a little short of room having jumped the second, slightly baulked Rock Of Deauville and Kayef. Choc, having dropped back through the field a little, encouraged his mount to take closer order once more.
Heading out into the country the order was Kumbeshwar, Mr Muddle, Harry Hunt, Dhaafer, L’Eminence Grise, Paintball, Jubail, What A Charm, Whitby Jack, Celtus, Kingdom of Munster, and Looks Like Slim; held up towards the rear were Plan A, Tenor Nivernais and Rock Of Deauville. Mr Muddle, having hit the third flight, was ridden and had lost his place by the next.
Heading towards the fourth, the Alan King trained top weight still led, from L’Eminence Grise, Harry Hunt, Dhaafer on the outside, Kayef, Lady Willa, Jubail, Paintball, Celtus, Looks Like Slim, What A Charm, Kingdom of Munster and The Starboard Bow. The first and second favourites, Plan A and Tenor Nivernais, were now in midfield, the runners still tightly packed.
Downhill, Kumbeshwar and Paintball disputed the lead, from Dhaafer, Celtus, Whitby Jack, Jubail and What A Charm. The stable companions were upsides 3 out, with Paintball in third, from Celtus and Whitby Jack. What A Charm tracked these, with Plan A cruising into contention on the outside.
Kumbeshwar turned the final bend just ahead of Dhaafer; What A Charm took the shortest route up the inside, Plan A went wide; the Irish mare coming to challenge the long time leader, whilst Choc switched his mount left in their wake. Paul Townend drove out his mount on the run-in to triumph by a neck from the very gallant top weight Kumbeshwar. Dhaafer kept on at the same pace to finish 3rd, with Plan A in 4th. Jubail completed in 5th.
6-Nil to the Irish today. And, as pointed out by Nick Luck on Racing UK, it was Alan King against the Irish in the latter stages of the race – Ireland 1st and 4th, Alan’s runners 2nd, 3rd and 5th!
It was Ladies Day today, not St Patrick’s Day (tomorrow) – and the Irish had won every race with just their speciality, the bumper, to go!
The winner, What A Charm, still campaigns on the flat too and, in any other year evidently, would not have qualified for this race having been too lowly rated. Kumbeshwar was very unlucky to meet her today.
Also, I did return to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc and Dhaafer and Charlie Huxley and Kumbeshwar return. Being late in the day, on this occasion I felt there was little risk of not finding a place beside the rails ahead of the next race; it was a win/win situation!
News from the Stewards’ Room following the Fred Winter:
The Stewards considered the running of the winner, WHAT A CHARM (IRE), ridden by Paul Townend, and trained by A.L.T. Moore, which had never previously been placed. They interviewed the trainer who stated that the filly appreciated the better ground and the fitting of cheek pieces. They forwarded his comments to the British Horseracing Authority so that the performance of WHAT A CHARM (IRE) in its earlier races could be reviewed.
It was now time for the final race of the day; Choc’s ride being the Alan King trained Bygones In Brid. And, yes, I found space beside the rails to watch the event.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight, with one circuit and a straight to travel; thus the horses cantered up in front of the stands before heading back down the course to enter the lower stretch of the all weather track to reach the starting gate.
The horses ‘charged’ out onto the course; then they were off. The field was led away by The Tracey Shuffle, followed by Dynamic Approach, Dark Glacier, Destroyer Deployed, Saint Luke, Cinders And Ashes, Star Neuville, Ericht, Knight Pass, Tusa Eire, Cheltenian, Twentyfourcarat, Felix Yonger, Raise The Beat, Cousin Khee, Devine Rhapsody, Lord Gale who ‘fly jumped’ at the off, Go All The Way, Master Murphy, Oscar Magic, Aupcharlie, Choc’s mount Bygones In Brid, Knockalongi and Double Double.
Around the top bend and heading off into the country, The Tracey Shuffle continued to lead, from the Tim Vaughan trained Destroyer Deployed, Dark Glacier, Dynamic Approach, the white face and nosebanded Cinders and Ashes, the Barry Geraghty ridden Ericht, Richard Johnson aboard Cheltenian, Knight Pass with Wayne Hutchinson aboard, Star Neuville, Saint Luke, Felix Yonger, Ruby Walsh aboard Tusa Eire, Raise The Beat and Aupcharlie. Near the rear were Devine Rhapsody, Go All The Way and Oscar Magic.
Heading down the hill there was no change at the head of affairs; Aupcharlie had noticeably made up ground on the outside of the field.
The Tracey Shuffle was soon swallowed up by Aupcharlie, Star Neuville, Destroyer Deployed and Cinders and Ashes; AP’s mount Star Neuville was the first to drop out, the other three neck and neck around the final bend. However, Richard Johnson drove Cheltenian to take the lead as room became available on the inside having turned into the home straight. He went on to win by 5 lengths from Destroyer Deployed. Irish raider Aupcharlie finished third, with Go All The Way, owned by the Potts family (Sizing Australia and Sizing Europe) for Nigel Twiston-Davies in 4th.
6-1 to the Irish. Bygones In Brid was disappointing, having been outpaced 4 furlongs out. He finished 18th; one in front of the fancied Knight Pass.
The last race of the day having been completed, it was soon time for me to leave.
I arrived back in the car park to find my car was covered in dust; I’d been parked 3 vehicles from the gravel roadway which runs through the middle of the field and, with no rain and a strong wind blowing, all the airborne particles had adhered to the nearby cars! I used the windscreen washer and wipers to clean the screen so that I could see to drive home.
Again I didn’t leave immediately, eating a snack before I departed. It was earlier than yesterday, but the roads outside the course were less busy and, again, I travelled via my newly found exit route to reach the A40. It was off-putting that the car in front of me from Cheltenham all the way to the Inn For All Seasons (3 miles west of Burford) braked each time a vehicle came in the other direction. I never drive close to the vehicle in front but, nonetheless, this was annoying.
As I approached Oxford it was very apparent that I was considerably earlier than on Tuesday, as heavy traffic was exiting the City, presumably the tail-end of their rush-hour, it being 19:00. Again I chose to return via the M40; as I headed towards London, traffic was also queued on the westbound carriageway of the motorway approaching Oxford. High Wycombe certainly lives up to its name and, it being a damp evening, the motorway in this area was very eerie with the mist shrouding the central reservation lights.
I soon reached the M25; taking the clockwise carriageway to return to Hertfordshire. Once more, I dropped in at the local filling station to top up the petrol tank of my car; it cost me around £26 per day to make the journey to Cheltenham and back. As I got out of my car at the petrol pumps I noticed riverletts of dirt had run down the bonnet; damn, I knew it wasn’t a sensible idea to wash my car last Monday.
I arrived home at 20:25; half an hour earlier than yesterday. Having eaten a microwave meal, I logged onto my laptop to upload my photos and write my blog. I also sorted through my clothes to find a warmer outfit to wear on Thursday ... any attempts at glamour will be ‘going out the window’ tomorrow! Having retired to bed, I couldn’t resist watching a video tape recording of the interviews Choc had taken part in yesterday; I have a VCR in my bedroom. However, it was too late in the evening to spend time watching today’s interview with Wayne and Choc.