DIARY Ė HUNTINGDON Ė THURSDAY 11 DECEMBER 2008
Choc was scheduled for 3 rides, all for Alan King. It had been a frosty night, so I tuned in to the Racing News on At The Races at 09:00, and it was announced that Huntingdon were going to re-inspect at 10:00 to make sure the course was fit for racing, having carried out their first inspection at 08:00.† The temperature in Hertfordshire was 3 degrees.
Iíd originally planned to drive down to the petrol station at around 09:45 to fill up my car with fuel and then drive straight to Huntingdon from there.† But, as I wasnít yet certain that the racing would go ahead, I drove to the petrol station at around 09:30, popped into Boots to purchase some black mascara, returning home just after 10:00.† I switched on the TV to check the text and my laptop too.† The news came in just before 10:30 that Huntingdon had got the go-ahead.† I quickly loaded my car and set off for the course.† The temperature registered by my car was 4 degrees, although it was sunny in Cambridgeshire.
I drove a little faster than usual, as I donít like to be too late in arriving, just in case I get caught up in the traffic.† I therefore arrived at the course at 11:20, parked the car, purchased my ticket and race-card and headed for the paddock where the horses had started to appear in preparation for the 12:10 race.†
Chocís first ride of the day was in the 12:10, a Maresí NH Novicesí Hurdle race, aboard Call Me A Legend. Once the jockeys had mounted and the horses had left the paddock, they went down the walkway to the course, across the track and then cantered down a separate track-way past the stands, turning left and cantering across the middle field to the start.† Presumably this new route was to avoid damaging the track.† The race start was actually away to our left. I had positioned myself on the rails so as to take photos as they galloped by.
When the race began, Call Me a Legend was held up in touch, made headway to lead by the 6th flight, but was headed at the next, then ridden and kept on a one pace from 2 out, finishing 4th.† The race was won by Circus Rose ridden by Sean Quinlan.† I recalled the horse had fallen at the 2nd last flight at a previous Huntingdon meeting, when looking likely to win.† I returned to the Winnersí Enclosure to see Choc come back and unsaddle.†
Choc wasnít riding in the next race, a Maresí Novicesí Steeplechase.† The race was won by Shatabdi trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen.
Choc was riding grey mare, Spring Dream, in the 3rd race, a Handicap Hurdle. Alan also had a second runner in the race, Penn Da Benn. The race was just over 2 miles in distance, so started in the far corner.†† Choc held up his mount in mid-division, but blundered 3 out, after which Choc pulled her up, as she had gone lame.† Penn Da Benn ran okay until falling when in 7th place at the penultimate flight.† The horse was okay.† Another horse, Sallyís Dream was not so lucky when it came down on the run between the second last and last flight, as the green screens had to be erected.† The race was won by Oldrik, ridden by Richard Johnson.
Choc had dismounted Spring Dream and led her up the straight, finally stopping as the stable lad and Anita Cusack walked down to see what had happened.† I think Penn Da Benn was also being held in the vicinity too.† The horse ambulances drove over the collect the injured horses, and Choc, saddle in hand, jogged up the course, heading for the Weighing Room, as time was tight before his 3rd and final ride of the day, My Way De Solzen in the Peterborough Chase.
Once the horses had been mounted for this race and they had gone out onto the course, again they cantered down the track on the far side of the rail, past the grandstands, across the centre of the course to the start which was over to our left.† My Way De Solzenís competitors included Snoopy Loopy, Monetís Garden and Mahogany Blaze.† The start was a little ragged, with some of the jockeys unsure whether it was a false start, but the starter let them go.†
Natal unseated Nick Scholfield quite early on.† My Way De Solzen travelled mid-division, was given reminders at the 6th, and was behind when Choc pulled him up before 2 out.† Another disappointing and inexplicably bad run from the horse. Alan was hoping a good break would revitalise the animal, but nothing seems to be working.
The race was won by Monetís Garden, who beat the consistent Snoopy Loopy into second place.† Choc cantered back alongside Mont Misere.† Although I returned to the Parade Ring area, I didnít notice Choc return to the Weighing Room.
The 5th race was a Handicap Hurdle, which was won by Chaim, ridden by Dominic Elsworth.† Kayf Keel, trained by Richard Phillips and ridden by Sean Quinlan, fell at the last and seemed to have a problem getting up, so the screens were erected around him.† Gordy Clarkson, who is Richardís assistant, jogged down the course to see how the horse was and luckily it did eventually rise to its feet and was led back by the stable-girl.
Race 6 was a Novicesí Handicap Steeplechase.† It was won emphatically by Prince of Persia ridden by Tom Scudamore for David Pipe.† Palmers Peak, which is trained by Martin Keighley was a runner, but it faded into 12th place.
The final race was a NH Flat Race for Conditional and Amateur riders.† It was won by Ellen Tilley, ridden by Charlie Huxley, trained by Alan King.
I had watched the last three races from the stands.† As soon as the final race was over, instead of returning to view the Winnersí Enclosure, I headed for the exit, in order not to get too caught up in the traffic leaving the course.† The drive home was good and, as it had been a sunny day, it stayed light until around 16:00.† I arrived home at 16:30.