DIARY – KEMPTON PARK
– MONDAY 02 NOVEMBER 2009
I’d booked 02 November as holiday because I expected that I might need to put aside time to complete my racing diaries following weekend fixtures at Ascot and Huntingdon. However, I didn’t go to Ascot as Choc was at Wetherby, nor did I go to Huntingdon as Choc had just 2 rides on Sunday. This left me with a free Monday with no diaries to complete and with Choc scheduled to ride 5 horses at Kempton Park. Thus Monday became a racing day ...
As the first race was due off at 12:50, with gates opening at 10:50; I decided I’d set off from home at around 10:20. I’d heard rumours about roadworks on the M25 at Chorleywood, but I’d not driven on the motorway since last April so knew nothing about the extent of these.
Having reached the M25 I journeyed around the anti-clockwise carriageway, only to encounter a traffic jam just before the Kings Langley turning. So I decided to leave the motorway and travel into Watford, through Croxley Green and Rickmansworth to rejoin the motorway at Maple Cross. Luckily traffic was moving at this point, despite it still being within the road widening scheme. Traffic speed was restricted to 50 mph, but there were no holdups on the M25 after this point and traffic was sparse on the M3 London-bound carriageway too.
Having reached Kempton Park racecourse, I drove around to the far entrance and up the driveway to park in the free car park. It was 11:45. Having left my car, I walked around to the main entrance to purchase an entry ticket (£18) plus a programme (£2.50). I then went to sit on one of the benches situated between the Parade Ring and the grandstand.
Ruby Walsh was on the sidelines today, having suffered severe bruising to his foot following a fall at Ascot on Saturday when he was pinned beneath a fatally injured horse. He was replaced by Christian Williams aboard two of the Paul Nicholls trained runners, with Sam Thomas taking the ride on the third.
It was soon time for the first race of the day. Choc’s mount in this event was the Richard Phillips trained Departed. Once the jockeys were aboard their mounts and had set off down the horse-walk it was time for me to find a spot to view the proceedings.
Today it was impossible to walk around the side of the grandstand to reach the course-side rails, as a marquee had been erected there and the steps cordoned off. This meant that I had to walk through the betting hall to reach the area in front of the stands. I was to view the races from beside the course-side rails.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight, so all the runners cantered down past the stands to reach it.
The runners broke the tapes as the starter called them in, but at the second attempt they were off. The field was led off by Sarando, followed closely by Hellfire Club and Contrada. Binfield set off in last place, having appeared reluctant to start. Choc was on the inside near the back of the field. Hellfire Club took up the running as they approached the 3rd flight. Departed made slight jumping errors at the 3rd and 5th flights, receiving reminders to keep his mind on his work.
Rock ‘n’ Roller fell at the 3rd last flight, hampering Departed a little. As they approached the final turn, the lead was disputed by Hellfire Club and Sarando, the favourite Slip just behind them in 3rd position. Choc had already eased his mount by this stage of the race. Hellfire Club led over the final flight, but was caught on the run in by Mr Plod, now trained by Michael Scudamore and fit from a campaign on the flat.
Choc and Departed finished in 12th position.
The jockeys arrived early for the next race, some of the horses and trainers not having reached the Parade Ring yet. Choc stood and chatted with Andrew Tinkler until Richard Phillips appeared. Choc’s mount in this event was Pak Jack.
Once the bell had rung for the jockeys to mount, Choc and Richard Phillips walked across the grass towards me, and Choc was legged up into the saddle. As he set off down the walkway, I went through the betting hall to reach the course-side rails. The start of this event was at the beginning of the long back straight, so the horses cantered away from the stands to reach it.
Then they were off. The Jolly Spoofer led the field off, followed by Henry Hook, and Like Minded in the ‘Aston Villa’ colours of co-owner Jim Lewis. Choc aboard Pak Jack travelled next to the inside rail in 4th.
By the 2nd obstacle The Jolly Spoofer had a clear advantage, although he had come back to the field by the 5th flight. Silver Phoenix lost touch and was pulled up before 2 out.
Like Minded was sent into the lead before the 8th flight. Choc was pushing his mount along as they turned into the final straight. Like Minded went on to win easily despite an error at the 2nd last, Aim for the Stars making progress behind Pak Jack, until he was almost on terms by the time they reached the final flight. However, the former didn’t clear the obstacle as fluently as Choc’s mount, and they fought all the way to the line, Pak Jack prevailing by a nose.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc return and unsaddle his mount before he set off for the Weighing Room. Oli Bell of Racing UK interviewed Jim Lewis (who owned Cheltenham hero Best Mate) and now part owner of Like Minded.
It was now time for the third race of the day. Choc didn’t have a riding engagement in this event. I thought the Kim Bailey trained runner, Midnight Haze, looked the most ‘intelligent’ of the runners. Once the horses had begun to leave the Parade Ring, again I set off for the course-side rails to view the proceedings. The start of the event was at the beginning of the long back straight (the course being triangular in shape).
Then they were off. Midnight Haze went immediately into the lead, followed by Prince des Marais, She’s Humble and Dawn Silk. Ouragan Lagrange unseated its rider, Eamon Dehdashti, at the first. At this stage, Sidney Sling was in rear.
As the race progressed, Sidney Sling started to move through the field, although he’d lost a little ground approaching the 10th obstacle. Dawn Silk fell at the 12th, the final open ditch. Midnight Haze retained the lead throughout the race, drawing well clear approaching 3 out and galloping on to win. The grey, Spanish Cruise, jumped the last in 2nd place but was overtaken on the run-in by the staying-on Sidney Sling.
I returned to the Parade Ring in preparation for the next race, in which Choc would be riding the Alan King trained Lake Legend. Conditional jockey, Charlie Huxley, claimed 3lbs off of the other Alan King runner, top weight Trenchant.
Amusingly, Special Occasion’s tongue was hanging out as he walked around the Parade Ring! Choc and Charlie Huxley arrived to speak with Alan King and the horses’ respective owners. Soon it was time for the jockeys to be legged-up, so Charlie and Choc went to find their mounts, Trenchant immediately preceding Lake Legend around the ring. Alan legged-up Charlie first, then Choc.
Once the horses were exiting onto the course, I set off for the course-side rails. The start of this race, yet again, was at the beginning of the long back straight.
Then they were off. The field was led off by Raslan, followed closely by Very Cool, then Rajeh. Choc held an inside line, in around 7th position, with Trenchant a length behind.
As they completed the first circuit, Raslan was still in charge, followed by Kawagino, Very Cool, Bouggler and Lake Legend. Special Occasion soon dropped out. Raslan led into the home straight, with Lake Legend and Fairyland close behind. Trenchant having made good progress on the outside was now in 4th. Alderluck was also putting in a challenge.
Raslan held the lead until just before the last flight, when Trenchant took over, with Fairyland and Alderluck in close contention. Trenchant, although drifting to the stand-side rails, battled on to win from the closing Alderluck, with Fairyland in 3rd and the long-time leader Raslan in 4th.
Lake Legend had tired quickly in the home straight, and Choc pulled him up before the last flight, cantering up beside the stand-side rails.
Trenchant appears to like Kempton Park, having won a valuable race at the course last February.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Trenchant arrive back. Shortly afterwards, it was time for Alan King to be interviewed by Oli Bell of Racing UK.
The next event was a Graduation Chase, in which Choc would be riding the Alan King trained Sir Harry Ormesher. Having an excitable temperament, Choc’s mount was jig jogging around the Parade Ring. Choc was wearing the yellow with red spotted colours of David Sewell – who also owns Oh Crick and Araldur. When it was time for the horses to exit onto the course, both Alan and Choc set off down the horse-walk on foot, with Sir Harry Ormesher being led behind them by the stable lad. Choc was legged up when he reached the course and was the last to canter to the start.
Then they were off. Battlecry led the field away, followed by the grey Pasco, then Duc de Regniere with Choc aboard Sir Harry Ormesher bringing up the rear.
It soon became apparent that Sir Harry was jumping to his left (a disadvantage on a right-handed track like Kempton Park) and thus losing ground at many of the fences.
Battlecry retained the lead until the 12th fence, when Pasco took over, the former weakening into last very quickly. Sir Harry, now in 3rd place, received a reminder as they entered the home straight. Pasco cleared the 3rd last, but capsized on landing, leaving Choc in 2nd, behind Duc de Regniere. However, the latter drew away from Choc’s mount, which was still jumping to his left. Barry Geraghty’s mount cleared the last and went on to win.
Sir Harry Ormesher was very tired and, having jumped the final fence in an awkward manner, lost his footing and deposited Choc on the turf. Within seconds a medic ran across to check that Choc was okay, the rider-less horse having regained its feet and cantered away. Once Choc was on his feet, the medic accompanied him up towards the winning post, taking his leave as Alan King reached them.
Battlecry had cleared the final obstacle to finish a distant 2nd. Sam Thomas caught Pascoe following their departure, and walked the grey up the course until met by the stable lass.
Having unsaddled and de-briefed the horse’s connections, Barry returned from the Weighing Room to mount the podium where he was presented with a bottle of champagne to celebrate riding his 1,000th winner. As only two horses completed the course, the prize money of the winner was boosted by that put aside for the 3rd and 4th placed horses. The jockeys were not permitted to re-mount following their falls due to the safety ruling which came into effect today.
The new safety ruling not only takes into account the health of any horses which might fall, but that of the jockeys too. As, having taken a fall, all riders must pass a medical check before being permitted to take their next ride.
It was now time for Choc’s final ride of the day, aboard the Richard Phillips trained Stop The Show. The start of this steeplechase was at the beginning of the straight heading away from the stands. This meant that the competitors cantered down past the stands to inspect what would be the final fence, before making their way back up the home straight to the starting gate.
Then they were off. The field was led away by the grey Job One. The race favourite, Shillingstone, was in rear. Choc held his preferred position, alongside the inside rail, and was in mid-field. At the 4th obstacle, Job One still held the lead, followed by South Bank and Majic Moments, Shillingstone had improved his position, with By George now bringing up the rear.
Majic Moments was disputing the lead with Job One when the latter fell at the 12th obstacle, leaving the former in front. Good Harvest soon took over, with Stop the Show disputing 3rd as they turned into the home straight. Finally Shillingstone assumed the lead and went on to win by ½ a length from By George who had pursued him up the home straight. Choc’s mount had weakened into 5th by the line.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure briefly to see the horses come back in. As Choc had completed his final ride of the day, I decided it was time to leave as I wanted to make tracks for home before the rush hour traffic built up on the M25. However, I will mention the result for the final race of the day.
I left the car park at around 16:00 and drove down the M3 to reach the M25, wondering if I’d made the correct decision as to my return route, due to the road-works between junctions 16 to 18. The traffic flow was fine until just before the M40 junction (junction 16) where it slowed down considerably as the road works signs and cones came into view! The main cause was traffic filtering in from the M40 onto the clockwise carriageway of the M25. The outside lane of the M25 soon became part of a contra-flow system, with the two inside lanes following the original carriageway. The M25 is being widened to 4 lanes between junction 16 and 18 (Chorleywood) and work was still being carried out despite darkness having fallen.
Having negotiated the initial hold-up, the traffic then moved quite freely again, within the 50 mile an hour limit. The motorway restrictions having ended, I continued around to junction 21A where I left the motorway and headed for home. I pulled into my drive at around 17:20.