Saturday 17 March 2012

- St Patrick’s Afternoon of Jump Racing



Kempton Park 12 03 12 for diary r.jpg


In the Parade Ring,

Choc aboard Hindon Road



I had pencilled this fixture in my diary, just in case Choc had any riding engagements.  Although, it had to be said, I would probably be exhausted following four days at the Cheltenham Festival!  It’s not easy to drive around 800 miles in four days and still remain sane!


2010 was my low point for post-Cheltenham exhaustion; last year and this I’ve not felt quite so tired.  Therefore upon arriving home at 21:30 on the final day of the Festival, I logged onto my laptop to update my blog and to discover where Choc would be riding the next day ... 6 rides at Kempton Park. 


Unfortunately Choc had drawn a blank at this year’s Festival, although he had ridden a number of third placed horses – Medermit (Ryanair Chase), Smad Place (World Hurdle), Vendor (Fred Winter), Grumeti (Triumph Hurdle), Kumbeshwar (Grand Annual) and fourth places too – Montbazon (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) and Lovcen (Albert Bartlett), plus a fifth aboard Walkon (RSA Chase).


It felt a little like Aintree last season when, because Choc hadn’t ridden a winner at that 3-day meeting, I decided to go to Ascot the following day, in the hope of seeing him victorious.  On that occasion I’d been lucky, as he’d won the first race aboard Invictus.  So I was hoping that perhaps, at Kempton, Choc’s fortune might change. Besides, as Willie Mullins would say, “it would be rude not to”, with Choc having so many rides during the afternoon and Kempton Park being my nearest racecourse.


So, off to the races I went ...


Gate opening time was 11:45, so this permitted me to have a little bit of a lie-in, although I did set my alarm for 07:00; in fact I ate breakfast in bed whilst watching the Morning Line before showering, washing and drying my hair and getting ready to go.  Rain was forecast, so I chose to wear my purple anorak, two thermal vests, cerise frill-edge cardigan, tweed skirt, purple fleece, heavy-duty fleece, black woolley tights, and black wedges. 


I left home at 10:35, my route taking me around the M25; there was a little congestion near the M4 junction, and again just after the M3 junction, but I missed that as I’d turned off onto the latter motorway.  As on the majority of my trips to Kempton Park, I parked in the free of charge area and walked around the perimeter fence to reach the main entrance to purchase a ticket; £16 today, plus £2.50 for a race-card.  It had already started to rain, so I wore my hat.    


I stood in the shelter of the main grandstand, overlooking the Parade Ring, hoping to catch a glimpse of Choc as he arrived; but no luck today.  Being St Patrick’s Day, small paper cups filled with Guinness were being handed out to punters as they walked along the concourse.  No, I didn’t partake; I rarely drink alcohol. I then went to stand on the steppings out the front, overlooking the betting ring, as it was a little more sheltered from the prevailing wind. 


As the first race approached, I returned to the Parade Ring.  Choc was due to ride a French import Ulys Du Charmil in this event, the horse making its debut for Alan King.  Luckily the rain had now stopped. 


I went down to the course-side rails to watch each of today’s races.  However, I did feel a little out of place, as there appeared to be an amateur photography club outing taking place.  My Olympus digital camera, with a mere x7 magnification looked pathetic beside the numerous Digital SLR cameras with enormous zoom lenses.  I was extremely jealous!  I could take thousands of close up shots of the beautiful Chocolate if I owned one of those ...


Race 1: Novices’ Hurdle – 12 runners – 2 miles

The starting gate for this race was at the far end of the home straight, with the horses cantering down past the stands to reach it.


The Alain ‘Squeak’ Cawley ridden Tweedledrum led from the off until after the last, when the Alan Jarvis trained, Tom O’Brien ridden, Right Step caught her and won by 1¼ lengths.  Ulys Du Charmil was in touch, but ridden approaching two out and weakened before the last; he finished 6th.


Race 2: Novices’ Chase – 4 runners – 3 miles

The starting gate for this race was at the beginning of the ‘side’ straight, with two complete circuits of the course to travel.  The horses cantered down past the stands to take a look at the final fence before returning to the start area.


No ride in this event for Choc.  Quentin Collonges led from the off but was headed at the last by Problema Tic, who went on to win by 3½ lengths. Following a very successful Cheltenham Festival, this was another winner for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty.  Only three finished, as Leg Iron fell at the 12th, but he was fine.


Race 3: Novices’ Hurdle – 8 runners – 2 miles 5 furlongs

The starting gate for this race was in the far corner of the track, the horses cantering down past the stands before turning and travelling up past the winning post to reach it.  


Orsm led for most of the race, until the Choc ridden Hindon Road took over 3 out.  However, Captain Sunshine caught him approaching the last and went on to win by 2¼ lengths.  A winner for Emma Lavelle and Dominic Elsworth.  Alan King’s other runner, Forresters Folly finished 7th.


Race 4: Handicap Hurdle (feature race) – 16 runners – 2 miles 5 furlongs

The starting gate for this race was in the far corner of the track, the horses cantering down past the stands before turning and travelling up past the winning post to reach it.  


King’s Realm initially led the field; Shuil Royale fell at the first flight.  Oscar Prairie then briefly led until Synthe Davis took over and held the advantage until 2 out.  Bear’s Affair was then ridden to lead and went on to win by 5 lengths.  Choc’s mount, Pantxoa, who was always prominent, stayed on to finish 2nd.  Another win for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty.  Pantxoa’s stable mate, Balzaccio, finished 11th.


Race 5: Novices’ Handicap Chase – 5 runners – 2 miles. 

The starting gate for this race was at the far end of the home straight with the horses cantering down past the stands to reach it.


Choc’s mount in this event was Unforgettable, trained by Robin Dickin.  The horse was sporting orange blinkers; first time blinkers in fact.  Tatispout, who had refused to race last time out at Kempton Park, when competing in a Bumper for Jumpers event during the bad weather, again decided that it was not for her.  Choc sent his mount into the lead from the off and had his rivals at full stretch from 4 out.  However, he came under pressure after two out, made mistake at the last and was headed soon after by the winner, Park Lane, ridden by Jack Quinlan, trained by Noel Quinlan.


Race 6: Handicap Chase – 9 runners – 3 miles

Choc’s mount, the highly strung Suburban Bay, was very much on his toes.  As the horses began to leave the Parade Ring, his lad had to turn his charge in a circle a couple of times, trying to keep a lid on the horse’s enthusiasm.  Choc and Alan King set off down the walkway prior to the horse leaving the paddock, his jockey being legged up closer to the course exit point, the last to leave and canter directly to the start.  The race was run over two full circuits of the track.


As the horses circled at the start, it began to rain once more.


The Philip Hobbs trained, Tom O’Brien ridden, Reach For The Top jumped well and made all to win by 4½ lengths.  Suburban Bay was held up in last position, made a mistake at the 3rd fence, but made steady progress from the 10th to join the chasing group at the 13th fence.  However, he was ridden 3 out, but went into second place after 2 out; unable to close of the winner.  


Sadly, Canni Thinkar was pulled up after 3 out, fatally injured.


Race 7: Maiden Open NH Flat Race – 10 runners – 2 miles

The starting gate for this race was at the far end of the home straight, the horses cantering past the stands to reach it.


The field was led by High Ville until headed 2 furlongs out by the Nicky Henderson trained, Barry Geraghty ridden, Minella Forfitness, who went on to win by 12 lengths.  Choc had tracked the leaders aboard Soixante Six until ridden 3 furlongs out, he weakened to finish 4th.  The Martin Keighley trained runner, Indiana Oscar, finished 8th.


A treble for trainer Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty; a double for jockey Tom O’Brien.  Unfortunately Choc had seconditis having finished 2nd aboard 4 of his rides; he also rode a 4th place and a 6th place.


I confess that I ‘accidently on purpose’ headed for the main entrance at the same time as Choc was heading back to the Weighing Room following his final ride of the afternoon ... I wanted to commiserate with him following his disappointing Cheltenham Festival.  But our paths didn’t quite cross; I could have called after him, but I suddenly had an attack of shyness ... and didn’t quite know what to say.  Never mind, there will be another time.


I believe there was a poor attendance today; everyone probably had a metaphorical ‘hangover’ following the Festival.  There being few cars in the racecourse precinct, it took little time for me to exit the racecourse; although traffic was queued from the main entrance all the way to Junction 1 of the M3.  It was mainly passing traffic, rather than race-day traffic. 


It was not a very exciting drive home; but one driver very nearly took the slip-road onto the M25 by mistake and had to drive across the hatching lines to remain on the M3. 


I arrived home at 18:30; the evening was spent selecting photographs for my website, from today’s meeting and from those I’d taken at the Cheltenham Festival. 


I like to regularly check out Choc’s tweets; this evening he was holding a ‘conversation’ with Mark Ball of Lets Live Racing.  Mark suggested that Choc might like to watch a boxing match on TV that evening involving Matthew Hatton (younger brother of Ricky).  Choc wasn’t impressed by Hatton and suggested he’d be willing to fight him in place of his proposed opponent.  Mark asked Choc what his professional boxing nickname would be ... ‘Choc The Rock’ came the reply! 

Click here for photos




Rounded Rectangle: RETURN TO DIARY INDEX
Rounded Rectangle: RETURN TO HOME PAGE