Kempton Park – Monday 25 November 2013

Charity Race Day in aid of Starlight



Race 3 c r.jpg


The mares fight out the finish to the feature race of the day.

Left to right: Ma Filleule (Barry Geraghty),

Highland Retreat (Noel Fehily) and

Weather Babe (Conor O’Farrell).


My trip to Kempton Park took place on the Monday of a long weekend, as I was still in the process of using up my annual leave before the year-end deadline.  The previous Friday I’d completed my Christmas shopping ... although it had proved to be expensive, not due to the presents themselves but because I’d seen and bought items for myself whilst in the process of searching for gifts in Next and M & S.  I’d found a lovely scarf in the former ... just for a change ... and a skirt and two cardigans in the latter.  My final stop off point was the local garden centre where I purchased a garden voucher, and gifts for both of my brothers. 

Earlier I’d also visited Argos to buy two CD storage units; these had been on my ‘most wanted’ list for a while, but the final straw came when I caught the hem of my nightdress on one of the existing metal towers and had pulled it over, scattering the CDs across the floor!  

Friday afternoon was spent watching the racing from Ascot, constructing a necklace and one of the CD towers.  Later that evening I’d knitted a Katia Big Snow scarf, also a present.  Choc had ridden at Ascot on the Friday, where he’d had two rides, and was due there again on the Saturday for two more, in the first and last races of the day.  However, I’d decided against a trip to the Berkshire track, with runners throughout the afternoon thin on the ground – just two in the feature Amlin Chase and four in the feature hurdle.  It didn’t work out for Choc in the first either, with Carraig Mor the 1-8 favourite making an error three out from which he didn’t fully recover, finding it impossible to peg back the winner; he finished 2nd. 

In contrast, Saturday’s Haydock Park card had been well supported, Cue Card running brilliantly to win the Grade 1 Betfair Chase from a high class field which included Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti, Tidal Bay, and Dynaste.       

Sunday morning was spent wrapping the Christmas presents which, for some reason, I always find laborious and, the older I get the worse I get at it too!  I also shortened a pair of my mum’s trousers and visited my older brother and sister-in-law in order for the latter to trim my hair.

So, by the time I set off to the races, all my Christmas presents had been bought or made, and wrapped as well!  My annual mission had been accomplished - everything sorted, apart from Christmas cards, before the end of November!!! 

Having completed all the jobs in hand, I was raring to go to Kempton Park on Monday, where Choc had two riding engagements – aboard Midnight Sail and Turn Over Sivola. 

The first race was due off at 12:30, so gates opened at 10:30.  My initial plan was to leave home at 09:30 latest as I wished to visit Argos once more, this time to purchase a new rack for my shoes ... as by this time I was fully in flat-pack construction mode!  I also wanted to purchase a hi-viz waistcoat from Halfords, as I’m fed up with car drivers ignoring me on zebra crossings.  It’s hellishly dangerous out there for a pedestrian after dark!  My main problem being that I have to cross through a queue of stationary traffic nearside and out onto the clear carriageway when vehicles are speeding away from a roundabout.

Anyway, in the event, I didn’t leave home until 09:45 as I’d been a little too casual in the time I’d allowed myself for preparation.  For the record, today’s outfit consisted of a black camisole type vest, violet thermal long-sleeved vest, cerise frill edged cardigan, purple fleece, black gillet, green heavyweight Cotton Traders fleece, black faux sheepskin jacket, burgundy winter-weight tights, M & S tweed skirt with double-frill hem (which I think I’ve had for donkey’s years but hardly ever worn) plus the black suede fur-topped ankle boots I normally wear for work!

I decided to take the route via the lane past the converted cotton mill and through the housing estate to reach Argos today, rather than the ring-road, as on Friday morning I’d been held up in a long queue of traffic negotiating a double mini-roundabout junction – always annoying when traffic on the other three approaches to the junction are flowing smoothly with no delay whatsoever whilst just one, mine, has a very long tailback!  Bring back the traffic lights ... which there were at this junction many moons ago.

Anyway, having completed my purchases, I set off for Kempton Park at 10:15.  My route took me from the retail park through Chiswell Green to join the M25 at Junction 21A.  There were no problems on the anti-clockwise carriageway until Junction 17 at Maple Cross, a warning sign providing notification of an accident ahead.  I remained on the motorway, hoping it would not delay me too long; a number of vehicles decided against continuing and headed down the exit slip-road instead. 

The speed limit suggested by the signs on the overhead gantries was 40 mph ... it was more like 14, with spells of being stationary!  Whilst waiting, an ambulance and a doctor’s car weaved their way between the queue of vehicles in the two outside lanes.  Eventually the accident scene was reached, situated shortly before the railway bridge  which spans the motorway; providing a crossing for the Chiltern Railways Marylebone to Birmingham Line.  The delay was being caused by vehicles which had been travelling in the inside lane merging into lane 2 to avoid the vehicles involved in the accident.

The remainder of the journey went smoothly; my route taking me past the M40 and M4 junctions and Heathrow Airport; evidently this section of the motorway is one of the busiest in Europe, with approximately 200,000 vehicles using it each day.  Having headed up the M3 towards London, I left at Junction 1, taking Staines Road East past the main entrance to the racecourse, and continuing until I reached the gate further along.  I headed along the drive to reach the area in front of the small Silver Ring stand, where I was directed to park my car. 

It was 11:15, which wasn’t bad considering I’d been held up by an accident on the M25.  Unusually, today, a gap had been left between the parked cars to allow vehicles to gain easier access to the Betting Ring via the side gateway.  Also, in the middle of the area, there was a car parked waywardly, sideways-on to every other vehicle; strange.

I decided to eat three of the four cheese rolls I’d brought with me before I put on my coat, scarf and boots and headed to the main entrance.  Building works were still being carried out on the administration building which is located alongside the main car park, metal barriers preventing public access.  As the gates had been open for around an hour, there was a queue of people waiting to purchase their tickets; I joined the one on the right-hand side because I wanted to pay by credit card. 

Having obtained my ticket, and exited the door at the back of the ticket office area, I then purchased a race-card for £2.50 from the lady in the kiosk.  Just time for a quick trip to the loo before I returned to the concourse beside the Parade Ring.  Whilst there, I was approached by a group of three people, one of whom asked if I’d been to Kempton Park before ... yeeeeesssss ... he wanted to know where he should stand to obtain an autograph from a jockey. An AP McCoy autograph hunter I presume!  I explained where the Weighing Room was, and suggested he wait near the horse-walk gates, as the riders would then walk past him on their way to the Parade Ring.

I sat down on one of the benches opposite the Parade Ring and began to make notes in preparation for my diary ... but it wasn’t very long before the runners began to appear ahead of the first race of the day.  I’d forgotten that I’d not arrived as early as I usually do!  Anyway, I soon decided to head along the path which runs around the perimeter of the paddock to reach the far side by the tall conifers, where I remained until the jockeys were legged up and began their journey along the walkway towards the racecourse.

Whilst I was beside the Parade Ring, ex-jockey, now Lead Education Officer for the British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust's (in other words BHEST) education programme Racing to School, recent Jets Griffins Richard Davis Achievement Award winner and, of course, one of Choc’s mates(!), Ollie Macphail arrived with a group of children and teachers to view the horses too.  Whilst I headed to the course-side rails within the main betting ring to view the race, Ollie and the group of pupils and teachers set off to watch the race from rails beside the Silver Ring.

The going today was good, good to soft on the lake bend (located at the far corner of the triangular course). 

The start for the first race of the day was at the far end of the home straight, the horses cantering down past the main grandstand to reach it. 

Race 1: National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle – 2 miles – 8 hurdles –  8 ran

The horses taking part were Hawaii Five Nil, Kaki Island, Lightentertainment, Ma’ire Rua, Mojeek, Sgt Reckless, Western Movie and West Wizard.  The latter, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, was the 1-6 favourite to win on this occasion, having bolted up in a bumper over course and distance last March.  Never wishing to go for the obvious, my alternative paddock selection on looks was Sgt Reckless. 

Having reached the race time of 12:30 they were soon off.  The runners were led away by Kaki Island, whilst bringing up the rear was Ma’Ire Rua; the latter soon a number of lengths to the rear of the field.  Sgt Reckless had initially taken second place, but Western Movie soon pulled his way through to track the leader. 

Ma’Ire Rua didn’t look particularly keen to be at the races, a fact which soon became clear when he veered out to his left when negotiating the top turn, his jockey Denis O’Regan unable to prevent him running off the course.  In the process he jumped the plastic rails, well almost, depositing his jockey on the ground as a result.  He knew his way off the racecourse too, turning back to the walkway entrance, where he also demolished the plastic rails before cantering back to the Winners’ Enclosure.  Following a circuit of which at the trot, he returned along the walkway to be caught by his trainer before he could do any more damage to the Kempton Park environment!  Crazy horses ... I’ve been to see the Osmonds too often!!!  Mind you, their crazy horses are, in fact, cars. 

Meanwhile, back on the racecourse, Kaki Island continued to lead the remaining runners down the side of the track and around the far turn, West Wizard travelling in fifth position at this stage.  AP’s mount, Hawaii Five Nil was held up in the last pair, and not jumping particularly well, displaying a marked tendency to jump out to his left; never an advantage on a right-handed course!

West Wizard made progress along the back straight and both he and Sgt Reckless joined Kaki Island soon after the third last flight.  Dominic Elsworth’s mount taking the advantage as they galloped around the final bend to head for home, his jockey glancing behind to see where he main rival was ... he was just a length or two down.

However, as they straightened out on the run to the line, Barry Geraghty had already begun to push West Wizard along, Sgt Reckless still seemingly going well within himself.  Having cleared two out, Mick Channon’s runner began to pull away from the race ‘hot-pot’.  He cleared the last well and went on to win by 5 lengths at the line, although probably flattered by the distance as Barry Geraghty had been easy on his mount, administering just one tap of the whip, once the outcome had become clear. 

Hawaii Five Nil jumped out markedly to his left over the last flight, but still ran on to claim third place. Mojeek, who was tailed off in last place at the time, took a heavy tumble at the penultimate flight.  He was down for a few minutes but fortunately was okay, a fact which was relayed via the announcement system, the horse being led back up the racecourse by his handler. 

It’s at times like this that I wish I’d put on a small bet, Sgt Reckless returning at odds of 7-2.  The trainer’s son was in charge of their runner today and, when interviewed by David Fitzgerald of Racing UK, said they were very pleased with the horse’s run, admitting that Sgt Reckless had not been the most fluent jumper when schooling at home.  He said they couldn’t run scared of all the Nicky Henderson horses, deciding to take their chance today and it had paid off.  Anti-post favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival before his run today, West Wizard had been lengthened out to odds of 20-1 for that particular event. 

The result:

1st: Sgt Reckless (trained by Mick Channon, ridden by Dominic Elsworth)

2nd: West Wizard (trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Barry Geraghty)

3rd: Hawaii Five Nil (trained by Jonjo O’Neill, ridden by AP McCoy)

4th: Kaki Island (trained by Chris Gordon, ridden by Tom Cannon)

As always (well almost!) I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back, before setting off to the far side of the Parade Ring to await the arrival of the runners ahead of the second race.

Once the horses had left the paddock, I headed to my favourite vantage point beside the course-side rails from which to view the next race.  The starting gate for which is at the beginning of the side straight, with almost two full circuits to travel. 

Whilst waiting for the race to begin, I chatted with one of the official photographers who stood close by.  We mentioned how cold it was today, there being a brisk cold breeze blowing across the course. He told me he was going to Newbury at the end of the week, for all three days of the Heritage Festival and would be staying at the local Travel Lodge ... cheap and cheerful he said.  Although he was concerned that the adjacent Little Chef might be closed down soon, like so many of the restaurant chain in recent times.  I used to love their cherry pancakes served with ice cream!

Race 2: Beginners’ Chase – 3 miles – 18 fences – 4 ran

Just 4 runners in this event, Bear’s Affair, Dunlough Bay, Kentford Legend and Oscar Baby; the Mick Channon representative, the Radford owned Viva Steve, now a non-runner.  Again the Nicky Henderson runner Bear’s Affair was favourite, an odds-on chance at 3-10.  Having cleared the plastic rails(!) and the doctor prior to the next race, Denis O’Regan was okay to take up his riding engagement aboard Dunlough Bay.

Then they were off.  The runners were led away by Kentford Legend and Dunlough Bay, from Oscar Baby; Bear’s Affair held up in rear.  The pace was a sedate one.  The first semblance of an error was at the 5th fence, where Kentford Legend made a mistake; he continued to lead until Dunlough Bay took over as they travelled around the bend and into the home straight on the first occasion.  Denis O’Regan’s mount got a little close to the next fence, enabling Kentford Legend to once more vie for the lead as they continued towards the stands.  The pace remained fairly sedate, with not a lot happening!

The runners headed around the top turn and along the side of the racetrack once more.  Dunlough Bay was jumping more slowly than his rivals, this resulted in him losing ground at his fences, but he remained in runner-up position. Due to the lack of pace, the field was still closely grouped as they travelled around the far turn, just seven fences still to jump. As the favourite made progress on the outside of the field, Oscar Baby began to get outpaced, hitting the 13th fence. 

Dunlough Bay took over as they cleared the 14th obstacle, the open-ditch, quickly followed through by Bear’s Affair.  Kentford Legend soon lost tabs on the two leaders, his jockey glancing behind to ascertain if the remaining runner, Oscar Baby, might be a threat for third.  Erh ... no.

Over three out, Barry Geraghty’s mount joined the leader, and was travelling the better; Denis O’Regan managed to keep his mount going though and was only a slightly down on the leader as they cleared two out.  However, Bear’s Affair sped away from the fence and soon set up a two length advantage over his rival.  The Nicky Henderson runner cleared the last and galloped on to win by 3¾ lengths easing down at the line from Dunlough Bay.

Kentford Legend completed 39 lengths back in third, with Oscar Bay a further 27 lengths away in 4th. 

The result:

1st: Bear’s Affair (trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Barry Geraghty)

2nd: Dunlough Bay (trained by Paul Webber, ridden by Denis O’Regan)

3rd: Kentford Legend (trained by JW [Seamus] Mullins, ridden by Andrew Thornton)

4th: Oscar Baby (trained by Mrs DM Grissell, ridden by Marc Goldstein)

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back, before setting off to the far side of the Parade Ring to await the arrival of the runners ahead of the next race.

Once the horses had departed the Parade Ring I headed off to the course-side rails, via the concrete steps to the side of the grandstand.  Being an extended 3 mile trip, the starting gate for this race was at the beginning of the straight heading away from the stands. 

Race 3: Mares’ Hurdle Race (Listed) – 3 miles ½ a furlong – 12 hurdles – 5 ran

This was the feature race of the day, the five runners being Ma Filleule, Tweedledrum, Definitely Glad, Highland Retreat and Weather Babe.  The odds-on favourite was the Harry Fry trained Highland Retreat at 4-7.  I liked Tweedledrum, because she is pretty, not because I thought she might win!

Then they were off.  The runners were led away by Highland Retreat, from Weather Babe, Ma Filleule, Definitely Glad, and Tweedledrum; Barry Geraghty’s mount advanced into second position as they headed towards the far turn.  Travelling down the back straight, the horses progressed in Indian file, Definitely Glad having been relegated to last place.

Ears pricked, the favourite led the runners into the home straight on the first occasion, the Nicky Henderson-trained grey was close on her heels still taking a fairly keen hold.  The latter runner was not as fluent as the leader when jumping the flight nearest the stands.  The mares headed past the winning post, around the top bend and out onto the final circuit.

The two leaders began to put daylight between themselves and the other three runners as they headed towards the far turn, Ma Filleule again less fluent than the leader over the 8th hurdle.  Noel Fehily began to push his mount along as they proceeded around the lake bend.  Weather Babe and Tweedledrum closed the gap on the leaders as the travelled down the back straight, although Highland Retreat continued in command at the head of affairs, jumping more fluently than her pursuers.

Around the home bend they galloped, Ma Filleule a couple of lengths behind the leader, and Weather Babe two and a half lengths behind her.  Tweedledrum was under pressure in fourth position; Definitely Glad had lost touch at the back of the field. 

Heading towards two out, Ma Filleule and Weather Babe were ridden in an attempt to bridge the gap between themselves and the leader, but Highland Retreat was not for passing and remained ahead of her rivals.  However, the leader dived away to her left at the last and blundered, almost handing the initiative to the other two runners.  But she stayed on gamely under pressure and held on by a length at the line, from Weather Babe, Ma Filleule half a length back in third. 

Tweedledrum completed in fourth but Denis O’Regan pulled up Definitely Glad before the last, despite there being prize money for all five runners, ranging from £10,895 for the winner to £560 for the fifth placed horse.

The result:

1st: Highland Retreat (trained by Harry Fry, ridden by Noel Fehily)

2nd: Weather Babe (trained by David Pipe, ridden by Conor O’Farrell)

3rd: Ma Filleule (trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Barry Geraghty)

4th: Tweedledrum (trained by Tom Symonds, ridden by Ben Poste)

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure area to see the horses arrive back.  It was now time for Ollie Macphail to herd his charges to the paddock side rails to watch the proceedings.  A number of the children were wearing jockey silks, in the colours of well-known owners, including the pink, mauve and white of Sir Robert Ogden ... and probably the green and gold of JP McManus and the green, yellow and white Trevor Hemmings’ colours too, although I can’t remember for sure!!!

The horses having returned to the stables I set off along the Parade Ring’s perimeter fence to find a suitable spot before the runners arrived ahead of the next race.  It was also now time for Choc’s first ride of the afternoon, aboard Midnight Sail. 

There was no sign of Alan King, Travelling Head Lad Matt Howells in sole charge of saddling the yard’s runners today. Midnight Sail is owned by Mr ARW Marsh, but there was only a middle-aged lady representing the owner; Choc chatted to them both before Matt went over to the horse to prepare it ahead of the jockey being legged-up.

Once Choc had departed the Parade Ring I returned to my usual race watching vantage point beside the course-side rails.  Fortunately I was in time to reserve my place, as Ollie’s ‘mob’ arrived beside me shortly afterwards to view the race.  The starting gate for this event was in the far corner of the track, the horses heading along the side of the course to reach it immediately upon exiting the walkway.  It was actually quite difficult to view the runners circling at the start from the course-side rails, so the children discovered; far better to look at them on the big screen.

Race 4: Handicap Chase – 2 miles 4½ furlongs – 16 fences – 7 ran

The 7 runners were Bally Legend, Jump City, Midnight Sail, Persian Snow, Giorgio Quercus, Lost Legend and Mentalist.  The favourite was Persian Snow at 3-1. 

Then they were off.  The field was led away by Bally Legend and Jump City, from Giorgio Quercus, Midnight Sail, Persian Snow, Mentalist and Lost Legend.  Midnight Sail landed a little steeply over the first but was okay, and was a tiny bit awkward over the next too.  But he warmed to his task and all the runners jumped the following ditch and plain fence well, before heading around the turn and into the home straight for the first time.

Jump City led the way, with Bally Legend at his girth, Midnight Sail in third position; Bally Legend jumped with more fluency heading over the line of fences as they travelled towards the stands and took over the lead as a result.  The order past the lollipop with one circuit to go was Bally Legend, from Midnight Sail, Jump City, Mentalist, Persian Snow, Giorgio Quercus and Lost Legend. Mentalist made an error at the 9th fence, the second open-ditch, receiving a reminder for his troubles from jockey Liam Treadwell. 

The field travelled around the lake turn and began their journey down the back straight; another mistake from Mentalist on the outside of the field at the first in the line of four fences.  Having cleared two more fences, Liam’s mount was now struggling at the rear of the field, even the favourite Persian Snow was in danger of losing touch too.

Bally Legend continued to lead as the field headed around the final turn, the quality of his jumping having been an asset throughout the race.  Midnight Sail was currently in second spot, with Jump City and Giorgio Quercus disputing third.  The two remaining horses appeared to be struggling in their wake, Mentalist having been pulled up in rear.

As they entered the home straight, Choc’s mount was the first to give way, dropping back to fourth, as both Jump City and Giorgio Quercus laid down their challenges to the long-time leader.  These three cleared the third last in unison, Jump City the next to crack as they headed towards two out.  Barry Geraghty’s mount held the advantage as they jumped the fence but another great leap from Bally Legend saw him draw alongside once more and they were both driven towards the final obstacle.

Again the horses took off and landed together, but the Nicky Henderson runner held all the aces once on the flat, and was ridden out to win by ¾ of a length from the very gallant and likeable Bally Legend.  Jump City completed five lengths away in 3rd, with Lost Legend a further 16 lengths back in 4th.  Persian Snow claimed 5th, Midnight Sail getting very tired and jumping out to his left finished last. 

The result:

1st: Giorgio Quercus (trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Barry Geraghty)

2nd: Bally Legend (trained by Mrs Caroline Keevil, ridden by Ian Popham)

3rd: Jump City (trained by Paul Nicholls, ridden by Mr Will Biddick)

4th: Lost Legend (trained by Jonjo O’Neill, ridden by AP McCoy)

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses come back; a shame that Choc’s mount had failed to fill one of the first four places and, as such, would be unsaddled in the enclosure reserved for unplaced horses located alongside the horse walkway, across the lawn from the Weighing Room. 

Owner Liz Prowting had a runner in the next race, the Richard Phillips-trained Rich Buddy; the horse was the prettiest one in the paddock!  The owner, her Racing Manager @HannahBishop79 and the very talented artist/illustrator @DarrenBirdie were at Kempton Park today to see the horse run.

On this occasion I remained on the steps to the side of the Winners’ Enclosure until the runners began to depart along the horse-walk on their way to the course.  The start of this event was at the beginning of the straight heading away from the grandstand, the race taking place over almost two full circuits of the track.

Race 5: Handicap Hurdle – 3 miles ½ a furlong – 12 hurdles – 9 ran

The 9 runners were Woodford County, Rich Buddy, Dreamsoftheatre, Tarvini, Alberobello, Time For Spring, Barton Stacey, Halucha and Marie Deja La.   The favourite was the grey Dreamsoftheatre, a 7-2 chance, trained by Jonjo O’Neill and ridden by AP McCoy.

Then they were off.  The runners were led away by Halucha, almost upsides were Dreamsoftheatre, Rich Buddy and Alberobello; behind this leading group were Woodford County together with Time For Spring, then to the rear Marie Deja La, Barton Stacey and Tarvini.  All the runners having cleared the first without problem, there was a minor error from Woodford County at the second flight.

The horses headed around the lake turn and onwards down the back straight; Halucha and Alberobello at the head of affairs, with Dreamsoftheatre sandwiched between them half a length back in third.  Alberobello held a narrow advantage over the field as they travelled up the home straight and past the stands on the first occasion.  Tarvini was already being pushed along at the rear of the field.

By dint of holding the inside line around the top turn, Halucha took a narrow lead as they began the final circuit; Alberobello took the advantage again as they headed towards the lake turn once more.  Exiting the bend, Halucha was soon being ridden along.  Rich Buddy, on the outside of the field, was also being pushed along having cleared the fourth last flight.  Tarvini was just beginning to lose touch at the rear of the field, his jockey waving his whip vigorously and administering a few cracks to the horse too. 

Alberobello and Dreamsoftheatre led the way into the final turn, from Rich Buddy who had responded to Ian Popham’s urgings.  Marie Deja La travelled in behind them, from Woodford County; the others were all beginning to lose touch with these leaders and Tarvini was many lengths in rear.

Alberobello and Dreamsoftheatre jumped the penultimate flight in unison, from Marie Deja La and Rich Buddy who did the same; although the latter hit the flight. AP McCoy’s mount had gained a slight advantage by the time they cleared the last and galloped on to win by 2¼ lengths over Alberobello at the line.  Marie Deja La completed 1¼ lengths back in third, Rich Buddy just a neck behind in 4th.  The remaining five runners finished tailed off. 

The result:

1st: Dreamsoftheatre (trained by Jonjo O’Neill, ridden by AP McCoy)

2nd: Alberobello (trained by Jeremy Scott, ridden by Nick Scholfield)

3rd: Marie Deja La (trained by Chris Gordon, ridden by Louis Muspratt)

4th: Rich Buddy (trained by Richard Phillips, ridden by Ian Popham)

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back; on this occasion heading to the far side in order to take a photograph of both the winner and the 4th placed horse. 

It was then time for Choc’s second and final ride of the day, aboard Turn Over Sivola; the horse was taking part in his first handicap over the larger obstacles, having lost out twice previously this season to Paul Nicholls-trained runners, Dodging Bullets and Hinterland, in novice chase company.  He was also stepping up in trip from 2 miles.

Just one male owner representative for Choc to chat to prior to being legged-up onto his mount. Once he was heading down the horse-walk towards the course, I set off to my usual vantage point beside the course-side rails.  

Again the starting gate for this event was over in the far corner of the track, by the lake, the horses cantering directly away from the stands to reach it. 

Race 6: Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase – 2 miles 4½ furlongs – 16 fences – 4 ran

Just 4 runners in this race, Royal Boy, Baby Mix, Turn Over Sivola and Jimbill.  Again the favourite was the Nicky Henderson runner, Royal Boy.

Then they were off; Baby Mix holding a narrow advantage over Jimbill as they cleared the first fence.  Choc’s mount made an error here, but jumped the second okay and all four cleared the third fence well, it being the first open-ditch.  Jimbill, who now led, got a little close to the fourth fence, losing momentum and handing back the initiative to Baby Mix once more.

Heading around the home bend, the runners were travelling in two-by-two formation; this continued as they cleared the three fences on their journey towards the winning post for the first occasion, although Choc’s mount was slightly less fluent than the others when clearing the last in this line of three.

Having negotiated the top turn, the runners headed down the side of the track, Royal Boy making a jumping error at the first fence on this section of the course, in contrast to Baby Mix who put in an excellent leap to clear the open-ditch which followed.  Royal Boy was detached from the back of the field by two or three lengths as they entered the lake turn, Barry Geraghty encouraging his mount forward to catch up with his rivals once more. 

Exiting the turn, Baby Mix and Jimbill cleared the next in unison, as did Turn Over Sivola and Royal Boy; although Choc’s mount was again a little untidy at this fence.  He was also less fluent than the others at the 12th fence, the final open-ditch.  Jumping well, the two leaders had set up an advantage of around four lengths over Turn Over Sivola by the time they entered the final turn; Royal Boy was now toiling at the rear of the field a further three lengths back.

Travelling well within himself at the head of affairs, Baby Mix began to extend his advantage over Jimbill, Turn Over Sivola soon having bridged the gap to join the latter and dispute second place.  But Michael Byrne’s weakening mount capsized on landing over the third last, leaving Turn Over Sivola to pursue Baby Mix alone. 

But the grey continued on relentlessly, clearing the final two fences with ease and going on to win by 18 lengths at the line, easing down; Turn Over Sivola having come to the end of his tether over the extended distance.  Struggling in rear, Royal Boy had been hampered by the fallen horse having successfully negotiated three out and finished 26 lengths behind the runner-up.  Jimbill was fine following his mishap.

The result:

1st: Baby Mix (trained by Warren Greatrex, ridden by Noel Fehily)

2nd: Turn Over Sivola (trained by Alan King, ridden by Choc Thornton)

3rd: Royal Boy (trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Barry Geraghty)

Only three finished.

Not wishing to get caught up in heavy rush-hour traffic on the M25, I left at 15:25, before the final race of the day.  But not before I’d seen Choc walk back to the Weighing Room and disappear from sight! 

However I will describe the final race of the day, the starting gate of which is located at the far end of the home straight, with that and one full circuit to travel.

Race 7: Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle – 2 miles – 8 hurdles – 9 ran

The runners were Ranjaan, Poet, Roman Flight, Who’s Cross, Fourth Estate, Pippa Greene, Dollar Bill, Taaresh and To The Sky.  The favourite was Poet at 11-4.  

Then they were off.  The field was led away at a sedate pace by the hooded To The Sky; Poet took a keen hold in second position, from Fourth Estate, Who’s Cross and Dollar Bill line across the course; in rear, Roman Flight, Ranjaan, Taaresh and Pippa Greene.  Poet clattered through the second flight.

To The Sky continued to lead as the runners headed around the top turn and out into the country for the one and only time.  Poet was a clear second; Pippa Greene held up at the rear of the field.  The leader hit the 4th flight but retained a clear margin over the others.  Having exited the lake turn, the main group of runners began to close upon the long-time leader.

However, To The Sky remained at the head of affairs as the field entered the final turn, but all eight of his rivals were now queuing up to take him on as they turned into the final straight and approached the penultimate flight.  The tiring leader made an error here, Fourth Estate landing ahead but he was joined by Ranjaan as they approached the last.    

They cleared the flight in unison, Harry Derham and Jeremiah McGrath driving Ranjaan and Fourth Estate respectively to the line.  Ranjaan got the verdict by a neck.  However, in the process of doing so, he’d drifted to his right, taking Fourth Estate over toward the far rail in the process.   

There was a Stewards’ enquiry, but the result stood.  Roman Flight had finished ¾ of a length back in 3rd, with Pippa Greene staying on to finish 4th.

The result:

1st: Ranjaan (trained by Paul Nicholls, ridden by Harry Derham)

2nd: Fourth Estate (trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Jeremiah McGrath)

3rd: Roman Flight (trained by David Dennis, ridden by Kieron Edgar)

4th: Pippa Greene (trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Nico de Boinville)

I exited via the Paddock gateway, heading through the Silver Ring entrance adjacent to the main car park area and up the concrete steps to reach my car. 

Having removed my coat and scarf, and changed into a pair of moccasins, I set off for home.  My route took me back down the driveway to the gate located on Staines Road East.  There were two cars parked close to the road, in fact they blocked the exit lane, the rear one had its hazard lights flashing.  I steered my car onto the right-hand lane instead, the entry road, to reach the roadway outside, turning right and heading back past Kempton Park’s main entrance. 

Often the tailback of traffic from the motorway junction reaches the racecourse, but today I got as far as the apex of the railway bridge just a short distance from the traffic lights before I needed to queue.  Just a couple of changes of the signals and I was on my way along the M3 towards the M25. There were no hold-ups on the latter motorway and my journey went smoothly as darkness fell.  I exited at Junction 22, London Colney, heading up the dual carriageway to the large roundabout situated on the A414.

Despite it being just after 16:00, and certainly not what I would class as rush-hour, traffic at this point of my journey was extremely heavy.  One idiotic driver, who entered the roundabout from the lane signposted to turn left, weaved their way through the moving traffic which was heading straight on, in order to turn right.  Scary and madness.  

I’m not absolutely sure what time I arrived home, but it was definitely before 16:25.  Although I do recall having to negotiate a number of jay walkers near the bus stop outside the local College.   

The house was quite warm but I felt cold during the evening, my day out must have chilled me to the bone!  Although, having said that, my clothes appeared to have retained a lot of warmth between the five layers which I’d continued to wear during the evening!

I turned-in at half past midnight, having written my blog, selected and uploaded my photographs and transferred the race recordings to DVD, three before my evening meal and the remaining four immediately before bed time.

But I’ve failed miserably in my intention to write a brief diary for this particular visit to the races ... as it contains 6,479 words!

Click here for photos races 1 to 4

Click here for photos races 5 and 6




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