DIARY – KEMPTON PARK
– SATURDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2011
RACING POST CHASE DAY
Choc in the Parade Ring prior to his ride
aboard Bakbenscher in the Racing Post Chase
A week or two previously, my friend Lesley had expressed an interest to take up my offer of a day at the races. She decided to chose Kempton Park as it was one of the courses she’d not yet visited. Kindly, she also offered to pay for my ticket, as I’d not yet suggested what I’d like for a birthday present (belatedly, as my birthday is near the beginning of January). It was therefore impossible for me to pass up the opportunity to go racing ... especially as Choc would be riding!
Today’s gate opening time was 11:50, so Lesley arranged to pick me up from my home at around 10:30, my abode being more or less en route to Kempton Park.
My outfit today was a knee-length grey tweed skirt, burgundy tights, black lace-up boots, cerise jacket, mauve sweater, burgundy cardigan, purple fleece and of course, two thermal vests.
In the event, Lesley collected me at 10:45, and we drove around the M25 and up the M3 to junction 1; arriving at the course at 11:45. As it was Kempton’s second biggest raceday of the season (the King George VI Chase day being the most important) the paddock entrance was open. Therefore having parked in the free car park, we set off to purchase our tickets at the kiosk plus, once inside the course, two race-cards for £2.50 each.
Inside the race-card there was a printed leaflet advertising trips to the start of a number of the races, plus behind-the-scene tours to visit the commentary box and Weighing Room. No final furlong coursewalk today, presumably because a number of Cheltenham Festival runners were having a racecourse gallop before racing began.
As the weather was inclement, we went to buy drinks (non-alcoholic I hasten to add – mine being a hot chocolate) and then we went to sit in front of the bank of TV screens inside the lower level of the grandstand. As the time of the scheduled racecourse gallops approached, Lesley and I went to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails from where to view the proceedings.
The first horse to appear was the Nicky Henderson trained Bellvano, with AP McCoy aboard. (In knew the horse originated from that yard as Nicky’s initials were on the rug; but the identity of the horse was latter confirmed when I watched a video of the day’s racing!) AP actually gave the horse a spin over the fences; his mount, I believe, having only had a single racecourse outing over the larger obstacles.
It was then the turn of the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Imperial Commander to gallop a circuit on the flat, accompanied by Sybarite; shortly afterwards, Khyber Kim did the same, accompanied by Astracad.
Once the racecourse gallops had been completed; we set off for the Parade Ring in preparation for the arrival of the horses prior to the first race.
As Chepstow had been abandoned, a number of jockeys diverted to Kempton Park resulting in jockey changes aboard several horses during the afternoon.
Choc had 5 riding engagements today, all for Alan King; Kumbeshwar in the first race; Bakbenscher in the Racing Post Chase; Yorgunnabelucky in race four; Causeway King in race five; and Diamond Sweeper in the bumper.
And, as Lesley likes a small each-way flutter, her chosen selections today were Captain Chris is race 2; Hey Big Spender in race 3, the Racing Post Chase; Lady Bling Bling in race 6; Diamond Sweeper in race 7.
It was soon time for the first race; and once Choc had exited the Parade Ring aboard his mount, we set off to find a suitable vantage point beside the course-side rails. The race started at the far end of the home straight, so the horses cantered past the stands to reach it.
Then they were off. Mr Muddle led them away; with the keen Kumbeshwar to his inside. These were followed by Tonic Mellysse and Molotof. In rear were Kazzene and Maoi Chinn Tire. Kumbeshwar took the lead from Mr Muddle after the first flight; the latter slightly awkward at the second.
Choc’s mount led the field past the winning post; Mr Muddle at his quarters. He was two lengths ahead of his pursuers around the ‘Lake Bend’. Barney Clifford, Clerk of the Course, refers to it as the ‘Lake Bend’ so I shall do the same from now on. The runners were closely packed as they galloped down the back straight; Kumbeshwar making his first and only error 3 out.
Heading around the final turn, Choc’s mount was still leading from Tonic Mellysse, Molotof and Zarkandar. Kazzene was tailed off by this stage.
Zarkandar came through on the outside to take the lead before 2 out; Molotof being his nearest pursuer, Kumbeshwar now in third. Despite dragging his hind-legs through the last, Zarkandar ran on to win by 2¼ lengths from Molotof; Kumbeshwar a further 15 lengths back in 3rd.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc arrive back; he unsaddled and spoke with connections before returning to the Weighing Room.
Kumbeshwar would now be aimed for the Fred Winter Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
It was soon time for the second race of the afternoon, the Pendil Novices’ Chase, in which just 3 horses would compete. And, yes, I remember Pendil well!
As Choc wasn’t competing in this race, we went to the grandstand steppings to watch proceedings. The race started at the Lake Bend on the far side of the course.
Then they were off. The field was led away by AP McCoy’s mount, Adams Island, from Captain Chris, with American Trilogy to his outside; the latter already jumping away to his left at the fences down the back. Adams Island led in for the first time, Captain Chris less than a length behind in second.
Captain Chris took the lead as they jumped the final fence in the straight with one circuit to go. American Trilogy’s propensity to jump to the left becoming even more exaggerated.
Captain Chris led down the side of the course and around the Lake Bend; Adams Island at his quarters, with American Trilogy 2 or 3 lengths behind. Captain Chris was slightly awkward 6 out but didn’t lose momentum and retained the lead. American Trilogy was losing lengths as he jumped out to the left at every fence.
Captain Chris was still going easily as they turned in for the final time; Adams Island being pushed along by AP at this stage; American Trilogy in rear. Adams Island was under pressure and 2 or 3 lengths adrift by the second last; Captain Chris extending his lead as they approached the last fence and going on to win by 13 lengths.
American Trilogy, having given away much ground due to his desire to jump to the left, was 39 lengths back in third.
As it was a 3 horse race, Lesley won her bet ... although, as Captain Chris was odds on, she won a mere £0.60 plus her stake!
Once back in the Winners’ Enclosure, American Trilogy’s connections took a look at a cut on one of the horse’s hind-legs.
It was soon time for the big race of the day, The Racing Post Chase. Choc’s mount in this race was the grey, Bakbenscher. Choc arrived early in the Parade Ring, as Alice Plunkett from Channel 4 Racing wished to interview him. I’ve since watched the recording of the interview, and Choc mentioned his concern about his mount’s jumping skills! Alice also asked Choc about his knee; it has not given him any problems since his return he said.
We waited until the horses and jockeys had left the Parade Ring, having done an extra circuit or two, before we set off to find a viewing place beside the course-side rails. The competitors stopped-off at the unsaddling area for unplaced horses in order to sort themselves into number order before exiting and being led down the course.
Annoyingly, the horses didn’t come down the course to look at the final fence; the horses being led as far as the winning post before turning and cantering back to the start; where they instead took a look at the first obstacle. Tatenen was re-saddled at the post, slightly delaying the off. The horse then hung back and had to be led in, the remaining runners ready for the off; so they were recalled. They circled again, and finally they set off.
The field was led away by Safari Adventures; followed by Sagalyrique, Mount Oscar, Quinz, and Razor Royale. Fistral Beach made a mistake at the first fence; Crescent Island and Hey Big Spender collided having cleared the first, but both survived. Bakbenscher made an error at the second.
Safari Adventures was 3 or 4 lengths clear around the Lake Bend, from Quinz and Nacarat. Choc’s mount was on the inside of the field near the rear; Mostly Bob fell at the third, Bakbenscher fortunate to avoid the prostrate horse.
There was a slight error by Quinz at the next; Door Boy and Bakbenscher brought up the rear. Safari Adventures led them into the home straight for the first time, from Nacarat and Quinz; Crescent Island was now in rear. Bakbenscher not foot perfect at most of the obstacles!
Safari Adventures led past the post with one circuit to go. Heading out into the country, still the back markers were Baksbenscher, Door Boy and Crescent Island. Choc made some progress as the field headed towards the Lake Bend; Safari Adventures still ahead, from Quinz, Nacarat and Sagalyrique; Polyfast struggling near the rear of the field.
Quinz jumped into the lead 7 out; but Bakbenscher blundered badly and unseated Choc. Quinz now led from Safari Adventures and Nacarat, Sagalyrique now began to struggle. At the final open-ditch the order was Quinz, Nacarat, Safari Adventures, Razor Royale, Tatenen, Fistral Beach and Mount Oscar, the latter subsequently made a bad error 4 out.
Quinz led in by 2 lengths from Nacarat, Mount Oscar in pursuit in third; the latter overtaking the grey between the last two fences. Richard Johnson’s mount held a very narrow margin lead over the last, but was more fluent than his pursuer. The horses fought all the way to the line, Quinz prevailing by 1¼ lengths from Mount Oscar, Nacarat completed in 3rd, with Hey Big Spender 4th.
Choc was picked up and driven back to be dropped off near the winning post, crossing the course and returning to the Weighing Room.
Once again, Lesley won her each way bet, there being 16 runners in this handicap and paying out on the first 4!
Having seen Choc return safely, we set off to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the presentations.
It’s always disappointing when Choc doesn’t make it into the enclosure at the end of a race.
By this stage of the afternoon, it was raining quite heavily, and we took shelter under an overhanging section of the grandstand.
It was then time for Choc’s 4th ride of the day; aboard Yorgunnabelucky. This was one of the horses which had participated in the first, and only, race at Newbury’s ill-fated Totesport Trophy meeting on Saturday 12 February; although the fixture had been re-scheduled and took place 6 days later.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight, the horses cantering past the stands to reach it.
The field was led away by Celtus, almost upsides him was the keen running Pullyourfingerout; Yorgunnabelucky was in third, but Choc’s mount wasn’t fluent at the second flight and lost his place.
Around the top bend the order was Pullyourfingerout, Celtus, Toubab, Sire De Grugy, Empire Levant, Yorgunnabelucky and Points of View. One of the greys, Toubab, was awkward at the third; and made a worse mistake at the fourth, dropping back as a result.
Celtus led around the Lake Bend, from Pullyourfingerout; Yorgunnabelucky was in sixth. Celtus was slightly wrong at the 5th flight; Pullyourfingerout hit the top of 3 out.
Celtus led in, from Pullyourfingerout, Sire De Grugy, Empire Levant, Yorgunnabelucky, Toubab and Points of View. Pullyourfingerout soon dropped back to fourth. Sire De Grugy led narrowly over the second last and extended his lead, clearing the last well and galloping on to win by 11 lengths from Empire Levant and Celtus. Choc’s mount trailed in sixth of the 7 runners.
We returned to the Parade Ring in preparation for the next race.
It was now time for Choc’s fourth ride of the day, aboard Causeway King. This horse had been Choc’s first ride when returning from his lengthy absence due to a knee injury; at Exeter on Sunday 05 December last year.
The race began over the far side of the course, at the Lake Bend.
Then they were off. The field was led away by the blinkered Gee Dee Nen, followed by Nicene Creed, County Zen, Benfleet Boy, Rollwiththepunches, Puzzlemaster, Causeway King, Mr Hudson, and Paint The Clouds; in rear was Ostland.
Leading into the straight for the first time, Gee Dee Nen still held the advantage, from Rollwiththepunches to his outside. Choc was centre mid-field, the broad white face of Causeway King making him easy to distinguish from the other runners. Puzzlemaster appeared to catch the third flight’s orange plastic protector and dragged it along for a few strides.
Past the post with one circuit to go, Gee Dee Neen and Rollwiththepunches led; the latter to the outside. County Zen made a mistake at the fifth, Causeway King hit the 6th; the horse losing his place completely and Choc going to the buckle end of the reins.
Around the Lake Bend, Jamie Moore’s mount still led, from Rollwiththepunches, Benfleet Boy, Nicene Creed, Mr Hudson, and Paint The Clouds. Causeway King was in rear now and would be pulled up after jumping 4 out; as was First Stream.
The very game Gee Dee Nen led from Rollwiththepunches and Benfleet Boy around the final bend. The mare, Ocean Transit, was noticeably gaining in behind, and she came to take the lead 2 out and stayed on the win by 3 lengths. The long time leader rallied, and initially held the challenge of Paint The Clouds, but the latter caught him close home to take 2nd. Ostland stayed on from the back to take 4th.
Mr Hudson, who had fallen at the second last flight, lay on the ground for quite some time, the green screens erected around him. Fortunately, however, it was purely tiredness, Racing UK reporting on their replay, that the horse had eventually got up and was unscathed.
We waited for Choc to canter by aboard the pulled-up Causeway King, before returning to the Winners’ Enclosure.
As Choc wasn’t competing in this race, once the horses for the sixth race had left the Parade Ring, we went to find a vantage point in the stands from which to watch the event.
The start of this race was at the Lake Bend on the far side of the course. As the horses circled at the start, it was noticeable that Soulard wanted to take a bite out of a number of his compatriots!
The field was led away by Soixante, who dived through the first fence but survived the blunder. Outside The Box was just in front at the second, near the rear of the field the grey, Our Bob, made a mistake.
Turning into the home straight for the first time, Our Bob, Coup Royale and Spirit De Ferbert were in rear. Outside The Box and Soixante disputed the lead up the straight; Yabora, prominent on the outside, made an error at the 7th fence. Our Bob was at the rear of the field as they turned the top bend.
Outside the Box and Soixante led down the side of the course; Lady Bling Bling made an error at the 8th and another at the 9th; Soixante held a slight advantage over the open-ditch. Around the Lake Bend, the leaders remained the same, followed by Yabora, Rory Boy, Forget It, and Lady Bling Bling.
Soulard dropped out as the field headed down the back straight, and was now in rear alongside Spirit De Ferbet and Our Bob; Cruchain hit the 10th. Soixante led by 2 to 3 lengths as they cleared 4 out; Rory Boy making an error at this fence, and Outside The Box blundered and unseated Will Kennedy.
Soixante and Forget It led in, they were clear of Cruchain, Coup Royale and Lady Bling Bling; the latter awkward 3 out. Coup Royale came to take the lead from Soixante as they jumped 2 out and went on to win by 8 lengths. Soixante just held Forget It by a short-head, with Lady Bling Bling 7 lengths away in 4th.
Lesley just failed to win her bet in this one, as Lady Bling Bling finished 4th in this 11 runner race.
We returned to the Parade Ring in preparation for the final race of the day. Choc’s mount in this event was Diamond Sweeper, owned by photographer Mel Fordham.
Once the horses had left the Paddock, we set off to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails. The start of the race was at the far end of the home straight, so the competitors cantered past the stands to reach it.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Oscar Magic and Hoare Abbey; Diamond Sweeper keen in third. Deciding Moment had dived away to its left, heading towards the outside rail, as the runners set off and lost around 10 to 12 lengths; however he made up the distance and, by the time they reached the top turn, both Sleeping Tree and Dawn Auction were behind him.
Oscar Magic continued to dispute the lead with Hoare Abbey as the field travelled down the side of the course and, upon exiting the Lake Bend, they steered slightly wide in order to avoid a swan which was waddling across the course! Choc’s mount was still in third position. By this stage, Sleeping Tree, War Of The World and Master Dane appeared to be struggling.
Choc started to push his mount along as they travelled around the final bend but began to lose his place. The long time leader, Oscar Magic, set sail for home, his nearest pursuers being Tour D’Argent and Grabtheglory. However, Oscar Magic stayed on well to win by 3¼ lengths.
Another betting loss for Lesley, as Diamond Sweeper finished 5th.
Although many punters decide to leave as soon as the final race had ended; and quite a few will have left after the penultimate race too; we returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back before we set off to collect the car.
Despite having both bought and shared a portion of chips earlier in the afternoon, we decided to eat a few M & S ‘Extremely Chocolatey Mini Milk Chocolate Rounds’ before setting off for home (our favourite post-race day treat). Traffic was queuing from the roundabout beneath the M3 back to the main Kempton Park entrance but, once on the motorway, the journey home went smoothly.
Lesley dropped me off at 18:30. I enjoyed my day out at the races; but it always seems that Racing Post Chase day isn’t one of Choc’s luckiest fixtures! Although, having said that, at the 2009 meeting I did see him win the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle aboard Trenchant.