DIARY – KEMPTON PARK
SUNDAY 20 OCTOBER 2013
Choc (left) drives out Duroble Man to win the Juvenile Hurdle
I like to attend Kempton Park’s first National Hunt fixture of the season so, despite having travelled out to Cheltenham the previous day, I also decided upon a trip to the Sunbury-On-Thames track. Unfortunately my friend Lesley was unavailable again today, so it was a ‘Norman No Mates’ trip once more.
The weather forecast wasn’t great, with heavy rain showers expected – but with Choc having had a very disappointing day at Cheltenham – I wanted to see him win a race if possible.
Alan King had five runners today, two for Choc (Duroble Man and Turn Over Sivola), two for Wayne Hutchinson (Suburban Bay and Gold Ingot) and one for Mr Joshua Newman (Oh Crick).
With the first race due off at 14:15, gates opened at 12:15; this gave me plenty of time to get ready and make the under an hour journey to the track. The day dawned bright in Hertfordshire, but the first heavy rain shower arrived around 09:00 – the skies so dark that I had to turn the electric lights back on! In fact the TV weather forecaster said the UK was currently on ‘rinse cycle’!
Breakfast today was porridge with blueberries and two slices of buttered toast. Having got very wet at Cheltenham the previous day, I put my intended outfit away as I deemed it unsuitable for such weather and decided upon a black vest top, a long-sleeved plum coloured thermal vest (it was due to be mild but it’s better to be too warm than too cold), my lagoon coloured cardigan, short paisley patterned hankerchief skirt, brown leggings, purple fleece, black gillet, wine coloured jacket and M & S burgundy/cream/brown coloured scarf. Plus my black fleece lined boots; I wanted no repeat of yesterday when my feet had got wet whilst wearing my favourite wedge-heeled shoes.
And I wore my lucky Magic Branches necklace today, hoping that it would bring the luck needed for Choc to ride a winner today; especially after the misfortune he’d encountered when riding Balder Succes the previous day.
I also had to select a different handbag, as yesterday’s choice was currently drying out in the airing cupboard; the contents thereof had been sitting on the dining table overnight and these were now placed into my brown ASOS handbag ... although it was a squeeze!
I showered, washed and dried my hair at 09:00, applied my make-up, placed my coat and boots in the car and departed at 11:00 ... only to get around a mile down the road and realise I’d forgotten my fleeces! I decided to return home to collect them, setting out once more at 11:15.
On this occasion I took a slightly different route, travelling along our local ring-road; my original route is frequented by magpies so I didn’t want to double my risk of seeing one, especially as I’d not seen one during my aborted drive a few minutes earlier! Phew! I’d seen one magpie the previous day (on the A40 near Eynsham) and it had turned out to be a bad day for Choc, although not for me ... apart from getting rather wet!
Today there appeared to be a car boot sale at one of the local schools, with cars lining and obstructing the roadway; one person even stood with their car door wide open into the roadway whilst they rummaged within the vehicle – don’t worry about the causing problems to the passing traffic will you! Dimwit!
My route took me along the A414 North Orbital Road to reach the Park Street roundabout and then onwards to Junction 21A of the M25 where I joined the anticlockwise carriageway. Traffic was flowing smoothly on the motorway and there were no holdups on either the M25 or the M3; although the glare off the wet road surface was bad in places. I left the latter motorway at Junction 1, coming to a halt behind Donald McCain’s blue horsebox! The queue was too long for me to proceed forward at the first traffic light change, the horsebox having made it through, turned left along Hanworth Road in order to enter the racecourse via the Park Road Gate.
There was a yellow notice warning of a road closure to the A308 Staines Road East, but I proceeded along the road, passing the main entrance to the racecourse, and soon reached the entrance to the free car park. The notified closure was situated further along the road. The tarmaced drive bears left then right before opening out into the free car parking area situated in front of the small silver ring stand. There was a coach parked in the middle of the area whilst it dropped off passengers. I drove around the stationary vehicle and was directed to park in an empty space within the nearest row, the rear of two. It was now 12:03.
Having eaten two cheese rolls which I’d brought with me, I put on my coat, scarf and boots, locked my car and headed down the steps beside the stand to reach the main car parking area. There were a number of coaches parked close to the paddock turnstiles, with a long queue of alighted punters waiting in line to purchase their tickets there from. This being the case, I headed along the pathway towards the North Entrance. Part of the pathway was currently closed due to building works being undertaken to the main administration building. Sometimes on visits to the racecourse I notice the ‘Chocmobile’ parked in one of the rows close to the entrance, but not today; although I expect he had already arrived and it was solely out of sight today.
Having reached the main entrance I purchased a ticket using my ‘flexible friend’ credit card, today’s entry price was £16. The lady who undertook the transaction commented on the fact that it was a nice day outside. I told her that the forecasters said it was due to turn wet later, and she said don’t say that! But I was right!!!
Once inside the racecourse I purchased a race-card for £2.50 from the lady at the nearby kiosk. Close by and also beside the walkway crossing, a number of handlers were standing with their greyhounds, today’s charity being a collection for Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare. I’m not keen on greyhounds, ever since one savaged an acquaintance’s spaniel, the latter having to be put down as a result. Should have been muzzled, like one or two today.
Having drunk two cups of tea and a cup of coffee earlier today, a visit to the little girls’ room was imperative by this stage. Following this, I returned to the concourse between the main grandstand and the Parade Ring. At around 12:45, raceday presenter Anthony Kemp began his information announcements for racegoers, one of which was the presence today of Gary Witheford ‘The Horse Whisperer’, who would be giving demonstrations at 13:00 and 16:00. As it can sometimes be boring waiting for the action to begin, I decided to head across to the Weighing Room lawn in time for the first of these demonstrations.
A large circular cage had been erected on the lawn, within it a grey Adulusian stallion munching the grass. Gary entered the ‘arena’ and explained that he’d rescued the horse within hours of being sent for slaughter; he pointed out a scar on the horse’s nose which had been caused by barbwire being tied around its muzzle whilst in Spain. The horse was 16 years old and named Brujo. He then demonstrated how to gain the trust of the horse. More This also involved asking for a couple of volunteers from the audience, two ladies coming forward to take part. The second one fell over whilst running across the ring when trying to avoid the cantering horse ... it got a little scary!
Gary said he never patted horses, as they far preferred to be stroked! Brujo demonstrated that he liked his back to be tickled, as he attempted to bite if Gary reached further forward and backed up if he touched his quarters! (Don’t horses in a herd scratch each others backs with their teeth?)
His second demonstration of this session was with a bay Lucitano gelding named Arnie. In a previous career the horse had been a bullfighter’s horse (a picador) and had been injured during the course of his duties when gored by a bull. Gary pointed out the scar on the horse’s belly and also scars on his pasterns where Arnie had been hobbled. The Horse Whisperer placed a blue tarpaulin on the ground in the centre of the cage and showed how he could win the horse’s trust to persuade the animal to walk across the plastic sheet.. He said it was one of the scariest things a horse could encounter if a tarpaulin was flapping in the wind.
During the second demonstration it had become necessary to put up my umbrella due to a sudden downpour, but I did remain close to the cage. Other less resilient spectators retired to shelter under the overhanging roof and stairway by the Weighing Room or beneath the branches of a nearby tree!
The first demonstration over, I headed back to the Parade Ring area; the rain had left off again by this time. Raceday commentator Mark Johnson and ‘John’ from William Hill ran through their tips for the day from the podium within the Winners’ Enclosure.
Mark fancied Duroble Man to take on the favourite in the first race, and Turn Over Sivola to do the same in the second. He liked Sea Lord in the third event, John thought Azure Fly would win. He said it would be Life and Soul’s last race before a winter break. In the fourth race, John’s tips were Moleskin and Highrate, Mark’s selections were Moleskin and Green Bank. Both thought The New One would triumph over Rock On Ruby in the feature race. The fancies for race 6 were Gallox Bridge and Cap Elorn for John and Alfraamsey (later a non-runner) and Cap Elorn for Mark. Finally, in race 7, Mark liked Warden Hill, but I can’t decipher my notes for John’s choice!!! Not that it matters, as I don’t bet ... it’s just interesting to see how their fancied horses fare!
Soon it was time for the first race of the day, in which Choc’s mount would be Duroble Man; Alan King had pretty much ‘farmed’ this particular juvenile hurdle race in recent years (2008 – Saticon; 2010 – Jubail; 2012 – McVicar) so hopes were high that he might be able to do it again this year.
I headed to course-side rails once Choc and Duroble Man had left the Parade Ring. I was in time to see him and the other competitors canter to the start, which was located at the far end of the home straight; with that and one full circuit to travel.
A young photographer joined me beside the rails and we got chatting. She lives in Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire but had been staying in Cheltenham on holiday, visiting the races yesterday and travelling up to Kempton Park today because her friend’s horse was running in a later race, Cap Elorn trained by Lawney Hill.
The girl explained that the horse had been trained previously by Paul Nicholls but that Lawney had now found the key to the animal, having discovered it was allergic to its stable surroundings. The horse now spent its time outside and had rewarded its owner with 4 consecutive wins! However she was also afraid the horse might be withdrawn today if the ground deteriorated due to the rain.
She also mentioned she’d be visiting Paul Nicholls’ yard later in the week. Her favourite jockey is Gavin Sheehan.
A few days later I realised it was Francesca Altoft I had been speaking with (aka @riosrider2) ... and, due to the people I follow on twitter, it’s a name I already know. It’s a small world!
Not surprisingly, we also talked about the horrendous weather we’d encountered at Cheltenham the previous day.
One of the runners in this first race, the hooded Town Mouse who according to Jonathan Neesom is as ‘mad as a bag of spanners’, went early to the start. Another of Jonathan’s observations about the race was that a number of the runners were ‘not guaranteed to get two miles, even in a horsebox’!
Whilst at the start, the tongue-tie was adjusted on Brendan Powell’s mount, the dark grey Dark Emerald.
The going was currently described as good, but this would change to good to soft following the second race. Choc’s mount was the favourite at 2-1.
Then they were off. The field was led away by first time hooded Complexity, followed by Town Mouse, Aldopicgros, Duroble Man to the inside, Minister Of Mayhem, Handsome Stranger, Exclusive Waters, Ron Waverly, Dark Emerald and Assembly. Minister Of Mayhem almost lived up to his name at the first flight where he wandered about on the approach, jumped awkwardly and bumped into Assembly as he landed!
No problems were encountered over the second flight, Complexity and Town Mouse, the latter fighting for his head, held a clear lead over the remainder of the field. The horses now galloped up past the stands, around the turn and headed out into the country for the one and only time. The runners headed over two more flights on their way to the far turn. The leader’s jockey, Andrew Thornton, was now perched up his mount’s neck, the saddle having slipped forward due to the horse pulling. Dark Emerald was bringing up the rear.
The field had now reached the far corner of the track and began their journey along the back straight, heading towards the two flights therein. Complexity jumped out to his left over the first of these, veering even further towards the outside rails as he continued on his journey. This allowed Town Mouse to take the lead, followed through by Duroble Man and Aldopicgros. Losing touch at this point was Minister Of Mayhem.
Having been steered back to join the others, Complexity veered off to his left once more over the next flight. Town Mouse continued to lead from Duroble Man, Aldopicgros, Handsome Stranger, Exclusive Waters, Dark Emerald, Ron Waverly and Assembly. Minister Of Mayhem was tailed off and the wayward Complexity pulled up.
The leading three began to pull away from their rivals as they exited the final bend and approached the penultimate flight. Town Mouse held a narrow advantage over it, from Aldopicgros and Duroble Man. All three jockeys were offering encouragement to their horses with a few backhanders as they approached the last, which Duroble Man absolutely flew, whilst Aldopicgros didn’t.
This left Choc’s mount to battle it out with Town Mouse and he soon gained the upper hand, galloping on to win by 1¾ lengths at the line. The Million In Mind representative completed in 3rd, with Handsome Stranger in 4th. The first four home were a long way clear of the remainder.
Following the race I returned to the Parade Ring area or, to be more precise, the walkway area shortly before it joined the main Winners’ Enclosure. I took a number of photographs, including one of Choc and Duroble Man on the walkway and a number of him with connections, the McNeill family. Unfortunately the damp and dark conditions weren’t particularly conducive to photography so a number of them were blurred; it was more like the last race of the day for light conditions, not the first!
Having debrief connections the Clerk of the Course, Barney Clifford, accompanied Choc to the Weighing Room, enquiring about the state of the ground. I headed to the walkway gate ahead of him and was able to offer a quick ‘well done’ to Choc as they passed by. He replied ‘thank you’. It was the 5th winner of his truncated season.
I returned to the far side of the Parade Ring in preparation for the horses arriving ahead of the second race of the day, in which Choc would be riding Turn Over Sivola, the horse having its debut over fences today.
I was just standing around, daydreaming, when I glanced across and realised that Choc was being interviewed by Racing UK’s Oli Bell; he was presenting the Live Racing programme from the racecourse with Jonathan Neesom today. A nice photo opportunity for me, although I was on the wrong side of the paddock to get a close-up shot.
Also, that would mean a nice interview on my Racing UK satellite recording. Upon checking the following day, I discovered it had been a close run thing, as a thunderstorm had interrupted the satellite reception just a couple of minutes after the interview had been broadcast. Phew, that was a near miss.
Interview over, Choc joined Alan King and Assistant Trainer Oliver Wardle prior to being legged up upon his mount. Once again I headed to the course-side rails and was in time to see Choc canter by on his way to the start, which was at the far end of the home straight.
Dodging Bullets was the favourite for this race at 8-11.
Then they were off. The runners were led away by Earls Quarter and Be All Man, followed by Turn Over Sivola and Dodging Bullets; bringing up the rear was Grabtheglory. The Paul Nicholls horse jumped out to his left over the first. Earls Quarter, ears pricked, jumped the second big and bold. Choc’s mount got a little bit close to the third.
Having cleared the three obstacles in the home straight, the runners headed up past the winning post and out into the country, crossing the polytrack intersections as they did so. The next fence is a plain one; this time Aidan Coleman’s mount dived at the fence and briefly lost the lead to Be All Man. All the runners cleared the following fence, an open-ditch, in their stride and then headed around the far turn. The horses travelled two by two, with Grabtheglory alone at the back of the field and well off the pace.
Heading down the back straight, Earls Quarter jumped slightly away to the left over this line of fences, with Be All Man now holding the advantage. Choc gradually crept up upon the leader and, as they cleared the final fence in the back straight, Turn Over Sivola jumped into the lead.
Travelling around the final bend, the horses were closely grouped, apart from the toiling Grabtheglory; Choc’s mount with the narrow advantage over the other three. However, coming off the bend and approaching three out, Dodging Bullets began to lay down his challenge as he joined Turn Over Sivola at the head of affairs; taking off slightly ahead at this fence.
Choc encouraged his mount to fight back and they were neck and neck coming to the penultimate obstacle; but instead of taking off when asked, Turn Over Sivola put in a short stride and hit the fence, as a result Choc was thrown onto his neck and although he soon got back in the plate, Dodging Bullets had pulled away from him. Again the latter put in the better leap at the last and galloped on to win by 4 lengths at the line.
Earls Quarter finished 3rd, Be All Man 4th and Grabtheglory 5th.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc arrive back. Having unsaddled, Barney Clifford spoke with him again regarding the ground, before my favourite jockey returned to the Weighing Room for the final time today.
I decided to shelter under the overhanging canopy of the grandstand, as it was raining so hard by this time. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring ahead of the next race, I headed around the side of the main building and climbed up the steps into a sheltered section of the grandstand in order to view the event. The course-side rails where I usually stand were deserted, as was entire the betting ring.
Then they were off. The runners were led away by Hallings Comet and the cheek-pieced Life And Soul, the remaining trio soon a number of lengths behind the leader. The leader was a little awkward over the first flight; Azure Fly jumped it slowly and now raced at the back of the field. Heading towards the second flight, the Aidan Coleman ridden Hallings Comet began to put even more daylight between himself and the other runners. There was a minor error at the second by Sea Lord.
Passing the winning post with one circuit to go, Hallings Comet was around seven lengths clear of Life And Soul, who was about twelve lengths ahead of the remaining three. The runners crossed the polytrack intersections as they headed down the side of the course towards the next two flights, Hallings Comet tending to drift out wide on the track. All five horses having successfully negotiated these they entered the far turn, it was Indian file and around four lengths between each runner and their nearest pursuer!
Hallings Comet’s advantage had diminished greatly by the time he’d reached the fifth flight; Cool Macavity, in third position, made an error here. The pace had slowed a great deal and as they travelled towards the next obstacle, Life And Soul took over the running. Getting tired, Hallings Comet dragged his hind-legs through this flight, and Cool Macavity made another error.
Entering the final turn, Aidan Coleman’s mount was soon swallowed up and overtaken by both Sea Lord and Azure Fly; and, like the long-time leader, Cool Macavity was also now struggling in rear. With rivals closing fast, Life And Soul managed to remain ahead over the penultimate flight, and was more fluent here than Sea Lord. But the latter soon had his measure. Azure Fly threw away any chance he may have had when veering away to his left upon clearing two out.
Sea Lord was in command approaching the last hurdle, he cleared it well and went on to win by 9 lengths at the line. Life And Soul cantered over the line in 2nd, the wayward Azure Fly 8 lengths further back in 3rd. Cool Macavity completed in 4th, with the weary Hallings Comet in 5th.
The evens favourite Sea Lord had won his sixth consecutive race. The plan was to possibly go for high profile novice hurdle events in the spring so the horse would, at some stage, be given a break having been on the go for a while.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure following this race but, by this time, the lense of my camera had begun to mist over ... on the inside! That was a first; it had never happened before. That meant I could not take photographs of the Alan King trained Suburban Bay ridden by Wayne Hutchison during the following race.
Anyway, I headed to the course-side rails ahead of this event, the start of which was at the beginning of the side straight, heading away from the stands. The horses exited the walkway and headed straight there.
The favourite was Highrate, ridden by Jason Maguire, at 7-2 and he was running on behalf of Kidney Research UK.
Suburban Bay was on his toes at the start, but he always is as he’s very highly strung! When it appeared that the runners were ready to depart, Firm Order, backed away from the others; soon finding himself close to the walkway entrance, jockey Denis O’Regan with this feet out of the irons. The Starter’s Assistant was sent to retrieve the horse, leading him back to join the others once the jockey had placed his feet in the stirrups once more.
Firm Order having tacked himself onto the main group, they were off; Suburban Bay bouncing along, side on, ahead of his rivals until he broke into a gallop and took the lead alongside Bally Sands heading for the first fence. In third clearing the obstacle was Moleskin, followed by Porters War, Green Bank, Be Definite, Milgen Bay, Saddler’s Star, Highrate, Baily Storm and Firm Order.
The second fence is an open-ditch, which they all cleared well, before heading towards the far turn. Moleskin and Bally Sands were disputing the lead, from Suburban Bay and Be Definite; Firm Order continued to bring up the rear. There are four fences in the back straight, Bally Sands got a little close to the first of these, and made an error at the next, after which he began to drift back through the field.
Over the second open-ditch, Moleskin was alone at the head of affairs, from Suburban Bay and Be Definite. Firm Order was now taking closer order, relegating Highrate to last; the latter did not appear to be travelling particularly well. Having cleared one more fence, the field headed around the bend and into the home straight on the first occasion.
All 11 runners cleared the next with no problem but, sadly on the run to the next, Highrate broke down very badly and was pulled up by Jason Maguire as soon as he was able. The remaining runners headed over the middle of the line of three, at this stage Baily Storm looked in danger of losing touch at the rear of the field. Green Bank was a little slow at the next.
The field headed up past the winning post before heading out into the country for the final time. Moleskin still led the way, from Suburban Bay, Be Definite, Porters War, Bally Sands, Saddler’s Star, Milgen Bay, Firm Order, Green Bank and Baily Storm. Having crossed the polytrack intersections, the runners headed over the next fence, at which Green Bank was a little slow at the back of the field, having been overtaken by the pushed along Baily Storm.
The runners then headed around the far turn; all bar two appearing to be travelling okay at this stage of the race. They now faced up to the line of four fences in the back straight; three from the rear, Milgen Bay made an error at the second of these and began to lose touch. When almost upsides the leader, Suburban Bay hit the fence before the final bend and lost a bit of ground.
The runners entered the final turn, Moleskin still at the head of affairs, from Suburban Bay, Be Definite, and Saddler’s Star; Firm Order was being brought to deliver a challenge around the wide outside of these, with Porters War back in sixth position.
Exiting the bend, a steward could be seen to the inside of the track wavering the black and white chequered flag to warn the jockeys that they would be required to bypass the next fence; green screens having been erected around the stricken and fatally injured Highrate. In fact both that and the penultimate fence had to be bypassed; Jason Maguire was stood, saddle in hand, between the wings of the adjacent hurdle.
By this stage, Firm Order had joined both Moleskin and Suburban Bay at the head of affairs; Moleskin the first to capitulate as they headed for the final fence, followed shortly afterwards by Wayne Hutchinson’s mount. Denis O’Regan’s mount flew the last and galloped on to win by 9 lengths at the line, from Suburban Bay, Moleskin and Be Definite.
A change of luck for Firm Order, who had unseated at the first in this event last year. This was also the horse’s first win over fences.
I headed back to the Winners’ Enclosure following the race; and checked upon my camera at regular intervals just in case the lense had begun to clear. Not yet it seemed.
I was waiting beside the far side of the Parade Ring shortly afterwards when I suddenly realised it was gone 16:00 and time for the second Gary Witheford demonstration to begin, this time with a young racehorse which had never been ‘backed’. This particular horse was destined for the Sylvester Kirk yard in Lambourn and had been delivered direct to Kempton in order to take part today.
Having arrived slightly late, I was in time to see Gary placing a saddle on the horse’s back and secure the girth. Shortly afterwards he put a bridle on the horse too, it having been wearing a head-collar up until this point. He also fitted long reins to the bridle and worked the horse around the perimeter of the enclosure, first one way then the other.
Then his assistant, Nika, laid across the horse’s withers before venturing to sit in the saddle for the very first time. At this point it became pretty scary, as the young animal reared up, almost toppling over backwards; the jockey stayed in the plate however and encouraged him forward. The horse was still inclined to buck, but she drove him on, with the help of additional encouragement from Gary. Eventually she stood up on the horse’s back to show that the process was almost complete, before dismounting and remounting three or four times.
Having dismounted for the final time, the young horse was led away to the stables, his education just beginning.
My lower back was aching by this time, presumably as a result of long hours spent standing on my feet this weekend.
And the amazing thing was that I must have been so engrossed in the demonstration that I didn’t even notice the four horses, including The New One and Rock On Ruby, heading out onto the racecourse, despite the walkway being just feet away from me! For they must have done so, as there was no sign of them in the Parade Ring when I walked by on my way to the course-side rails. There had originally been five declarations for this race but, with the change in going, Australia Day became a non-runner.
The start of this event was at the far end of the home straight, the horses having cantered down past the stands to reach it. The New One was the 2-1 on favourite.
Then they were off. The runners set off in Indian file, the mare Coronea Lilly leading the way, from Rock On Ruby, The New One and the hard pulling Quaddick Lake. The leader dived at the first, slightly, but continued to set the pace as the horses headed over the next flight before galloping up the track in front of the main grandstand and setting off into the country for the one and only time.
Having crossed the polytrack intersections, the runners set off towards the two flights on this part of the course, Rock On Ruby and The New One taking a slightly wider line than the other two runners. At flight number three, Noel Fehily’s mount jumped into the lead. Then, at the next, he stepped at the hurdle and was overtaken briefly by the mare once more.
As the field headed around the far turn, Rock On Ruby went on again and, as they began the run down the back straight, Sam Twiston-Davies sent his mount in pursuit of the leader; Coronea Lilly now relegated to third position. Having cleared the fifth flight, Noel Fehily glanced beneath his right arm to check upon the position of The New One. The two leaders quickly put distance between themselves and the remaining two runners.
Rock On Ruby held only a narrow advantage over the next flight; the leaders soon heading for the final turn. Noel Fehily’s mount was no more than two lengths ahead of his rival at this point. Quaddick Lake had overtaken the mare but was in a very distant third.
Exiting the bend and straightening up as they approached the penultimate flight, the two leaders began their sprint for the line. The New One now with a very narrow advantage as they crossed the hurdle. Having got his head in front, Sam’s mount extended the distance effortlessly and flew the last. He galloped on to win by 10 lengths from Rock On Ruby. Quaddick Lake, totally outclassed, finished 40 lengths back in 3rd, with Coronea Lilly a further 19 lengths further away.
Mind you, it was worth turning up for 3rd and 4th, with the owners’ prize money being £2,238 and £1,118 respectively!
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back.
Alan King had a runner in the next event, old stager Oh Crick, ridden by 7lb claimer Mr Joshua Newman as he usually is these days. Owner David Sewell was also in attendance, with friends.
I meet up with Francesca again, as she had returned to the course-side rails to watch Cap Elorn’s race. The sun was now shining.
I checked my camera once more and, amazingly, the lense had cleared. I would now be able to take further photographs to remember my day at the races.
Gallox Bridge started as favourite, at odds of 15-8. Oscar Hill was very keen going to the start – wilful, with a mind of its own! A bit like me in fact!!! No headgear on Cap Elorn today, according to Jonathan Neesom because the trainer wished to find out if the horse could operate without any aids today, having set up a winning streak. This titbit was from the horse’s mouth, almost, namely Alan Hill the husband of the trainer.
Then they were off. Tom O’Brien let Oscar Hill stride on into the lead, from Cap Elorn, Oh Crick, Gallox Bridge and Able Deputy; bringing up the rear was Giant O Murchu. The leader tried to uproot the first obstacle but survived, and gave the second fence far more respect, and the third too. Giant O Murchu cleared the latter more slowly than his rivals.
Oscar Hill was many lengths clear as they passed the winning post with one circuit to go. The runners headed around the top bend, crossed the polytrack intersections and continued down the side of the track, clearing the two fences therein without problem; the pace at the head of affairs began to steady. In pursuit around the far bend were Cap Elorn, Gallox Bridge, Oh Crick, Able Deputy and Giant O Murchu.
Oscar Hill set off down the back straight, his advantage being whittled away the further the runners progressed; Gallox Bridge was now his closest rival. Having cleared the open-ditch, the latter galloped into the lead approaching the next, with Able Deputy following him through. Oscar Hill was now in third position, from Cap Elorn and Oh Crick; these five had drawn away from the tailing off second string of Lawney Hill.
The runners headed around the home bend and faced up to the final three fences. Able Deputy jumped into the lead over the first of these and it began to look like the only threat between him and the winning post would be the final two fences. However, having cleared the penultimate fence, Gallox Bridge began to rally and, as they cleared the last, was only half a length down.
The momentum having changed, Richard Johnson drove his mount out to win by 2¾ lengths from Able Deputy; the latter remaining a maiden, and his genuineness questioned having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Cap Elorn finished 3rd and Oscar Hill 4th. Oh Crick completed in 5th.
My companion had been getting nervous as the end of the race approached, and didn’t really want to watch just in case something went wrong. It reminded me of Cheltenham yesterday, when I felt the same as Balder Succes had turned into the home straight, just in case something went wrong ... and it had!
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back. Francesca joined the Cap Elorn party within the paddock, the horse having finished 3rd.
Alan King also had a runner in the final race of the day, namely Gold Ingot ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. The runners having departed the Parade Ring, I set off for the course-side rails for the final time today.
The start of this event was over in the far corner of the track, the horses exiting the walkway and heading straight there. The favourite for this race was Warden Hill at 11-4. Andy Kelly (a horse not person) lost his off-hind shoe and ran without it, as there was insufficient time to have him re-shod.
Then they were off; the runners negotiating the far turn as they did so. Ergo Sum led them away, from Mr Moss, Andy Kelly fighting for his head in third, from Master Benjamin, Warden Hill, Gold Ingot, Carole’s Destrier, Howlongisafoot, Gallery Exhibition, Owen Na View, Ballinalacken and Donapollo.
The field cleared the two flights in the back straight, although Andy Kelly jumped the second of these a little awkwardly, skewing his hindquarters, before heading around the bend and into the home straight for the first time. Ergo Sum and Andy Kelly held a clear advantage over the remaining runners as they travelled up towards the stands; yet again the latter skewed his rear end in the air over the second of the flights therein.
Having passed the winning post with one circuit to go, the runners headed around the top bend and across the polytrack on their journey down the side of the course, the two leaders still well clear of Mr Moss, Master Benjamin, Warden Hill, Carole’s Destrier, Gold Ingot, Ballinalacken, Gallery Exhibition, Howlongisafoot, Owen Na View and Donapollo.
Having cleared the next two flights, where Ergo Sum was more fluent than Andy Kelly, it was noticeable that the two front runners were coming back to the others. Heading around the far turn, no more than eight or nine lengths covered the entire field. The jockey aboard Ballinalacken began to push his mount along having cleared four out.
The runners cleared one more flight before entering the final bend. It was at this point that Gold Ingot began to drop out; Ergo Sum still led from Andy Kelly. Close behind the latter was Mr Moss, followed by Carole’s Destrier, Master Benjamin, Ballinalacken, Gallery Exhibition and Warden Hill.
Andy Kelly wandered about as he approached the penultimate flight, but still held a narrow led as he cleared it. Master Benjamin, who had been cruising behind the leaders, was driven to lead as they approached the last. Another poor jump by Andy Kelly at the last handed even more of the initiative to the current leader. However, to the near side, Warden Hill laid down his challenge, along with Carole’s Destrier, the former being driven out by Dominic Elsworth to win by one length at the line. Master Benjamin lost 2nd by a neck to Carole’s Destrier, with Andy Kelly claiming 4th having put in far from a clear round of jumping!
Many racegoers head for the exit immediately following the last race of the day; if they’ve not already left following the penultimate event that is! However, I returned briefly to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back. Henrietta Knight was on hand to represent Mick Channon, accompanied by husband Terry Biddlecombe, now wheelchair-bound following a stroke.
The last race over, it was now time for me to leave too; I exited via the paddock gate and returned to my car. Having taken off my coat and changed my footwear, I was ready to set off at 17:45.
The car which had been parked in front of mine had already departed, so I drove through the line of cars, turned right and headed along the tarmac beside the racecourse and along the driveway to join the queue of traffic waiting to leave; there were probably around a dozen cars ahead of me. Having exited the drive, I turned right and headed back along the A308 in order to join the M3 motorway at Junction 1.
The queue along the road tailed back to beyond the main Kempton Park entrance, so it was stop start stop start for almost 15 minutes. I glanced at the car clock as I joined the motorway; it was now 18:00. The M3 was clear all the way to the M25 but, having taken the slip-road, there were warning signs recommending a speed limit of 40 mph on the latter.
Having squeezed into lane 3, in preparation for the M4 junction a few miles away, it took 32 minutes to reach it at that maximum speed of 40 mph, and at a much slower speed for most of the time! Delays continued whilst traffic from the M4 merged onto the M25, after which it cleared and I was able to reach home at 19:15. The roads were wetter in Hertfordshire, rain presumably having fallen more recently than in the west London area.
I was just in time to view the Strictly Come Dancing results show on the BBC. I spent the remaining hours before I turned in, uploading today’s photographs onto my laptop and updating my blog. For the record, supper was Penne Mozzarella and the remainder of a large pot of Alpro plain yoghurt!
I’d booked the next day as leave (Monday) so was hopeful that I’d have sufficient time to select and upload photographs onto my website, transfer one or both of the weekend’s hard disk recordings to DVD, and begin my diaries before returning to work on Tuesday.
It actually took me until the evening of Wednesday 30 October 2013 to complete both of my diaries, despite spending a variable number of hours every day on the task during this period.