DIARY Ė KEMPTON PARK
BETBRIGHT CHASE DAY
SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY 2014
Balder Success, ridden by Wayne Hutchison,
returns having won the Grade 2 Pendil Novicesí Chase
This was to be my first visit to the races since the previous Boxing Day, also at Kempton Park.† Initially this was due to the horses in Alan Kingís yard suffering from health issues which, I understand, related to problems with their feed; as a result the trainer decided not to send out any runners between 02 and 23 January.† This meant that Chocís riding engagements were reduced, as he was relying upon other stables to book him.†
My first opportunity to see Choc at any of my local tracks would have been Sandown Park on 01 February but, as it turned out, I had a cold and spending prolonged time outside caused pain in my sinuses.† The following Saturday I would have hoped to go to Newbury for their ĎSuper Saturdayí event but fate was against me yet again; the prevailing wet and windy weather which caused flooding in many areas had initially resulted in me calling off any plans to attend and then, as it turned out, on the day I was struck down with only my third ever bout of flu!† I certainly wasnít going anywhere with a temperature of over 102.† In the event, I was laid low for over a week and unable to attend work; so that ruled out a trip to Ascot too.††
Finally, I felt well enough to attend the races on Saturday 22 February.† This would be the sixth year running Iíd attend this particular Kempton Park fixture and Iíd be rewarded with a mainly sunny day with temperatures around 11 degrees.††††††
I awoke just after 06:30, made my final decision regarding which skirt to wear, showered, washed and dried my hair, ate a breakfast of croissants, watched Channel 4ís The Morning Line where jockey Nick Scholfield was a guest, applied my make-up and then spent around an hour Ďtwiddling my thumbsí before leaving home at 10:35; gates opening time being 11:30, first race 13:30.†
For the record, my outfit today was a black thermal vest, cerise thermal t-shirt, black frill-edged cardigan, purple fleece, black fleece gillet, horse patterned snood, Rico Pom Pom scarf in shades of burgundy, black denim Per Una skirt with godets (youíll certainly know what they are if you watch Strictly Come Dancing), purple tights, black moccasin Clarks wedge shoes and cerise pink BHS jacket.† Todayís handbag was my Next black shearling one.††††
I drove to Junction 22 of the M25, avoiding on the way the local ring-road terminus, where major roadworks were currently taking place.† Traffic was travelling smoothly until I reached Junction 16 (M40) where it slowed to a snailís pace.† I moved into the second lane so as not to get stuck behind any of the lorries travelling in the inside lane; I hate not being able to see ahead when traffic is moving slowly, and I dislike the possibility of travelling between two large vehicles in case I get squashed!†
There didnít seem to be a reason for the delay on the anti-clockwise carriageway, apart from traffic joining from the M40; but maybe more local people were using the motorway due to flooding in the area.† There was an accident on the clockwise carriageway to the north of Junction 15 (M4) which resulted in an even longer tail-back on the opposite side of the road.† Having reached the M4, the traffic on my carriageway began to move at normal speeds once more.†
I soon arrived at Junction 12, the M3; fortunately there were no delays on this motorway, unlike the continuing stretch of the M25 where traffic was forced to slow once more.† Because of the recent flooding issues in the area, I was inclined to notice the proliferation of water in the areas close to the motorway, although there do appear to be a number of gravel pit workings in the area regardless.
I left the M3 via the slip-road at Junction 1, heading around the roundabout and along the A308 Staines Road East to enter the free car parking area.† It was 11:40 when I parked my vehicle, the motorway delays having added around 15 minutes to my journey time.† As a result, I was parked approximately a dozen rows back from the far end, not the usual five or six rows; in fact I was located beyond the end of the Silver Ring grandstand.††††††
Having eaten a crust and a slice of bread before departing, I brought just two cheese rolls with me today; I saved these until after racing.† Although Iíd remembered to bring along a flask of black coffee, Iíd forgotten to bring a bottle of Evian.† Damn.† Having put on my jacket, I set off to purchase a ticket; a couple of kiosks at the South Entrance where open today, so bought a ticket for £16 and, having entered the grounds, purchased a racecard nearby for £2.50.††††
Better safe than sorry, I popped to the loo before settling on one of the benches beside the concourse.† It was pleasant to sit in the sun, although the breeze was a little chilly.† Later I re-located to the far side of the Parade Ring in preparation for the horses arriving ahead of the first race.† At 12:35 trainer Paul Nicholls arrived in the paddock to be interviewed by todayís RUK presenter, Stewart Machin; Chris Dixon was todayís RUK pundit.
At 12:55 the raceday presenter Anthony Kemp and sponsor BetBright representative George Primarolo went through their suggested selections for the day.
Choc had six rides today, four for Alan King (Duroble Man, First Mohican, Midnight Appeal, Hurricane Vic), one for John Spearing (Pearls Legend) and one for my local trainer, Dean Ivory (Valid Reason).† Wayne Hutchison would ride Balder Succes in the Grade 2 Pendil Novicesí Chase, having partnered the horse to victory in the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novicesí Chase at Warwick two weeks previously; he was also engaged to ride Bless The Wings in todayís feature handicap chase, his usual mount.††
Soon it was time for the first race of the day, in which Chocís mount would be Pearls Legend.† Once my favourite jockey had left the Parade Ring I set off to find a vantage point from which to watch the race.† My route took me around the outside of the main grandstand, up the steps and down across the tarmac and turf to reach the course-side rails.† By the end of the afternoon my shoes, or at least the wedge part of them, would be coated in mud; this was mainly due to the soggy, boggy grass area located behind the statue of Desert Orchid, adjacent to the Parade Ring which I walked across as a short-cut throughout the afternoon.
The starting gate for this race was in the far corner of the track so the horses cantered away from the grandstands to reach it.† The favourite for this event was Present View at 5-2.
The runners were well-grouped as they walked or jogged towards the starting gate and then they were off.† The field was led away by the chestnut Flaming Gorge, with Sunny Ledgend and Present View in close attendance; Brody Bleu the next to rise at the first obstacle.† Chocís mount, Pearls Legend, was travelling in mid-field against the rails and Tiptoeaway was guided noticeably wide of the field as they negotiated the first four fences.†
Turning into the home straight for the first occasion, the order was Flaming Gorge, Present View, Brody Bleu, Sunny Ledgend, Pearls Legend, Tiptoeaway, Ballinvarrig, Lost Legend and Micís Delight; the mare Jackies Solitaire brought up the rear.† Pearls Legend made a notable error at the first fence in the straight.† Once again, Barry Geraghty decided to steer his mount wide as they progressed over the obstacles heading towards the grandstand.† It was Sunny Ledgendís turn to make as error as the field jumped the final fence in the line of three; his jockey administering a reminder for his troubles.
The runners headed up past the winning post, with one circuit still to go, and headed out into the country for the final time; Flaming Gorge continued to lead the way.† Present View took the advantage as they cleared the next two fences; one or two of the runners in behind jumped these rather untidily.† Heading around the far turn, Choc had manoeuvred his mount to the outside of the field; Present View and Flaming Gorge still travelled at the head of affairs.†
The horses headed along the back straight, Tiptoeaway solely losing touch with the main group of runners; Sunny Ledgend soon under strong pressure, his amateur jockey administering a number of backhanders in an attempt to keep tabs on the leaders.† However, the horse skewed over the open-ditch and capsized; Brody Bleu also blundered here.† Fortunately the departed horse was okay.†
Heading into the final turn, Present View held the advantage over Micís Delight and Pearls Legend; driven along in fourth position was Ballinvarrig, these were followed by Brody Bleu, Lost Legend, Jackies Solitaire and Flaming Gorge.† Tiptoeaway had been pulled up.
Brendan Powellís mount led into the home straight, from Micís Delight and Ballinvarrig; Pearls Legend was now being pushed along and was losing ground on the front three.† Micís Delight didnít help his cause with a mistake at the third last, Ballingvarrig now progressing into runner-up position.† The long-time leader began to pull away from the others as he approached two out, which he jumped well, and the gap between himself and his pursuers continued to grow on the run down to the last.
Having cleared the final fence Present View was eased down as he approached the line, winning by 10 lengths from Ballinvarrig; Micís Delight a further 3 lengths away in third.† Pearls Legend had retained fourth until clearing the last a tired horse; this enabled Brody Bleu to overtake Chocís mount on the run-in to claim the last placing.††
I returned to the Parade Ring, initially to the steps beside the Winnersí Enclosure before returning to the area behind the Parade Ring ahead of the horses arriving prior to the second race.† Again, once Chocís mount had begun its journey down the walkway to the course, I set off to the course-side rails once more.† His ride in this event was the Alan King-trained Duroble Man.
The starting gate for this Juvenile Hurdle event was at the far end of the home straight, the horses cantering down past the stands to reach it.† I arrived at the course-side rails in plenty of time to see Choc and Duroble Man canter past.† The favourite for this race was Activial at 9-4.
Then they were off.† The runners were led away by Solar Impulse, ridden by French jockey David Cottin.† He was followed by Fitzwilly, Agreement, Activial, Commissioned, Alcala, Duroble Man and Goodwood Image.† The horses successfully negotiated the first flight, although Commissioned was a little awkward over it.†
Having cleared the second obstacle, Solar Impulse and Fitzwilly headed up past the winning post having gained six or seven lengths over the remaining 6 runners.† However they steadied at the head of affairs around the top turn, allowing the others to close the gap.† The runners headed down the side of the track, clearing the two hurdles therein; once more the two leaders set up a clear lead; Goodwood Mirage was a few lengths adrift in rear.
The field headed around the far turn with Solar Impulse continuing to lead the way.† Fitzwilly continued in second, from the favourite Activial, Agreement, Alcala, Commissioned, Duroble Man and the first-time hooded Goodwood Image; the latter now having rejoined the field once more.† The runners then headed down the back straight, with no change at the head of affairs.† Will Kennedy administered a backhander to his mount, Fitzwilly, having cleared the first flight therein.
Having jumped the second of the two flights in the back straight, Activial came through to join the two long-time leaders.† Heading into the final turn, the eight runners were closely packed, although Duroble Man was the first to show signs of pressure at the rear of the field.
Heading towards the penultimate flight, Solar Impulse kicked on again, with Activial clearing the obstacle alongside Fitzwilly a length back, Commissioned a close fourth.† On the run to the final hurdle Noel Fehilyís mount took the lead, Denis OíRegan switching Commissioned to challenge to the nearside; the latter was upsides Solar Impulse as they jumped the obstacle.† But Activial pulled 3Ĺ lengths clear of his pursuers on the run to the line, beating Commissioned into second, with Solar Impulse holding on for third and Alcala claiming 4th.†
Duroble Man finished a tailed-off last of the eight.
With Choc unplaced again I had no need to return to the Winnersí Enclosure area after this race.† So, having passed the Ďchip wagoní on my way to and from the course-side rails, I decided to stop off en-route to purchase a portion of chips costing £2.50.† I then returned to the far side of the Parade Ring to consume the food before the next race.†
Balder Succes, led by his lad Steve Ayres, soon arrived in the Paddock and the horse looked an absolute picture.† I decided to take a number of photographs of him, and the guy standing beside me commented that Balder Succes was a very good looking horse and he wouldnít mind owning an animal like him.† I concurred.† I think Iíve finally become a fan, not that Iíve ever had anything against the horse ... itís just that I donít usually like horses this dark in colour Ė a very strange and weird prejudice I admit.
Having eaten all of the chips, I took the carton and placed it in one of the rubbish bins located alongside the concourse to the rear of the main grandstand building; I returned to the far side of the Parade Ring, where I remained until the horses began their journey down the walkway to the racecourse.† As mentioned earlier, Wayne Hutchinson was riding the Alan King runner today.†
Again the competitors cantered straight out of the walkway and headed along the side of the track to reach the starting gate in the far corner.† The favourite for this race was Fox Appeal at 5-4.
Then they were off.† The runners were led away by the front-running Kempton Park specialist, Loose Chips, from Fox Appeal, Godís Own to the inside of Balder Succes, Dark Lover and outsider Tchang Goon.† Fox Appeal hit the second fence.† The Alan King charge touched the top of the open-ditch with his hind legs just slightly, but flew the next.† Tchang Goon was already being outpaced as they travelled around the turn and into the home straight on the first occasion.†
Loose Chips continued to lead as the runners headed over the three obstacles and towards the grandstand area; Fox Appeal parting the birch as he jumped the middle of these.† The outsider had already lost touch with the main group and was demonstrating a tendency to jump out to his left.† The horses headed up around the top turn and off down the side straight; Balder Succes being pushed a little wide on the corner by Dark Lover and Godís Own to his inside.†
Tchang Goon had managed to regain some ground on the flat but, having encountered further obstacles, he lost it again and would soon lose touch.† Loose Chips continued to lead from Fox Appeal, Balder Succes, Godís Own and Dark Lover.† All the runners having successfully negotiated the two fences in the side straight, they headed into the lake turn and then began their journey down the back straight.
Fox Appeal joined Loose Chips at the head of affairs as they cleared the second fence therein; Loose Chips reasserting once more as they jumped the open-ditch. Wayne Hutchinsonís mount was taking the fences in his stride and going well in third place.† Having jumped the fourth last, the runners headed into the final turn; Loose Chips still with a narrow advantage by dint of holding the inside line.† Dark Lover was the next to show signs of distress and he dropped away.
Having entered the home straight, Loose Chips and Fox Appeal jumped the third last in unison; Balder Succes just half a length down, with Godís Own close behind them.† The long-time leader weakened at this point and dropped back as Fox Appeal and Balder Succes went on; Godís Own followed them through as they approached two out.†
Wayne Hutchinsonís mount was travelling the better, but he Ďpoppedí the fence, allowing Fox Appeal to take a one length advantage.† However, on the run to the last he drew alongside and then went on by half a length, clearing the fence with ease and holding off his challengers to win by 1ľ lengths at the line.† Godís Own got the better of Fox Appeal and took second spot by a nose; Dark Lover claimed 4th.††
Having won the race, on this occasion I decided to relocate to the area beside the walkway back to the Winnersí Enclosure in order to take a photograph.†
Having received his memento following the race, jockey Wayne Hutchinson was then interviewed by RUKís Stewart Machin.†
Chocís mount in the next event was the Alan King-trained First Mohican; heíd won aboard the horse at Doncaster earlier in the month, the animal making his debut of hurdles that day.†
The start of the next race was at the far end of the home straight, the runners cantering down past the grandstands to reach it. On this occasion I didnít walk fast enough, because Choc sailed by aboard First Mohican as I was on my way across the turf to the course-side rails!† The odds-on favourite for this race was Irving at 4-6, unbeaten so far over hurdles.
Then they were off.† As is his style of running, the Richard Johnson ridden Amore Alato led the field as they headed up the home straight on the first occasion; he was pursued by Germany Calling, Irving, First Mohican, Cup Final, Vaihau and Dubai Prince.† Chocís mount wasnít particularly fluent jumping the first flight.† The leader was approximately five or six lengths clear of his rivals as they passed the winning post with one circuit to go.
Having negotiated the top turn, Amore Alatoís lead had been reduced; having headed across the two strips of all-weather track, the horses faced up to the third hurdle, at which Dubai Prince in rear was less fluent than his rivals.† The runners cleared the next flight and headed into the lake turn; the horses travelled in Indian file, baring First Mohican and Irving who disputed third position.†
Having entered the back straight, the field began to take closer order, with Amore Alato still at the head of affairs; Irving had soon overtaken Germany Calling to assume the runner-up position.† The horses cleared the two flights therein, with First Mohican hitting the first; he then got a little too close to the second of these, losing this stride for a moment as he landed.†
Amore Alato continued to lead as the field headed into the final turn, Irving travelled in second, from Germany Calling and First Mohican matching strides in third; Cup Final was close of their heels, followed by Vaihau and Dubai Prince.† Choc urged his mount to close upon the second-ranked Irving; his horseís nose now level with the favouriteís girth.†
The field headed to the penultimate flight, Richard Johnsonís mount still with a one length advantage over Irving; the latter kicked the top bar out of the hurdle, and in his wake First Mohican destroyed it further.† Approaching the last, Nick Scholfieldís mount cruised into the lead; Choc was working hard aboard First Mohican four lengths back in third.† Irving reached for the last but it did not stem his momentum and he strode away from his rivals to win by 5 lengths from the long-time leader, Amore Alato.
First Mohican having dived slightly over the last, was challenged and overtaken by the AP McCoy ridden JP McManus first string, Cup Final, on the run to the line.† But Chocís mount did hold off Germany Calling to retain 4th place.†
As Choc had finished 4th, I returned to the far side of the Winnersí Enclosure as it provided the best view of him unsaddling his mount.† Plans to run First Mohican in the Supreme Novicesí Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival were put on hold following his showing today.†
Although my camera battery indicator was not showing signs that the charge was running low, I decided to change it at this point, just in case.
There were two Alan King runners in the feature event, Bless The Wings ridden by his regular pilot Wayne Hutchinson and Midnight Appeal sporting the well-known yellow with red spotted colours of owner David Sewell and ridden by Choc.
Being the feature event of the afternoon, the horses paraded in front of the stands before cantering down to view the final fence. They then headed back past the spectators once more, in order to reach the 3-mile starting gate which is situated at the beginning of the side straight; the horses covering almost two complete circuits of the track during the race.†
The favourite for this event was Tour Des Champs at 9-2.
Then they were off.† The field was led away by Tour Des Champs, from Standing Ovation, Bally Legend, Niceonefrankie, Whats Happening, Grandioso, Bury Parade, Midnight Appeal, Bless The Wings, Planet of Sound, Jump City, Ardkilly Witness and Baile Anrai.† Wearing a hood again today, Bury Parade had consented to run, unlike his penultimate outing at Exeter when, hoodless, he had refused to take part.
All thirteen runners cleared the first two obstacles without hitch, and travelled into the lake bend with Tour Des Champs setting a sensible pace at the head of affairs.† Heading down the back straight on the first occasion, Sam Twiston-Daviesí mount began to set up a clear lead over his pursuers.† Midnight Appeal, in mid-field, made an error at the second in the line of four obstacles; having landed Choc fumbled with his right iron in order to regain it as they headed towards the next fence, an open-ditch.†
Tour Des Champs made a mistake at this fence and his pursuers gained a couple of lengths upon him as a result.† Midnight Appeal jumped the next a little slowly, slightly baulking Jump City as a result.† Tour Des Champs led the runners into the home straight for the first time; Baile Anrai continued to bring up the rear.†
There was no change at the head of affairs as the field headed over the three fences on their journey towards the lollipop; Standing Ovation travelled in second spot, from Whats Happening; Midnight Appeal had made noticeable progress on the outside of the field and now travelled in fourth position.† Bally Legend came next, from Niceonefrankie, Grandioso, Planet Of Sound, Bless The Wings, Bury Parade, Ardkilly Witness, Jump City and Baile Anrai.† Bury Parade swung out noticeably wide when negotiating the top turn.†
The field negotiated the two strips of all-weather and, having completed one circuit, headed towards the first obstacle in the side straight.† In the Ďolden daysí, there used to be a water-jump positioned prior to the fences which still remain on this stretch of the track.† Choc gave Midnight Appeal a slap down the neck having cleared the fence, the horse having made a minor error at the obstacle.†
The runners jumped the open-ditch without incident, Tour Des Champs still holding a clear advantage and Baile Anrai being pushed along in rear.† They headed around the lake bend, Midnight Appeal now travelling in third position, and set off down the back straight for the final time.† Having cleared the next two obstacles Bless The Wings, who was a little less than fluent at the second of these, began to struggle and lose touch.
There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners cleared the open-ditch, Midnight Appeal now disputing second position with Standing Ovation three lengths behind the leader.† Heading around the final turn, Choc urged his mount on and, facing up to the third last fence, they cleared it in unison with Tour Des Champs; Bally Legend was in third place at this stage, with Bury Parade soon to overtake the fading Standing Ovation.
Midnight Appeal held almost a length advantage over his nearest rival clearing the penultimate fence but, heading down to the last, Ian Popham drove his mount between the two leaders and jumped the obstacle one length ahead.† Having landed over the final fence, Bally Legend was driven out to win by a length and a quarter from the fast finishing Bury Parade who had been hampered and forced to switch around Tour Des Champs approaching the last, thus checking his momentum at a vital stage.
The bottom-weight favourite had rallied on the run-in and got up to beat Midnight Appeal for third place by a neck.† The distance between second and third being one length.† Ardkilly Witness claimed 5th, with Niceonefrankie 6th; having tailed off, Bless The Wings had been pulled up before 3 out.
Having decided that I rather liked standing beside the walkway in order to take a photograph of the winning and/or placed horses, I relocated to this area following the feature race.† As Choc had finished 4th, I was rewarded with the opportunity to capture an image of my favourite jockey returning ... and I also caught a snippet of conversation between him and Alan King.† I heard the trainer say, referring to Midnight Appeal, Ďit has been just 15 days since he last raní and Chocís reply was ĎNo, Alan, the horse felt like a million dollarsí.† So I guess Alan thought the horse faded after the last because it was too soon since his last outing, and Choc believed it was just that his mount had met three horses which ran better on the day.†
I also took a photograph of Bally Legend ridden by Ian Popham; ĎPopsí is Martin Keighleyís stable jockey.† I remained beside the walkway until Choc had unsaddled his mount, debriefed connections and began his walk back to the Weighing Room; he chatted with the winning jockey on the way.
I returned to the far side of the Parade Ring prior to the presentation ceremony; trainer Caroline Keevil and Ian Popham were then interviewed by RUKís Stewart Machin.
Chocís mount in the next race was the Dean Ivory-trained, hood wearing, Valid Reason.†
The starting gate for this race was in the far corner of the track, the runners heading out of the walkway and immediately along the side straight to reach it.† The favourite for this race was Royal Player at 9-4.
Then they were off.† The field was led away by Colebrooke, from Minella On Line, Royal Player, Full Shift, Songsmith, Hidden Justice, Valid Reason and Minella Special. Having been off the racecourse for 665 days, Songsmith was taking a keen hold. †Having cleared the first flight, the runners headed to the next, careful to avoid a swan which had wandered onto the track; the lake being a magnet to these birds.
Valid Reason jumped out of Chocís hands at the second flight, landing awkwardly on his haunches; but his jockey managed to retain the partnership.† The runners headed around the turn and entered the home straight on the first occasion.† Heading over the flights therein, Royal Player and Colebrooke matched strides; they were followed by Minella On Line, Full Shift, Hidden Justice, Valid Reason, Songsmith and Minella Special.† Songsmith cleared the fourth flight somewhat awkwardly.
Heading up past the winning post with one circuit to go, the two leaders held a four length advantage over their rivals; Minella Special was a few lengths in rear of the field.† The field negotiated the top turn and headed over the all-weather track and out into the country once more.† Colebrooke dived at the first flight in the side straight and was awkward at the next hurdle too; however, he continued to pay close attention to Royal Player as they headed around the lake turn.† Valid Reason was being pushed along one from the back at this point, and soon even Minella Special had overtaken him, relegating Chocís mount to last place.
The field entered the back straight; Choc decided to call it a day aboard Valid Reason and eased his mount to the inside to bypass the next flight.† Royal Player and Colebrooke continued to lead the way, with Full Shift their nearest pursuer.† The field bunched up heading to the third last flight, a group of five now clear of the remainder.† Having cleared this obstacle, Full Shift drew alongside the favourite as they headed into the final turn; Songsmith was travelling well in third position, Minella On Line was pushed along in fourth, Colebrooke even more so in fifth.
Full Shift, under AP McCoy, took the lead approaching two out; Songsmith still travelling well to his outside, Royal Player now appearing to be a spent force.† Leighton Aspellís mount gained ground and jumped the second last in unison with Full Shift; however, fitness began to tell and APís mount gained a length advantage on the run to final hurdle, which he cleared in his stride and galloped on to win by 3ľ lengths at the line.† Songsmith, now tiring, blundered at the last and stayed on at the same pace to finish 2nd.†
Minella On Line completed 11 lengths back in 3rd and one of the long-time leaders, Royal Player, finished 10 lengths back in 4th.†††††††††
I was hoping to reach the Winnersí Enclosure before Full Shift arrived back but, in the event, APís mount had already arrived therein on this occasion; he certainly hadnít wasted any time!
Whilst waiting for the horses to arrive ahead of the final race, I overheard the group of punters next to me chatting about last yearís race when Such A Legend stole a huge lead at the start and held on to win!† Gosh, Iíd forgotten about that ...
Chocís mount in this final event was the Alan King-trained Hurricane Vic, the horse making his racecourse debut today.†
The starting gate for this race was at the far end of the home straight, the runners cantering down past the stands to reach it.† I arrived at the course-side rails in time to see Choc and Hurricane Vic pass by, he accompanied Richard Johnson and his mount Champagne Chaser.
The favourite for this race was Aqalim at 2-1; the horse had behaved temperamentally on his way out along the walkway to the racecourse, jockey Denis OíRegan jogging alongside before being legged-up as the horse reached the track itself.† The horse gave a little buck before agreeing to canter down to the start, Denis riding without irons on the way down.
Then they were off, at a fairly sedate pace, led by Top Show.† Behind him was the Nicky Henderson representative Clondaw Banker, to his outside Murrayana, then to the inside Hurricane Vic, Champagne Chaser shaking his head about and keen, Colinís Brother and Aqalim.† Colinís Brother is, as the name suggests, a half-brother to stablemate I Am Colin.
The steady pace continued as the horses passed between the wings of the hurdles and up past the grandstand before heading over the all-weather track and setting off into the country for the one and only time.† As they set off down the side of the track, Colinís Brother made ground on the wide outside and came to join Top Show at the head of affairs.† Now that the momentum had increased, Denis OíRegan allowed his mount to take closer order, also to the outside of the field; this relegated Champagne Chaser to last place.
Still closely grouped, the runners headed around the lake bend, Top Show the sole leader once more.† Entering the back straight, the hood-wearing leader received a reminder.† As they progressed, the group bunched up once more; approaching the final bend, Top Show received a further backhander from his pilot in an endeavour to remain ahead of his rivals.
The long-time leader continued at the head of affairs until entering the home straight, when Clondaw Banker took the lead, with Colinís Brother following him through.† Straightening up, it would become a dash for home. Travelling well in third position at this stage was the favourite, Aqalim, with Hurricane Vic close up to his inside but being ridden along.†
Entering the final furlong Clondaw Banker still held the advantage over Colinís Brother, with Aqalim close on their heels.† At this stage it looked like the former two would fight out the finish, but Denis OíRegan had other ideas and drove his mount through the narrow gap between them as they approached the line.† It was a very close finish, Aqalim claiming the prize by a nose from Colinís Brother; Clondaw Banker a neck away in 3rd.
Hurricane Vic, who dwarfed his rivals, claimed 4th prize a further 5 lengths back; a promising first run from a big baby of a horse.† The long-time leader, Top Show faded to finish last of the 7 runners.†
As Choc had finished 4th, he returned to the unsaddling spot close to the far side of the Winnersí Enclosure, so I decided to head for that area too.†
Having debriefed connections, Choc returned to the Weighing Room.† I watched him disappear from view, before exiting via the South Entrance to return to my car.† I ate the previously mentioned cheese rolls before setting off down the driveway to reach the A308; there was no queue of traffic exiting the gate ahead of me. However, just around the corner, the tailback stretched past Kempton Parkís main entrance and all the way to the roundabout beneath the M3.
It took around 15 minutes to reach the motorway, stop start, stop start.† Fortunately traffic was running smoothly on both the M3 and the M25 and, having left the latter motorway at Junction 22, I reached home at 18:15.†
Before settling down to my post-racing chores, I washed the copious mud off my shoes.† As usual, I managed to get water inside one of the pair, so I placed them in the airing cupboard overnight to dry out.†
Supper was salad with baked potato and thinly-sliced tongue.† I then spent the remainder of the evening uploading my photographs onto my laptop, selecting the ones which I wished to use and then uploading them onto my website.† Whilst this was underway, I also transferred todayís RUK coverage onto DVD in preparation for completing this diary.†
I also tweeted a photo to Balder Succesí lad, which he Ďfavouritedí.† Steve had re-tweeted a number of photographs, many demonstrating his delight at his charge having won the race.† The following day he would post a couple of photographs on twitter of himself and his young daughter in Balderís stable, feeding the horse a well-deserved treat of carrots and Polo mints.† Itís lovely to see that the horse means so much to his stable lad, as do many other racehorses throughout the country.
I stayed up until 02:00 to complete my tasks, as I had prior engagements for most of Sunday Ė dinner at my younger brotherís house with my niece Kim and nephew James home from university for the weekend Ė and a visit to my older brotherís house on the way home in order for my sister-in-law Anita to give me a haircut!† I also stayed long enough to say hello to my other niece Lydia when she arrived home, as she works weekends in Aylesbury to finance her university studies, etc.†