DIARY – KEMPTON PARK
RACING PLUS CHASE DAY
SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2013
Choc and Midnight Sail return to the Winners’ Enclosure
having won the Handicap Chase
Almost unbelieveably, it had been six weeks since my last visit to the races; Kempton Park on Lanzarote Hurdle Day in fact. Today would be my fifth visit of the season to Kempton Park; not much variety so far this term, which had included one visit to Stratford, one to Cheltenham, one to Ascot and two to Newbury in addition to the Sunbury track.
In recent weeks I’d been thwarted by the weather and Choc’s schedule. He had been due to ride at Haydock Park on 19 January as opposed to Ascot but all fixtures were abandoned due to snow in any case. The following week, initially Choc was expected to ride at Doncaster but that fixture was lost and he rode just once at Cheltenham instead. The most annoying change of plan was the abandonment of the hurdles races on the Sandown card on 02 February, which resulted in Choc re-routing to Ffos Las to instead ride in the Welsh Champion Hurdle.
I’d expected him to be at Newbury for Super Saturday on 09 February, but he rode just one horse (Araldur who finished 4th) before heading off for three rides at Warwick, where he had two winners and a 4th. I’d hoped for a trip to the Berkshire track and an after-races visit to my friend Denise in Caversham but I have a rule of not attending the races if Choc has just a single ride; he needs at least two. It’s because there’s a lot of preparation, along with time to be spent writing a diary about my excursion! And I don’t have bottomless coffers, so must spend my racing funds wisely ... which means getting good value for my ‘Chocolate’ money!
And the previous Saturday, Choc had been to Wincanton to ride Raya Star in the Kingwell Hurdle; Alan King had no runners at Ascot, although he did have a number at Haydock Park. So, as you can imagine, I was very pleased to learn that Choc would be at Kempton Park for five riding engagements on this particular day, all for his retained yard. And the ground, having been protected by covers in the run-up to the fixture, was described as ‘Good’ ... a very rare commodity this winter!
The weather had been mild, with temperatures up to eleven degrees the previous weekend; then winter decided to take another swipe! With bitterly cold winds blowing in from the east, temperatures had dropped to just above freezing for the past few days, it feeling even colder due to wind chill factor. Snow flurries were forecast for Saturday in the London area. So it was time to wrap up very warm.
With this in mind, I wore a thermal vest, a long-sleeved thermal vest, a long sleeved t-shirt, my black ribbon-tie jumper, black frill-edged cardigan, new purple fleece, purple cardigan and black gillet fleece. I had hoped to substitute a couple of layers for my heavyweight Cotton Traders fleece but, having put on weight in recent months, I found it was too bulky under my black faux sheepskin jacket; although it did still fasten up. I wore woollen tights, treggings and my long black handkerchief hem skirt. Then socks and my engineer boots.
A hat? I now store four hats in my car, today I would wear my Dappy hat in order to keep my ears warm; the perils of having short hair nowadays. But I’d not wear it before I’d spoken with Choc, as I had a mission to carry out following a request received through this website. I’ve worn hats before when I’ve conversed with him, but a Dappy hat is one hat too far!!!
Gates opened at 11:30, which meant I should leave home at 10:30. However, on the way I planned to visit my local M & S superstore in order to purchase two or three packs of 40 denier tights. They are triple-packs in black, grey and purple. I love the purple ones but only had one unworn pair at home so needed to restock ahead of Cheltenham ... I’m not expecting it to be warm! I’m always frozen at the Festival despite wearing many layers.
Having thought I’d prepared everything for Saturday, I awoke at 06:45 realising I needed to re-write my ‘mission’ note to Choc, the original having been printed in preparation for my aborted trip to Newbury’s Super Saturday fixture. I logged on, updated the note, printed it out then encountered a problem with the black printer cartridge. Very annoying, as I’d replaced it only a few weeks ago and expected it to last for around a year. Admittedly it wasn’t a genuine HP cartridge, but nor was the previous one and that had been fine.
I didn’t fancy setting out on a shopping trip the next day, Sunday, so instead I checked that my local Argos store had a cartridge in stock, reserved it online and would collect it enroute. It was 07:50 by the time I’d showered and washed and dried my hair. I intermittently viewed The Morning Line whilst eating my breakfast and applying my make-up. Having loaded up my car I was ready to depart by 09:30. Flakes of snow were still falling, having begun a couple of hours previously, but fortunately they were no more than flurries with no chance of settling.
My route took me via the retail park on the other side of the city to collect the dual pack of ink cartridges (one black, one colour) from Argos before I then headed to the M & S store, the latter being very close to Junction 20 of the M25. As always I couldn’t resist walking through the aisles containing the Per Una range. I then located the tights section and selected three triple-packs, plus a pair of black ‘heart’ tights. Having paid for these, and with time in hand, I decided to walk around the remainder of the women’s section of the store, discovering that they still had thermal long-sleeved t-shirts in stock – I purchased three more of these to add to my collection, one cerise and two grey ones with tiny black birds printed upon them
It was 10:30 when I set off to join the M25 at the nearby junction. My journey took me around the anti-clockwise carriageway to Junction 12, the M3. I headed towards London, leaving at Junction 1 and taking the road towards Hampton Court. Having parked up in the free of charge area, I ate a cheese roll and a hot cross bun I’d brought with me before putting on my coat and boots and walking around the perimeter fence to reach the main entrance.
I purchased a ticket in the foyer, £20 today. The tab was removed by a steward as I passed through the doors and exited onto the concourse where I bought a race-card for £2.50. I also took a free copy of the Racing Plus, placing it in the bag I’d brought with me today, in addition to my handbag. I then headed to the loo, before walking down to the course-side rails to see if there was anything interesting going on out upon the racecourse. The covers had now been removed completely, the folded ones having still been visible when I was sitting in my car.
I soon returned to the main concourse between the grandstand and the Parade Ring, where I sat upon one of the benches to await the arrival of the runners prior to the first race. Flurries of snow still fell but I wasn’t cold. RUK had set up their camera in the Parade Ring, Stewart Machin and Dave Yates presenting today’s coverage, the latter wearing his incongruous new Moncler jacket which was the hot topic at Sandown Park a few weeks ago and continues to be so! It just doesn’t look right on a person of his age!!!
At 12:30 it was time for the In The Spotlight tipster session, Lee ‘and they’re off ... racing’ Mackenzie acting as host to William Hill’s Nick Robson and Richard Thomas. They went through their betting selections for the day, with the latter initially favouring many of the Alan King runners!
The snow flurries ceased at 13:00 and would not return, accept once briefly, later in the afternoon. It would soon be time for the first race of the day, so I headed off to find a good vantage point to the far side of the Parade Ring. Choc’s first ride of the day was in the first race, aboard Midnight Sail, a 5-1 shot.
I noticed that the horse still had whiskers on his chin; I would have thought that these would have been trimmed off! But perhaps Midnight Sail is a Hippy at heart!
Once the horses had departed from the Parade Ring, I set off around the southern side of the grandstand to find my usual vantage point beside the course-side rails.
The starting gate for this race was in the far corner of the track, the horses cantered down past the grandstand to take a look at the final obstacle before heading back past the winning post and out into the country to reach it.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Milarrow, Midnight Sail close up to his outside, Mickelson wider still; Storming Gale at the rear. Filbert, in mid-field, blundered slightly at the first.
The third fence is the first open-ditch and Storming Gale cleared the obstacle more slowly than the others. AP McCoy’s mount, Mickelson, made progress towards the lead only to jump the 4th without fluency and drop back again.
The runners proceeded around the first turn and into the home straight, Milarrow continuing to lead the way and Storming Gale still bringing up the rear. Heading up the home straight on the first occasion, Midnight Sail drew alongside Milarrow and they jumped the next three fences in unison, Choc’s mount taking a narrow advantage for a few strides after the last of these before being re-joined by the Colin Tizzard runner.
The field headed around the top turn and back out into the country once again, no more than four lengths covering the entire field as they headed towards the next obstacle. Midnight Sail led over this fence and the next, the second open-ditch.
Around the far turn, the Alan King runner and Milarrow disputed the lead from Mickelson, Lexicon Lad, Storming Gale, Filbert, Triangular and Lucy’s Legend. AP urged his mount forward to close up on the two leaders as they approached the first obstacle in the back straight but again Mickelson fenced slowly and lost ground.
Milarrow and Midnight Sail continued to match strides at the head of affairs as the field galloped towards the final bend, all runners jumping well; however, Triangular and Lucy’s Legend were now losing touch with the others.
Choc sent his mount on around the final turn, Mickelson initially his nearest pursuer; this mantle taken over by Filbert as they approached three out. It was then the turn of Lexicon Lad to make his challenge as they cleared the penultimate fence.
But Choc’s mount was not for passing and still held a two lengths lead over his nearest pursuer at the last and went on to win by this distance at the line. The favourite, Milarrow, having been outpaced turning for home, rallied to claim third place. Filbert, who had made an error at the last, finished 4th.
It was Choc’s 36th winner of the season.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc and his winning mount arrive back. It was then time to complete my ‘mission’; after which I would wear my hat!!!
As soon as it became apparent that Choc was heading back to the Weighing Room I set off to meet him at the point where he would exit the horse-walk and head across the concourse to weigh in. I’d already gained his agreement to the request to sign a wedding card on behalf of someone’s best man, so I handed over the card together with the instructions and a return envelope.
However, because I was concentrating on the task in hand, I’d not thought to greet him with a kiss on the cheek, but on this occasion he actually proffered his cheek for me to kiss. Isn’t that lovely? I wished him luck for the remainder of the afternoon as he headed back to the warmth of the Weighing Room.
I recall walking back to the Parade Ring with a silly grin on my face!
Choc’s mount in the second race was the filly L’Unique, who’d won during my last visit to Kempton Park in mid-January.
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.
Choc had been the first to leave the Parade Ring so, having walked fast, I arrived in the betting ring just in time to take a photograph or two as he and L’Unique cantered by; the photographs turned out surprisingly well, considering I had no time to prepare!
Then they were off. The field was led away by the outsider Shadarpour, narrowly ahead of Courtesy Call, L’Unique was on the inside, to her outer Chris Pea Green together with Vasco Du Ronceray who were both pulling hard, and to their outside was Irish Saint; Foster’s Road brought up the rear.
The runners headed up past the stands, around the top turn and out into the country; the order was Shadarpour, Courtesy Call, L’Unique, Chris Pea Green, Irish Saint, Vasco Du Ronceray and Foster’s Road. Choc’s filly out-jumped the leader at the next flight and took over at the head of affairs; she led over the next flight too.
Heading around the far bend, Shadarpour came to join L’Unique at the business end of the field. These two were soon joined by Chris Pea Green and Courtesy Call. By three out Shadarpour had begun to lose ground as the other three went on.
L’Unique, Chris Pea Green and Courtesy Call disputed the lead around the final turn, Vasco Du Ronceray close on their tails, with Irish Saint behind these and appearing to be outpaced at this stage.
Choc administered reminders to his mount approaching two out, Courtesy Call and Vasco Du Ronceray now going on and jumping the flight in unison, the latter soon taking the lead. Ruby galvanised his mount to challenge as they headed towards the last hurdle and was almost upsides the leader as they cleared it.
It was then nip and tuck to the line, with Irish Saint prevailing by half a length from Vasco Du Ronceray at the line. L’Unique finished 8 lengths back in third, with hurdling debutant, Courtesy Call in 4th.
As Choc had finished placed, I returned to the Parade Ring before heading back once more to the course-side rails. This was because, following the second race, the Jonjo O’Neill trained Festival stalwart, Albertas Run, and a unknown companion horse underwent a pre-Cheltenham racecourse gallop.
It was then time for the third race; no ride for Choc in this one. Again the runners cantered down past the grandstand to take a look at the final fence before heading back past the winning post and along the side of the track to reach the starting gate in the far corner.
Soon it was time for the race to begin … the tape went up but little happened initially as all but one of the jockeys had no intention of leading off! The exception was Barry Geraghty aboard Molotof, who I presume had agreed to lead but his mount wasn’t at all keen on this idea!
Molotof was led in for a few strides by the Starter’s Assistant, after which he continued to resist his jockey’s urgings. Barry finally administered a couple of slaps on the horse’s backside with his whip and they were off, Grandioso travelled in second position, then Peckhamecho and Theatre Guide; Tour D’Argent bringing up the rear.
Peckhamecho ploughed through the second fence and dropped to the rear of the field; the horse was again slow at the 4th. Molotof held a clear lead heading around the turn and into the home straight on the first occasion. There was no change at the head of affairs travelling up towards the ‘lollipop’; Peckhamecho made another error, this time at the middle of the fences in the straight.
Barry Geraghty’s mount held a one length lead over this stable companion Tour D’Argent around the top turn, the others close up too. The runners then headed towards the far turn, clearing two fences en route. The order around the far turn being Molotof, Tour D’Argent, Grandioso, Theatre Guide and Peckhamecho.
Still little change in the order as the runners travelled down the back straight, Theatre Guide taking third position prior to the last fence therein, only to make an error and drop back to 4th once more.
The Nicky Henderson runners led into the final straight, the others closing in on them. Tour D’Argent made an error two out, Grandioso soon taking second position and then going into the lead; Theatre Guide was also closing on the two leaders.
However, when upsides Molotof at the last, Theatre Guide fell, leaving the former to rally on the run-in but unable to overhaul Grandioso, the latter winning by one length.
The green screens having been erected around the prostrate Theatre Guide, I waited next to the Betting Ring in the hope that the horse would soon rise. It took a few minutes and, having been solely winded, the horse got to his feet and was led back to the stables; he received a spontaneous round of loud applause from the spectators who had remained to witness his fate.
Having missed Grandioso and Co as they returned to the Winners’ Enclosure, I returned to the far side of the Parade Ring in preparation for Choc arriving ahead of the next race. Choc’s mount in this event was Fair Trade, connections hoping for a better showing than on previous hurdling efforts now that the ground had improved.
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. Of the five runners in this event, one held an entry in the Triumph Hurdle (Lac Fontana), two in the Supreme Novices’ (Fair Trade and Black Spirit) and the remaining (Forgotten Voice and Brick Red) in the County Hurdle.
The horses came into line, in Indian file; then they were off. They were led away by Brick Red, from Forgotten Voice, Lac Fontana and Fair Trade, with Black Spirit bringing up the rear; the latter put in an untidy leap at the second flight.
There was no change to the order or the single file progress as they rounded the top turn, Black Spirit now pulling slightly whilst at the rear of the field. By the fourth flight, a gap had opened up between the two leaders, Brick Red and Forgotten Voice, and the remainder of the field. This soon closed again as the runners travelled around the far turn.
Brick Red continued to lead from Forgotten Voice, Lac Fontana, Fair Trade and Black Spirit as they headed over the next two flights, their jockeys ensuring they took closer order before stringing out again when the pace increased leading into the final bend.
Having entered the home straight, they grouped up once more as they stretched across the course to make their respective challenges. Approaching two out, all the pilots were animated, apart from Barry Geraghty aboard Forgotten Voice.
Brick Red held a slight advantage over this flight, Forgotten Voice almost upsides. The remaining three runners were neck and neck not far behind them. Barry rode his mount to take a narrow lead over the final flight and then pulled away on the run-in to win easily by 5 lengths at the line.
The Venetia Williams trained long-time leader, Brick Red, held on to 2nd by three quarters of a length from the fast finishing juvenile, Lac Fontana. Once beaten, Choc had eased his mount and finished 7 lengths back in 4th.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc and his mount arrive back. As the fourth placed horse is unsaddled close to the far side of the Parade Ring, I headed immediately for this particular spot.
It was then time for the feature event of the day, the Racing Plus Chase, its previous incarnation being the Racing Post Chase; the first prize to the winner was £43,580. Former dual winner, the grey Nacarat, was returning for what would be his swansong before retirement beckoned for this popular 12-year-old.
Many of the top stables were represented, the ‘big guns’ doubly so; Paul Nicholls (Rolling Aces and What A Friend), Nicky Henderson (Roberto Goldback and Quantitativeeasing), and Philip Hobbs (Quinz and Duke Of Lucca). The other trainers with runners were Tom George (Nacarat); Paul Nicholls’ former Assistant Trainer, Harry Fry (Opening Batsman); Nigel Twiston-Davies (Same Difference); Richard Lee (Hector’s Choice); Venetia Williams (Summery Justice); Jonjo O’Neill (Mister Hyde); and David Bridgwater (Wyck Hill).
Owner JP McManus was also at Kempton Park today, he had two representatives – Quantitativeeasing and the recently purchased race favourite, Wyck Hill.
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.
By the time I’d taken photographs of the parading horses, having earlier changed the battery in my camera, the second one was now running low on charge. Only four races completed and I had just one more charged battery in reserve. I would need to preserve it in order for my camera to last out until the end of the day. It must be the age of the batteries, as I’d charged all three within the past 24 hours.
The horses gathered wide across the track and then they were off. The runners were led off by Same Difference, close up were Nacarat to his inside, Wyck Hill to his outside, Rolling Aces and Duke Of Lucca wider still. The visored Mister Hyde clouted the first fence and fell. The horse was uninjured but jockey Maurice Linehan was later reported to have suffered two broken vertebrae and a broken sternum.
Same Difference flew the next retaining his lead. Heading around the far turn the order was Same Difference, from Nacarat, Wyck Hill, Rolling Aces, Hector’s Choice, Quinz, Duke Of Lucca, Roberto Goldback, Quantitativeeasing, Summery Justice, Opening Batsman and What A Friend.
Quinz took the lead as they cleared the 5th fence, which is the second open-ditch. He continued to cut out the running as the horses travelled around the long right-hand bend and entered the home straight on the first occasion; What A Friend and Summery Justice bringing up the rear.
Nacarat, travelling in second position at the time, blundered at the middle fence of the three and quickly lost his place. Quantitativeeasing, now in last but one, received a reminder having cleared the next obstacle. Heading around the top turn with one circuit to go, Quinz still led from Wyck Hill, Same Difference, Opening Batsman who’d progressed noticeably through the field, Rolling Aces, Hector’s Choice, Nacarat, Roberto Goldback, Duke Of Lucca, Quantitativeeasing, What A Friend and Summery Justice.
AP McCoy’s mount made an error at the first in the side straight and began to drop back off the pace. Quinz led into the far turn; at the rear of the field, Quantitativeeasing and Summery Justice both received reminders. Heading along the back straight, Quinz was soon almost joined by the Ruby Walsh ridden Rolling Aces, with Same Difference and Opening Batsman on their coat-tails. By this stage Wyck Hill had weakened and began to lose touch with the main group.
Having cleared the final open-ditch, just seven horses remained in contention; they were Quinz, Opening Batsman, Rolling Aces, Hector’s Choice, Same Difference, Roberto Goldback and Duke Of Lucca. Both Sam Twiston-Davies’ and Barry Geraghty’s mounts were soon ridden along.
Quinz still held a slight advantage as they cleared three out, with Rolling Aces to his outside, and Opening Batsman to his inside. Hector’s Choice and Duke Of Lucca close of their heels. Rolling Aces took up the running on the gallop to the penultimate fence, Opening Batsman hit this obstacle but it didn’t affect his momentum. Quinz had now faded into third, with his stable companion in fourth.
Ruby’s mount retained a very narrow advantage over the last but Opening Batsman had rallied and was driven to lead soon afterwards, going on to win by 2 lengths at the line. Duke of Lucca completed in 3rd, with long-time leader Quinz in 4th.
It later transpired that the disappointing favourite, Wyck Hill, had required 7 stitches and 14 staples in a wound to one of his hind-legs, although it was unclear at which stage of the race his injury had occurred.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back. Paul Nicholls was quick to offer his congratulations to the winning trainer, Harry Fry, giving his former Assistant a hug! The winning syndicate were very noisy owners, celebrating their horse’s triumph with vigour.
Soon it was time for the penultimate race of the day, in which Choc would be riding the David Sewell owned Hollow Penny.
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.
Soon the runners were ready for the off. The blinkered Hollo Ladies was led in behind the others; jockey Paddy Brennan placed Lordofthehouse in front of gathered horses but, having previously demonstrated antics at the start, his mount baulked and veered off towards the outside of the track. He received reminders due to his reluctance, consenting then to join the others although now nearer last than first.
The field had been led away by Natural Spring, from De Blacksmith and Brilliant Barca; Choc’s mount, Hollow Penny, was close up on the inside; Quaddick Lake and Gormanstown Cuckoo were at the rear of the field.
There was no change at the head of affairs as the runners negotiated the right-hand bend and headed up the home straight on the first occasion. The racing order was Natural Spring, De Blacksmith, Brilliant Barca, Kaylif Aramis, Hand On Bach, Phare Isle, Hollow Penny, God Of The Kop, Hollo Ladies, Katkeau, Sail And Return, Baby Shine, Lordofthehouse, Quaddick Lake and Gormanstown Cuckoo.
The field headed up around the top turn and out into the country. Natural Spring wasn’t fluent over flights five and six and was joined by De Blacksmith as they travelled towards the far corner. Quaddick Lake and Gormanstown Cuckoo remained at the rear of the field. Heading along the back straight the majority of runners were still travelling well, apart from the latter who had now become detached.
Natural Spring asserted her advantage around the final bend, from De Blacksmith, Brilliant Barca, Phare Isle, Hand On Bach, Hollow Penny and God Of The Kop. The runners were stretched across the width of the track as they approached two out. Phare Isle was the first to lay down a challenge to the long-time leader, with Kaylif Aramis and Katkeau also appearing on the scene; Baby Shine began to stay on strongly too.
Kaylif Aramis headed Natural Spring shortly after the last, with Baby Shine and Katkeau still closing with every stride. Baby Shine claimed the race by a neck at the line from Katkeau, Kaylif Aramis a further neck away in 3rd. Natural Spring completed in 4th.
Hollow Penny had faded in the home straight, Choc easing him towards the line to finish in 13th position.
It was winning trainer Lucy Wadham’s third victory from three runners in this event during the past decade.
Although Choc had been unplaced in this race, I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the first four horses arrive back.
Soon it was time for the final race of the day, in which Choc would ride debutant Money For Nothing.
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.
Then they were off; the Kim Bailey runner poaching a 10 lengths lead as the field set off up the home straight on the first occasion. Orchard Boy was in second, and he soon held a few lengths advantage over Stroke Of Genius, Beat That, Henryville, Carlton Jack, Black Cow, Money For Nothing, Un Bleu A L’Aam, Broughtons Star and Dougalstar.
The gap between Such A Legend and the other runners continued to grow as the field headed around the top turn and out into the country; none of the jockeys appeared concerned.
The leader showed no signs of weakening as he travelled around the far corner, the commentator estimating that he was now a furlong ahead of his rivals. Orchard Lad remained in second position, holding possibly a 10 lengths advantage over the main body of the field. It was only when they were travelling along the back straight that the jockeys aboard the pursuers began to realise that Such A Legend was not stopping and perhaps they should attempt to close the yawning chasm!
Around the final turn the field was well strung out, Such A Legend still leading by a wide margin, from Orchard Boy, Carlton Jack, Beat That, Henryville, Un Bleu A L’Aam, Money For Nothing, Black Cow, Broughtons Star, Dougalstar and Stroke Of Genius.
The long-time leader was beginning to get tired but the gap between him and the Barry Geraghty ridden Beat That was not diminishing quickly enough. The pursuers had run out of time and distance, Such A Legend had 3¾ lengths in hand over the Nicky Henderson trained runner at the line. Orchard Lad claimed 3rd at 20-1, with Un Bleu A L’Aam in 4th. Money For Nothing finished 9th.
A 33-1 winner under a very enterprising ride by Conditional Jockey Ed Cookson. However, the horse did have racecourse experience having finished 4th, 18 lengths behind the David Pipe trained Doctor Harper who’d won his second bumper at Sandown Park the previous day. When interviewed, trainer Kim Bailey revealed that Ed hadn’t followed his riding instructions but all’s well that ends well!
Although Choc had finished outside the first four, I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back. One irate punter shouted his displeasure, his anger aimed at Barry Geraghty, presumably his pocket doing the talking. Another, older spectator, spoke up to say that Ed Cookson’s enterprising ride should be praised, rather than voicing criticism at the losing jockeys.
Nor was it time for me to leave, as I had decided to watch the racecourse gallops of a number of Nicky Henderson’s stable stars.
There’s never much information available regarding which horse is which and it was no different today. Some guy asked me who the horses were; I couldn’t enlighten him very much. However, there were far more horses than expected, and included a number of Paul Nicholls-trained horses too. And two of Ben De Haan’s inmates – Looks Like Slim and Native Gallery, the former with Choc aboard! A lady called Kirsten Smith tweeted to let me know which horses these were!
I know Ruby Walsh rode one of the Paul Nicholls horses, and another group was reported to have consisted of Riverside Theatre, Kid Cassidy and Rolling Star. However, it was possible to identify Bobs Worth (because the ‘terrier’ sticks out his head when he gallops) with Barry Geraghty aboard, Long Run with usual work rider Nico De Boinville, and Binocular ridden by AP McCoy. It seems I knew the identity of more jockeys than horses!
As the bookmakers were now leaving the racecourse, I was able to slip out via the entrance which leads directly into the free car parking area. Having returned to my vehicle, I ate a second cheese roll and hot cross bun. The temperature gauge registered zero degrees! I left the racecourse precincts at 17:40, heading back past the racecourse’s main entrance, where a queue had formed tailing back from the motorway junction. It took a few minutes of stop, start, stop, start, before I was on my way down the M3.
I joined the M25 clockwise carriageway, the traffic flowing freely throughout my journey back to Junction 20. But I did have a surreal experience when driving past the M1 junction; I overtook a flatbed lorry carrying a huge green teapot, on the side of which was painted More Th>n. It later transpired that the company was making an advert which would be filmed in St Albans City Centre the following day, the teapot being one of the props. At the time of writing, the advert was due to premier on TV on 18 March.
I don’t normally drop into my usual petrol station on a Saturday evening, having once been witness to an argument between a gang of youths and the staff therein on one such night. However, as I didn’t wish to rise early the next day because it was too cold to go out for a special trip, I decided to fill up my tank on this occasion before completing my journey home. I arrived back at 18:40.
It was bitterly cold as I drove my car underneath the carport and I was glad to settle down inside a warm house. Having eaten an evening ready-meal of Penne Mozzarella, followed by a pudding bowl of trifle, I settled down to write my daily blog, uploading the photographs onto my laptop and selecting the best ones for this website. And, following today’s problems, I ordered two new re-chargeable batteries for my Olympus camera. By 23:30 I’d grown too tired to continue, leaving the formatting of the pictures until the following morning.
I decided it was going to be a two water bottle kind of night, so I was roasty toasty when turning in!!!
Choc tweeted me the following day to thank me for the secret stash of Jelly Tots for William and Peanut M & Ms for himself that I’d slipped into the ‘wedding card’ bag ... he’d just found them!