DIARY – NEWBURY
SATURDAY 03 MARCH 2012
GREATWOOD CHARITY & EQUESTRIAN DAY
In the Parade Ring, Blazing Bailey
ahead of the Veterans’ Handicap Chase
Yet another opportunity to go racing, with Choc having 5 riding engagements at Newbury this day. When Choc’s return from injury had been imminent, I asked my friend Lesley if she’d like to go racing in the near future; she chose this fixture as being the most convenient.
With the Cheltenham Festival approaching, I wanted to save my ‘best’ clothes for that meeting; besides, rain showers were forecast during the afternoon. That meant I needed to wear my purple anorak, as it was too cold for a raincoat ... and that best suited me wearing a pair of trousers today, rather than a skirt. Jeans perhaps? I tried on a pair of black jeans ... oh no, they were too small; however, I was relieved to find that all 3 pairs of blue jeans still fitted, although they were rather tighter than hoped! Thank goodness for Lycra.
Despite it being March, I decided to take no chances with the weather. I wore 2 thermal vests, a cerise cardigan, purple fleece, burgundy cardigan, blue jeans, blue ankle boots and, of course, my anorak. I chose to wear a Rico Loopy scarf in shades of purple and blue; it colour co-ordinated perfectly!
As usual on a ‘racing’ Saturday, I awoke just before 07:00; showered, washed and dried my hair, watched Channel 4’s the Morning Line whilst eating a breakfast of toast and croissants. Having dressed ready to go, I decided to wait outside for Lesley to pick me up in her car ... I was beginning to ‘glow’ as I was far too warm when indoors! It began to spit with rain as I waited.
Lesley soon arrived and I directed her via the local back roads to reach the London Colney roundabout. Our route took us to join the M25 at Junction 21A; before heading westwards along the M4 to Junction 12, Reading West. Having left the motorway, our route took us along the A4, through the village of Woolhampton and on to Thatcham before reaching Newbury. Having travelled through a heavy rain shower on the way to Berkshire, the skies were now bright, with blue sky in abundance.
We entered the racecourse precincts via the bridge across the railway, turning left to drive along the perimeter road and park in the area beyond, which is free. Lesley was directed to park on the front row, evidently the racecourse workers now have a new area where they park. The horse transporter for the Fuller’s Dray shirehorses was parked just in front of us; presumably they were still inside the vehicle, as there was no sign of them elsewhere. It was 11:40.
Unfortunately, the heather-selling gypsy has returned to ply her trade in the car park. I thought Newbury had warned her off for annoying punters?
Lesley was debating whether to wear a cardigan under her coat; I advised her that she should. However, I decided to leave my burgundy cardigan in the car, hoping that the weather would not deteriorate. We made our way to the grandstand entrance; I purchased two race-cards (£2.50 each) from the promotion workers outside, and a ticket from the entry kiosk, using cash, for £16.00. It took a little longer for the cashiers to process Lesley’s payment, which she made by credit card.
Initially we headed for the Pre-Parade Ring, as we knew there were to be a number of equestrian related attractions taking place before racing. However, as these hadn’t begun yet, we returned to the lower floor concourse of the Dubai Duty Free stand to purchase a cup of coffee and a hot chocolate drink.
We sat at one of the tables to consume the drinks, with Lesley consuming a sausage roll too; she also read through the race-card to select her bets for the day. I believe they were Blazing Bailey, Araldur, Teshali, together with Up To Something in the last.
We then headed back to the Pre-Parade Ring to watch the first of the equestrian ‘showcases’, which was a Lusitano Dressage Display. This was followed by a Side Saddle Display, four ladies demonstrating the art of riding side saddle. With the Behind the Scenes Tour commencing at 13:00, we decided to miss the Vaulting Display and headed for the concourse outside the Weighing Room.
There were more than 20 people queuing for the Tour but, fortunately, the Weighing Room is quite roomy and we were all able to fit inside it. During the talk given by the Clerk of the Scales, Ruby Walsh walked through, as did trainer Keiran Burke. Racing commentator today, Stewart Machin, was chatting to racecourse staff in one of the annex rooms, and Paddy Brennan also put in an appearance. As we had arrived, Joe Tizzard was weighing out, Timmy Murphy weighed out a little later too.
Whilst explaining his role, The Clerk of the Scales handed two saddles to individual members of the audience, and these were passed around for everyone to hold, one for when riding at a ‘sensible’ weight, the other one was miniscule for when riding at a very light weight. The difference was amazing, the heavier one was, in fact, far heavier than I’d ever imagined! The Judge briefly explained his role too.
This particular tour seemed far less organised than the one I’d undertaken at the end of March last year; when we’d also climbed to the top of the Berkshire grandstand to visit the judge’s box and been to see the horses being saddled in the ‘open’ boxes. So, having left the Weighing Room, Lesley and I headed for the Parade Ring to listen to ‘Mark Your Card’, where the guest pundit was the aforementioned Stewart Machin.
It was soon time for the first race of the day, a Handicap Hurdle, in which Choc would be riding the Alan King trained Godsmejudge. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring we set off to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails.
The starting gate for this race was halfway down the back straight.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Super Villain, taking a keen hold. He was followed by Blazing Buck, Always Waining, Love Of Tara, Tarvini, Cinderella Rose, Benbens, Imperial Circus, Godsmejudge, Buck Magic, South O’The Border, Pavillon Bleu, Lamboro Lad, with Theatrical Star held up in rear.
Love Of Tara pecked at the second flight; Buck Magic wasn’t fluent here either. Heading up the home straight on the first occasion, the profusely sweating Super Villain still led the field, and continued to do so until after the 8th flight, when he was briefly headed by Imperial Circus. The latter hit the next flight, Super Villain regaining the lead once more.
Turning into the home straight for the final time, Godsmejudge held every chance but made an error 3 out and began to lose his place. Super Villain had been headed again by Imperial Circus at this flight; Benbens challenging for the lead and taking over when jumping 2 out, although not fluent. Sam Twiston-Davies drove his mount out to win by 1½ lengths; in second position, Theatrical Star made an error at the last and was caught on the line by Imperial Circus, the distance a nose. Buck Magic, a further nose away, completed in 4th.
Godsmejudge, who had also made an error 2 out, completed in 7th place.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses return; although, not surprisingly, my attention was drawn to Choc, rather than the placed horses!
It was now time for the Veterans’ Handicap Chase, in which Choc would be riding Blazing Bailey. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, we set off to find a suitable spot beside the course-side rails.
The start of this race was at the beginning of the back straight; the race being run over the same distance as the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Fair Along, who often appears reluctant at the start, was led in to ensure that he set off with the other runners.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Fair Along until slowing at the first fence, when teenager Hello Bud took over the lead. Over the third fence the order was Hello Bud, Dom D’Orgeval, Fair Along, Ouzbeck, Niche Market, Wogan, Marufo, Blazing Bailey, Mark The Book and Mumbles Head.
By the far turn, Blazing Bailey was in rear, and received a reminder, having hit the 6th fence. Into the home straight on the first occasion, the order was Hello Bud, Niche Market, Fair Along, Marufo, Ouzbeck, Wogan, Mark The Book, Dom D’Orgeval, Mumbles Head and Blazing Bailey.
Dom D’Orgeval had soon dropped to the rear of the field; Blazing Bailey just preceding him. Having jumped the water, Choc decided to call it a day. Heading down the back straight for the final time, Wogan had lost his place and wasn’t fluent at the 12th fence; he was pulled up shortly afterwards. Both Mark The Book and D’Orgeval were tailed off when pulled up after the 16th obstacle, the cross fence.
Marufo, who took the lead after the 12th fence, wasn’t fluent at the last obstacle in the back straight, and hit the 4th last too. He was headed 3 out by Niche Market. However, the former was driven to lead again 2 out. Having cleared the last fence, it became a duel between Marufo and Niche Market, the former prevailing by half a length at the line. Ouzbeck, having been outpaced earlier in the race, stayed on to finish 3rd, with long-time leader Hello Bud 4th.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back, however, shortly afterwards the heavens opened; a hailstorm! Not feeling very hardy today, we sought shelter under the glass awning at the back of the Berkshire stand, a short distance from the entrance to the Weighing Room.
Whilst we were sheltering, Choc exited the Parade Ring, carrying his saddle, and accompanying Andrew Tinkler. They headed to the Weighing Room.
Fortunately the skies began to clear and we were able to return to the Parade Ring ahead of the next race. Once Choc was aboard his next ride of the day, Araldur, we set off to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails. Other punters appeared less hardy, as the area was almost deserted! Glancing towards the east, there was a rainbow too.
The starting gate for this event was in the far corner of the track.
Crescent Island was led in at the start, although his lad was knocked over as the runners set off! The field was led away by one of the greys, Pickamus, from Dave’s Dream, Dan Breen and Passato. Woolcombe Folly made an error at the 2nd fence. Pickamus continued to lead as the runners headed up the straight on the first occasion. Araldur made an error at the 5th fence; but Crescent Island’s error was far worse, and he slithered along on landing. Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies pulled him up before the next. Araldur, now last, jumped the water slowly and was given a reminder.
Heading down the back straight, the order was Pickamus from Dave’s Dream, Passato, Fix The Rib, Dan Breen, Pasco, Fine Parchment, Rileyev, Aerial, Woolcombe Folly and Araldur bringing up the rear. Choc’s mount wasn’t fluent at the 9th and appeared well beaten by the 11th; he pulled him up after jumping the cross-fence. Dave’s Dream had lost his place approaching this fence, and was pulled up after it too.
Pickamus still held the advantage as the runners entered the home straight with four fences to go; the other grey Pasco now in second position. The long-time leader was overtaken by Dan Breen two out, despite skewing on landing over this fence. It appeared that Dan Breen might have stolen the race, but Ruby Walsh was in pursuit and his mount Aerial stayed on under pressure after the last, gaining as the field headed towards the line. A short-head; Ruby had prevailed. Rileyev completed in 3rd, with last year’s winner, Fine Parchment finishing 4th.
Again we returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back. I don’t suppose I need to mention that I was more interested in Choc than in Aerial, et al!
Choc had no ride in the next race. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, we set off to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails.
The starting gate for this race was partway down the home straight, with just over one circuit to travel.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Balgarry, from King Zeal, Looks Like Slim, Nampour, Dubai Crest, Ebanour, Orzare, Zafranagar, Manshoor, Rebel Dancer; in rear Sire Collonges.
Heading down the back straight, Balgarry continued to lead from Looks Like Slim, Nampour, King Zeal, Orzare, Dubai Crest, Ebanour, Zafranagar, Manshoor, Rebel Dancer and Sire Collonges.
Having always been in rear and unable to make any progress, Ruby Walsh pulled up Sire Collonges before 3 out. Clear of the field around the final turn, Balgarry continued to gallop on strongly, extending his lead, the remainder of the runners in his wake. The only two looking likely to mount a challenge were Nampour and Ebanour; the former closing slightly towards the line, but they were no match for Balgarry who won by 3½ lengths.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back.
Choc’s ride in the next event was Gospel Preacher; stable-mate Ruling Party was to be ridden by Charlie Huxley. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, we set off to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails.
The starting gate for this race was in the far corner of the track, with a circuit and a half to travel.
Then they were off. The field was led away by General Kutuzov, from Handy Andy, Be My Light, Ballyquin Queen, Prankster, Kusadiki, Ruling Party, Gospel Preacher, Galiotto, Abbevillian, Tickatack, Teshali, Quousko De L’isop, Marble Walk and Accordingtolawrence.
General Kutuzov and Handy Andy held a clear advantage as they began the run down the back straight. Gospel Preacher made a mistake at the 6th flight, Ruling Party jumped it slowly and received a reminder; unfortunately Alan King’s second string then fell at the next flight, the jockey aboard Marble Walk being unseated in the melee. Both the horses and jockeys were fine, although Charlie Huxley was limping a little.
Travelling around the final turn, Gospel Preacher had made progress into third position; General Kutuzov and Handy Andy still led. Choc’s mount made an error at the 2nd last when holding every chance and weakened on the flat. Handy Andy led after two out, staying on to win by 1 length from Tickatack; Quousko De L’isop completed in third, General Kutuzov 4th. Gospel Preacher finished 6th.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back. A second winner of the day for Brocade Racing; Balgarry having won the previous event.
Having exited the Parade Ring, Choc signed numerous autographs on his way to the Weighing Room.
No ride for Choc in the next event. Once the horses had left the Parade Ring we set off to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails.
The starting gate for this event was at the far end of the home straight, with that and one full circuit to travel.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Back Bob Back, who hit the first fence, from Cheney Manor, Shammick Boy, Be Definite, Arctic Wings and chasing debutante Amirico. The latter fell at the second fence, the open-ditch. The horse was fine; jockey Liam Treadwell took a while to rise, then he was guided off the course.
Shammick Boy was not jumping well. Turning into the back straight, Back Bob Back still led; Pepite Rose making an error at the open ditch. In rear, Arctic Wings received a reminder, soon tailing off.
Paddy Brennan’s mount retained the lead as the runners took the cross-fence, from Be Definite, Cheney Manor, Pepite Rose, the slow jumping Shammick Boy and the tailed off Arctic Wings. Back Bob Back was headed 2 out, by the easy travelling mare. The latter was soon clear and went on to win easily by 15 lengths. Back Bob Back completed in 2nd, Be Definite 3rd and Cheney Manor 4th. Both Shammick Boy and Arctic Wings were pulled up.
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back.
It was now time for the final and most valuable race of the day; the DBS Spring Sales Bumper. To qualify for this race, the entries were four and five year olds who, as the name suggested, had been purchased at the DBS Spring Store Sales.
Alan King had three runners in this race: Valdez, who cost £8000, ridden by Choc; Turn Over Sivola, who cost £25000, ridden by Charlie Huxley; and Kenai Peninsula, costing £24000, ridden by Ciaran McKee claiming 10lbs due to him being one of the stable’s conditional jockeys.
The first horse into the Parade Ring was whinnying continuously, with debutant Kenai Peninsula, who was being led around near the ‘closed’ looseboxes waiting to be saddled, replying. Once saddled, Alan actually legged up Ciaran inside the box and led Kenai Peninsula into the Parade Ring, doing one circuit before handing his charge over to the stable lad! Valdez and Turn Over Sivola, having had two racecourse appearances each, were better able to cope with the build-up to the race.
Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, we set off to the course-side rails to find a suitable vantage point.
The starting gate for this race was part way down the home straight. It was rather amusing to watch Alan’s Travelling Head Lad, Matt Howells, jogging down to the start in order to lead the ‘green’ Kenai Peninsula around.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Up To Something; My Tent Or Yours was throwing his head around, Mr Bingley not settled either. Valdez was on the inside of the runners, in mid-field.
The pace was modest as the field headed down the back straight. Up To Something still led, from Xaarcet, Subtle Sovereign, Mr Bingley, No Diamond, Scholastica, My Tent Or Yours, the white faced Valdez, Kenai Peninsula, Dumbfounded, Turn Over Sivola, Ussee, Catch The Fire, Kalani King and D’Argent Cloud.
Richard Johnson’s mount remained at the head of affairs as the runners entered the home straight. Over 2 furlongs out, Choc initially decided to switch to his right to launch a challenge; however, Up To Something then also edged to his right, forcing Choc to switch back to his left to avoid him.
Unfortunately Valdez could only stay on at the same pace; Richard Johnson’s mount being driven out to win by a neck from My Tent Or Yours. Kalani King finished a further 8 lengths back in 3rd, holding Valdez’s late challenge by a short-head.
Turn Over Sivola completed in 6th, with Kenai Peninsula 7th; good runs from the entire team!
Lesley was extremely pleased, as her selection had won!
We returned to the Winners’ Enclosure for the final time today. Choc’s first placing of the day. Once Choc had briefed connections, he went across to speak briefly with Alan King, the latter having been helping with the other two stable runners. Choc then returned to the Weighing Room for the final time today.
Lesley went to collect her winnings! £22 evidently; a £6 profit today!
After racing, we decided to stay to watch the beginning of the DBS auction of racehorses. The auction company had a pavilion next door to the Hampshire stand, the bidders sitting within the warmth of its confines whilst the horses were paraded outside.
Here is a link to the catalogue. One of the horses, Classical Twist, sold for £220,000, a new record for DBS at Newbury. I don’t think we stayed long enough to see that one sold ... what a pity; it must have been pretty exciting!
Having watched the auction for around 25 minutes, we decided it was time to set off home. As we were close to the premier entrance/exit, we took the pathway out to the perimeter road, before walking along past the grandstand enclosure entrance to reach the car park. Not surprisingly, the area was almost deserted, just a few cars scattered here and there and one coach almost ready to depart. I was glad I was not alone, as it was very dark!
We drove out via the perimeter road, taking a right-hand turn to exit via the railway bridge. Upon reaching the road outside the course, we turned right again, and headed for the junction with the A4. After waiting for the traffic signals to change to green, we turned right to reach the large roundabout and took yet another right to drive through Thatcham. Upon reaching the M4 we headed towards London. Our journey then took us clockwise around the M25, Lesley dropping me off at home before heading to the local supermarket; it was shortly before 20:00.
Lesley has been to Royal Ascot, but never to a National Hunt fixture at the course; during our journey home today she expressed an interest in attending a meeting at the Berkshire venue. There’s just one fixture remaining this season taking place on Sunday 01 April, so I’ll bear it in mind for next season. However, I have warned her that Ascot is the coldest racecourse I’ve ever attended, so she’ll need to wrap up warm! Having said that, she doesn’t seem to feel the cold like I do.
Having eaten 2 cheese rolls and a carton of chips during the day, I just ate the crust from the end of the ‘tiger bread’ loaf (I love bread crusts) and a portion of homemade trifle before logging onto my laptop to upload my photographs and write the daily blog. Hoping to get a head-start on updating my website, I selected and uploaded the photographs before turning in at 00:30.
Earlier in the evening, Choc had tweeted that he was heading to the Plough Inn to enjoy a steak; it had been a tough week he said. He also announced that Blazing Bailey had been retired following today’s race. A well deserved rest for a stable stalwart.