DIARY Ė NEWBURY Ė SATURDAY 21 MARCH 2009
Choc was scheduled to have 4 rides at Newbury today, so I decided to make my 4th visit to the Berkshire course.
I filled up my car with petrol at 07:30, returning to watch Channel 4ís The Morning Line.† I took a shower, encountering a problem because the cold water stopped running, but luckily I didnít get burnt.† However, I couldnít rinse the conditioner out of my hair.† So I got dressed and went downstairs where, strangely, the cold water supply was okay, so I washed it out in the kitchen sink!†
The first race at Newbury was to take place at 13:45, with gates opening at 11:30 I gathered.† So I decided to set off at 10:35.† However, I popped into my local M & S superstore, as Iíd seen a pair of shoes in the town centre branch the previous day but they didnít have my size (8) in stock.† And not satisfied with finding the pair I wanted (above), I also purchased a pair of the same design in a second colour, and a pair of very girlie pink espadrilles with bows on!†
I left M & S at 11:15, joining the nearby M25 to drive around to the M40.† However, Iíd travelled no more than 2 or 3 miles along the motorway before I got caught up in a traffic jam, and it then took me around 30 minutes to travel the next few miles.† It transpired that the queue had been caused by a minor accident near the Kingís Langley junction.† Once the jam had cleared, I travelled around to the M40 (where another accident had just been cleared from that motorway), and then headed for High Wycombe, before taking the A404 to reach the M4.† There had been warnings of possible hold-ups at the Reading South junction (where they are replacing a bridge) but that was fine, although there were warning signs further along regarding queues between Junctions 13 to 15 of the M4.† As always I left motorway at Junction 12, and drove along the A4 through Thatcham, where there were no serious hold-ups despite the numerous traffic light controlled junctions.
The signs directed traffic to the main entrance of Newbury racecourse and, having driven around to the free car park, I parked up at 13:00.† I changed into my gold mule sandals, and carrying my coat, I walked to the grandstand entrance, where I purchased a ticket for £15 and a race-card.† As it was only around 35 minutes until the first race, I decided to sit by the side of the Parade Ring rails, with my back the grandstand.† It was pleasantly warm today, very appropriate as it was the first day of Spring. †
Whilst I sat by the paddock, I could hear Luke Harvey auctioning items in aid of the Greatwood racehorse welfare charity. A number of items were being snapped up for thousands of pounds!† A number of non-runners were announced, and these included all of Venetia Williamsí runners, presumably due to the going change.† It was soon time for the first race, in which Choc didnít have a ride.† Once the horses had left the Parade Ring I headed for the course-side rails.†
The grey filly, Kijivu, dumped her jockey (Robert L Butler) on the way to the start (which was at the beginning of the home straight) but fortunately the horse, after galloping across the centre course golf course, didnít have a problem locating the other runners and was caught without a problem.† As sheíd done herself no harm, and hadnít travelled very far whilst loose, she still came under starterís orders.† Then they were off.
Initially the field was led off by Dantari and Kijivu, but Zen Factor soon pulled himself to the front.† However, the latter wasnít too keen to go around the top bend and lost a number of lengths.† The favourite, Psi, was at the back of the field, with Capeleira soon struggling.† Kijivu didnít jump very well throughout the race, knocking the orange plastic protective covering from the middle flight in the back straight.
As they turned into the final straight there were 3 horses in the front line, Dantari, Rory Boy and Zen Factor, the latter being the first to drop out.† Despite pecking at the 2nd last flight, and jumping the last less well than his rival, Dantari galloped on to win, with Rory Boy in second.† A victory for trainer Evan Williams and jockey Paul Moloney.††††
I returned to the Winnersí Enclosure to watch the horses return, and to see the presentation ceremony.† It was then time for the next race, in which Choc was riding the old stager, Kandjar DíAllier.† Noel Williams was in charge of the horses today, so they came across to the nearside of the paddock and Choc was legged-up onto his mount before exiting onto the horse-walk.
The horses cantered from the horse-walk straight to the start which was in the back straight.† Then they were off.
King Harald led them off, with Strawberry prominent, as too was Tom Sayers (thatís a horse not a jockey!).† Choc was in 4th position, on the inside, although his mount showed a tendency to jump to the left.† As they headed up the straight for the first time, King Harald received a reminder, as did Alderburn.† Half way up, Kandjar DíAllier took the lead.† The other grey, Lyes Green, was travelling in 4th position.†
King Harald had dropped back by the time they jumped the water in front of the stands, and the field had closed up in running.† Chocís mount again went into a clear lead as they ran down the back.† Lyes Green was still in 4th.† King Harald made a mistake and began to tail off.† Kandjar DíAllier was running down his fences, towards his left.† By the end of the back straight, Strawberry and Tom Sayers had overtaken Choc, although Choc drove his horse up the inside to take 2nd as they headed for the cross fence.†
Kandjar DíAllier dived over the 4th last and soon began to lose ground on his rivals.† Lyes Green pecked at the 3rd last but was going well, and Strawberry didnít jump the last very well.† Lyes Green galloped on to win, with My Immortal coming with a late run to take 2nd, and Strawberry finishing in 3rd.† Kandjar DíAllier faded to finish 8th.
I headed back to the Winnersí Enclosure to see the horses return and the entries to arrive in the Parade Ring in preparation for the next race.† Chocís mount in this race was Katess.
The start was over in the far corner of the track, so the horses left the horse-walk and cantered straight there.†
When the race began, Aimigayle led them off, Ruby Dante was in 2nd, and Katess on the inside in third.† Aimigayle made an error at the first open-ditch, with Colin Bolger almost exiting via the side door, after which she got close to the next few obstacles.
Ruby Dante started to drop back as they reached the cross-fence on the 2nd circuit.† Shatabdi moved up into 2nd position.† On the run in, Rate of Knots became the main threat to the very game Aimigayle, but the latter went on to win.† Katess, having blundered at the last, with Choc taking a pull on the reins as he lost his balance, battled on to beat Shatabdi† for 3rd.† Lamanver Homerun ran on late, having blundered at the 5th last.
I discovered the owner of the winner is Pete Mercer, the eccentric Wellington boot man!† Iíd seen him in the Winnersí Enclosure at a number of courses but didnít know his name.
I returned to the steps beside the Winnersí Enclosure to see Choc return in 3rd place, unsaddle, speak with connections and proceed to the Weighing Room.† He also signed autographs as he walked back.†
It was then time for the 4th race of the day, in which Alan King had 3 horses entered - Ellen Tilley (Charlie Huxley), Charmaine Wood (Gerard Tumulty), and Dancingwithbubbles (Choc).† Before the 3rd race of the day, Noel was interviewed by Racing UK, explaining that the choice of Dancingwithbubbles wasnít necessarily a choice as such, it was partially because the other jockeys were already familiar with their mounts.†
The start of the race was at far end of the racecourse, so the horses cantered past the stands to reach it.†
Although at the back of the field, Argento Luna set off okay today, as sometimes she has the tendency to misbehave at the start.† In the lead was Double Hit, followed by Pure Genius.† Choc took an inside line, midfield.† As they turned away from the stands, stable-mates Charmaine Wood and Dancingwithbubbles had a coming together.† Ellen Tilley was in 4th place, with Dancingwithbubbles and Charmaine Wood close behind.
Chocís mount jumped slightly askew in the back straight, at the 6th flight.† Choc was in 5th as they exited the back straight.† As they came up the home straight, Chocís mount was in with a chance as he came up the inside.† Easter Legend made a mistake 2 out.† At the last flight Argento Luna,† Ravello Bay and Dancingwithbubbles jumped it almost in unison, but although Ravello Bay took the lead, Argento Luna got up to beat her on the line, Dancingwithbubbles swished her tail as Choc encouraged her to the finish to take 3rd.† Taking 4th was Caroleís Legacy.†
Argento Luna is a half sibling to Lyes Green which had won the 2nd race, having the same dam, the latter being 8, the former 6.† Same owner, breeder, trainer and jockey!
As Choc had finished 3rd, he returned to the Winnersí Enclosure to dismount and speak with connections before returning to the Weighing Room.† It was then time for the 5th race of the day, in which Choc had no ride. It was beginning to get chilly, so I put my coat on.
The start of this race was in the home straight, so the horses passed the stands to reach it.† Then they were off.
First to show was Wandering Minstral, followed by Roscrea.† Riverside Theatre was on the inside at the back of the field.† Roscrea seemed to have difficulty in cornering, losing lengths in the process.† Astrodome then went on as they turned down the back straight.† Wandering Minstral was the first to lose touch.
Astrodome led into the final straight, Riverside Theatre coming up the far side, and despite wandering around as he approached the 2nd last flight, went on to win, with Marc Aurele battling against him for much of the run-in.
There appeared to be no connections in the Winnersí Enclosure for Rubyís mount, so he unsaddled very quickly and jogged to the Weighing Room Ė he obviously had an appointment to keep!† There was no ride for Choc in the 6th race.
The start of this race was part way up the home straight, so the horses galloped past the stands to reach it.†
Its Crucial led off but made a bad mistake at the first, with birch flying.† This allowed Arumun to take up the running, with Russian Flag in 3rd and High Oscar 4th.† Gershwin was in last place, pulling hard.† Raysrock and Gershwin had a slight collision at the final fence in the back straight.
High Oscar was jumping slowly and struggling to keep up by the end of the back straight, tailing off as he came up the straight.† Russian Flag blundered at the 2nd last, but despite Gershwin hanging in towards the runner-up, he ran on to win.† Victory for Timmy Murphy and Philip Hobbs.
As always, I returned to the Winnersí Enclosure to see the horses come back in.† It was then time for Chocís final ride of the day, aboard Dormouse.†
Noel was assisting the connections of Golbelini, Martin Keighley having gone to Stratford with his other runner today.† When Choc arrived at the Parade Ring, he and a couple of other jockeys had to stop quickly in their tracks as one of the horses was fast approaching.† Warren Marston went to join Noel and owners, as the jockey of Golbelini.†
As Chocís mount wasnít Alan King trained, he walked across to the far side of the Parade Ring to mount the horse.† Only very occasionally will Alan leg up Choc in an area other than close to the exit, and Noel likewise.
Being a ĎJuniorí bumper race, it was run over a shorter distance, so started at the beginning of the back straight, the horses cantering straight out of the horse-walk to reach it.
Taffys Diamond was a little reluctant to start, so was led in.† Sophies Trophy led them off.† Dormouse raced wide in a prominent position, upsides Respective Way, Oscar Whisky, and Doctor Foxtrot.†
As they turned into the final straight, Choc was in 4th position but faded a little to finish 6th.† Oscar Whisky, ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Nicky Henderson Ďbolted upí!† Sophies Trophy stayed on to finish 2nd.† Martin Keighleyís Golbelini ran promisingly to finish 5th.
I returned to the Parade Ring to see Choc return to unsaddle, and as he walked to the Weighing Room, I presented him with a card congratulating him for reaching 100 winners this season.†
Having returned to my car, I exited via the road through the golf course and industrial estate and set off to visit my friend Denise.† My route took me back along the A4 to join the M4 at the Reading West junction.† I left the motorway at Reading East, and drove down the A329 to join the A4.† Heading eastwards along the A4, I then took the lane to reach Sonning village, with its numerous road humps, and then down over the single-track bridge across the River Thames, before turning along the Henley Road into Caversham.†
Denise kindly invited me to stay for dinner and, having enjoyed her hospitality and a welcome chat, I left for home at 10:15.† My route took me back via Sonning to reach the A4, then eastwards to join the A404 just west of Maidenhead.† I was in two minds as to whether I should travel via Beaconsfield, Amersham and Chesham, or take the quick route via the M40 and M25, but in the end I choose the latter to reach my home county of Hertfordshire, arriving home at 11:15.