DIARY – NEWBURY – HENNESSY GOLD CUP

SATURDAY 01 DECEMBER 2012

 

 

race 6 i r.jpg

 

Jockey Barry Geraghty celebrates his

Hennessy Gold Cup win aboard Bobs Worth

 

With just one riding engagement for Choc on Friday, I had decided to give the middle day of Newbury’s Winter Festival a miss.  I have to rest and recuperate sometimes!  I occupied Friday by going shopping during the morning, and watching the racing on TV during the afternoon.  I also selected and uploaded the photographs I’d taken at Newbury the previous day. 

By the end of Friday, Choc had not been fortunate enough to ride a winner at the fixture; he’d not even made the Winners’ Enclosure with any of his four rides.  However, the Alan King yard had been successful when Bless The Wings, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson, won the Sportingbet Open Handicap Chase yesterday.

Upon checking the runners and riders for today’s fixture, I discovered that Choc had four riding engagements, all for Alan King; the trainer had six horses entered to run during the afternoon.

Call Me A Star was to run in race 2, the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed).  In race 3, Choc would ride Godsmejudge; whilst Charlie Huxley would be aboard Patsy Finnegan who was returning to chasing following an unconvincing first season over the larger obstacles.  Choc was engaged to ride Ardlui in the Handicap Hurdle, the horse having won a flat race at Newmarket this autumn.  His final ride of the day was aboard Hold On Julio in the Hennessy Gold Cup; thought by the stable to be their best ever chance in the big race.  Alan’s final runner of the day was Oh Crick in the two mile one furlong Handicap Chase which rounded off the card; riding him would be amateur Mr Joshua Newman, claiming 7lbs.

With his book of rides today, I was hopeful Choc would finally ride that elusive Festival 2012 winner.  Although the going conditions at the course were definitely against many of the runners, regardless of their stables.  With the heavy rain experienced during the past couple of weeks, the ground was mainly soft.  This was compounded by dry and cold conditions during the past two or three days, the course having been covered by fleeces to prevent frost damage.  This meant the ground was soft but sticky.

Today was forecast to be slightly colder than Thursday, but I’d been roasty toasty’ in the outfit I’d chosen to wear on that day.   So today’s outfit was very similar; M & S thermal vest, M & S long sleeved thermal vest, BHS long sleeved thermal vest, purple sweater, a new M & S purple fleece, burgundy Per Una cardigan, black gillet, black woollen tights, brown leggings, long black handkerchief hem skirt, black faux sheepskin jacket, Katia Big Snow ‘Flint’ coloured scarf (black, white and brown) and a M & S brown with sparkly gold Trilby hat (which I noticed someone else was wearing today too – I must have good taste!) 

And I remembered to wear a necklace and earrings today ... a square pendant in lilac, with a silhouette of a horse and the words ‘Keep Calm and Ride On’ upon it.  I choose to wear my sensible M & S engineer boots; the heels are ‘clumpy’ being only 2¾ inches high with a ³/8 inch platform.  I’d worn my granny boots on Thursday and my feet were numb by the end of the afternoon; it might have been something to do with the 4 inch heels with no platform! 

It’s a fact that feet spread if one wears sensible shoes too often; no wonder I have a problem getting my feet into high-heeled sandals which fitted perfectly less than five years ago! 

After Thursday’s fiasco of a journey to Newbury, I decided to aim for an early arrival at the racecourse; perhaps even before gate opening time.  With this in mind, I set my alarm for 05:15 to allow just over two hours for preparation prior to departure.  I showered and washed and dried my hair, ate a breakfast of toast and croissants, applied make-up and was ready to set off by 07:45; slightly later than expected due to a malfunction with one of my disposable contact lenses. 

I wasted two lenses as, believing I’d inserted one against each pupil, I couldn’t see properly out of my left eye.  I then couldn’t feel a lense when I tried to remove it hoping to insert a different one.  My first thought was that perhaps I’d dropped one on the floor; so I inserted another lense but that felt very uncomfortable.  So I removed it and then discovered the original one was in my eye after all ... so I had to take that one out and put in a third one.  

Although I had enough fuel to drive to Newbury and back, I decided to fill up the tank before setting off just to be on the safe side.  The petrol station I always use is located close Junction 22 of the M25, so it was on one of my two possible routes to join the motorway.  Having paid for the fuel I walked out the door and bumped into an ex-work colleague, Lynsey.  She was obtaining money from the cash machine ahead of a trip to a London market; her mum was accompanying her.  Lynsey had been a colleague for around 5 or 6 years, and left us in October.  I was very pleased to hear that she loves her new job and the people she works with are nice too ... I shall make no comment about my place of employment!!!  

I set off from there at 08:03.  It had been overcast and very cold in Hertfordshire, around zero degrees in fact.  As I drove around the M25 it became misty too, and remained so until I reached the Reading area, when the skies became blue with a few patches of cloud.   The journey went smoothly, with no holdups whatsoever.  Even the white lines had been painted on the road at Padworth, the cause of a 30-minute delay on Thursday due to carriageway resurfacing work. 

I parked up at 09:25, five minutes before gate opening time and was instructed to park at the end of the row again – I hate that!  And I hate it that one particular Didicoy still patrols the free car park on big race days, making a nuisance of herself by accosting punters and asking if they’d like to buy a sprig of lucky heather.  I managed to be surprisingly polite to her today; especially considering that on one previous occasion she’d had the nerve to actually open my car door whilst I was still sitting in the vehicle!  And on another occasion she invaded my personal space, by standing far too close behind me, whilst I was rummaging in the back of my car trying to retrieve a cardigan, coat, and scarf.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it makes me so angry!    

Having left my car, I proceeded along the roadway to the Grandstand Enclosure entrance, where my pre-purchased ticked was scanned at the turnstile.  I then purchased a race-card before heading along the concourse.

Having paid a visit to the little girls’ room, I eventually decided to walk down to the course-side rails, thinking that it would probably be warmer than waiting beside the Parade Ring.   

The course had been covered overnight by frost protection covers and these, having been removed ready for racing, lay in ‘snowdrifts’ around the outside of the rails.  Repairs to the track divots were still underway.

Cars were being parked in the centre of the racecourse too, although not in the section where the diggers had been preparing the ground.  It’s all part of the redevelopment scheme which will see around 1,500 homes built within the current ‘footprint’ of the site.  More  

From viewing the artist’s impression of the finished dwellings, I gather the car park where I currently park free of charge will be re-located, but a new bridge will be built at the eastern end of the site to allow for easier access to the racecourse.  That will be a relief, as it can be very much a bottle-neck.

Glancing up at the sky, I think the clouds were Altocumulus, varying in colour from white to grey. 

 

TV presenter Emma Spencer was undertaking her favourite hobby, shopping, by visiting the Christmas Jumper stand and trying on one of their items.  Newbury is also offering a special discount on Premier Enclosure tickets, purchased on the day, for their 29 December fixture; and it all revolves around the wearing of a Christmas jumper!  More  I don’t have a Christmas jumper, despite them being in fashion this Festive Season; and I’ve only once had a ticket to Newbury’s Premier Enclosure, when Choc treated my friend Lesley and me to free entry to a fixture in March 2010 when we did our second course-walk! 

 

Unfortunately the Shopping Village was located inside the Premier Enclosure, so I couldn’t visit it even if I’d wanted to!  Emma also visited the icerink and Farmers Market, which were located within the Grandstand enclosure.  Needless to say, I will be giving icerinks a very wide berth following on from my very painful experience on a wet pavement in October 2009!

 

Once again, Newbury had organised a Behind The Scenes Tour and trips to the start.  Been there, done that!  A number of book signings would also take place during the afternoon; by Richard Hughes, Felix Francis, Clare Balding and Paul Nicholls.  

 

It was announced that Tom Scudamore would be taking over the rides aboard Star of Angels in the fifth race and The Package in the Hennessy Gold Cup.  Their original jockey, Timmy Murphy, having sustained a back injury in a fall during the final race the previous day.  

 

I set off for the Parade Ring shortly before the Mark You Card feature began at 11:45; taking part were Sportingbet’s Russ Wiseman and Mick Fitzgerald, the presenter being Emma Spencer.

 

It was soon time for the first race of the day, the Amateurs Riders’ Hennessy, run over the same course and distance as the main event. 

 

Race 1

Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase

Distance

3 miles 2 furlongs 110 yards (21 fences)

No. of Runners

12

 

Then they were off.  The field was led away by Present To You, from Flying Award, Ballyegan, Ceepeegee, Hunters Lodge, Old Wigmore, Red Mile, Ballyoliver, Rey Nacarado, Minella Stars, Lady Karinga and Joaaci.  Ballyegan blundered at the second fence and unseated his rider; the loose horse causing slight interference to the runners as, ahead of the field, he ran down the remaining fences in the back straight.  Fortunately, after that, he bypassed the obstacles and stayed out of trouble.

 

Ceepeegee held a slight advantage over Present To You as the field progressed up the home straight on the first occasion; Ballyoliver now holding closer order.  The eleven remaining runners were well grouped.

 

No change at the head of affairs as they headed down the back straight again; Rey Nacardo’s distinctive one-sided blaze clearly visible just behind the leaders.  Ballyoliver disputing third position as the runners cleared the cross fence.  

 

Ceepeegee and Present To You led into the final straight, the former giving way as David Bridgwater’s charge went on, soon joined by Rey Nacarado to the inside and Ballyoliver to the outside.  Rey Nacarado came under pressure shortly afterwards and dropped back, Ballyoliver taking a very narrow advantage from Present To You over 3 out, the final open-ditch.

 

These two continued to battle over the final two fences, the very game Present To You only losing out on the run-in, where Ballyoliver asserted to win by half a length at the line.  These had drawn 7 lengths clear of Hunters Lodge, earlier outpaced, who stayed on to take third, with the 3-1 favourite Rey Nacarado in 4th.

 

A winner for Venetia Williams and amateur pilot Will Biddick; the jockey had ridden as a professional for a couple of seasons before losing the battle with his weight. 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Ballyoliver

Mr Will Biddick

Venetia Williams

2nd

Present To You

Mr J Hodson

David Bridgwater

3rd

Hunters Lodge

Mr Ryan Hatch

Nigel Twiston-Davies

4th

Rey Nacarado

Miss C V Hart

Charlie Longsdon

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back. 

 

It was soon time for Choc’s first ride of the day, aboard Call Me A Star.  Being an excitable type, she was mounted on the walkway; Alan King and Matt Howells, the Travelling Head Lad restraining her before Choc was legged up into the saddle as they approached the exit onto the racecourse.  She was also keen heading down to the start, located part way down the home straight; there being one flight to negotiate before heading out on one complete circuit of the course.

 

Race 2

Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (8 flights)

No. of Runners

6

 

Then they were off.  Eleven Fifty Nine led from Ma Filleule, Was My Valentine, She Ranks Me, who jumped the first slowly, and September Blaze.  Choc held up his mount to the inside, near the rear of the field.

 

Eleven Fifty Nine continued to lead, setting a reasonable pace around the top turn.  She was three lengths ahead of Ma Filleule, the latter the same distance clear of the remaining four runners.  By the third flight, Was My Valentine had begun to lose touch.  AP McCoy and Choc decided to take closer order as the runners headed over the fourth flight, September Blaze also now losing touch with the leading four.

 

Eleven Fifty Nine hit the final flight in the back straight but retained her 3 length lead, her nearest rivals travelling in a group behind her.  Eleven Fifty Nine led into the home straight, the others now nipping at her heels.  The leader rapped 3 out; Call Me A Star not responding to Choc’s urgings was soon overtaken by She Ranks Me, the latter then becoming Ma Filleule’s biggest danger as the long time leader faded.

 

The grey Ms Filleule led over the last, AP McCoy urging his also grey mount to challenge all the way up the run-in, gaining the upper hand as she stayed on, to win by a neck at the line.  Call Me A Star finished 7 lengths back in 3rd, the long time leader Eleven Fifty Nine 3½ lengths away in 4th. 

 

A winner for Donald McCain and the Champion jockey.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

She Ranks Me

AP McCoy

Donald McCain

2nd

Ma Filleule

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson

3rd

Call Me A Star

Choc Thornton

Alan King

4th

Eleven Fifty Nine

Rachael Green

Anthony Honeyball

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back.  Choc, having unsaddled and de-briefed connections, returned to the Weighing Room. 

 

Alan King had two runners in the next race, the fancied Godsmejudge to be ridden by Choc and outsider Patsy Finnegan returning to the bigger obstacles today. 

 

The starting gate for this event was near the end of the back straight, with one fence to negotiate before the far turn, then up past the winning post followed by one complete circuit. 

 

Race 3

Novices’ Handicap Chase

Distance

2 miles 6 furlongs and 110 yards (17 fences)

No. of Runners

15

 

Then they were off.  The field was led away by Sir Kezbaah and Sherwani Wolf, with Godsmejudge to their inside.  Close to the pace were Rolling Aces, Bennys Mist, Merry King and Handy Andy.  Near the rear of the field, Patsy Finnegan blundered and bumped into Gores Island at the first fence; but Charlie ‘jockey style’ Huxley soon re-gathered his ‘knitting’.  Alan King’s second string also made an error at the next obstacle. 

 

Turning into the home straight on the first occasion, Sir Kezbaah and Bennys Mist disputed the lead, with Godsmejudge in third position.  The runners were closely grouped as they travelled up toward the winning post on the first occasion, Gores Island at the rear of the field. 

 

Heading into the back straight, Bennys Mist, Godsmejudge and Sir Kezbaah continued to dispute the lead.  Choc’s mount jumped the first of the line of five slowly and dropped back, regaining ground on the leader before the ditch, but he was slow here too.  Bennys Mist led the runners to the end of the back straight, Sir Kezbaah having already dropped back to mid-field.  Godsmejudge received reminders shortly before the end of the back straight; he was now in fifth place and appeared to be struggling.

 

No change at the head of affairs over the cross fence, Merry King now in second.  Patsy Finnegan and Sir Kezbaah were now tailing off in rear, soon to be pulled up; Sherwani Wolf having already been pulled up after the previous fence.

 

Turning in, Rolling Aces and Gores Island were making notable progress in behind the leaders; but the latter made an error four out and faded.  Bennys Mist still held the advantage from Merry King; Rolling Aces closed in on them, so these three were neck and neck heading to the last.  The long time leader was the first to give way, Merry King and Rolling Aces jumping the final fence in unison; Ruby Walsh driving the latter out to win by ¾ of a length at the line.  Handy Andy finished 3rd, Listen Boy 4th and Bennys Mist 5th.

 

Godsmejudge completed in 12th, last of those which completed. 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Rolling Aces

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

2nd

Merry King

Richie McLernon

Jonjo O’Neill

3rd

Handy Andy

Joe Tizzard

Colin Tizzard

4th

Listen Boy

Adam Wedge

Nigel Twiston-Davies

 

With Choc’s mount finishing unplaced, I decided not to return to the Winners’ Enclosure on this occasion, and would not do so until after the Hennessy Gold Cup had been completed.

 

The starting gate for the next event was located half-way down the back straight, with two flights to negotiate before the far turn. 

 

Race 4

Long Distance Hurdle

Distance

3 miles and 110 yards (12 flights)

No. of Runners

4

 

Then they were off.  Big Buck’s and stable companion Five Dream led the way, with Fox Appeal in third; Reve De Sivola brought up the rear.  The pace was steady, the horses travelling well within their comfort zone.  Having turned into the home straight on the first occasion and cleared the third flight, Five Dream’s jockey, Ryan Mahon, glanced behind to check on the progress of their pursuers; presumably relaying the information to Ruby Walsh upsides him.  Cruising up towards the lollipop, Ruby checked behind too.

 

Heading down the back straight, the stable mates continued to match strides; Reve De Sivola, still in rear, landed flat footed over the 6th flight.  Midway down the back, Ryan Mahon checked their rivals once more.  There was no change around the far turn and heading over 3 out.  Dougie Costello then angled Fox Appeal across to the stand-side rails to make his challenge, but he blundered two out and lost momentum.  Big Buck’s now cruised into a clear lead as Five Dream faded.

 

Ruby Walsh’s mount hopped over the last and went on to win by 9 lengths easing down.  Reve De Sivola stayed on under pressure to take second, Fox Appeal completed in 3rd with Five Dream last.

 

It was Big Buck’s 18th consecutive victory.  Er ... is it just me who finds these races boring, as no horse is currently getting anywhere close to challenging him, let alone beating him? 

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Big Buck’s

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

2nd

Reve De Sivola

Daryl Jacob

Nick Williams

3rd

Fox Appeal

Dougie Costello

Emma Lavelle

4th

Five Dream

Rayn Mahon

Paul Nicholls

 

It was now time for Choc’s third ride of the day, aboard Ardlui; the horse was one of just two 4-year-olds competing against their elders in this race. 

 

The starting gate for the next race was at the far end of the home straight, with that and one complete circuit to travel.

 

Race 5

Handicap Hurdle

Distance

2 miles 3 furlongs (10 flights)

No. of Runners

10

 

Then they were off.  The cheek-pieced Passato led them away, Ardlui upsides to his inside; they were followed by Hunting Tower, Scots Gaelic, At Fishers Cross, Princely Player, Salubrious, Star Of Angels, Kingcora, and Topolski.  At Fishers Cross, ridden by AP McCoy, made an error at the second flight.

 

Daryl Jacob’s mount continued to share the lead with Ardlui as the runners passed the winning post and headed out into the country for the first and only time.  Salubrious and Topolski continued to bring up the rear. 

 

Passato held the advantage over Ardlui as the runners headed down the back straight; At Fishers Cross close up in third, blinkered Star Of Angels leading the remainder of the field.  AP’s mount made a further error at the 6th flight, slightly losing his momentum.

 

The runners were still well grouped as they headed around the final bend; although both Scots Gaelic and Topolski were being ridden along by this stage.  Choc sent Ardlui into a narrow lead over three out; in rear Topolski unseated his jockey, Tom Cannon.

 

However, At Fishers Cross, carrying the JP McManus colours, was travelling well and joined Ardlui as they crossed two out.  Ruby Walsh had got to work aboard the Paul Nicholls’ representative Salubrious and they were now in third position and mounting a challenge.

 

AP’s mount led over the last, drifting towards the stand-side rails shortly afterwards.  His jockey drove him out to win easily by 6 lengths, Salubrious completed in second; Choc’s mount just 1¼ lengths away in third.  Star Of Angels was 8 lengths back in 4th.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

At Fishers Cross

AP McCoy

Rebecca Curtis

2nd

Salubrious

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

3rd

Ardlui

Choc Thornton

Alan King

4th

Star Of Angels

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe

 

Having remained beside the course-side rails once more, I had a good view of the pre-race parade which took place ahead of the Hennessy Gold Cup.  Although it would have been even better if the horses had been led down the flat course and thus closer to the spectators as had been advertised in the race-card!

 

As with the first race, the starting gate for this event was at the beginning of the back straight, with almost two full circuits to travel.

 

Race 6

Hennessy Gold Cup (Grade 3 Handicap Chase)

Distance

3 miles 2 furlongs and 110 yards (21 fences)

No. of Runners

19

 

Then they were off.  The runners were led off by Diamond Harry and Alfie Spinner.  In rear, Frisco Depot made an error at the first two obstacles.  Choc’s mount, Hold On Julio, who travelled at the back of the main group, wasn’t fencing quite as quickly as those just ahead of him over the first couple of fences.  Alfie Spinner blundered and unseated his jockey, Mark Quinlan, at the third fence.

 

Customary front runner, Fruity O’Rooney now took up this mantle.  The next casualty was Saint Are who, when in mid-division, fell at the 5th; he also caused interference to Harry The Viking.  Fruity O’Rooney and First Lieutenant headed the field as they approached the first in the home straight, followed by Diamond Harry and Soll.  Carruthers was at the rear, although Mattie Batchelor soon cajouled him to progress a number of positions through the field. 

 

One of the loose horses (Alfie Spinner) was with the leaders but didn’t interfere with them as they cleared the next few fences and headed towards the water-jump.  He crossed over to the inside and headed through the gap between the rail and the wing of this fence, fortunately avoiding the photographers who were standing beside the rail.

 

Diamond Harry fell at the next fence, the first after the top bend.  Fruity O’Rooney held the clear advantage heading down the back straight from Soll and First Lieutenant; favourite Bobs Worth was in mid-field, Hold On Julio further back.  Roberto Goldback, stable-mate of Bobs Worth, blundered and unseated at the 14th, the middle of the line of fences.  Hold On Julio soon received reminders but he did respond and stayed in touch; 2011 winner, Carruthers, was now tailing off.   

 

First Lieutenant led into the final bend from Fruity O’Rooney, Soll, Bobs Worth and Teaforthree.  Bobs Worth was travelling well and nipped up the inside of Jamie Moore’s mount as they entered the final straight.  Ruby Walsh was kidding Tidal Bay along and now showed up on the outside of the field.  Hold On Julio was at the rear of the leading group, in 9th or 10th position.

 

Barry Geraghty drove Bobs Worth to join First Lieutenant as they headed over two out, Tidal Bay in their slipstream.  The former asserted over the last and galloped on to win by 3¼ lengths; Ruby’s mount challenging and getting the better of First Lieutenant on the run-in.  The Package finished in 4th. 

 

Having jumped the last in equal 8th position, Hold On Julio stayed on to finish 5th.  The remainder completed in the following order – Teaforthree, Fruity O’Rooney, Soll, Harry The Viking, Ikorodu Road, Duke Of Lucca, Magnanimity, and Carruthers. 

 

The winner won £85,425; Hold On Julio’s prize was £4,020.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Bobs Worth

Barry Geraghty

Nicky Henderson

2nd

Tidal Bay

Ruby Walsh

Paul Nicholls

3rd

First Lieutenant

Bryan J Cooper

MF Morris

4th

The Package

Tom Scudamore

David Pipe

5th

Hold On Julio

Choc Thornton

Alan King

 

I returned to the Parade Ring to see the horses come back.  The connections celebrating their win with enthusiasm. 

Having unsaddled his mount and debriefed connections, Choc headed disconsolately back to the Weighing Room, dreams dashed for another season. L

I do get fed up with the stables of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson sweeping up the majority of big prizes because they have the best and most expensive horses in the country.  But at least it means far more when Choc gets to ride a big winner; it’s not ‘ten a penny’ like it is for Ruby and Barry.  In my personal view, Barry is a better jockey than Ruby!  But, having said that, I wouldn’t swap my lovely Chocolate for anybody!!!

It was now time for the seventh and final race of the day, in which Alan King was represented by Oh Crick.  Amateur jockey Mr Joshua Newman taking the mount, and claiming 7lbs to give his ride a new lease of life in handicap company.  Daryl Jacob replaced Ruby aboard the 2-1 favourite Ulck Du Lin, the latter jockey having injured his thumb in a fall the previous day and not wishing to aggravate it further today; the former putting up 1lb overweight.  Jamie Moore then took over aboard the mare Kateal. 

The starting gate for this race was part way down the home straight, with two fences to negotiate before passing the winning post and then travelling for one full circuit. 

Race 7

Handicap Chase

Distance

2 miles 1 furlong (13 fences)

No. of Runners

15

 

Then they were off.  The runners were led away by Falcon Island, from Takeroc, and Renard.  Tatispout, who has in the past been temperamental at the post, refusing to race, consented to run on this occasion and was slowly away.  Kateal made an error at the 2nd fence; Oh Crick travelled in mid-field.  Comehomequietly soon came to join the leader and landed slightly ahead as the runners cleared the water jump. 

 

Entering the back straight the order was Comehomequietly, Falcon Island, Renard, Manger Hanagement, Ulck Du Lin, Oh Crick, Takeroc, Gus Macrae, Kateal, Fiftyonefiftyone, Consigliere, Micheal Flips, Tatispout, West With The Winds and On Trend.  The leader reached for the open-ditch but got to the other side safely, he then stepped through the next, leaving a gap in the birch.  Although the partnership had survived the error they began to drop back through the field.  Oh Crick’s white face was clearly visible just behind the leaders as they reached the end of the back straight. 

 

Renard led over the cross-fence; On Trend made an error and fell here.  Into the home straight, Venetia Williams’ charge still led from Falcon Island, Manger Hanagement, Ulck Du Lin, Oh Crick and Gus Macrae; ten runners had drawn away from the remainder of the field.

 

Ulck Du Lin had improved to join Renard approaching the penultimate obstacle and then took the advantage having cleared this fence; with the latter now disputing second position with Oh Crick and Falcon Island.  These three jumped the last in unison; Ulck Du Lin extended away on the run-in to win by 3¾ lengths from Oh Crick, who kept on well to beat Reynard by a neck; Falcon Island just ¾ of a length behind in 4th.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Ulck Du Lin

Daryl Jacob

Paul Nicholls

2nd

Oh Crick

Mr Joshua Newman

Alan King

3rd

Renard

Aidan Coleman

Venetia Williams

4th

Falcon Island

Joe Tizzard

Colin Tizzard

 

I returned to the Parade Ring to see the horses arrive back.  

After racing, a DBS (Doncaster Bloodstock) breeze-up sale would be taking place in the pre-parade ring.  I have stayed to watch the early lots on a previous occasion, but it was very cold today and getting dark of course; besides, my friend Denise was expecting me to arrive at her home before 18:00.  Perhaps I’ll stay after racing to watch on another occasion.

Having returned to my car, and polished off two cheese rolls, I set off at 16:20.  Vehicles were being discouraged from leaving via the main entrance but the driveway was clear in the opposite direction so I headed out past the fitness centre and golf-course club house.  The first delay occurred when I was held up half way down the drive, just opposite the location of the cross fence.

Eventually the cars started to move again, and I continued down the driveway, through the far gate, turning left and proceeding through the bridge beneath the railway line.  The road then headed through the industrial estate, at the far side of which was a queue of traffic waiting for the temporary traffic lights to change to green. 

Typically, upon reaching the front of the queue, the lights changed to red again; one crazy driver deciding to over-take me as I came to a halt.  Even the workman who was manually operating the lights held up his hands in exasperation at the impatient driver’s stupidity.  They  must have been the reportedly one in six people who are not intelligent enough to drive!

After joining the A4, I drove through the multiple traffic light controlled junctions in Thatcham; there were no holdups, despite it being Newbury’s busiest race-day of the year.  On my first ever exit via this route, on what would have been Hennessy Gold Cup day in 2008, I must have been held-up for at least 30 minutes by traffic queuing nose to tail through the town. 

As mentioned earlier, on my way home I visited my friend Denise in Caversham; so I joined the M4 at Junction 12 Reading West, heading in an easterly direction before leaving at Junction 10, Reading East.  The route I always use, through Sonning, had been closed for the past few days due to flooding, but they re-opened it during the afternoon so I was able to cross the Thames at this point ... but there were still a number of large puddles on the lane.  Okay for 4x4’s but not so good for my little Fiesta! 

With temperatures dropping, I didn’t fancy my chances of returning via Sonning or travelling via Henley and Marlow in the dark, despite knowing the road between the two towns quite well; in addition, its route runs very close to the Thames too, so I couldn’t be sure there would be no flooding.  Denise told me there had been many traffic problems in Reading during the past week – because in addition to the Sonning route being closed, the underpasses on their IDR (Inner Distribution Road) were flooded too.  No doubt this added to the delays I experienced on Thursday when I diverted through the town.

Having been fed and watered by my hostess, I decided to return via Reading town centre and joined the M4 via the A329(M) once more.  There had obviously been an accident somewhere in the locality, as I was overtaken by two emergency vehicles, blue lights flashing, as I drove along the motorway trunk road. 

It was a pleasure to drive on the M25 late into the evening, the motorway is lit which helps too.  The M4 is lit for most of the way too, but not for the entire stretch of my journey upon it. 

 

I arrived home at 22:20.  Originally I’d thought that perhaps I’d forego the pleasure of writing a blog before I went to bed but, in the event, I decided that I would prefer to know what Choc’s riding engagements were for Sunday, so I logged onto my laptop and wrote an update.  I didn’t, however, decide to upload the photographs I’d taken during the afternoon; that would wait until the following day.  For the record, Choc rode at Kempton Park, where a ‘Bumpers for Jumpers’ card was scheduled on the all-weather.

 

It was 12:40 when I turned in for the night ... accompanied by my hot water bottle!!!  I love my hot water bottle, and it was a godsend when my back was bad a few weeks ago. 

Click here for photos

 

 

Rounded Rectangle: RETURN TO DIARY INDEX
Rounded Rectangle: RETURN TO HOME PAGE