DIARY – NEWBURY – LADBROKES TROPHY HANDICAP CHASE
(FORMERLY THE HENNESSY GOLD CUP)
SATURDAY 01 DECEMBER 2018
The winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy
Sizing Tennessee trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Tom Scudamore
This was my first National Hunt outing of the 2018/2019 season and my eleventh consecutive visit to Newbury for the race-day featuring what is now known as the Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Gate opening time was 10:00, so I set my alarm clock for around 05:45 with the aim of leaving home at 08:15. I took a shower, washed and dried my hair, applied make-up and ate porridge for breakfast; I’d drunk a full cup of tea when I’d first got up. As usual, if I’ve built into my schedule plenty of ‘wiggle time’, I tend to procrastinate; this being the case, I didn’t leave home until 08:28.
The autumn was mild and the weather changeable at this time; gales, rain, and lots of drizzle were the order of the day leading up to 01 December.
Today’s outfit was a grey thermal T-shirt with a black birds print thereon, a violet thermal T-shirt, a dark grey brushed cotton thermal T-shirt, a red ribbed polo-neck sweater, a mauve BHS v-neck cardigan, lavender fleece, charcoal-coloured fleece gilet, black jeggings with thermal tights underneath, dark grey double frill-edged M & S skirt, alpaca design socks, black ‘Danville-style’ Hotter ankle boots, black and white horse-print snood, plus a grey fleece snood with ladybird print thereon. I wore my black £20 BHS winter coat, and chose to take my mauve Hotter ‘Defea’ handbag today. I also wore my mauve butterfly wing earrings. I also took with me three hats; two were trilby-style ones, both brown in colour, plus a wider brim dark brown hat.
My route took me around the ring-road and down to the London Colney roundabout. I then drove along the bypass to join the anticlockwise carriageway of the M25 at junction 22. There were no travel issues on the orbital motorway as such, apart from the fact that it was pouring with rain and almost a whiteout! At junction 15 I took the slip-road onto the westbound carriageway of the M4; fortunately the rain began to leave off as I drove westwards. Road-works continued between Junctions 8 and 10, with a 50 mph speed limit in place.
I left the motorway at junction 12 and headed down the A4; all very familiar territory and even more so the first section, as this is part of the route I take to reach Noel Williams’ yard in Blewbury. There were no hold-ups en route and I continued through the village of Woolhampton with its 30mph speed limit and onwards to Thatcham. The majority of traffic lights were showing green, so my progress was swift.
At the far end of Thatcham, I turned left at the large roundabout and headed down Benham Hill, then turned left again at the second set of traffic lights. I continued along Hambridge Road to reach the roundabout just prior to the bridge over the railway which leads into the racecourse precincts.
I continued over the bridge and turned right at the far side roundabout. According to the letter which accompanied my tickets, as a Premier Enclosure customer, I was permitted to park in car parks 1, 4 or 5; my preference being 4, as it has a tarmac surface! This being the case, I continued upon the roadway, bearing right and then left, to latterly travel alongside the route of the railway line.
However, a steward wasn’t keen to let me park within my chosen area, suggesting I try car park 1, in the centre of the racecourse. I told him I’d probably get lost, as the route to and from that one was unfamiliar ... he gave in and let me pass! I’d have preferred parking in 5, if they hadn’t let me into 4. I left my parking docket ... which stated ‘1’ ... on the dashboard.
I arrived at 10:05. I’d taken 4 cheese rolls with me, so I ate two of these before I set off for the eastern entrance. It was drizzling with rain, so I wore my dark brown felt hat. There was a drugs ‘honesty box’ outside the entrance; a member of the security staff checked the contents of my handbag. There was also a sniffer dog.
Jockey Dave Crosse, who was currently on the injury sidelines, was acting as a racecourse ambassador, welcoming the punters. He said hello as I passed through the entrance doors. My ticket was scanned, and I subsequently purchased a race-card from the kiosk beyond. The old ‘Copper King’ building is no more, and the adjacent area now housed the tented Shopping Village. I headed along the concourse, before entering the Dubai Duty Free grandstand in order to visit the loo ... despite having a premier enclosure badge,I tend to frequent the grandstand enclosure area because it’s familiar!
I then headed outside, to the Parade Ring. Finally, the planned changes to the paddock had been implemented. To the nearside the individual blocks of stone steppings had been demolished, and the ground built up to provide height for continuous steppings to be installed overlooking the Parade Ring. New individual blocks of steppings had been constructed to the far side of the paddock. The Winners’ Enclosure had also been moved, to the south-western corner of the paddock, and a permanent podium constructed too. N E W B U R Y was spelt out in large white individual letters, on the grassed area, along the edge of the concourse.
The RUK presenters, Lydia Hislop and Jonathan Neesom today, along with the lovely Tom Stanley as roving reporter, occupied a raised permanent platform beside the main paddock entrance; Racing UK would soon be rebranded Racing TV, having taken over the broadcasting rights to Irish racing in addition to the homegrown racing coverage. The ITV Racing team occupied a small temporary enclosure within the main Parade Ring, within the north-western sector thereof.
I had intended to wait beside the Parade Ring until the horses arrived therein but, in the event, the drizzle became heavy so I retreated to the ground floor of the Dubai Duty Free grandstand; I stood just inside the door which faces towards the Berkshire Stand. At one point, having got a little bored, I took a walk along to the Shopping Village to ascertain the timings for the book signings at the Racing Post stand ... although I didn’t act on it, not wanting to carry around a book or books on a rainy day. George Baker was signing his new book, as was Cornelius Lysaght and Bob Champion to name but three.
Although still drizzling, the rain was lighter than before as I set off to the Parade Ring ahead of the mares arriving therein in preparation for the first race, off time 12:10. Tom Stanley and a companion presenter were in the Parade Ring talking about the horses ... he was looking a little bedraggled; later in the afternoon, during the TV broadcast, he admitted that his feet were wet! Being a long-standing presenter, you’d have thought he would’ve mastered the art of sensible dressing for winter racing!!!
It continued to drizzle until around 13:45!
The favourite for the first event was Posh Trish, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Cobden; price 11-8.
There was one runner of interest, namely Passing Call, trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson; she is a daughter of the talented Call Me A Legend, who was also trained by Alan. Passing Call sported the silks of the Pitchall Stud Partnership, as did her mother when racing.
Lust For Glory won the Best Turned-Out prize and outsider Admiral’s Sunset was permitted to go to the start early.
Once the horses had left the Parade Ring, I headed along the concourse between the Dubai Duty Free and Berkshire stands, then turned right to enter the Premier Enclosure. There were spaces to be had beside the rails so I headed for one of these.
The starting gate for this event was in the home straight, close to the 2-furlong mark, with just over one full circuit to be completed and one hurdle to be negotiated twice during the race.
As the race off-time approached, the runners exited from the enclosure situated to the inside of the track; they were led out by the favourite, thus showing intent to set the pace once the race had begun.
And then they were off, with Posh Trish leading from Lust For Glory and Diamond Gait as the mares headed towards the first flight. The gallop was steady and all five cleared this in their stride. Posh Trish continued to lead as the runners headed up past the grandstands and winning post before heading around the top bend and into the back straight for the one and only time.
Harry Cobden’s mount cleared the second flight well, as did the other four; Admiral’s Sunset remained at the rear of the field and was three lengths adrift of the others. The mares continued their journey down the back straight, in the drizzle; Diamond Gait jumped the next flight more slowly than her rivals.
Posh Trish remained at the head of affairs as they negotiated the fourth obstacle, she was three lengths in advance of Lust For Glory, followed by Diamond Gait to the outside of Passing Call, with the outsider still detached slightly at the rear. There were no issues at the following hurdle, after which Posh Trish led the field into the far bend.
The entire field was closely grouped as they headed along the bottom of the course and into the home straight. Having straightened up, Harry Cobden began to increase the pace; Lust For Glory continued to track her, as did Passing Call and the outsider too, whereas David Bass brought Diamond Gait towards the nearside rail. However, having cleared three out, the latter headed back towards the main group once more.
The favourite continued to lead as the runners journeyed to the second last. Lust For Glory had begun to launch her challenge now, and was only half a length down as they crossed this one. Diamond Gait and Passing Call jumped it in unison, no more than a length behind the Nicky Henderson runner, with Admiral’s Sunset not far behind also; although the latter jumped out to her left over this one.
However, despite her jockey’s encouragement, Lust For Glory couldn’t quite pick up the long-time leader as they galloped down to the final flight; Passing Call was now a clear third, Diamond Gait and Admiral’s Sunset having been outpaced. The leaders jumped the final flight, after which Posh Trish extended her lead once more, galloping all the way to the line to win by 3¼ lengths; easing close home.
Lust For Glory held on to the runner-up spot with 3½ lengths in hand over Passing Call. Diamond Gait completed 2¾ lengths further away in 4th, with Admiral’s Secret 5 lengths back in last place.
I set off on a route march back to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back. The ‘also-rans’ no longer return to the Parade Ring; an area leading off the walkway has been created for the unplaced horses.
The favourite for the second race was the Nicky Henderson-trained Santini, ridden by Nico de Boinville; price 11-8.
Graeme McPherson had a runner in this race, namely the tongue-less Skipthecuddles, ridden by Adam Wedge, as stable-jockey Kielan Woods had gone to Newcastle today to ride.
With the horses having exited onto the racecourse, I headed into the Premier Enclosure once more. Again there was room for me to stand beside the course-side rails.
The starting gate for race two was part way down the back straight, with two fences to negotiate prior to the far turn and then one full circuit of the course having passed the grandstands.
Having exited the holding pen situated to the outside of the track, the runners took one turn before heading back towards the starting gate in an orderly fashion.
And then they were off, with Le Breuil and Rocky’s Treasure leading the way to the first fence; Mr Big Shot brought up the rear as they all cleared it successfully. The seven runners continued to the second which, again, they negotiated without incident before heading into the far bend led by the Kim Bailey runner.
The horses head slightly downhill on the approach to the sometimes tricky cross-fence; it caused no serious issues on this occasion, although in last position Mr Big Shot jumped it more slowly than his rivals and lost ground as a result. However, despite this, he was back on terms as they headed into the home straight on the first occasion.
The runners jumped the fourth fence well, led by Rocky’s Treasure, from Le Breuil to his inside, Skipthecuddles, Kilbricken Storm, Santini, This Is It and Mr Big Shot. The next fence was the first open-ditch; it posed no problem to the competitors, who continued their journey up the home straight to the sixth. Again there were no jumping issues as they headed over this one.
Le Breuil, chestnut ears pricked, joined Rocky’s Treasure at the head of affairs as the runners headed over the following fence; this would be the final fence on the next circuit. Daryl Jacob’s mount took a narrow advantage as they continued up past the grandstands, all negotiating the water-jump successfully en route.
Le Breuil continued to lead as the field headed up around the top bend, from Rocky’s Treasure, Santini, Skipthecuddles, Kilbricken Storm, Mr Big Shot and This Is It. Having entered the back straight, David Bass’ mount had to be ridden away from the first fence therein, having made a slight error. However, having been rousted along, Rocky’s Treasure took a narrow advantage as they jumped the second open-ditch. Mr Big Shot jumped this one slowly and, as a result, was now detached from the main body of the field.
Meanwhile, the runners continued to the next where, at the back of the main group, the favourite made an error. Le Breuil took a narrow advantage as they cleared the next fence and continued to hold it as all seven runners negotiated the final fence in the back straight without mishap. Mr Big Shot continued in last position as they headed into the far turn, with jockey Tom Scudamore pushing him along intermittently.
Le Breuil had once more been joined by Rocky’s Treasure as they cleared the cross-fence for the second and final time. All seven competitors were still going, although This Is It and Mr Big Shot had been out paced and were both detached; Kilbricken Storm appeared to be in serious danger of losing touch too as they entered the home straight.
Rocky’s Treasure and Le Breuil continued to lead, from Santini and Skipthecuddles as they cleared four out. Colin Tizzard’s runner travelled four lengths behind these, with Mr Big Shot and This Is It well in rear. The final open-ditch was their next challenge, with the latter blundering and unseating here.
Meanwhile, Rocky’s Treasure was making the best of his way home; to his inside Le Breuil was beginning to fade. Santini started to lay down a challenge as the field headed over the penultimate fence. The Kim Bailey-trained runner continued to battle bravely on the run to the final fence and held a half-length advantage over the favourite as they jumped it.
However, although Santini was the slowest of the pair in the air, he soon came to join Rocky’s Treasure; the latter had been hanging to his left, despite his jockey using the whip in his left hand. Subsequently Nico de Boinville’s mount cleared away from his rivals to win by 4 lengths at the line. Rocky’s Treasure finished as runner-up, 3¾ lengths ahead of Le Breuil.
Skipthecuddles came home in 4th position, 6 lengths further back. Mr Big Shot completed in 5th, with Kilbricken Storm last of those to finish. The latter had slipped badly at the final fence and virtually fallen when disputing fourth place, hence his more disappointing placed effort than expected. Post race, he was also found to be lame in his left hind.
The winner, Santini, is Dusky Legend’s half-brother!
I returned to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back.
As the Peter O’Sullevan Trust supports the retraining of racehorses, five well-known ex-racehorses – Annacotty, Sire De Grugy, Melodic Rendezvous, Carruthers and Zarkandar, paraded in the Parade Ring, then on the racecourse ahead of the next race, which is named in his honour.
Annacotty retired from racing last year and is being re-trained by Mrs Prowting’s Racing Manager, Hannah Bishop. Following some success in a range of RoR classes this season, the long-term aim is to compete in open working hunter classes.
Carruthers is now 15 years old, and continues to live at the Bradstock’s yard. He’s been drag hunting, point-to-pointing and enjoys giving children rides around the school too. He’s known as ‘The Boss’ at home.
Melodic Rendezvous retired from racing last year and now lives not far from his former trainer’s yard and spends his time as a family horse; he also goes hunting.
12-year-old Sire De Grugy was retired in December 2017 and lives at the yard of his former trainer Gary Moore. During the summer he spent time at the RoR yard at Palace House in Newmarket, where he did some re-training. Jamie Moore’s wife Lucie takes him out hacking with their children and he’s turned out in a paddock with the family ponies Bubbles and Cuddles. He was ridden today by Phoebe Cruse who works at Gary’s yard.
Having retired in February 2018, Zarkandar was gifted to Lucinda Sims and the long-term aim is to do some hunting and showing classes. The 11-year-old is known as ‘Gino’ at home.
The favourite for this race was the Philip Hobbs-trained Kayf Adventure, ridden by Richard Johnson; price 10-3.
The Harry Fry-trained Behind Time was sporting the Sir Peter O’Sullevan silks, the race having been named in honour of the late TV commentator. The horse is owned by J P McManus and the colours were gifted to him upon Peter’s death; thus JP had three runners in this race – Behind Time, Brelan D’As and Kapcorse.
As I’d done for the previous two races and would do for all races today, once the horses had exited the Parade Ring, I headed into the Premier Enclosure to view the event from beside the course-side rails.
The starting gate for this race was in the back straight, with one fence to negotiate before the far bend; equating to approximately one and three quarters circuits.
The horses congregated within one of the enclosure areas to the outside of the back straight ahead of this race. On Tour who is always held up during the initial stages of a race, brought up the rear as the runners took a turn before they headed out onto the chase track.
And then they were off, with Minella On Line, Full Irish, Behind Time and Rocklander leading the way to the first obstacle; On Tour was the back-marker. There were no serious issues at this fence and Full Irish was at the head of affairs as the runners headed into the first turn. The next obstacle was the cross-fence and, once again, all of the 11 runners cleared it well.
Full Irish continued to set the pace as they entered the home straight on the first occasion, from Rocklander, Minella On Line, Valhalla, Behind Time, Adrien Du Pont, Kayf Adventure, The Bay Birch, Kapcorse, Brelan D’As and On Tour. There were no mishaps at the first fence therein and all eleven also cleared the subsequent open-ditch without incident too.
Having joined the Emma Lavelle-trained runner at the previous obstacle, Rocklander held a very narrow advantage as the horses cleared the fifth fence. The eleven-strong field continued their journey up the home straight, jumping the following fence without incident too; this would be the final obstacle on the next circuit.
Minella On Line, Full Irish and Rocklander remained at the head of affairs as they galloped towards the water-jump for the one and only time; at the rear of the field were The Bay Birch and On Tour. The smallest fence on the course presented no problems for the experienced handicappers and they continued on their journey around the top bend and into the back straight for the final time. The field was quite closely packed and none of the competitors were struggling at this stage.
Minella On Line and Full Irish jumped the first fence therein in unison whilst, in mid-field, Valhalla and Behind Time were pushed away from the obstacle having cleared it. The following fence was another open-ditch, where Minella On Line took off too early and blundered as a result; despite this, he retained a narrow advantage over his rivals. Although remaining in the front line, he didn’t jump the next one particularly well either!
They continued to the next, with Full Irish, Minella On Line and Adrien Du Pont at the head of affairs; Valhalla made an error here, before subsequently dropping to the back of the field. The runners had soon reached the final fence in the back straight, where the favourite Kayf Adventure made an error. Heading into the far turn, the leading group consisted of Full Irish, Minella On Line, Rocklander and Adrien Du Pont; Kapcorse and Kayf Adventure spear-headed the remainder of the field.
Adrien Du Pont continued to travel well as a number of his rivals began to show signs of distress; in fact he jumped into the lead as they cleared the cross-fence. However, jockey Harry Cobden soon took a pull, which allowed Rocklander to lead the field into the home straight. Minella On Line had dropped swiftly back through the field now and Full Irish would soon follow suit. The trailing Valhalla made an error four out and was pulled up soon after.
The third last was the final open-ditch, which Adrien Du Pont, Kapcorse and Rocklander jumped in unison, closely followed by Brelan D’As; also staying on was the mare The Bay Birch. Having taken the lead, Kapcorse was almost joined by Brelan D’As as they cleared two out; Rocklander continued to battle on but Adrien Du Pont suddenly tired and dropped back. On Tour was endeavouring to stay on too.
This left the JP McManus-owned horses, Kapcorse and Brelan D’As ahead of their rivals as they headed towards the final fence; The Bay Birch now pursued them, in third position. And it was the former who having jumped it, stayed on strongly on the run-in to triumph by 10 lengths at the line from his stable-companion Brelan D’As. The Bay Birch completed a further 1¼ lengths behind them, with Rocklander 10 lengths behind her.
Kayf Adventure was 5th, On Tour 6th and Adrien Du Pont, also trained by Paul Nicholls, a disappointing 7th. Minella On Line, Full Irish and Behind Time were all pulled up in the home straight having tired.
It was a winner for Bryony Frost.
I returned to the steppings above the Parade Ring to see the horses arrive back.
The joint-favourites for the next race were Champ, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Aidan Coleman and Speedo Boy trained by Ian Williams and ridden by Tom O’Brien; price 9-2.
One runner of interest in this race, namely Big Chief Benny trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson; the horse was returning from injury following a break of 705 days.
The starting gate for this race was located at the far corner of the track, with one and a half circuits to travel during the race.
And then they were off, running slightly downhill along the bottom of the racecourse, led by Barters Hill with ears pricked, from Le Musee and Speedo Boy; bringing up the rear was Man Of Plenty. Having entered the home straight on the first occasion, all fifteen runners negotiated the first flight safely.
The horses continued on their journey to the second flight, with Barters Hill remaining at the head of affairs, from the flashy chestnut Speedo Boy, and Le Musee. These were followed by Padleyourowncanoe, Potters Story, Sussex Ranger, Champ, Vaziani, the first ‘grey of the day’ Air Horse One, Big Chief Benny, Boite, Golden Birthday, Sleep Easy, Man Of Plenty and Who’s My Jockey. The tightly-packed field jumped the obstacle without incident.
The Ben Pauling runner continued to spearhead the field as they galloped towards and over the third flight too, before heading up past the winning post with one circuit now to travel. The horses swung around the top bend and, having entered the back straight for the one and only time, Barters Hill remained with a narrow advantage as they cleared the fourth hurdle; travelling in the latter half of the field, Sussex Ranger hit this one.
Having continued to the next, Barters Hill was pushed into the hurdle and, subsequently lost his place quickly; Champ took up the running at this point. By the time the field had reached the sixth flight, David Bass’ mount had dropped to at least ninth position. Big Chief Benny was bringing up the rear at this stage.
The JP McManus-owned runner remained at the head of affairs as they headed to the final flight in the back straight. Barters Hill was now in last position and, having just popped over this obstacle, was pulled up.
Meanwhile, Champ led the now fourteen-strong field into the far bend, from Le Musee, Golden Birthday, Speedo Boy and Vaziani; Boite and Sleep Easy followed these, from Air Horse One, Padleyourowncanoe, Man Of Plenty, Sussex Ranger, Potters Story, Who’s My Jockey and, finally, Big Chief Benny. Le Musee was bumped along subsequently to hold his position as the field headed along the side of the track.
Champ continued to travel well as they entered the home straight and he’d set up a clear advantage over his rivals as they headed towards the third last flight; Sussex Ranger made an error at this one when weakening.
The horses continued upon the run to the penultimate obstacle; all of the runners seemingly under pressure apart from Champ and Speedo Boy. There were no mishaps as the runners jumped it. Although having been in trouble since before the home turn, bottom-weight Le Musee continued to battle on and retained second position behind Champ and ahead of Speedo Boy, on the long run to the final flight. Meanwhile, Man Of Plenty had progressed into fourth position but couldn’t get on terms with the leading trio; Padleyourowncanoe and Vaziani headed the remainder.
Champ was still in front as the leaders jumped the last and, with his nearest rivals unable now to quicken, he kept on well to win by 4½ lengths at the line. Aidan Coleman hadn’t needed to resort to any strong encouragement, just a few minor taps and some whip waving after the last had been enough; he was able to ease down towards the line.
Le Musee held on gamely to the runner-up spot and completed 2¾ lengths in front of Speedo Boy, with Man Of Plenty a further 1¼ lengths away in 4th; Vaziani finished 5th and Padleyourowncanoe 6th. Fourteen of the fifteen completed the course, Barters Hill being the exception; it was soon announced that he was to be retired, although still only 8 but having been plagued by injury since his promising bumper and novice hurdling days.
Who’s My Jockey, which finished 12th, broke blood vessels.
It had not been the plan to go to the front that early in the race, but it had worked today. Nicky Henderson said the winner would return to novice company for the remainder of the season; possibly next up would be the Challow Hurdle, just ahead of New Year.
This was indeed the case, and Champ won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle in great style!!!
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure once more to see the horses arrive back.
The next race was the Intermediate Hurdle, a limited handicap; the listed race is registered as the Gerry Feilden Hurdle. The favourite for this race was Ballymoy, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by Daryl Jacob; price 100-30.
Alan King had a runner in this race, namely Lisp ridden by Wayne Hutchison; he reminded me of Menace!
The second ‘grey of the day’, and competing in this race, was Gumball.
The starting gate for this event was in the home straight, close to the 2-furlong mark, with just over one full circuit to be completed and one hurdle to be negotiated twice during the race.
The runners headed out onto the racecourse, with Global Citizen and Whatmore leading their rivals out and suggesting these two would be either prominent or making the running today. The field approached the tape, some jogging some walking, and then they were off, at the first time of asking.
Leading as they headed towards the first flight were Global Citizen to the inside, Whatmore centre and What’s Occurring to the stand-side; Lisp was held up in rear. All of the horses cleared the obstacle well, with the Ben Pauling-trained runner taking a clear advantage under David Bass. What’s Occurring settled into second position, from Whatmore, Ballymoy, Gumball, Whatswrongwithyou, Mont Des Avaloirs, Voodoo Doll and Lisp. With the pace strong, the field was well strung out as they headed up past the winning post and around the top bend.
Global Citizen continued to hold the advantage as they headed to the second flight, with What’s Occurring a close-up second; Whatmore spearheaded the main group, around 7 lengths behind the leading duo. Having skipped over it, Global Citizen stretched his lead over the What’s Occurring, with Whatmore a little clumsy and pushed away from the flight.
The runners continued to motor along the back straight, where Gumball hit the third obstacle and Ballymoy bunny-hopped it. The main body of the field began to close upon the leading duo as they galloped to the fourth; there were no mishaps here and they continued their journey to the final flight in the back straight. Again there were no jumping issues.
Global Citizen continued to lead as they headed into the far turn, from What’s Occurring and Whatmore; the latter led the main group and they’d almost bridged the gap by this stage of the race. Having reached the turn into the home straight, David Bass let his mount stride on again and was two or three lengths clear as the runners jumped three out.
The leader was still travelling strongly as they headed towards the penultimate flight; in contrast, a number of his rivals were coming under pressure as they attempted to close the gap. Global Citizen cleared the hurdle well, as did most of the leading contenders, whereas Ballymoy bunny-hopped it. What’s Occurring hung on in second position, initially, before being collared by both the improving Mont Des Avaloirs and subsequently Lisp.
Global Citizen still led at the last, although he was now getting tired and began to wander after it for a few strides. The Paul Nicholls runner was soon pressing the long-time leader, with Lisp closing the gap upon the leading duo too. However, having got to Global Citizen’s quarters by the time they reached the elbow, neither of his challengers were able to get past; he held on to win by half a length at the line.
Lisp, to his far side, claimed 2nd with Mont Des Avaloirs a short-head away to the nearside in 3rd. Ballymoy completed in 4th, 4½ lengths away, with What’s Occurring 5th. All 9 completed, with Gumball finishing in last position.
The winning trainer admitted his charge ran too freely today; he’d also missed a week of training, just a week ago, due to banging himself. The ground was too soft today also for this charge!
I headed back to the Parade Ring area to see the horses return.
The next race was formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup. The race favourite was Thomas Patrick, trained by Tom Lacey and ridden by Richard Johnson; price 3-1. West Approach won the Best Turned Out prize.
It was the smallest field since 1996 when Coome Hill had won it. There had originally been 14 declared, but the travel plans of the Irish challenger Kemboy had to be abandoned due to gales, and Go Conquer was withdrawn on the day of the race when the ground went against him.
There were a couple of runners of interest, namely Dingo Dollar trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson and the admirable mare Ms Parfois. Dingo Dollar had undertaken a warm-up outing over hurdles at Newbury 23 days previously; he’d finished 4th that day.
Having exited onto the racecourse, the runners were organised into number order; apart from Ms Parfois that is, who was excitable and led the parade, followed by Black Corton, etc. Parade over, the runners doubled back on themselves to canter towards the starting gate situated at the start of the back straight.
Having taken a look at the first fence, the competitors congregated upon the top bend in order to have their girths checked. As the off-time approached, the horses were sent away, jogging back in the direction of the grandstands area; Allysson Monterg and American the last ones to join the main group. The latter backed away from the others as they turned to approach the tape; he subsequently re-joined them to the outside of the pack.
But it still hadn’t reached the off-time, so the jockeys were asked to take another turn before they approached the gate once more. And then they were off, at the first time of asking.
The twelve-strong field was led away by The Young Master to the inside of Elegant Escape, Beware The Bear, Ms Parfois and Thomas Patrick. Elegant Escape led narrowly as they crossed the first fence. However, despite looking full of beans as the runners had prepared ahead of start, American was in last position and didn’t appear to be travelling even at this early stage of the race.
The second fence was the first open-ditch, where Thomas Patrick landed narrowly in the lead and which The Young Master jumped a bit low. Having cleared the fence, American was already many lengths behind the others. Meanwhile the others continued towards the third fence, with Dingo Dollar now disputing the lead with Thomas Patrick; they were ahead of The Young Master and Elegant Escape. All of the runners cleared this obstacle well, apart from American who got a little close to it.
Thomas Patrick held a narrow advantage over Dingo Dollar as they cleared the fourth fence, from Ms Parfois, Elegant Escape, The Young Master, Sizing Tennessee, Allysson Monterg, Black Corton, Beware The Bear, Flying Angel, West Approach and American; the latter was already well detached in rear. The field moved on to number five, which The Young Master got a little bit close to. Having cleared all of the fences in the back straight, the runners continued into the far turn led by the favourite Thomas Patrick, from the strongly travelling Dingo Dollar, then Ms Parfois.
The next obstacle was the cross-fence, which Thomas Patrick got a little bit close to; this permitted Dingo Dollar to pull alongside him. Having entered the home straight on the first occasion, Richard Johnson’s mount went on again and was half a length up as he cleared the next, from Dingo Dollar, Ms Parfois and Sizing Tennessee. American was still going, but trailed the field.
The following fence was the second open-ditch; they all jumped this well. The tightly-packed field, apart from American, continued their journey up the home straight and all cleared the next in their stride too. With Thomas Patrick continuing to spearhead the runners, from Dingo Dollar to his inside and Mr Parfois to his outer, the runners headed towards and over next; Flying Angel made an error here.
The following obstacle was the water-jump, after which Aine O’Connor decided to pull up the struggling American. Meanwhile the remaining eleven continued up around the top bend, where The Young Master and Allysson Monterg both appeared a little short of room having bumped the white plastic railings.
Having entered the back straight for the final time, Thomas Patrick and Dingo Dollar jumped the first fence therein in unison; to their outside, the strong-travelling Sizing Tennessee soon joined them. The favourite was pushed along on the approach to the open-ditch, with Richard Johnson seeing his take-off stride well in advance. There were no incidents at this fence and the leading trio continued clear of their rivals as they headed to the next. Ms Parfois led the remainder, from West Approach, Elegant Escape, Flying Angel and Black Corton; detached were Beware The Bear, Allysson Monterg and The Young Master. Having continued to lose ground, the latter was pulled up after jumping this.
Meanwhile, Thomas Patrick, Dingo Dollar and Sizing Tennessee continued to cut out the running as they headed over the fifteenth; however, the favourite was beginning to come under pressure as the field approached the final fence in the back straight. Richard Johnson’s mount got a little close to this one and, as a result, Dingo Dollar took over at the head of affairs.
Thus the Alan King representative led the remaining ten runners into the far turn, from the pushed along Thomas Patrick, followed by the well-travelling Sizing Tennessee, from Ms Parfois, West Approach and Elegant Escape; Black Corton led the remainder. The leader got in close to the cross-fence but retained a narrow advantage over Sizing Tennessee as they entered the turn leading into the home straight.
Thomas Patrick dropped back quickly now, as Ms Parfois moved into third position, from the improving Elegant Escape, then West Approach; Beware The Bear was also staying on now. Tom Scudamore’s mount took a narrow lead on the approach to four out, although Dingo Dollar out-jumped him here. Further back in the field, Beware The Bear had to reach for this one.
Three out was the final open-ditch, and Sizing Tennessee had taken the lead once more as they cleared it. Dingo Dollar continued in runner-up position as they headed towards two out, with Elegant Escape endeavouring to get on terms with him. Meanwhile the latter’s stable-mate was forging clear; so much so that, having jumped the penultimate fence, Tom Scudamore had time to take a leisurely look beneath his right arm in order to ascertain where his rivals were!
Tom needed to just flick his whip down his mount’s shoulder as they galloped towards the final fence, with that now his only danger; but he cleared it well. Elegant Escape had just got the better of Dingo Dollar as they, too, jumped the fence. Sizing Tennessee was subsequently ridden out to the line, with his jockey giving him three or four cracks with his whip just to make sure of victory; he won by 10 lengths.
Elegant Escape came home in 2nd, seven lengths ahead of Dingo Dollar, with Beware The Bear a further fifteen lengths behind him in 4th. West Approach finished 5th, with Ms Parfois tiring to finish 6th, Allysson Monterg 7th, with last of the finishers Flying Angel in 8th. Thomas Patrick had been pulled up before 3 out and Black Corton before 2 out.
Colin Tizzard had trained the winner, the runner-up and the 5th-placed horse.
Sizing Tennessee was the first 10-year-old to win this race for 37 years! Having failed to peg back his stable companion today, Elegant Approach would win the 2018 Welsh Grand National in late December!
The winning jockey was surprised his mount had won by so far, but he said you had to have fancied his chances on previous form against Ms Parfois and on better terms with her today too. He said his mount was a bit awkward jumping one or two, and has his own way of doing things, but always lands running! Joe Tizzard, son of trainer Colin, said Tom really fancied his chances today and was getting more and more excited about his prospects as the race approached!
As with all of the races today, I returned to the steppings above the Winners’ Enclosure to see the winning and placed horses arrive back – in this instance Sizing Tennessee, Elegant Escape, Dingo Dollar and Beware The Bear.
The favourite for the final race of the day was the Philip Kirby-trained Lady Buttons, ridden by Adam Nicol; price 5-2.
The starting gate for this event was half way down the home straight, with that and one full circuit to travel.
The horses headed out onto the racecourse, with Bigmartre leading the main group. Doitforthevillage and Rock On Rocky were detached from the main group, as was Lady Buttons, with Shear Rock belatedly joining them as they headed back towards the starting gate; craftily, jockey Jamie Moore joined the front of the group, not the back!
And then they were off, at the first time of asking, with Dicosimo leading the way to the first fence, from Bigmartre and Shear Rock; travelling towards the inside, Baby King was a little awkward at this one. The ten competitors continued to the next fence, which Baby King hit.
With the field still intact, the horses headed up towards the grandstands, the water-jump their next obstacle. Dicosimo flew over this one, as did Shear Rock; they were clear of the others. Lady Buttons jumped it next, from Space Oddity, Bigmartre and Top Gamble. However, Forest Bihan jumped too big, didn’t get his landing gear out in time and came down, falling into the path of Baby King in the process; the latter ended up with his feet in the air. Fortunately Doitforthevillage nimbly sidestepped the melee. Rock On Rocky, travelling to the outside of the incident, was not interfered with.
The eight surviving runners continued on their journey around the top bend, still led by Dicosimo. And the good news was that both of the departed horses had got to their feet and had headed up to the racecourse exit point, where they were caught.
Andrew Tinkler, aboard the leader, saw a nice stride as he rode him into the take off point of the first fence in the back straight and cleared it well. Shear Rock continued in second position, from Lady Buttons, Bigmartre, Space Oddity, Top Gamble, Doitforthevillage and Rock On Rocky; the mare had gained ground having put in a beautiful leap at it.
The following fence was the first open-ditch; the leaders jumped it well, whereas Bigmartre had to reach for the fence and landed awkwardly as a result. To his outside, Space Oddity banked it, with Top Gamble almost the meat in the error-strewn sandwich! Rock On Rocky, who was travelling in their wake, also made a mistake. Harry Bannister, aboard Bigmartre, called it a day at this point; he steered his mount across in front of Top Gamble, Space Oddity and Rock On Rocky before pulling up.
The leading three were still travelling and jumping well as they continued over the next fence. They were well clear of Doitforthevillage, Top Gamble and Rock On Rocky; the latter put in a slightly sticky jump here. However, Space Oddity blundered so badly that he unseated his jockey and almost fell; his confidence appeared to have been shot to pieces. He’d fallen on his last racecourse outing too.
Meanwhile the six remaining runners continued towards and over the seventh obstacle. There was no change at the head of affairs, with Dicosimo, Shear Rock and Lady Buttons maintaining their advantage over the other three. Having reached the final fence in the back straight, Andrew Tinkler saw a stride and booted his mount into it once more; at the rear of the field, Rocky On Rocky didn’t jump it particularly well. Top Gamble and Doitforthevillage had been ridden to close the deficit as they headed into the far bend and they were almost upsides the mare as they reached the cross-fence. However, Lady Buttons out-jumped both of them, and shortly after the fence she scythed-through between Dicosimo and Shear Rock to briefly take the lead.
Dicosimo went on again as they headed around the home bend; it became apparent that the leader’s brow-band was so loose that it flicked up and down as he galloped! Anyway, Andrew Tinkler’s mount led until clearing four out, when Lady Buttons and Shear Rock took the narrow advantage. The following obstacle was the final open-ditch, which they all cleared well; the long-time leader faded to dispute fourth position with Top Gamble as they headed to the penultimate fence.
Lady Buttons led over this one, from Shear Rock and Doitforthevillage. The mare was travelling comfortably as they headed down to the final obstacle, with her nearest rivals being ridden in an endeavour to remain in touch with her. They jumped the last well but, despite Shear Rock’s continued effort to close the gap, Lady Buttons just needed to be pushed out on the run-in to win by 2¼ lengths at the line; a comfortable win.
Doitforthevillage passed the line 10 lengths further back in 3rd, with Top Gamble another 7 lengths away in 4th position; Dicosimo was 3 lengths away in 5th, with Rock On Rocky coming home in his own time in last.
I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure for the final time today in order to see the horses arrive back.
Post-race presentations made, it was time for me to head back to the car park to collect my car. I popped to the loo within the Dubai Duty Free stand prior to departing; whilst queuing, a lady complimented me on my ‘ladybird’ snood. I love my new snood too, not only does it keep me warm, but the fleece keeps any dampness at bay too, unlike wool!
I subsequently headed out through the door to the rear of the grandstand before exiting via the eastern ticket hall. I crossed the roadway via a pedestrian crossing, before continuing along the pathway which runs to the back of the apartment blocks and turning left to enter the car park in order to return to my car.
I hung my damp coat over the back of the passenger seat to dry off. I laid other damp items along the back seat and placed my slightly muddy Hotter boots in a Really Useful box. I had been intending to eat the two remaining cheese rolls prior to departing for Caversham but, as the roadway outside the car park was clear and darkness falling fast, I decided to set off immediately; it was 16:10. I didn’t think to put on my night vision glasses at this point; besides, my night vision has improved a little since its low point in 2016!
Having joined the roadway outside the car park, I headed back past the Fitness Centre. I was held up briefly at the next corner, by a steward directing traffic as it exited car park 5. I subsequently continued to the roundabout, before turning left and travelling within the queue of vehicles as it headed over the bridge across the railway line.
Having reached the roundabout beyond, I continued up the Hambridge Road in order to join the A4 at the traffic light junction beyond; I turned right here, and continued up Benham Hill to another roundabout. I turned right again in order to travel through Thatcham. Unlike earlier in the day, I seemed to be caught by a red light at every road junction!
I continued along the A4, through Woolhampton and onwards to Junction 12 of the M4. It was my intention to break my return journey with a visit to my friend Denise who lives in Caversham, with my route taking me along the M4 to Junction 10, then up the A329(M) to join the A4, before heading over the Thames at Sonning and continuing along the road into Caversham.
Had it been daylight, I might have continued into Reading from Junction 12 but, now dark, I felt my sole option was to join the motorway, and that’s despite a warning sign stating there was a long delay thereon. The motorway was clear until Junction 11, after which I came to a grinding halt, exacerbated by traffic joining the M4 from the slip-road. I was disheartened to see a message board stating 47 minutes to travel 15 miles!
I eventually discovered the cause of the delay; the motorway had been reduced to a single lane, the outside one, for just a matter of a few hundred yards! The blockage had cleared by the time I reached Junction 10. I left the motorway as planned, heading along the A329(M) towards Reading; it was very dark along the unlit road, but my eyesight was pretty good, fortunately!
Having reached the A4 London Road, I turned right to head in an easterly direction, travelling towards the village of Sonning. There are three roads which lead into the village – Sonning Lane, Pound Lane and Charvil Lane; I chose the latter for, despite it being the longest route, it was the most familiar and avoided the narrow Pearson Road where parked vehicles are always a hazard. I continued through the village, with its 20 mph speed limit, before heading over the ancient single-lane bridge across the Thames. Upon reaching Play Hatch, I turned left at the roundabout in order to head into Caversham.
I arrived at Den’s at 17:45; it had taken me 95 minutes, when it should have taken around 50 minutes max ... and as little as 40 minutes by a quicker route than mine! I hadn’t intended to stay too long but, in the end, didn’t leave until around 20:45, having watched the quarter-final of Strictly Come Dancing; actor Charles Venn was eliminated from the competition, leaving Ashley Roberts, Faye Tozer, Stacey Dooley, Lauren Steadman and Joe Sugg to continue to the next round. My friend also kindly fed and watered me!!!
My favoured route home from Den’s is via the M4, joining it at the Maidenhead junction. However, as I was driving down the dual carriageway between the A4 and M4, I saw a sign stating that the eastbound carriageway was closed between two junctions along my intended route ... so I decided to double-back on myself and head up the A404 to join the M40 at High Wycombe instead! Mind you, I did notice one or two drivers continue down the slip-road onto the eastbound carriageway of the M4 ... so maybe the signing wasn’t correct. Did it state closed between J7 and J6? I don’t know; if so, I guess they would have been able to travel between J8/9 and J7 before being forced to leave the motorway.
If I’d left at junction 7, I might have ended up lost in Slough ... nooooooooooooo! I used to be very familiar with the route, around Slough, having worked in Bracknell for 15 months back in the 1990’s, but no longer. I used to travel via Ascot, Windsor, Slough, Stoke Poges, Gerrards Cross, Denham and Maple Cross, before joining the M25 at the latter. So do I need a satnav? Of course not, as I can always style it out, one way or the other!
My re-route wasn’t ideal as I have a longstanding aversion to the main High Wycombe junction on the M40, if joining the motorway, rather than leaving it in order to head south along the A404... but it wasn’t that bad, especially as it was 21:00 on a Saturday night; although I did go the long way around the island, rather than via the strange ‘cut-through the centre’ route, to reach the M40 slip-road!
Having joined the M40, I continued to the M25, before heading around the clockwise carriageway to Junction 22 and retracing my route home. I arrived back at around 22:00.
As frequently happens when I get home late from the races, I didn’t turn in until after midnight ... in fact it was 01:00 on Sunday morning when I went to bed! I always feel obliged to transfer my photos to my laptop, for safekeeping, and record a copy of the racing highlights from Racing TV too, before turning in.
When I washed my Hotter boots thoroughly the following day, I discovered a broken Phillips screw stuck in the bottom of one of the heels, and a stud earring stuck in the sole of the other! I was not amused, as they are my favourite boots.
Notes from the Stewards’ Room:
Race 1 - 12:10pm
Permission was given for ADMIRAL'S SUNSET to go early to post.
Race 2 - 12:45pm
SANTINI wore earplugs,
which were removed at the start.
Race 3 - 1:20pm
Following the race Harry Cobden reported that ADRIEN DU PONT (FR), which was pulled up, stopped quickly. The Veterinary Officer reported that a post-race examination of the gelding failed to reveal any abnormalities.
Race 4 - 1:50pm
Following the race the Veterinary Officer reported that WHO'S MY JOCKEY (IRE), unplaced, was found to have blood in its nostril. WHO'S MY JOCKEY (IRE) was routine tested. She also reported that the winner, CHAMP (IRE) lost its right fore shoe. David Bass reported that BARTERS HILL (IRE), which was pulled up, stopped quickly.
Race 5 - 2:25pm
BALLYMOY (IRE) and WHAT'S OCCURRING (IRE) wore earplugs, which were removed at the start.
Race 6 - 3:00pm
Permission was given
for MS PARFOIS (IRE) to go first in the parade. MS PARFOIS wore earplugs,
which were removed at the start.
Race 7 - 3:35pm
Permission was given
for DOITFORTHEVILLAGE (IRE) to wear a hood in the parade ring only.