DIARY – SANDOWN PARK

– SATURDAY 05 FEBRUARY 2011

 

 

Sandown Park 05 Feb 2011 m r.jpg

 

In the Parade Ring,

Choc aboard Medermit prior to the Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

 

 

Today was a ‘planned’ visit to the races, as for a number of weeks I’d been aware that Alan King intended to run his Cheltenham Festival prospect, Medermit, in the Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park.  January had been a very busy month for me, with four consecutive Saturdays spent at the races; so February started off in the same vein. 

 

Fortunately, however, and having ‘burnt the candle at both ends’ on numerous days (especially weekdays), my website diaries were up to date and I was thus raring to go!  The only time I expect to have a backlog on my website is following the Cheltenham Festival and continuing through until after Aintree.  Last year’s delay was worse than the previous year; in 2009 I had just one outstanding Cheltenham diary to complete when I set off for Aintree; but last year there were 3 outstanding and I believe it took until mid-June to get both the Festival and Grand National meeting diaries up to date!

 

The forecast today was for mild but very blustery weather, certainly not the freezing cold and windy conditions experienced at Chelteham last Saturday.  A decision on clothes ... I think I’m due to wear a skirt to the races but, currently, I’m more of a trousers person, if you know what I mean?  Although I keep my legs epilated at all times!

 

Midweek I’d begun by thinking that I’d wear my black and white checked skirt, but as the day approached I thought better of it, as the style is not conducive to windy weather; as I’m a bit past it for ‘flashing my bloomers’ to all and sundry!  My next choice was my favourite grey skirt (the one I wore in August when interviewed by ATR regarding my website).  Then I thought that perhaps I would feel more comfortable in jeans; then I was going to wear my grey skirt again ... however in the event, I wore dark blue jeans!  I becoming very indecisive in my old age!!! 

 

To brighten up the dull day, I chose my short cerise coloured coat, and Tutti Fruiti coloured ‘Snowball’ scarf; the latter is absolutely perfect to team up with this coat, a purely accidental discovery.  I’m unsure when my Vivid Violet scarf is going to get an outing ... I keep taking it out of the cupboard ... and putting it away again, as a different coloured one always seems to better fit the bill!  I still wore two thermal vests, one long-sleeved, one sleeveless; then a purple sweater, a burgundy coloured cardigan with the ubiquitous frills around the edge, and my purple fleece.  Plus my M & S ‘Engineer’ boots once again. 

 

As the gates opened at 11:30, I didn’t need to leave home until 10:30; permitting me to watch Channel 4’s The Morning Line from the comfort of my bed before I showered, washed and dried my hair, applied make-up and set off for Esher. 

     

I joined the M25 at junction 21A, initially travelling through the 50mph contraflow system.  I left at the motorway at junction 10, travelling up the A3 towards London and leaving at the Esher turning.  The first delays I encountered were as I approached the first set of traffic lights on the road into town. 

 

I admired the beautiful houses currently under construction in a development along this road – Princess Square – evidently the dwellings cost in excess of £2.5 million each ... not quite in my price bracket, unless I win big on the lottery!  But, if that happens, I’d like a smallholding in the country, rather than a house within the M25.  And to still be handy for my favourite racecourses, I think the Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire border would probably be the best location for my ‘dream abode’. 

 

And more indecision ... do I go centre-course for the free parking, or spend £5 to park just off the Portsmouth Road?  I choose the former.  I thus headed along More Lane, turning right and driving across the racecourse; the crossing is awkward on the steering, as the wheels always go against the grain!  When I first visited Sandown Park, it was possible to park on the tarmac area if you arrived early; unfortunately, this area is now reserved for the Members, so I had to park on the grass instead.  And I’m never keen on this, when my car is clean!  Oh well; at least the parking is free of charge.  Huntingdon has the worst route to reach a car park, as the road comprises of gravel strewn with deep potholes; unless, of course, these have been filled in since my last visit.

 

I waited in my car for a few minutes, ate the cheese rolls I’d prepared, and drank some black coffee from a flask ... it’s weird, until last November I was a confirmed ‘tea’ person, I only occasionally drank coffee, and then always black. However, following a cold, I found that I couldn’t get rid of the catarrh and dairy products only excarbated the problem.  Hence I’m currently a black coffee drinker!  Whilst I was sitting in the car, I noticed one magpie fly across my view.  Drat, was it going to be an unlucky day I wondered?

  

Soon I set off to purchase a ticket from the tent situated alongside the course crossing gate.  There was a long queue at one ticket seller, but no queue at the other.  The latter asked if anyone wished to purchase a grandstand ticket?  Yes, me; so I was able to jump the queue.  He remarked how strange it was that everyone wished to join a queue.  Yes, it’s very British I told him!

 

Having bought a grandstand ticket (£18) I crossed the home straight on the plastic pontons; these are laid down to protect the course from the pedestrian footfall.  Once at the other side, I purchased a race-card, £2.50 today; I then went to sit beside the Parade Ring, with my back facing towards the Weighing Room.  The day was dull and blustery, but not particularly cold.

 

I read through the race-card, but it seemed that one of my contact lenses was causing my vision to be slightly blurred, and it was uncomfortable too.  Soft lenses are malleable, so can be inserted with either side against the cornea.  I know soft lenses used to have a right and wrong side; is this still the case?  If so, perhaps the lense offending lense was inside out.

 

Anyway, being a ‘kitchen-sink’ kind of girl, I just so happened to have a spare set of disposable lenses in my glasses case; yes, I carry my glasses with me, and my reading glasses ... and sometimes I carry sunglasses too!  So I popped to the ladies loo and, when I got there, took out the offending lense from my right eye, and replaced it with a spare one.   It was far more comfortable than before; in fact I was no longer aware that I was wearing them.

 

I returned to the Parade Ring to await the competitors prior to the first race.  Today I spotted jockey Aidan Coleman; Clerk of the Course Andrew Cooper; trainer Charlie Mann; plus Paul Nicholls’ daughter Megan and his nephew Harry Derham.  Nick Luck and Steve Mellish were representing Racing UK at the course today.  Before racing, there was a punters panel ... come to think of it, hardly a panel, it was solely totesport’s George Primarolo speaking with raceday presenter Anthony Kemp!

 

Choc would have 5 rides today:

 

Race 1: Kumbeshwar, a juvenile having his first run over hurdles, but a winner on his last 3 runs on the fibresand at Southwell.  He is jointly owned by Nigel Bunter (Alan King’s landlord) and the McNeill family; running in the colours of the latter, which are better known for their association with Mille Chief and my favourite horse, Walkon.      

 

Race 3: The aforementioned Medermit; racing over 2 miles and 4½ furlongs today, with the hope of enabling Alan King to make a decision between the Grade 1 Arkle Chase or the new 2 mile 4 furlong Grade 2 Jewsons Novices’ Chase at the upcoming Cheltenham Festival. 

 

Race 4: Choc’s third ride of the day would be aboard Like A Hurricane in the Handicap Hurdle; the horse being most notable for having visited four racecourses hoping for a run, but each time the fixtures were called off!

 

Race 6: His fourth ride of the day would be aboard Call Me A Legend in the 2 mile Handicap Chase, the mare having won over fences at her first attempt last season, only to be grounded having fractured her pelvis.  Since her return, she’d been placed at Newbury (4th) and then won at Warwick.  According to the racecard, Alan King was very hopeful of her chances today. 

 

Race 7: Choc’s final ride of the day would be aboard Hong Kong Harry in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle; the horse was lightly raced, presumably following problems. 

 

Soon it was time for Choc’s first ride of the day.  Once the horses had begun to leave the Parade Ring, I set off to find a good vantage point beside the course-side rails, just alongside the half furlong post ... this seems to have been put in place recently; or perhaps I’ve just never noticed it before! 

 

The horses cantered down past the stands to reach the start, which is at the far end of the home straight and, as I’d ‘route marched’ through the grandstand, I was in time to see Choc and Kumbeshwar canter by. 

 

Unfortunately, however, jockey Liam Treadwell was unshipped from his mount, Lucky Breeze, on the way to the start; the filly proceeded to canter around the bottom bend and up the back straight.  Her stable lads were waiting for her to reach them, which she eventually did, but she took fright, turning around to canter back from whence she came.  However, she was eventually cornered and caught near one of the steeplechase fences as she stopped to take a pick of grass.  As a result, the race had been delayed; and the filly was withdrawn.

 

Race 1

Juvenile Hurdle

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (8 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

12

 

Finally they were off.  The field was led away by Professeur Emery with Jason Maguire aboard; the same tactics used as when running at the Sandown fixture 4 weeks ago.  Choc’s mount wasn’t fluent at the first.  Youm Jamil had pulled his way up into second spot by the 2nd flight; and he was followed by Moose Moran leading the main group of runners. 

 

Around the top bend Kumbeshwar had 4 runners behind him.  Down the hill and around the bend into the back straight, on the outside of the field Mountrath crashed through the wing, unseating his jockey.  Professeur Emery had by now set up a lead of 15 to 20 lengths; Youm Jamil and Moose Moran disputed second, followed by Magic Prospect and Not In The Clock. 

 

Heading into the final bend, Kumbeshwar was in around sixth position, then improved on this as Choc began to galvanise his mount.  Into the home straight Professeur Emery still led by some distance, chased by Moose Moran, Not In The Clock, and Kumbeshwar. 

 

The long time leader began to tire; Choc’s mount closing, taking the penultimate flight in third position.  He continued to gain ground towards the last, taking second in the process.  Professeur Emery still had a two lengths advantage over the final flight, but gradually Kumbeshwar reeled him in, and won by 3½ lengths on the line.  Not In The Clock finished 3rd and Moose Moran, the evens favourite, 4th.

 

Choc’s 24th winner of the season.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Kumbeshwar

Choc Thornton

Alan King

2nd

Professeur Emery

Jason Maguire

Warren Greatrex

3rd

Not In The Clock

Daryl Jacob

Charlie Mann

4th

Moose Moran

AP McCoy

Nicky Henderson

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc arrive back.  Once he’d unsaddled and spoken with Alan King and the horse’s connections, Max McNeill and Nigel Bunter, Choc returned to the Weighing Room. 

 

After the prizes were awarded I returned to the Parade Ring in preparation for the horses arriving prior to the next race, the Contenders Hurdle.  It was noticeable that reigning Champion Hurdler, Binocular, was already beginning to sweat up.

 

Once the horses had set off down the horse-walk to the course, I went to find a good vantage point in the stands, as I only venture course-side if Choc is competing in the race.

 

The start of this race, as with the first event, was at the far end of the home straight with just over one circuit to travel.

 

Race 2

Contenders Hurdle (Listed) (Class 1)

Distance

2 miles 110 yards (8 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

4

 

Then they were off. The field was led away by the mare, Ruthenoise; followed by Siberian Tiger, the restrained Dorabelle, and Binocular in rear.

 

Around the top bend, nothing had changed, apart from the field closing up; Ruthenoise wasn’t fluent at the third; Siberian Tiger hit the fourth.  Dorabelle wasn’t fluent at the fifth flight, and subsequently trashed the final one in the back straight, 3 out. 

 

The runners were closely packed around the bottom bend; Binocular on the inside disputing last place with Dorabelle.  Into the final straight AP McCoy brought his mount for a run up the inside; Dorabelle soon dropping out.    

 

Binocular was shaken up and closed on the leader, soon taking second place.  Ruthenoise still led over the last, but put in an awkward jump; thus losing the lead to AP’s mount.  Binocular, although not impressive on this occasion, won by 1¾ lengths.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Binocular

AP McCoy

Nicky Henderson

2nd

Ruthenoise

Andrew Tinkler

Nicky Henderson

3rd

Siberian Tiger

Daryl Jacob

Evan Williams

4th

Dorabelle

Jason Maguire

Donald McCain Jnr

 

I returned to see the horses arrive back in the Winners’ Enclosure, before walking across to the Parade Ring in preparation for the third and feature race of the day, in which Choc would be riding Festival contender Medermit.

 

Having been interviewed later in the afternoon, AP McCoy said Binocular’s run was okay; in his own words he wasn’t ‘over the moon’ about it.  But the horse had won this race last year, even less impressively, and had still gone on to win the Champion Hurdle at the Festival a few weeks later.

 

Choc arrived in the Parade Ring, and the bell soon rang to indicate that jockeys should mount.  Once the horses, or rather Medermit, had set off down the horse walk-way, I set off through the grandstand to find a suitable vantage point beside the open-ditch, hoping to take a photograph as they cleared the fence with one circuit to travel.  I was in time to see Choc canter by on his way to the start, which was in the back straight, the 3 railway fences being the initial obstacles in this race.  The horses cut across the centre of the course to reach the starting gate.

 

When the competitors headed out onto the final circuit, I would move further up the course in order to view the race upon the big screen; and to make my journey to the Winners’ Enclosure shorter and quicker!  And obviously, at this stage, with the hope that Medermit would be among the placed horses! 

 

Choc’s mount started as the race favourite. 

 

Race 3

Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

(Registered as The Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase)

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs 110 yards (17 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

9

 

Then they were off.  The field was led away by the Felix de Giles ridden Mr Gardner and the ‘other’ grey Hidden Keel, Cois Farraig in third; Captain Chris in rear.  Medermit was mid-field taking a centre line. 

 

Mr Gardner led into the home straight with just over one circuit to go.  At the back of the field, Captain Chris blundered at the open-ditch, having taken off too early.  Past the winning post with one circuit to go, the order was Mr Gardener, Hidden Keel, Rebel Du Marquis, Nadiya De La Vega, Rock Noir, Medermit, Reve De Sivola, Captain Chris and the already struggling Cois Farraig.

 

Hidden Keel took the lead as the field travelled towards the downhill fence, although he made a mistake at the ninth; Medermit noticeably closer and now disputing third place.  Rock Noir hit the first of the railway fences; the leader Hidden Keel wasn’t fluent at the 13th.  Detached from the other runners were Reve De Sivola, Nadiya De La Vega and Cois Farraig. 

 

The leading six contenders approached the Pond Fence; Mr Gardner briefly assuming the lead.  But Medermit soon overtook him on the inside (or perhaps that should be undertook!); Felix de Giles’ mount stumbling after two out.  Captain Chris was making steady progress and moved into second approaching the last, he gained on Choc’s mount as they approached the line; but Medermit held on by ½ a length.       

 

A Grade 1 winner for Alan King and Choc; their first since Voy Por Ustedes’ victory at Aintree in April 2009.  And, of course, Choc’s 25th winner of the season.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Medermit

Choc Thornton

Alan King

2nd

Captain Chris

Richard Johnson

Philip Hobbs

3rd

Mr Gardner

Felix de Giles

Nicky Henderson

4th

Rock Noir

AP McCoy

Jonjo O’Neill

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see Choc arrive back following his victory aboard the grey.  Again I was one of the first to get there and had a clear view for taking photographs.  Medermit’s owners joked with the official photographer, saying that their horse didn’t like having his photo taken, but would have to get used to it now!

 

Unfortunately, despite there being a prize for the winning jockey, Choc was unable to return to collect it, as he had to do a mere 10 stones 2 pounds aboard Like A Hurricane in the next race and needed to return briefly to the sauna to lose additional weight.  Damn, that’s such a shame, as it would have afforded the perfect photo opportunity for me.

 

The next day, and after discussion with Choc and the owners, Alan King decided that Medermit would be aimed at the Grade 1 Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Soon it was time for the fourth race of the day; once Choc was aboard his mount and had set off down the horse-walk I went to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails.  The race began near the beginning of the back straight (the jockeys with their backs to the first flight therein) with three to jump before exiting it; the horses headed up around the top bend to reach the starting gate. 

 

Upon arrival at the start, it was discovered that Lush Life had spread a plate; the farrier being called upon to replace it.  However, having been trotted out the back of the field once re-shod, the Nicky Henderson runner was still 4 or 5 lengths behind the other runners, when the starter let them go!  

 

Race 4

Handicap Hurdle

Distance

2 miles 6 furlongs (11 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

20

 

They were off ... Lush Life detached in rear.  The field was led away by Dantari and Alfie Spinner.  Into the straight for the first time, the former was clear of the field; a newspaper blew across the course in front of him as he approached the next.  Over the sixth the order was, Dantari clear, then Alfie Spinner, followed by Quartz De Thaix, Kilcrea Kim, Gee Dee Nen, National Trust, Supreme De Paille, Dansimar, Prince Tom, County Zen, Mister Hyde, Arkose, Pause And Clause, Miss Overdrive, Like A Hurricane, Numide, Mr Jay Dee, Altilhar, Lush Life having gained a place, with Roll Along now in rear.

 

Sadly disaster struck for the Let’s Live Racing’s Dansimar, who stumbled shortly after landing over the next flight; she’d broken her off-fore.  The jockey pulled the mare up quickly and dismounted; the grounds staff running across the course to erect the green screens around the stricken horse.

 

Heading around the top turn and then downhill, Dantari had set up a 15 length lead; still chased by Alfie Spinner.  The leader dived at the second flight down the back but retained his advantage.  Gee Dee Nen blundered badly 3 out.  By the end of the back straight, Like A Hurricane had lost touch with the main body of the field and was struggling.    

 

Dantari led the field into the home straight, from Kilcrea Kim, Alfie Spinner, County Zen, Mister Hyde, Numide, Prince Tom, Quartz De Thaix and Supreme De Paille; the long-time leader drifted over towards the stand side of the course, and was tiring. 

 

Kilcrea Kim assumed the lead 2 out, Alfie Spinner rallying to retake second.  The horses jumped the final flight; the injured Dansimar stationary behind the screens over by the far side rails.  Kilcrea Kim ran on to win by 1¼ lengths from the closing Alfie Spinner, with Dantari in 3rd and County Zen in 4th.

 

Choc pulled up his mount before two out. 

 

A bad three days for the Venetia Williams yard, which also lost A French Horse at Towcester on Thursday.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Kilcrea Kim

Richard Johnson

Philip Hobbs

2nd

Alfie Spinner

Daryl Jacob

Nick Williams

3rd

Dantari

Mr J England

Evan Williams

4th

County Zen

Giles Hawkins

Philip Hobbs

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back therein.  Shortly afterwards, Choc returned to the Weighing Room having unsaddled his mount in the area reserved for unplaced horses.

 

Following the race, there was a Stewards’ Enquiry into the incident at the start; resulting in the matter being referred to the BHA for further enquiry!

 

No ride for Choc in the next event.  Once the horses had set off down the horse-walk, I went to find a vantage point in the stands from where to watch the event.  The competitors headed directly to the start, travelling around the top bend to reach it; the first obstacle being the downhill fence. 

 

Race 5

Handicap Chase

Distance

3 miles 110 yards (22 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

11

 

Then they were off.  The field was led away by one of the greys, Beat The Boys; who was soon overtaken by Aimigayle;  Chief Yeoman, Free World, and Burren Legend were in rear.

 

Eric’s Charm clouted the second, but survived.  The field remained closely grouped down the back straight, apart from Free World who was slightly detached at the rear.  Aimigayle hit the first of the railway fences, Theatrical Moment the following one. 

 

Aimigayle led as the field entered the home straight for the first time.  Soulard hit the fence before the open-ditch.  As the field headed past the winning post with one circuit to go, Free World again detached from the field, Jamie Moore becoming animated in an effort to galvanise his mount.

 

Down the back straight, Beat The Boys disputed the lead with Aimigayle.  Khachaturian departed at the first of the railway fences, Jason Maguire catching the horse as it rose to its feet.  Leading Contender blundered at the final railway fence, unseating Richard Johnson. 

 

Beat the Boys led the field around the final bend and jumping the Pond Fence; however the veteran Eric’s Charm rallied, coming on the wide outside to take over at the head of affairs before the last and staying on well to win by 6 lengths from Beat The Boys, Burren Legend and Take The Breeze.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Eric’s Charm

Leighton Aspell

Oliver Sherwood

2nd

Beat The Boys

Paddy Brennan

Nigel Twiston-Davies

3rd

Burren Legend

Andrew Thornton

Richard Rowe

4th

Take The Breeze

Mr R Mahon

Paul Nicholls

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see 13-year old Eric’s Charm return.  Coincidentally, the horse’s half-brother Monkerhostin (who was trained by Philip Hobbs and is now retired), had won last year’s race, also as a 13-year old.  Eric’s Charm’s trainer, Oliver Sherwood, said he’d earlier decided that the horse would be retired should he win or be placed in this race.  So, having done just that, he’d need to discuss possible retirement with the owners, who were currently aboard.

 

Choc’s mount in the next race was Call Me A Legend, Alan King hopeful that she’d take well to the shorter 2 mile trip and thus earn a place in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham.  She started this race as favourite.

 

Once Choc had left the Parade Ring, I set off to find a position beside the open ditch, again with the intention of moving back up the rails once the horses had set off into the country.

 

Being a two mile event, the race began at the far end of the home straight, with just over one circuit to travel.  But, being the kind of day it was, the Venetia Williams trained Zacharova dug his feet in when the horses are instructed to come out onto the track.  The horse was led in, or rather as the commentator said ‘dragged in’, to join his fellow competitors.   

 

Race 6

Handicap Chase

Distance

2 miles (13 fences to negotiate)

No. of Runners

13

 

Then they were off; but Zacharova was not with them, he’d refused to jump off with the other runners.  The field was led away by Blacktoft, followed by Edgbriar, Anquetta, My Moment, Sambulando, and Nomecheki; in rear was Riguez Dancer. 

 

Turning into the back straight, Call Me A Legend was slow at the downhill fence, losing her place in mid-division.  Moon Over Miami hit the 6th obstacle; Anquetta assuming the lead; Blacktoft dived at the 8th, the first of the railway fences.  King Edmund chased Anquetta around the final bend, followed by Blacktoft, Nomecheki, and Noble Alan. 

 

From the Pond Fence, Nomecheki came to take second, with Edgbriar soon rallying.  However, Anquetta was now in command of the race and, despite hanging left and swishing her tail on the run-in, she went on to win by 2 lengths. 

 

Having lost touch by the ninth fence, Call Me A Legend came home in her own time, finishing 9th.    

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Anquetta

David Bass

Nicky Henderson

2nd

Nomecheki

Liam Treadwell

Nick Gifford

3rd

Edgbriar

Dominic Elsworth

Paul Webber

4th

Moon Over Miami

Daryl Jacob

Charlie Mann

 

I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the placed horses arrive back and, or course, Choc return to the Weighing Room having unsaddled his mount in the area reserved for the unplaced horses.

 

It was later reported that Alan King wasn’t too despondent with Call Me A Legend’s run; the distance proved too short for the mare as she couldn’t go the early pace; he decided that a 2 mile 4 furlong race at the Festival might be more suitable for his charge. 

 

Soon it was time for the Choc’s fifth and final ride of the day, in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.  

 

Choc’s mount, Hong Kong Harry, got very excited in the Parade Ring, so much so that the horse was led up the rampway and onto the horse-walk for Choc to mount.  The horse’s sire, Sir Harry Lewis, often passes on the ‘excitability’ trait to his offspring.  Following another ‘route march’ I arrived in time to see Choc canter by. 

 

The start of this race was on the far side of the track, the horses cantering down past the stands and then proceeding along a track across the ‘in-field’ golf course to reach it. 

 

Dusk was fast approaching, the race due off at 16:40.  However, there was another delay when the runners charged the tape; jockeys Edward Glassonbury and Sam Drinkwater became entangled in it and were unseated as a result.

 

Edward kept hold of Henry Hook; although the valiant Sam was eventually forced to let go of Wyck Hill’s reins as the horse gained momentum.  But, fortunately, his mount stopped when faced with a chase fence in its path, and he was promptly caught by the ‘false start’ flag person!  The jockey jogging down the course to retrieve his mount.  Once back on board, horses and jockeys were checked over, and again they prepared to race. 

 

On the replay, Nick Luck and Steve Mellish of Racing UK pointed out that the starter hadn’t even been on his rostrum when the jockeys initially charged the tape!  

 

Race 7

Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

Distance

2 miles 4 furlongs (9 flights to negotiate)

No. of Runners

17

 

Then they were off.  The field was led away, almost in line across the course, by Dusky Bob, Firm Order, Wyck Hill, Royale’s Charter, Regal Approach, and the first time blinkered Henry Hook, the latter soon going on.  Marleno was in rear.

 

Around the bottom bend, Henry Hook led, followed by Royale’s Charter, Wyck Hill, Firm Order, Regal Approach, Heez A Cracker, Call It On, Representingceltic, Dusky Bob, Peqeno Diablo, Amirico, Pro Pell, Hong Kong Harry, Legion D’Honneur, and Souter Point; Smooth Classic and Marleno bringing up the rear.

 

Firm Order soon came to the fore to chase the leader, Henry Hook.  Heading down the back straight, Dusky Bob lost further ground and dropped to the rear of the field.  Wyck Hill flattened the 6th flight; Hong Kong Harry, tiring and beginning to lose touch, did the same at the next, which was 3 out.

 

Firm Order, under Will Kennedy, went on around the final turn; although Henry Hook briefly regained the advantage as he came across to the stand side rail and cleared the penultimate flight.  Representingceltic, just behind the leaders, blundered at this obstacle.

 

The fast pace had taken its toll, the novices appearing to finish the race in slow motion.  However Firm Order started to stay on, as did Legion D’Honneur; the former retaking the lead before the last flight, the latter taking second after it, and gaining; but was held at the line by a neck. In third was Royale’s Charter and 4th the game Henry Hook.

 

Result

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

1st

Firm Order

William Kennedy

Paul Webber

2nd

Legion D’Honneur

Richard Johnson

C J Down

3rd

Royale’s Charter

Daryl Jacob

Nick Williams

4th

Henry Hook

Edward Glassonbury

Victor Dartnell

Despite Choc having pulled up his mount before two out, I returned to the Winners’ Enclosure in order to see him return to the Weighing Room following the final race. 

The call for ‘horses away’ having been given, I set off back through the grandstand and down across the tarmac area in front of the stands to reach the course crossing, duly returning to my car.  I waited around 20 minutes for the race-day traffic to clear, although it appeared that many had already left or, perhaps, were remaining to attend the Comedy Store show after racing.  The road outside the course was clear, my first delay being at the traffic lights exiting onto the Portsmouth Road, and again at those on the road leading to the A3. 

The crowd numbers had definitely been up on those attending on Saturday 08 January; although it was the most ‘traffic free’ trip back through Esher that I’ve experienced during my nine visits to the course.  And, currently, I feel that Sandown Park is vying for the role as my favourite racecourse, and may possibly supersede Cheltenham which currently holds that title. 

My journey took me back to the A3, then onto the clockwise carriageway of the M25 and around to junction 21A and home.  I reflected that it was my fifth M25 trip in as many weeks – Sandown Park; Kempton Park; Ascot; Cheltenham and Sandown Park again ... with Newbury M25/M4 planned for next Saturday too!

When I arrived home at 18:30, I noticed someone had broken one of the posts on the verge outside my neighbour’s house; the verges along my road are a constant nightmare.  For years and before everyone owned vehicles, the grass verges were in pristine condition.  However, as neighbours moved out, to be replaced by multiple car owners per abode, the grass has been gradually ripped out by the roots and become very sparse; this has not been helped by builders parking their lorries on the verges and never putting right the damage they have caused. 

Then, last Autumn, my local Council decided that the ruts in the verges would be levelled out and new grass sown, with a threat of heavier penalty fines for anyone found parking thereon (it used to be £5 – hardly a deterrent!)   To protect the verges during the initial days, they were cordoned off to prevent vehicles from driving across them; however, this protection was soon removed and, within 3 days, every single verge resembled a ploughed field!  So now it was even more of an eyesore than before.  And I hate walking on the muddy paths which have arisen as a result. 

Subsequently wooden posts were installed around each verge, to offer protection, although the deep ruts have not yet been removed.  Sorry to sound like a ‘grumpy old woman’ ... but does no-one respect their environment anymore?  And it wasn’t me who broke the post, nor made any ruts either!

Roll on next Saturday – totesport Super Saturday at Newbury; where my favourite horse, Walkon, may make an appearance in the feature race.  And I’ve promised to pop in to see my friend Denise, who lives in Caversham, on my way home.  Denise texted following today’s racing, to say she saw me on Channel 4’s racing coverage; she said it appeared that I was feeling the cold ... no, I don’t recall feeling cold today, despite fewer layers and a short coat!  If the weather could always be this mild, then attending the races would be a pleasure at all times.

And I believe I’m due to have the following Saturday off (19 February) ... for good behaviour! ... with Choc riding Mille Chief in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton; although it has now been mentioned that Peddlers Cross may run in this race having missed the Welsh Champion Hurdle due to a concern about coughing. 

Click here for photos Medermit

Click here for photos – Remaining Races

 

 

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