DIARY – SANDOWN PARK SEASON FINALE
SATURDAY 27 APRIL 2019
Picture of the Day
Alan King’s Talkischeap, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson, wins the bet365 Gold Cup in style!
The final day of the 2018 / 2019 National Hunt season had finally arrived … although technically, for me, my last eight racecourse visits had flown by! Newbury and Kempton Park in late 2018 had followed a very familiar route – visit to the race-day, followed by uploading photos and detailed diary within a fairly short period of time …
But then, after a ‘slow burn’ to begin with, in early January I suddenly became totally smitten with actor Richard Madden! And I now feel like I’ve gone off the rails and have completely lost the plot!!!
Anyway, I’m writing this diary prior to any which I might produce relating to the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals of 2019. At the moment ‘might’ is the best I can promise! Having not yet written my Aintree specific blogs either, and with commitments in place for May and early July with regards to my new interest in life.
With Richard having recently settled in Los Angeles, following the world-wide success of Bodyguard, opportunities to see him in real life will be few and far between from now on, so I need to ‘seize the day’ whenever possible. Besides, my most longed-for wish is to ask this very beautiful man if I can have a selfie picture with him!!!
I also have a time-consuming creative project in the pipeline, which I must commence soon.
Anyway, back to the racing …
As per the last day of the season in recent years, my friend Lesley accompanied me to Sandown Park. It was my treat today too; it being in recognition of my friend’s Christmas present.
I’d arranged for Lesley to pick me up between 09:45 and 10:00, as I live en route to the racecourse. This meant I didn’t need to set my alarm for an early departure … although plans did go slightly awry when I checked the internet for ‘Madden news’ and found paparazzi photos of Richard jogging in LA; he was getting fit ahead of filming his role in the new Sam Mendes film 1917.
Not surprisingly he looked really annoyed, as certain paparazzi photographers seem to wait for him every day – whether jogging, going for a walk or shopping. I like to see him … but not when Richard’s own private down time is compromised by their actions.
It’s not as if we’ve been starved of his image in recent weeks – there having been a number of events connected to a possible Emmy nomination, with others to come, plus the Time 100 Gala. And numerous magazine articles too – Interview magazine, Vogue, Elle, Jackal, US GQ (along with Rocketman co-stars, Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell), and mention of him in many other articles regarding Rocketman; the film being due to have its World Premier in Cannes on Thursday 16 May, followed by a UK Premier on Monday 20 May, general release here from later that week and in the US from 31 May. Not to mention Carpool Karaoke with Taron Egerton and, of course, the Bodyguard spoof for Comic Relief.
1917 commenced shooting on 01 April 2019, in Surrey, although Richard wasn’t needed for scenes until later; other locations include Salisbury Plain (from 29 April), Govan dockyard in Glasgow (5 days in June) and Shepperton Studios. The internet is a wonderful (and sometimes terrible) thing …
And back to the racing ... despite running later than hoped, I was ready to depart by 09:40. Today’s outfit was a honey-coloured polo-neck thermal M & S top, a turquoise thermal M & S T-shirt, a turquoise patterned thermal M & S T-shirt, a turquoise M & S frill-edged cardigan, a teal-coloured fleece, a granite-coloured fleece gilet, a grey tweed skirt (an old favourite and one I can wear once again having lost over half a stone in weight … without dieting … a side-effect of falling in love evidently). And my turquoise giraffe-print scarf too.
Plus black thermal tights, black Hotter Danielle shoe-boots, a beige Carvela handbag, teal BHS padded jacket, shades of turquoise crocodile scale crocheted mittens (purchased from Madisons Rainbow on Etsy), and turquoise diamond-shaped flower design Unique Dichroic earrings.
Lesley texted me to say she was leaving home, at around the time she should have been almost with me … anyway, I waited outside and she eventually arrived to collect me. Our route took us out via Highfield Park, and the London Colney bypass to reach junction 22 of the M25. We then headed around the anti-clockwise carriageway to reach Junction 10; traffic was flowing well, apart from a little congestion as traffic joined from the M3.
We left the motorway at junction 10 and headed towards London, leaving at the Esher turning. We continued upon Copsem Lane to the junction upon the A307; we continued straight across onto the one-way system briefly. It took a while to cross into More Lane, due to weight of traffic heading in from our left upon Lammas Lane. Continuing down the hill, we then turned right to head through the entrance gates, and across the racecourse track to reach the free of charge car parking area beyond. We were delayed briefly while a grounds-person swept the crossing-point.
Fortunately we had arrived in good time, so were able to park upon the tarmac area, as opposed to the grass. We were soon all set to go and walked back up the driveway to the gazebo denoting the entrance to the Premier Enclosure. Our pre-bought tickets were scanned and I purchased three race-cards; one for Lesley, one for me and one for a friend!
With the first events on the agenda today being the equine parade and the season-end awards ceremony, we headed through the Premier Enclosure and then turned off to our left to enter the Grandstand Enclosure, to reserve a place ahead of it. Lesley set off to buy a coffee and some snacks, returning shortly afterwards.
The horses taking part in the end-of-season equine parade were Clan Des Obeaux, Cyrname, Frodon, Paisley Park, La Bague Au Roi, Kalashnikov, Pentland Hills, plus recent retirees Coneygree and The New One.
This was followed by the season-end prize giving:
Sandown Park Special Trophy went to recently retired jockey Noel Fehily
Champion Jockey – Richard Johnson
Champion Conditional – Bryony Frost
Champion Trainer – Paul Nicholls
Owner of the Year – JP McManus
Horse of the Year – Tiger Roll
There was no sign of Choc’s ex-wife Meally this year.
There were a few hints of April showers this day, and it was very windy on the racecourse side of the stands. However, as we spent much of the time beside the rhododendron walk, we were protected by the trees on the mound beyond.
We decided to do a placepot, putting in £1.00 each and here are our selections:
The favourite for the first race, off time 13:50, was Getaway Trump, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Cobden; price 9-2.
Alan King had two runners in this race, our placepot selection Harambe, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson and Scarlet Dragon, ridden by Richard Johnson. Lesley chose and placed an additional bet on Birds Of Prey.
And the winner was the favourite, Getaway Trump. He’s an Owners Group horse, syndicate 023. Harambe finished 2nd, Scarlet Dragon 4th and Birds Of Prey 6th.
The favourite for the next race was Black Corton, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Bryony Frost; price 15-8.
The favourite duly obliged.
However, the race was marred by the death of the Nicky Henderson-trained Josses Hill who collapsed after the line.
We didn’t know of this sad outcome at the time, although we did see Nico de Boinville return along the rhododendron walk, alone without his saddle; also Nicky Henderson heading down towards the racecourse along said walk.
The favourite for the third race was Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville; price 1-6.
With little opposition, Cyrname having been withdrawn due to unsuitable ground, the favourite duly obliged, by 2½ lengths. It was Altior’s 19th consecutive win over hurdles and fences … a new record!!! And a third straight win in this race.
However, it is intended that Altior will step up in trip for the 2019/2020 season, with a possible attempt at winning the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
The fourth race was the feature event. The favourite was West Approach, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Jonjo O’Neill Junior; price 5-1.
There were two runners of interest to me, namely top-weight Beware The Bear trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Jeremiah McGrath and Talkischeap trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.
Beware The Bear was never travelling today and was pulled up before entering the back straight on the second circuit. Five horses had been withdrawn due to the ground being Good (Good to Firm in places), so perhaps conditions didn’t suit today, having won at the Cheltenham Festival on soft ground.
But the novice Talkischeap travelled well throughout the race and won by an impressive 10 lengths from two previous winners, namely The Young Master and Step Back!
On this occasion we returned to the Winners’ Enclosure to see the horses arrive back.
The favourite for the next race was Younevercall, trained by Kim Bailey and ridden by David Bass; price 9-4.
There was one runner of interest, namely Mia’s Storm trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson.
The favourite duly obliged and Mia’s Storm finished 6th.
The favourite for the penultimate race was Larry, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Jamie Moore; price 10-3.
And the favourite duly obliged.
The favourite for the final race of the day … and the season … was the Philip Hobbs-trained Wait For Me, ridden by Richard Johnson; price 11-4.
Alan King had a runner in this race, namely River Frost, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. The trainer wasn’t hopeful however of the top weight’s chances, saying that having been tried over fences, and fallen on his last outing, his charge was less than keen about the larger obstacles!
The race was won by Colonial Dreams, trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Nico de Boinville. It had looked like the favourite would win having taken up the running from Nicky’s runner jumping the final flight, but Colonial
Dreams had stayed on gamely and regained the lead close home.
River Frost finished 11th, last of the finishers. I believe Lesley chose Philip Hobbs’ second string That’s A Given, who finished 6th and I chose Commanche Red which pulled up.
We headed back to the Winners’ Enclosure following the final race of the day … I also heard Philip Hobbs and his wife Sarah discussing the race as they walked back to the Winners’ Enclosure too!!! Mind you, in the race card, it states that Wait For Me is ‘difficult to win with’!
Our placepot result was 4 out of 6 ... Aintree Thursday remains my best placepot result so far, with 5 out of 6!!!
Having paid a visit to the ladies’ loo, the queue for which being surprisingly short, we headed back through the grandstand, then down across the betting ring to reach the lower of the two course crossing points. At the other side we turned left to head along the driveway and back to the car park; I noticed that the ticket kiosks had been upgraded to a more permanent structure.
We ate a couple of cheese rolls each, before departing. Having reached the top of the driveway, and wishing to turn right, we were directed along the service road which runs beside the racecourse, before exiting close to the pedestrian exit point for those who had travelled by train.
We continued along Lower Green Road to a crossroads, heading straight across to subsequently reach the A309 Hampton Court Way. This road was rather congested, so it took some time to reach the bridge over the River Thames; at one point, a guy who had been travelling ahead of us in a taxi, alighted to have a pee … before running to catch up with the taxi once more (more information than you needed!).
Anyway, having reached the roundabout outside Hampton Court itself, we turned left to head through Hampton and travel past Kempton Park en-route to join the M3 at junction 1. Our route then took us down to the M25, where we joined the clockwise carriageway and retraced our route home.
Lesley dropped me off at around 19:05. The 2018/2019 National Hunt season had now been completed … and I’d made it to the end despite of a very attractive and time-consuming diversion since the turn of the year in the shape of Richard Madden!!!
Click here for the Sandown Park photos index – hopefully this will happen at some point ... Maddenitis permitting!!!