DIARY – CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL – DAY 2
– WEDNESDAY 17 MARCH 2010
The second day of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival started more overcast than the first. I was already getting a little paranoid about leaving home early, so today I set off at 06:45! Once again my journey took me via Hemel Hempstead and Aylesbury, where I chose to take a route around the inner ring-road, not the outer one. Unfortunately, I got stuck behind a farm vehicle on the A41 between the village of Kingswood and Bicester, which meant 35 mph all the way! Having turned onto the southbound carriageway of the A34, I discovered the queue back from the traffic lights at its junction with the M40 was worse than yesterday due to a minor accident, the police being in attendance. The queue from the A44 roundabout to the A40 at Wolvercote was also longer than on Tuesday. However, the journey on the A40 went more smoothly than the previous day, with no holdups at the traffic lights or roundabout at Eynsham, and this was despite being stuck behind a lorry travelling at 55 mph for most of the latter part of the journey!
The traffic into Cheltenham was lighter than on Tuesday, although near the racecourse I was held up by a refuse collection lorry blocking Bouncers Lane. I used the same car park as the previous day, again being instructed to park in the bottom field. I’d arrived at 09:20. So, despite different delays when compared to yesterday, the journey took the same duration.
As the turnstiles didn’t open until 10:30, I sat in my car and ate my lunch (or should that be brunch?) whilst listening to Cheltenham Festival radio. I set off for the turnstiles at around 10:10, and once the gates had opened went to sit beside the Parade Ring, purchasing a race-card en route.
Today Choc returned from his course-walk just before 11:00. He was wearing a long black coat, a red tie, and his obligatory green Hunter wellies, and was carrying his ‘going-stick’. Shortly afterwards he was interviewed for Racing UK by Lydia Hislop, they stood at the usual camera broadcasting location on the far corner of the Weighing Room steps.
I was asked by a group of 3 middle-aged Irish guys if I’d use their camera to take a memento photograph of them. As it was St Patrick’s Day, one of the pre-race entertainments was a trio of girls performing Irish dancing in the Winners’ Enclosure. At one point, amusingly, Irish jockey Kenny Whelan came out of the Weighing Room dressed in Irish tricolour shorts and a ‘Trapper’ hat – presumably not wishing to be recognised, and joined in with the dancing, before giving a ‘fake’ bare-arsed bow and disappearing. In Choc’s Horse and Hound column he reliably informed us that the words ‘Póg ma thoin’ (Kiss My Arse) were printed on the shorts! Paddy Brennan and Choc were amongst those jockeys who came out of the Weighing Room to applaud the shenanigans. Choc lost a £50 bet because he was convinced Kenny wouldn’t carry out the dare!
Each day before racing there is a presentation in the Winners’ Enclosure where the leading personalities of the day are interviewed by either Ian Carnaby or Jonathan Powell. The first interviewee today was Michael Dickinson who, having been a jump jockey, then trained the first 5 horses home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1983, before becoming a trainer on the flat in the UK and then America, and finally specialising in producing a racetrack surface – Tapeta – which is used in Dubai amongst other places. Here is his biography ... and yes, I do recall him riding as a jockey and the 1983 Gold Cup feat too. http://www.michaelwdickinson.com/biography/biography.html
Then it was time for an extra special treat ... the next guest of the day being Choc, who was interviewed by Jonathan Powell about his hopes for the day – Choc would be riding Twist Magic in the Champion Chase. As I was sitting just opposite the podium I had a lovely view of him and was able to take a number of photographs too.
Once Choc had left the podium, it was time for Noel Meade to be interviewed, and then the winner of Tuesday’s ‘Guinness Award’ AP McCoy, who was also presented with his prize. Finally it was the turn of Clive Smith, owner of Master Minded ... and Kauto Star of course!
Soon it was time for the first race of the day, the Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase over the extended distance of 4 miles. Alan King had one runner in this race, Pennek, ridden by Joshua Moore (brother of Jamie, Ryan and Hayley). Martin Keighley’s Any Currency was a fancied runner in this event.
I set off to find a vantage point beside the course-side rails. The start of this race was in the mid-course chute.
The second favourite, Becauseicouldntsee, ridden by Nina Carberry, was discovered to have damaged a shoe upon arrival at the start. The farrier tried to re-plate the horse but the animal was too ‘flightly’ so had to run with just 3 shoes, his off-fore shoe being missing.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Fabalu; Poker De Sivola was held up in rear. Around the far bend, the grey Presenting Forever, carrying the beige and black colours of the Wylie’s and ridden by Ollie Greenall, chased the leader, with Gentle Ranger in third. Any Currency travelled in around 7th, on the outside of the field. Pennek was about 10th.
Fabalu retained the lead until approaching the 6th obstacle, when Presenting Forever took over. Gentle Ranger came to dispute 2nd with Fabalu as the runners progressed along the back straight. Presenting Forever reached for the open ditch but jumped it well. In rear was Carlas Dream.
Having reached the downhill section of the track, Pennek had lost his place and was being ‘ridden’ near the back of the field. Carlas Dream pecked on landing over the ‘notorious’ downhill fence (although, technically, it is uphill). Perhaps, after the previous day’s mishap, I should refer to it as the ‘Bensalem’ fence!
As the field cleared the 16th fence, heading out on the final circuit, Presenting Forever had been joined by Gentle Range at the head of affairs. Pennek was now struggling. Tinakellylad fell at the 17th when prominent, hampering Becauseicouldntsee in the process. Carlas Dream unseated her rider independently. Gentle Ranger, now holding a slight advantage over the field, fell at the 4th last (an open ditch).
Becauseicouldntsee, travelling very well, joined the now leader, Presenting Forever, after the 4th last. Nina Carberrry’s mount led over the 3rd last and held a 2-length advantage around the final bend. However, Katie Walsh galvanised her mount to jump the last upsides and the two ladies battled up the final straight, Katie’s mount prevailing by 2¼ lengths on the line.
Third place was claimed by Prudent Honour, Any Currency stayed on to finish 4th, despite a mistake at the second last.
There was much celebration by the Walsh family, Katie being the daughter of Ted Walsh and younger sister of Ruby.
Following the race, the Stewards interviewed both Katie and Nina to enquire about their use of the whip from before the last fence to the line. Both jockeys were found guilty of excessive use, Katie banned for 4 days and Nina for 5 days.
I stayed beside the rails, as it seemed much more difficult to move between a good ‘race watching’ vantage point and the Parade Ring this year than last.
It was now time for Choc’s first ride of the day, aboard Manyriverstocross. The start of this race was in the mid-course chute.
Then they were off. The field was led off by Sleepy Hollow, The Knoxs, Peddlers Cross, Rite of Passage, and Consulate. Ruby’s mount, Quel Esprit, fell at the second flight. Unfortunately Choc’s mount was tracking the faller and he was almost unseated out the nearside door. Choc lost his stirrups and his reins ... everything, but clung on and managed to get back in the saddle. He had dropped to the rear of the field, but had survived an early scare.
Heading up the home straight with one circuit to go, the field was still led by Sleepy Hollow, The Knoxs, Consulate, Rite of Passage, Reve De Sivola, Peddlers Cross and Quartano. At the back were Manyriverstocross and Some Present. As the field travelled away from the stands, Choc had made some progress, and there were now 3 or 4 horses behind him.
Down the back straight not much had changed, with Sleepy Hollow still at the head of affairs, Reve De Sivola flattened the 6th flight but lost no impetus. The field was closely packed at the far corner. Hollo Ladies was the first to struggle.
Down the hill they headed, Sleepy Hollow still at the head of the field, Peddlers Cross on his inner, with close-up Reve De Sivola, Finian’s Rainbow and Ghizao. Mere strides from the second last, Sleepy Hollow did an ‘Ebidiyan 2009’ and ducked out through the plastic inside rail just before the wing of the flight. He fell, depositing Dougie Costello on the turf. Fortunately both were okay, the horse cantering away from the scene. At this stage Choc was following a few strides behind him and Manyriverstocross jinked slightly as the errant horse ran out, but continued in the race.
Sleepy Hollow’s departure left Reve De Sivola in the lead, Rite of Passage 2nd, then Peddlers Cross and Finian’s Rainbow. As they approached the last, Peddlers Cross was sent on, and won by 1½ lengths from Reve De Sivola, although the former did drift right on the run-in. However, he was far enough clear to avoid interference.
Choc tried to close upon the leaders as they galloped up the home straight but to no avail as the horse stayed on at one pace. However, he had done well to complete the race in 7th, considering the 2nd flight incident.
Racing UK presenter, Angus McNae, was very observant, as he had noticed that Peddlers Cross had lost his near fore shoe during the race!
Thornton, the rider of Manyriverstocross, reported that the gelding was badly
hampered by a faller.
Choc didn’t have
a ride in the next race, the RSA Chase for Novices. However, trainer Nicky Henderson was ‘mob-handed’ in this one, with
Punchestowns, Long Run and Burton Port.
The race was led off by Citizen Vic, Little Josh, Knockara Beau and Diamond Harry, the latter making an early mistake. Long Run was held up in last place. Chasing Cars soon dropped to the back of the field. Knockara Beau made an error at the open-ditch, Long Run at the next.
Travelling downhill for the first time it was Citizen Vic, Little Josh and Diamond Harry. Weapon’s Amnesty was awkward at the ‘notorious’ fence at the bottom of the hill. Long Run was now in midfield. Timmy Murphy had started to niggle at Diamond Harry by the time they set off down the back straight for the final time, the horse dropping his hind-legs in the water.
Both Punchestowns and Burton Port made an error at the fence after the water-jump. At the third last the order was Long Run, Weapon’s Amnesty and Citizen Vic. Unfortunately disaster struck for the latter horse, who died instantly when falling at the ‘notorious’ second last.
Around the final bend Long Run and Weapon’s Amnesty disputed the lead, the latter asserting to win. Burton Port made late progress, relegating Long Run to 3rd. Punchestowns finished in 5th.
The Veterinary Officer reported that during
routine testing after the race he found that Punchestowns (FR) was lame in
his left hind (near hind).
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight, with just over one circuit to complete. Having cantered out onto the course, Choc headed up towards the winning post before turning and cantering down to the start, via the all-weather track. Once Twist Magic had arrived at the start, Choc kept him on the move waiting for the other runners to join him.
The Stewards noted that Twist Magic failed to parade for this race, having bolted on the horse walk, but they were satisfied that the connections had made every effort to do so.
The remaining runners arrived on course, sorted themselves into number order, before parading in front of the stands and setting off for the start.
As soon as the horses began to trot around before the start, Twist Magic became a little reluctant. However, with encouragement from Dan Skelton (Paul Nicholls’ Assistant Trainer) who led him in, the horse then cantered to the head of the field and they all set off.
Heading towards the first, three horses led the field – Forpadydeplasterer on the inside, Twist Magic on the outside and Golden Silver between the two. Big Zeb was in 4th position, followed by Master Minded, Kalahari King, Oh Crick, with Well Chief and Mahogany Blaze bringing up the rear.
As the field headed away from the stands Twist Magic had dropped back to third. Mahogany Blaze capsized at the 5th fence, leaving Oh Crick at the back of the field. As the runners headed towards the far corner of the track, Ruby Walsh began to niggle at Master Minded.
Twist Magic made a bad error at the final open-ditch when in 4th, Choc being thrown up his neck. Forpadydeplasterer still led, followed by Golden Silver, Big Zeb and Master Minded. Having now dropped to the rear of the field, Choc pulled up his mount as they raced downhill.
Forpadydeplasterer led over the third last, Big Zeb looking very dangerous on his outside, the latter cruising as they turned the final bend. Master Minded, although close up in third, received reminders from his jockey, Ruby Walsh. Approaching the final obstacle, Barry Geraghty sent his mount into the lead and went on to win by 6 lengths from Forpadydeplasterer. Master Minded, having cleared the last fence in third place, was overtaken on the run-in by Kalahari King.
Robert Thornton, the rider of Twist Magic, which pulled up, was never happy with the way the gelding was going throughout the race.
Alan King had three runners in the next race – Silk Hall ridden by Christian Williams, Lake Legend ridden by Wayne Hutchinson and Sir Harry Ormesher ridden by Choc.
The start of this race was in the centre course chute. Choc was one of the last to leave the Parade Ring aboard the ‘hot-pot’ Sir Harry Ormesher. Choc rode his mount to the start with his feet out of the stirrups.
Then they were off. The field was led away by Eleazar and Micheal Flips; prominent were Quantitativeeasing and Good Old Thyme. At the back was Ring The Boss. Hampshire Express damaged the second flight.
Lake Legend was in mid-field, Silk Hall visible on the outside near the rear of the field, Sir Harry Ormesher also near the rear one off the rails. Hampshire Express, having hit the second, was now in rear and would unseat his rider at the fourth flight.
Heading away from the stands, Micheal Flips now led, followed by Eleazar, Good Old Thyme, Quantitativeeasing, Gold Award, Spirit River and Tullamore Dew. Sir Harry Ormesher was still near the rear of the field. James De Vassy began to make progress.
Good Old Thyme blundered 4 out and lost ground. Micheal Flips, Quantitativeeasing, Spirit River, and Racing Demon were at the head of the field as they reached the top of the hill. At this stage, Choc still only had around half a dozen horses behind him. Wishfull Thinking fell at the 2nd last flight when in 4th position, hampering Racing Demon and Silverhand.
Spirit River led around the final bend, to his inside was the long time leader Micheal Flips, stands side James De Vassy put in this challenge, with Tullamore Dew close behind them. Spirit River led over the last, James De Vassy losing his hind-legs slightly on landing over the flight.
This enabled Tullamore Dew to chase Spirit River home, James De Vassy finished 3rd, ahead of the fading Micheal Flips in 4th. Sir Harry Ormesher, never nearer, completed in 7th. Silk Hall and Lake Legend came home in their own time, in 25th and 26th (last) respectively, two horses having failed to complete.
It was pointed out by Racing UK that Nicky Henderson had no winners at the 2007 and 2008 Cheltenham Festivals, but has now returned with a ‘bang’ in 2009 and 2010.
Choc’s ride in the next race was Causeway King for Alan King.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight. The Charlie Mann trained Fin Vin De Leu was examined at the start and his near hind shoe removed. The horse was to be ridden by Davy Russell replacing Timmy Murphy.
Then they were off. A cavalry charge to the first flight, Riptide leading on the outer, Loch Long to his inner, and inside him was Hunterview, and against the rail Fin Vin De Leu. In rear were Notus De La Tour, Theologist, Cross Appeal and Shanrod, the latter not fluent at the 2nd flight. Prince Pippin began to struggle, soon dropping out and tailing off, he was pulled up before the 6th.
Heading away from the stands, Hunterview and Riptide disputed the lead, followed by Kudu Country, Loch Long, Fin Vin De Leu, and Stars Du Granits. Hunterview and Riptide still held the advantage as the field headed down the back straight. Causeway King’s white face could be seen towards the outside in midfield.
Downhill Hunterview led from Kudu Country, Sona Mix, Baccalaureate and Riptide. Sanctuaire was moving closer to the leaders and was in 5th place as they arrived at the second last obstacle.
Around the final bend Kudu Country had assumed the lead from Notus De La Tour, Ruby Walsh aboard Sanctuaire challenging between the two as they approached the last, over which his mount led. Sanctuaire galloped on to win by 9 lengths from Notus De La Tour and the ‘staying- on’ Orsippus.
Ruby thus became the winning most jockey in the history of the Cheltenham Festival with 26 winners.
Choc aboard Causeway King completed in 18th place, easing down.
It was now time for the final race of the day, in which Choc would be riding the fancied 8-1 shot, the JJ Lambe trained Drumbaloo.
The start of this race was at the far end of the home straight.
The field was led away by Ruby Walsh aboard the grey Al Ferof, close behind were On His Own, Hidden Universe, Elegant Concorde, and Carpincho. On the outside of the field Shot From The Hip was pulling very hard and soon came to dispute the lead with Al Ferof.
Choc was nearer last than first aboard Drumbaloo. Heading away from the stands De Forgotten Man was in around 6th position. The keen running Day Of A Lifetime appeared to have steering problems on this left-handed track. Drumbaloo made ground on the wide outside as the field set off towards the farthest point of the track. Day Of A Lifetime had further problems negotiating the far turn, interfering first with Drumbaloo and then more latterly and seriously with Basford Bob.
Down the hill Al Ferof still led, AP McCoy aboard Made In Time his nearest pursuer, with Cue Card stalking the pair of them. Ruby’s mount still held the advantage around the final bend, with Cue Card coasting along in his wake. Joe Tizzard sent his mount on as they straightened up and, despite running a little ‘green’, went on to win by 8 lengths. A 40-1 winner. Al Ferof finished a further 8 lengths ahead of the remainder of the field.
Drumbaloo, having lost his place 4 furlongs out, came home in his own time 23rd of the 24 runners. The wayward Day Of A Lifetime crossed the line in last place having also been eased.
Oh dear, another very disappointing day for Choc.
Having returned to the Parade Ring and waited for Choc to return to the Weighing Room, it was now time to leave. I set off up the concourse to exit via the main gates. Having reached my car, once again I took time out for a quick snack, before setting off at 18:05 for home. As yesterday, my route out of Cheltenham took me via the one-way system around the Town Centre, before I reached the A40 London Road and headed eastwards towards the Cotswold Hills.
Having left Cheltenham behind me, the journey went smoothly. I retraced my route via Oxford, Bicester and Aylesbury, returning along the A41 bypass to join the M25 so as to fill up with petrol at the local retail park before returning home.
I arrived home at 20:45, ate a quick snack, uploaded my photos from Day 2, updated my blog, and charged my camera battery before retiring at 23:15 with the prospect of another long, but hopefully enjoyable, day before me.