SATURDAY 13 APRIL 2002
by Fred Sampson
(of Equestrian Cornwall - http://www.equestriancornwall.co.uk)
After leaving Exeter and The Countryside Alliance
demonstration yesterday (Friday) we set off at a very casual pace towards
Badbury Rings. Incidentally I
thought the rally of supporters for the CA and its ideals, was well
attended but I do think we need to be a little more demonstrative and if
we hold vehicles up on the main highway – so be it!
If we are a general nuisance then surely that is what we are there
for. I don’t want to upset
any organisation but I am sure we would have achieved more if we sat in
the road (A3052) whilst the letter was delivered to the DEFRA offices.
We were not seen by many down the lane to the offices except the
lady with an eye to business who supported the RNLI and provided drinks
for the thirsty ones.
Ruth has an interest in Rings and things like Stonehenge,
Castle an Dinas, Amesbury etc. so by arriving at Badbury Rings a day
before the Portman Hunt P to P we were able to walk around (I just toddled
on behind!) the area in excellent weather before going off to find B &
B. The farms that we tried
were all full but a lovely little place in Colehill suited us and a good
meal in The Lodges completed our day.
They have three entrance fees for cars at the Rings, £10, £15
and £20 which provide different views of the course and all were well
occupied before the off of Race One at 2 pm.
I had watched a little of the friendly terrier racing which is
always a great crowd puller and there was the ‘silent auction’, whisky
draw, and several shops to pass the time for those, like us, who arrive
I joined another gentleman for my walk of the course. Ruth is
suffering a little with a bad knee so I don’t count on her as company
these days. Jade
(grand-daughter) is back at school so she is out of it, so I appreciated
the company of The Viscount Head who was Chairman of the Stewards this
day. We did a really good job
on this inspection and it was obvious that a great deal of planning had
gone into the variable pieces of the course and new ground had been found
wherever possible. Unfortunately
it was not possible enough and the outcome was that going would be 'firm’
and ‘firm to rough in places’.
By the time we were half way round the course which is set in
an area of about 100 acres we caught up with some owners who had runners
and had years of experience of this course.
I don’t think ‘mud’ has ever been seen here and it is a
really good early season course. We
discussed the racing line, the open ditch and the varying height of the
fences, and the method used by some of the female fraternity to accurately
measure the height, which is no doubt very very accurate but could be a
little painful if one tripped. Thank
you Mrs ‘A’ I am so much wiser now!
Four runners for The Hall & Woodhouse Ltd Confined Hunts
Race with Mrs Woodhouse’s BEST BITTER now to be ridden by Nick Mitchell
carried my investment and completed the first circuit viewing the race
from the rear. Miss Reed’s
SUSIE’S MELODY (Guy Wetherly) from the Kate Buckett yard and Martin
Atkinson on the family owned AVRIL SHOWERS vied for first place with
Charlotte Tizzard on Mr Tizzard’s RADIO DAYS not taking much interest
and will be pulled up as suspect blood vessel ‘leaking’ or just too
firm a surface today! On the
uphill run to fence 14 it was SUSIE’S MELODY leading AVRIL SHOWERS and
BEST BITTER by about one length. When
it was reported that SUSIES MELODY made a small mistake I managed as
little ‘oh! Dear’ (followed very closely by an undercover smile) as it
was my investment that was now going the better of the remaining three
participants. It happened –
a disastrous blunder by BEST BITTER saw Nick Mitchell do everything but
get off and the other two raced on towards the finish.
All credit to the jockey but when I mentioned it to the recipient
of my investment he declared that no money was paid out on ‘hard luck’
stories so as SUSIE’S MELODY passed the post one and half lengths in
front of AVRIL SHOWERS with my money carrier a 20 lengths third, I went
back to the drawing board!
The C & O Tractors Ltd Portman Hunt Race followed and
surely I could make a little this time!
Four to the post and again I will choose Nick Mitchell to pay for
my overnight stay. He
obviously does not like falling off onto this surface so I will use that
to my advantage! The price I
managed to obtain told me that some local knowledge must be available
about Ali Tory’s WILLIEMAKEIT to be ridden by a young lady who is making
her debut – one Lucy Fishenden, but I prefer to stick with Mrs
Abbott’s IN FOR A POP; after all, Mrs Abbott and I are old friends now
having met at the fourteenth fence earlier.
The other two runners, M Tory’s giant size TWELVE BORE (Charles
Barlow) and Jayne Wilkinson riding her THOMA CROWN are available at a big
price so I think I have everything in my favour.
On the way to fence six young Lucy was enjoying herself and Nick
Mitchell was not giving me a lot of pleasure as he was tailing the field
by about six lengths. On
reaching the fence where he nearly came off during the last race another
mistake was made and I am now rather serious with a capital ‘S’ about
my investment. At the half
way stage it was ‘Indian file’ with Lucy doing her bit up front and
Nick Mitchell not doing my bit at the tale end. On approaching fence 15 I
began to feel a little better and IN FOR A POP was now in second place and
looking decidedly interested. TWELVE
BORE was pulled up here. At
the fourth from home Jane Wilkinson came over the fence and then took some
time out to decide whether to come off or stay on – she eventually chose
the former leaving my investment to trot home in front of the
inexperienced Lucy on WILLIE MAKEIT. On the run to the second last fence these two were matching
strides but I was not so fussed, as I knew my jockey would soon be going
for home and had the advantage of ‘the inside’.
Lucy did not see it like that and when my man started to race for
home so did Lucy and her horse gave her a lovely jump at the last and that
determined look on an attractive face took some of the pain away from me
as she went for the line and won by four lengths from IN FOR A POP. A winner on her very first P-to-P ride. This girl is class!
What was previously a cheap B & B is now ‘The Ritz’
price and as the next race is a ‘walk – over’ with only P Awdry’s
INDIAN MUSE (M Shears) being declared, but I did think it a bit cheeky
when someone reminded the jockey “don’t forget to weigh-in”.
Only three runners in The Westover Land Rover Mixed Open Race
and I will not be giving Nick Mitchell any more chances.
He is riding Susie Woodhouse’s best turned out BADGER BEER but
Mrs Richardson’s LORD MAX to be ridden by James Richardson is the one
for me; there is not a lot of form but I feel quietly confident.
I don’t think the Doggrell’s CAUNDLE STEPS is going to be a
threat today as his age is now at the level where fast walking is a
challenge leave alone a hike around this course at speed.
My horse set the pace and was soon four or five lengths to the good
at the first open ditch. At the tenth BADGER BEER decided to join my horse with
CAUNDLE STEPS finding the pace a little too hot.
LORD MAX was out jumping BADGER BEER and gained ground at the
fences. Would you believe it!
– at the fourth last LORD MAX decided to quit and fell!
I’m sure he was going to make it but one of the rules is that you
must jump ALL the fences en route to the finishing line. CAUNDLE STEPS has now inherited second place as BADGER BEER
goes on to win by a distance.
I am worried now! – not one winner but I am about to change
tactics. The Restricted Race
is void as no runners are declared so the organising body – I think
it’s the Jockey Club, no! Not quite right, but nevertheless ‘The
Committee’ have arranged ‘alternative’ racing.
We will now be racing terriers in the parade ring with the
bookmakers running a book. Surely
I can win something here. Not
so – the terriers caught the ‘hare’ before a third of the course was
completed. When I rearranged
my investment on the rerun – the little white thing with a short tale
and a pink eye - came in last! If this lot doesn’t appear in “What happened next!”
then I shall be very surprised.
The final race was The Clarke and Partners 8 years & over
Maiden Race with 7 going to post. This
should tax the under worked commentator! (He is in fact - excellent!)
I have tried all other ‘form’ measures so now I am going to
rely on BTO – ‘best turned out’ to fill my rather
depleted wallet. Miss T Lahy
& Nice Approach Partnership’s NICE APPROACH to be ridden by Mr J
Snowden will carry my investment. This
is good stuff, on reaching fence eight my horse is going well, jumping
well and in front of all the others.
LAST GAMBLE is challenging occasionally but on their way out into
the country for the final time it was NICE APPROACH going well about a
length ahead of his nearest rival. Tabitha Cave pulled up Mrs Bailey’s
SNOWBOY rather rapidly and I could not find out why but my mind really is
concentrating on the event at the bottom of the course.
Back at the open ditch for the final time it was Ms M Burrough’s
SPANISH JEST (J O’Rouke) who challenged the leader with LAST GAMBLE now
having been pulled up. At the
fourth last fence it was my investment leading by three lengths from
SPANISH JEST and a couple of lengths back, the Froud’s BRUE HOUND BOY.
There was a little bit of worry at the second last but my jockey sat tight
and went on to win in the fastest time of the day (not including terrier
races!) by five lengths from SPANISH JEST and BRUE HOUND BOY was twenty
lengths further back. Why am
I singing and whistling again – it’s all in the mind and the wallet!
Before closing I would like to thank The Portman for parading their hounds. It is something I and a lot of others like to see; it is the close relation between hunts, hounds and point to points that we are fighting to maintain. So to see a good twelve and half couple paraded for the public is much appreciated and the gallop away was made even more rewarding when Mrs Susie Woodhouse spotted the huntsman taking them to the lorry in the distance. Up went a ‘holloa’ like I have never heard before! Up went another ‘holloa’ and another and another and yes you guessed it, back they came again to give us another show. In the words of Captain M H Hayes ‘Riding and Hunting’ “No fox should be holloaed away by a hunt servant or amateur until he is through the second fence from the covert” In this big country Susie would have had no trouble in being heard several fences away. Truly wonderful and Susie, the hairs on the backs of my arms have not gone to rest yet! Well done The Portman.
See you again soon. Fred & Ruth