FOSSE TILLERY FARM, WOOTTON BASSETT, WILTSHIRE
With the less than standard issue Summer we have had the last few months, #i was seriously doubtful this meeting would go ahead I was concerned the polo ground would be like bare concrete and totally unsafe to run on. Prayers to mother nature and various weather gods seem to have paid off and there were a few days of steady rain in the run up to the meeting. On arrival we were greeted by a a ground covered in short, dense, BRIGHT GREEN grass!
We had a big entry, sadly losing many in the days before the meeting due to the usual seasons, pregnancies, minor injuries etc, but we also lost the Alacritys due to Tracy being very poorly, and the Silverhares due to a ram named Tarzan leaving Fay immobile! Get well soon all people and dogs, and good luck to those expecting the pitter-patter of tiny paws. After all the withdrawals we were left 38 competing whippets making 7 stakes
On the day, had there been snow, we would have covered all four seasons weather-wise. On arrival it was chilly and breezy, and then it started to drizzle. Most people sensibly came prepared. I'm not sensible however, and I missed most of the first round runs through not being able to see out my glasses! Thankfully the day got dryer, brighter and sunnier as the day wore on.
This ground has often been tricky to utilise well when laying courses due to a board running straight down the middle. For the first time the course was set running around the board to try and take advantage of space on both sides. However that resulted in the run-out heading straight towards a hedge that lead to all but the greenest dogs corner-cutting from the outset. The morning rain also made the field rather slippery, which resulted in a few spectacular tumbles and skids, Vanna's boy Socks (Ringmore Dalrymple) somersaulted more times than I could count, and then added a few more for good measure. Laguna Lefren Lawen coupled a huge corner-cut with an extreme tumble and unfortunately found a unique way to get injured. The lure is connected to the line by a clip, allowing it to be detatched, this clip during her gymnastics somehow got caught on the back of Lefren's knee, causing a tear in the skin as she rolled. No one could have foreseen this accident, and it could probably never be recreated, however, once was enough and we will not allow a known risk to continue, so the clip has been removed and will not be used again. Lefren – we hope that you heal quickly!
That being said, there were some impressive runs in the first round that deserve a mention. Combeholt Celestine and Harerunner Holy Smoke had a very tight run – you know its close when you wait with baited breath to see which pocket the judge is going for! Mannerpool Pick A Pocket and Zoraden Paint It Black both youngsters making their debut were a very good match, both following true. Two of the best girls in the open stakes over the past few years, Winterfellin Vanilla Sky and Derohan Bronze Angel showed two of the hottest young competitors they aren't over the hill just yet, knocking out Twiggen New Leaf of Moonlake and Coppermow Evoque (recently 3rd & 4th respectively at the European Coursing Championships).
Before our second round we all indulged in Susie's fabulous bacon butties, and then had the pleasure of watching our special guest IG Holly run a spectacular trial with our smallest whippet who at only 17.75” looked huge for the first time ever! Our second round was a slightly tinkered reverse of the first round, which worked a lot better than it had the other way round. Most dogs followed better, other than Moonlake Miles To Go To Mannerpool, who set off in his own direction, gazing over his left shoulder while the lure sped off to the right, lets just say Teddy has his own ideas!
Before the finals it was time to move from savouries to sweets, before the swarming wasps covered the te stall completely. I must say, Elaine had bought the most exotic item on the table, a very colourful beetroot cake. Talking of colour, there was much disagreement as to the exact shade and tone of the raffle tickets this month – lilac/off white, pink/cerise/blush, I thought it would be simple to call the raffle, little did I know!
Onto the finals, Silverhare Foxy Sundance once again came out top of his stake. Winterfellin Gotta Dash, unbelievably, was in his first final of the season and won - good to have you back in the winners line up Ringo! In the bitch stakes, Combeholt Celestin withdrew from the final after finishing the second round lame, Ryemeadows Zara still ran and was as impressive as ever. In the Open stakes Z. Paint It Black took runner up to Twiggen Tit For Tat, the latter having the strength and maturity and bringing focus we havent seen from him in a long while. Congratulations on a brilliant debut though Jagger. In the second Open stake, D. Bronze Angel beat Combeholt Silvinka in what was a very strong stake. For the Veterans there was a win yet again for Loroli Lets Do It With Derohan and last year's Laguna Trophy winner Moonlake Mercedes took the other stake.
I can't believe there is just two weeks before we meet again, for our last qualifying meeting of the season. Don't forget, if you have a youngster you wish to compete in the puppy stakes on finals day, they will need to be cleared from slips and have an SWC passport. The next meeting will be your last chance to do this!