The highlight of the Berks & Bucks Draghounds meeting at Kingston Blount last Sunday was undoubtedly a four timer for the new South Midlands Area Men's Champion, Rory Lawther, and a staggering five wins from five for trainer John White.
The first winner for the White\Lawther combination came in the opening Hunt members race, courtesy of the well backed favourite Lucky Joe, with Summer Haven (Laurence Lay) and Flickering Flame (M.Tillett) back in second and third. The winner was a 33/1 maiden winner at Mollington for Patrick Millington last season and this was only his second appearance this season for the new connections. However, the form looks moderate and he'll have his work cut out to take a Restricted.
Castle Arrow gave Julian Pritchard a winner on his only ride of the day in the Confined, making it two wins from two for the White yard. The winner was returning to form with a bang and jumped fluently throughout, winning with a bit to spare from the runner up, Peafield (PhillipYork) with the schoolmaster Bally Clover (Miss L. Walter) well back in third. The winner's task was made easier by the departure of the odds on favourite Grecian Star, who buried Jimmy Tarry early on the second circuit.
The White bandwagon kept rolling onto the Men's Open where Castle Folly (Rory Lawther)
made it three from three for the Berkshire yard, coming home in front of Arleneseoin
(Phillip York) and the favourite Fawsley Manor (Jimmy Tarry). The winner, a pricey
purchase from Ireland, appears to have adapted well to his new surroundings
and should be even better next season.
Disappointment of the race was the course specialist, veteran Fair Crossing (Michael Emmanuel) who was never in it and finished a tailed off last of five. This doesn't appear to be his true running and should be ignored.
White gave someone else a chance, having not entered a runner in the Berks & Bucks Draghounds Hounds race! This was won by the black 7yo dog Basil, who also won this race in 1999, coming late to snatch the race at the finish with Granite, Bowman and Bumble filling the minor places. Punters who managed to get 3/1 on the winner were smiling afterwards! This was a nice piece of light entertainment for the afternoon maybe other hunts should take note?
The Ladies Open was something of a family affair with East Anglian raider Prince Of Saints scoring for the Joe Turner yard with grand daughter Zoe Turner aboard and Jimmy Tarry's 15yo Lucky Christopher, partnered by his niece Rosie Goodwin, a fast finishing second. The other Turner runner, Cill Churnain was back in third. The winner hasn't looked the most genuine of characters this season and isn't one to rely on. The runner up is a lovely old horse and is the ideal schoolmaster for his inexperienced rider.
After the Ladies Open, it was back to the White\Lawther monopoly, this time courtesy of
Dark Challenger in the Restricted. This was a different story altogether, as it took all
of Lawther's strength and ability to get the blinkered 8yo to the front and although he
idled on the run in, he still had too much up his sleeve for Romany Chat (Andy Martin) and
Smart Orange (Mark Rimell). The winner seems a quirky sort and may struggle now that he is
forced to step up in class, but at least he has the right trainer and rider credentials.
Of the others, make a note of third placed Smart Orange for next season, who seems to be
going the right way.
Lady Emerald (Jimmy Tarry) was well beaten and is becoming disappointing.
A wonderful day for the White\Lawther partnership was capped off when well backed Have
A Break took the final race, the Maiden. The 5yo son of Most Welcome had previous shown
some decent form and got his head in front after a battle with Tonrin, with the consistent
Muckle Jack well back in third and Pulkerry fourth.
The winner showed great resolution here and should be able to take a Restricted in 2001. Tonrin also showed enough here to suggest that he could score next season.
True Hustler (Fred Hutsby) was still in contention when capsizing two out and may have been a shade unlucky. Compensation awaits.
Congratulations must go to Rory Lawther, who took the Area Men's Champion Title in style and to John White for his own personal "Magnificent Five"!
For me it was time to drive to nearby Watlington, put the tent up, have a few beers and a very nice Indian meal and then off to Chaddesley Corbett the morning after!