The Golden Valley Border Raider’s Story so far…
I have been Team Chasing for just the last season and a half – going to my first competition at the Worcester last October (Oct. 2003) when I eventually managed to find a few like-minded folk wanting to have a go from around our country… As you probably know among ‘normal’ folk it is pretty difficult to permeate 4 very good / fearless riders with 4 bold big jumping horses and all of them to be fit at the right time as well as be willing to do the courses you get team chasing as well as drive all over the country!
I eventually caught up with a mate by the name of Percy Haynes from the Hay-on-Wye area at the Golden Valley Hunt Supporters Club Show
September 2003. He put me in touch with Colin Thompson whose enthusiasm knows no bounds and organises our entries… when it happens! The other members of our team are Tom Haynes (when not touring Australia like he did this autumn…), Lorna Brookes (nicked off (or kicked out of?) the Teme Valley Tigers) and Hugh Evans-Bevan.
Generally Percy (who couldn’t compete autumn of 2003 due to slipping and dislocating his knee at Freshers week at Bristol Uni!) rides his well-known 19 year old Biggles, while Hugh rides Skyver and Tom rides his mare…? I was hoping to ride my Welsh Cob cross TB Magic but he went lame for the year just at the worst possible moment… However he is fine now and will be back for next spring’s big courses. So I have been having to survive with big-hearted pure little Welsh Cob Sinbad for the past 14 months.
During the Autumn 2003 and Spring Seasons we only did Intermediate classes and often only started with 3 riders. Ultimately tempting fate as we did would lead to our ruin… The record speaks for itself…
Autumn Season 2003
Worcester (Int. Oct ’03) – 3 started – Colin didn’t jump the drop – 2 finished – disqualified… Bicester (Int. Oct ’03) – 3 started – Colin fell off – 2 finished – disqualified Cotswold (Nov. Speed Oct ’03) – 4 started – 4 finished but not quick enough.
Spring Season 2004
So when the spring season came up 4 of us went to do the Intermediate at Taunton Vale TC at Pontispool at the end of February where Colin fell off…
However we still came 7th or so having to deal with his loose horse for most of the course – he fell at fence 3!
Next up was the Old Berks where we had 2 teams and were 1 minute too slow in the speed class and 1 minute too fast in the bogey time!
Then came the VWH Intermediate where we came in 2nd which was our best result to date.
We then went to the Hunt Championships at the Fernie with 2 teams – the faster team losing 2 members (Tom at the water and you guessed… Colin again). The second team led by myself on my little Welsh Cob Sinbad came in with all 4 members intact but too slow to trouble the rosette makers!)
Colin Thomson decided to sponsor our team The Gold Valley Border Raiders through his hotel in Hay-On-Wye, the Kilverts Hotel… So on to a new level…
On our first ever Open outing – having decided to throw caution to the wind – we went to the Meynell & South Staffs TC on September the 12th. The reasons for this were many and all good!
Firstly I personally had failed to get selected to represent Britain at the World Championships being held in Germany. This is in the up-and-coming sport of TREC which I have been competing in for the last 7 years and having competed for Britain on 4 previous occasions. I wanted to show them that I was having a better tie than they were… And we did – the GB TREC team did crap and we did really well!
Secondly in order to get on Sky TV at the National Championships we will have to be in the Open Class at the Fernie next March and qualify in a Goring Hotel Qualifier Open. Thirdly to get a mug shot in the Horse & Hound you really do need to be jumping Open as there are normally 2 facing sides of the magazine with photos given over on the Open TC and about a paragraph referring to the Intermediate Class!
Meynell & South Staffs
Anyway with the help of our new recruit Lorna Brookes (the only person to have previously jumped this course at all at Open level) as well as Hugh and Percy as ever leading the way we managed to secure a 2nd position behind the Wasps. We managed this even though I fell but held onto and remounted Sinbad at about fence 7 whilst Percy also fell, held and remounted Biggles at fence 14. This, to our amazement meant that we had qualified for the Championships next March on our first attempt! Biggles was Team Hero…
We then went to the Grafton on the 19th where Sinbad just wasn’t fit enough and I’d ridden a novice round making me knackered and hence I had to pull up at the massive hedges at the top of the course… (the bit that Percy and I hadn’t even seen when we walked the course!). This made me wonder whether Simby was actually up to the strains of 2 mile 309 fence courses. The team however came in 3rd which was good.
At the Belvoir we were all psyched up at the racecourse but there were 2 hold ups before our start and then when we did go the weather was deteriorating all the time. Biggles had 2 uncharacteristic glance-off’s and drew most of the team out with him whilst Sinbad strided the ‘V’ perfectly at 26 before just being pipped on the run in by 2 members of the team. We came 5th in that competition…
The following Thursday I had finally fulfilled my lifetime ambition of getting a shot of me and Sinbad jumping huge fences in the Horse & Hound!
At the Bicester I was forcibly smuggled out to Germany leaving the team starting 1 short. Suffice to say that Hugh jumped the wrong Intermediate fence and while correcting his error fell and broke his wrist… This was all conveyed to me on the German Autobahn at about 100mph per SMS…
Finally we did a Hunt Competition at the Berkeley and came second before Colin’s enthusiasm and the weather ran out at the end of October bringing us up-to-date… That’s why you haven’t seen the Golden Valley Border Raiders out at the latter part of the season…
Well there you have our Team Chasing Experience so far… Watch out the Forge Fliers next year… Once I get Fat Magic back on form and into a real flying machine again!
Oh and the photos are brilliant! I’ll show you when I next have a moment…