“That’s the best scurry driving I have ever seen! The crowd loved it…real entertainment from start to finish!”
When a verdict like that comes from John Dick – one of the originals of double harness scurry in Great Britain – you know you really have put on an amazing afternoon of racing.
And the Osborne Scurry Group championship at Suffolk County Show provided vintage thrills for the crowd packed ten-deep around the main arena.
Second-to-run Su Ridley, with Prancer & Dancer, set a cracking time of just over 58 seconds for the rest of the field to chase down, forcing the five who followed to make errors.
Eventually, it was novice driver Janette Baker-Watts who smashed the 58-second barrier with 57.67, before Charlotte Adams-Lane knocked a further second off with her large pair, Rip & Tear.
By now the crowd were cheering and screaming as Sarah Cooke in her first competition of the season since winning Scurry Driver of the Year at HOYS last October, notched up a searing clear round with Bow & Arrow in just 55.85secs.
Spectators wondered if the clock had gone wrong as Jeff Osborne’s pair of Zig & Zag powered through the finish in a mind-blowing 53.91seconds! But Jeff’s elation evaporated after realising he had nudged the cone at obstacle number one but with four seconds added he still came fifth.
Would last-to-go Jemma Millman beat Sarah Cooke? Clear at the chicane, she headed Piglet & Eeyore, for home…as the large grey ponies thundered towards the finish all eyes were on the clock as it stopped at 54.91seconds – a last gasp win.
The arena erupted in a crescendo of cheering and John Dick, at the show with wife, Christine, who is recovering from a hop replacement, marvelled at how the sport is still thrilling crowds after more than 30 years.
The 2011 HOYS qualifiers began earlier in the week at Surrey County, where Chris Orchard won the smalls class with Touch & Go and was first to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show. Charlotte Adams-Lane bagged her qualification with Rip & Tear in a thrilling larges class, run as rain began to fall.
And the heavens had opened by the time the championship was run but Charlotte Adams-Lane with Rip & Tear managed to take a closely fought first place from Alison Millman with Branston and Pickle.
At the end of the first week of racing, the OSG made its debut at the Royal Bath and West Show.
Su Ridley’s Prancer & Dancer took the smalls class – despite knocking down a cone and Rip & Tear won the large class and the championship.