By Jeff Osborne
They say a week’s a long time in politics – six days is a whole season in scurry racing. Competing at the Portsmouth Heavy Horse Show on the front at Southsea on Bank Holiday Monday was like the middle of winter, braving pouring rain and freezing wind. Six days later it was midsummer in the beautiful Thames-side village of Cookham near Maidenhead, Berkshire, where the Osborne Scurry Group had been invited to perform at a country show organised by the John Lewis Partnership. Never knowingly undersold, it is fair to say it one of the most idyllic venues ever for scurry racing.
At Portsmouth, where the green in front of Southsea Castle becomes an arena, Jeff Osborne proved that his new ultra-modern scurry vehicle has what it takes to win in the heat of outdoor competition. I say heat, the competition that was hot during the freezing weather, where Michelin-man drivers were wearing extra layers of clothing under their wet weather gear. Welcome to new recruit Lorna Hullah with her pair of ponies Bobby & Dazzler. Charlotte Adams-Lane has a new pair of Welsh A roans, Chaz & Dave to compete in the smalls class. And Nigel Olliffe has renamed his large pair, Fruit & Nut, which will go down a storm with crowds this summer and commentators will make the most of it!
Jemma Millman got off to a flying start with Pooh Bear and Piglet’s first outing of the year in a time of 57.98 but nudged a cone at the last obstacle to record a total time of 61.91seconds. Running third from last, Jeff powered Gavin & Stacey round the course in his new carriage, which runs on four solid metal wheels, instead of the more common two rubbers at the front and metal at the back. The small wheels dug in to the sodden surface and with no slipping and sliding, Jeff’s grey pair raced to the fastest clear round in 60.70sec, with Alison Tucker’s new pair of small ponies Buzz & Woody coming third in a clear of 62.37. Round Two went to Jeff in 60.56 with Alison Tucker less than four tenths of a second behind and Liz Ollife with her pair of roan ponies, Rock & Roll in third. But Alison Millman grabbed the championship Branston & Pickle with a clear round of 54.53 seconds.
Less than a week later in blazing sunshine the group were kindly invited by John Lewis to stage a demonstration at their country fair in the grounds of their stunning hotel and country club at Olney near Cookham. For the crowd, made up of mainly of John Lewis employees and their families, it was a fantastic chance to see scurry racing at its best and for us the chance to make final preparations before the season proper gets under way.
It is with great sadness we report the death of Digger – Charlotte Adams-Lane’s much loved chestnut mare was one half of Rhubarb and Custard for 15 years. Digger – so called because of her ability to tunnel to Australia in temporary stables at shows – had been with Charlotte ever since she was just a few months old.