THE ITALIAN JOB
Glos XC League 2016/17 - Race 4, Pittville Park, Cheltenham
The going was good to soft at Cheltenham last Saturday as some of the club's thoroughbreds came together for one last race in the final Glos XC League meeting at Pittville Park. The afternoon's racing promised many thrills, spills and cough pills as Tewkesbury RC's contingent limbered up to take on the undulating grass circuits and of course the famous water jump!
It was under starter's orders then and first up for Tewkesbury came a trio of fine fillies with Jane Sauer, Carol Cowley and Cathy Dudfield ready at the post to tackle the course ahead of them. Clearly not in the mood for horsing around Jane started as odds-on favourite with many punters as she took to the race with a gallop.
Looking every inch the stayer Jane kept pace with the leading pack as she cantered around the course with considerable ease. Even the tricky water crossing proved little more than a splash in the pan as the plucky redhead made short work of the 6km distance to finish inside the top 40 in 30:04.
A few furlongs back seasoned campaigner Carol Cowley was in determined mood to go the distance and keep her Winter Off-Road Series ambitions firmly on track. The prize thoroughbred runner looked in fine form to fend off the opposition and finish with a sprint in 32:26 and claim the rosette in the LV65 category.
After making her parkrun debut earlier in the day, our final entrant could've been forgiven for sitting this one out but as one half of the Dudfield stable Cathy wasn't about to pull up on this occasion. Ignoring the pain in her legs Cath focused her mind on sunnier climes and eventually trotted round in 36:45.
Onto to the stallions then and there was an early battle as both Ed Hardy and Jon Mansfield started neck and neck. Usually Jon is something of a banker when it comes to these races but lately Ed has been showing glimpses of form in the cross country stakes.
Charging around the course and leaping impressively through the water jump, the Tewkesbury pair seemed to gee each other on. Finally though it was the younger foal who came through as Ed pipped it by a nose to finish in 33rd place in 36:46 with Jon shortly behind in 37:50.
Also coming out of the starting gate in close proximity were Mark Gardiner and the second half of Team Dudfield, Stuart Dudfield. Showing a clean pair of hooves, Stuart was able to keep Mark at bay and dash round in 42:40. Although a new member to the club Mark is no novice however and the debutant finished shortly afterwards in 43:24 to cap a fine race.
Sounding distinctly "hoarse" before the race Steve Maber wasn't in the finest fettle but the pedigree breed still gave it a bash. Everything seemed to be okay for Steve until the veteran campaigner reached the water jump. Looking for a short while he might refuse it Steve eventually dived in and unfortunately took a tumble.
Not content with running the race Steve looked like he wanted to swim it as well as he took yet another tumble on his second attempt! Not his best day but he will be back again and stayed the distance to finish in 48:30.
From this point on the forecast for Tewkesbury wasn't good. Team captain Wes Reid appeared to be lame for the race suffering from a Winter bug and club chairman Nigel Tillott had yet to show up following an Italian sojourn.
Fearing he would be a non-runner and thus deprive TRC of a team placing, Wes took a swig of his cough mixture, saddled up and took his place amongst the field. It was always going to a long shot however as sadly he pulled up along the back straight after only one lap.
But there was hope for the Tewkesbury contingent however as chairman Nigel arrived late. Literally jumping straight off the plane, Nigel arrived from Italy and proceeded to gallop around the course like a Lipizzaner charging around the Roman Colosseum. Despite being a whole lap behind every other runner, Nigel stuck to his task and finished the race.
There was more drama to come however as a stewards enquiry found that he had not completed the requiste number of laps however and although Nigel tried to compensate for this by running another lap - he was later disqualified, or at least I think he was...
Many thanks to everyone who took part, including those who were worse for wear and those who came straight from Birmingham Airport!
See you next season!
Ladies (6 km)
38 Jane Sauer 30:04 63 Carol Cowley 32:26 (1st LV65) 106 Cath Dudfield 36:45
Men (9 km)
33 Ed Hardy 36:46 45 Jon Mansfield 37:50 102 Stu Dudfield 42:40 126 Mark Gardiner 43:24 164 Steve Maber 48:30 190 Wes Reid 63:00
NB: I'm not sure why I have a finishing time but I'm not going to argue! This might be Nigel's time actually...