Over the stable door: Unlucky break means big day for substitute

AT the Pendle hunt breakfast recently, the huntsman, Richard, took a tumble and broke a bone in his foot. He continued to hunt for the duration and only realised it was something serious when Ed the kennel man was unable to pull his boot off in the tack room later.

"Pull harder lad, come on get your back into it," he urged through gritted teeth, as Ed heaved away at his feet.

"Aaaahhhh… keep pulling, aarrgghh" shrieked Richard, "just get it off or they'll cut it off." The thought of scissors slicing through his handmade hunting boots would bring more agony to Richard than any broken bone could. Some time later the foot emerged and soon blew up to double its size. "Too swollen for a permanent pot at present", the doctor reported, "so rest and more rest until we can get one on."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A sub has been enlisted until our huntsman is recovered. One of the Masters, Tom Bannister, was huntsman to the Stowe Beagles when just a schoolboy, so he is an eager and capable replacement. Unfortunately for Tom, his first public appointment was the Opening meet last Saturday at Broughton Hall near Skipton. With attendance upwards of 60 mounted followers, all eyes were on the new huntsman.

Tom was nervous. He uncharacteristically refused a drink at the meet as his third half-smoked cigarette butt hit the gravel next to his horse's feet. Always the joker of the field, he actually takes his hunting very seriously. There would be no banter today, I thought to myself as I looked at his sweating brow.

He had exercised the hounds every morning in the run-up to the meet and knew every one by name. He was determined to put on a good show. Thankfully the day began well and he soon settled into the job. The hounds responded to him and the field had plenty of action. Injured Richard sat watching from afar on his quad bike, leaning back with bad foot resting over the handlebars slightly reminiscent of a model posing for a trucker's calendar – complete with waterproofs and flat cap.

Social events seem to be 10 a penny at the moment. The Amateur Jockeys award ball on November 6 is at York Racecourse, organised by Pip Tutty (0781 579 8222) and Jacqui Coward who will make it a shindig to remember for anyone wanting to attend.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Winners include Simon Walker, originally from Beverley and brother to eventer Richard Walker, who takes two Flat Championships and Oliver Greenall will receive the Gentleman's National Hunt Award with 31 winners.

One worthy winner at the recent Yorkshire Point to Point awards was a jockey who broke her back three years previously. Charlotte Cundall, 25, from Driffield, made an emotional return to ride her first winner last February. She has written a stirring piece about the darker moments of her long ordeal which earned her runner-up position in her age group at the Horseracing Writers Awards.

Charlotte kept it quiet until a friend uncovered her secret.

Her heart-rending story can be found on www.wills writingawards.co.uk/charlottecundall.asp and is well worth a read.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Talking of successful comebacks, fantastic news for Josey and Godfrey Elsworth who watched their son Dominic end his 14 month absence and return to the saddle with a winning ride at Cheltenham last week aboard Edgbriar.

He gave the horse a masterful ride, which at 14-1 was hardly fancied.

Slightly mirroring his own battle, he refused to give in, pushing it hard up the hill and kept on well to beat the rest. He always was a stubborn devil.

Jo Foster trains horses at Brookleigh Farm, Menston.

CW 23/10/10

Related topics: