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19th & 20th September 2009

Report by Harry Ingram

Weeks of planning and training finally accumulated in the 2 day 120km race ride at Sherwood Forest for me and my horse Chi Lin Tashiq. This was our first two day ride so nerves were high going into the race. The race started on a clear crisp morning with 8 competitors in total. The first loop rode faster than I had expected at about 16kmph. I had to keep telling myself it was a two day ride and Tash would need something left in the tank for later. The first vetgate and we had to trot up three times for the vet! My heart was in my mouth as I trotted for the third time, this time with a panel of three vets judging whether Tash was sound and fit to continue. He passed to the relief of me and my crew (my dad Peter Ingram). I really fell off the pace on the second loop as the scare in the first vet gate had meant I was nervous of every tree root, every stone and every stumble! The course was mainly in the forest and was generally sandy tracks. The trouble was with the very dry weather we had been having the stones had worked their way to the surface so made for careful riding and slower speeds. The end of the second day and Tash was in his corral after completing 65km leaving me and dad to enjoy the last part of the sun with fellow Cheshire riders Pat Guerin and Gaynor Jones who had finished 40km on the Saturday and were planning on doing 32km on the Sunday.

The sun was setting and it was time for a walk out and claying up! Being a novice to multi day rides I had never come across cooling clay before. Letís just say it went everywhere but it seemed to work well as Tashís legs were tight and cool in the morning. Along with it making a mess it was really hard to get off in the morning and meant a good 10mins scrubbing away.

The field had narrowed after the first day with only 6 getting through out of the original 8. We were at the back of the field as our ride plan was to have a slow and steady ride and complete as we knew that others would get eliminated. The route on Sunday was much the same as Saturday but it rode better as the stones had been compacted down. Tash didnít feel too worse for wear after the first day and rode really well. By the last loop I was holding him back for most of the way. 2 other competitors in the 2 day 120km had gone. One vetted out and one retired on course. This now meant we were in 4th which was fantastic. On the second day we closed the gap on the person in front by 15 minutes and had there been another loop we may have caught her. We finished and Tash galloped across the finish line in style spooking at the timekeeper. We presented to the vets and with everything crossed we passed meaning we had come 4th with an average speed of 13.7kmph. A fantastic result which will give us some vital points for the championship!

I would like to thank my Dad who did a super job crewing and for putting up with me!

Also well done to the other Cheshire group riders who were out in force; Pat and Gaynor who successfully completed 40km and Saturday and 32km on Sunday, Sue Higgins who completed 80km to upgrade her horse to advance and Janice Claire who rode a very sensible race in the 2 day 160km ride to come in second. A great weekend enjoyed by all.

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