This one's for you, Noreen. Ahhh, what's the story?!
With the scheduled final fixture at York on the Saturday cancelled due to a lack of entries, Corbiewood was a stand alone meeting with a bumper entry. The nine-race card kicked off with Peter McAllister's Mooreside Watson winning the first low grade heat in the hands of my favourite dancing driver, Willie 'WD40' Drysdale (disclaimer: it's only me that calls him WD40, but as with this blog, I'm hoping it takes off). Tarawood Joy, who I may not have already mentioned belongs to Noreen Bennett (and her husband, Charlie), won the second by a nose from the popular Yokalady. Corbiewood favourite, K And M Redpandana, more easily known as 'Matt', took the third for Team Cassells, having won the week before.
Evenwood Coolsting recorded his fifth win of the season when winning the first of the two high grade heats, with a really gutsy performance from one of my favourite mares in the entire country, Red Emerald, to finish second and well clear of the field. Another wonderful mare, Greentree Serenity, won the second of the two heats in an impressive 2.02.28 to give driver Andrew Cairns his second win of the day.
The Evenwood breeding came to the fore again, with the Impractical Jokers-inspired LARRY (aka Evenwood Get Real) scoring his first career win on his second start for new connections, Karen and Mark Kennedy. Cue a lot of OTT shouting on the stable bend from Karen and me...that's why Larry seemed such an appropriate name!
Andrew Cairns didn't spend long out of the winner's circle (and neither in fact did I, having been in for a photo with both Greentree Serenity and Evenwood Get Real), when partnering GDs Hazzard in the novice event. If I thought Karen and me could shout, I had to think again when I heard owner Gerry Thomson cheering her boy home. He was unfortunately involved in an unsavoury incident at York the week before and there were concerns from the camp that he would carry that in his mind going into his next race, but fortunately that was not the case and he bounced back in style to win by 7 lengths in 2.05.31. Cue another photo op for this writer.
By this point Andrew Cairns may as well have started laying foundations for a new house in the winner's circle, as he wasn't long in heading straight back into it with Noreen Bennett's Tarawood Joy, who held off a strong challenge from Yokalady to win the Watson Bell Memorial Trophy Final. Here come the girls and all that (both winner and runner up are mares, and we all know how I feel about mares winning in mixed company).
In the LPD Demolition Final, it was Indie Hanover who came to the fore to win for driver Richard Haythornthwaite who had borderline begged his parents (trainer Teresa and driver Alan) to keep going one more week to be there for this particular meeting. The winner of his heat, Evenwood Coolsting, finished second, with James Brown (partnered by our very own Jockey) in third.
Incidentally, at the beginning of the meeting as I was running around trying to hand out photos to people who had ordered them after York, I took a call from someone with an American accent asking what time the racing would finish that day. I thought no more of it until, during the course of the day's racing, I spotted four strange faces wandering around the bar. Fuelled by a bottle of Bud, I struck up conversation just before the penultimate race and found out that they were in fact the people who had called me earlier in the day. They were staying in Edinburgh and had been collected by a taxi driver who had recommended visiting Corbiewood as something different to do. Take a bow, Brian 'Nova' Kilgannon, for this sterling PR work!
Hailing from Colorado, they had not experienced harness racing before, so this was really an interesting introduction to the sport. In the absence of the sponsors of the final race, Karen [Kennedy] and I arranged for them to go into the winner's circle and present the trophy to Team Haythornthwaite. That is the kind of personal experience we can guarantee at good old Corbiewood!!
|Guests from Colorado present the trophy to connections of Indie Hanover|
|And I managed a selfie with our new American friends!|
And that's what this sport is. Underneath all the bickering and in-fighting and politics and attempts to bring about professionalism (that may or may not work), what lies at the heart of this sport is that it is fun.
I'm not going to go on some teary-eyed ramble about why I love it so much because, after 3 years of writing this (potentially) pointless blog, it should be pretty clear now why. But after just one afternoon of racing, on a cold Sunday afternoon in central Scotland, I can tell you it's because of the Noreen Bennett's and the Gerry Thomson's and the Karen Kennedy's and the Marian Clark's and the four people from Colorado who have no idea what's going on but suddenly have a trophy thrust into their hands to give to 3 total strangers whilst someone takes their photo and every weekend from May to October, in every corner of this little island we live on, this happens and no matter how tired I am from travelling up and down the country, I want to see as much of that as I can.
Roll on 2018!
Over and out,