Usually you can’t trust the Met Office to tell you whether it’s going to rain on Tuesday (still less what the climate will do in fifty years). And sure enough they got it wrong for Sunday (April 1st). It was going to be cloudy and cool with a chance of showers last time I checked. So I was delighted to wake up to a day of unbroken sunshine — not least because it was the day of the Fernie Team Chase, at Tur Langton in Leicestershire. And I was a minor sponsor of the event (I have now done this for some years).
The sponsorship package included a fence — “Helmer’s High Jump” — constantly mentioned in the commentary, plus a full page ad in the programme, and “Helmer’s foot race” in the lunch break. Oh, and lunch as well.
I remember previous years when the weather looked benign but there was a bitter, chilling wind. Not so on Sunday. Warm sunshine, and a perfect day for the event.
For those who didn’t read about last year, Team Chasing is a sport where teams of four riders race in succession on a timed basis around a cross-country course. In this case, the course is set in a valley that amounts to a natural amphitheatre, with splendid views of most of the course. For each team, the time of the third rider home is what counts. Lose on team member and you can still finish. Lose two and you’re out.
Teams with quaint names distinguished themselves, like the Boring Gorings (the Goring Hotel in London, famous since the Royal Wedding, was a main sponsor) and the Cunning Stunts. But the event was won by the Relentless team, in splendid style.
As the name suggests, the event was under the auspices of the Fernie Hunt, one of the oldest and most famous of the Leicestershire Hunts. A wonderful day out, and a great chance to show practical support for country sports. We are, of course still waiting for the Conservative Party to deliver on its promise to repeal the Hunting Act.