Aurora Eastwood reports on this year's Royal Wessex Yeomanry Ride, held at Worcester Lodge, Badminton by kind permission of the Duke of Beaufort
The dare devil riders who sign-up for the Royal Wessex Yeomanry race are in for two-and-a-half miles of fences typical of those found on the hunting field. It was held again this year at Worcester Lodge, Badminton by kind permission of the Duke of Beaufort — and Sara Beamson donned a headcam to give us all a taste of the action.
Captain Douglas White used the experience of coming second in last year’s race to win this year’s Yeomanry ride. A varied field of 30 started, mounted on all manner of horses from ex-racehorses to gun horses, Irish hunters and a couple of cob-types.
The most daunting of fences, the wall off the road with a hefty drop, had no casualties this year, with no fallers or refusals. A shout of “I did it!” rang out from a delighted lady rider as she landed safely, to supportive laughter from the assembled crowd.
As the field powered on up to the fifth — a wall with a rail on top — the sharp crack of hooves clipping timber echoed, like gunfire, across the beautiful parkland of the Badminton estate.
This fence claimed Captain Clare Blackiston, of the Royal Horse Artillery, riding Esme. However being the first faller does have its upside — she won the Bobby Faulkner memorial bottle. One can always rely on alcohol to soften the blow.
The field was rather more spread out by the last, the leaders still with plenty of fuel in the equine tanks, whereas one or two of the remainder perhaps ought to have been pulled up — notably the horse who was travelling so slowly he landed square in the brush, pecked heavily and deposited his rider, Major Johnny Lea on the floor.
Captain Douglas White, ex-Queen’s Royal Hussars (he left the army in 2013 and is now farming) was delighted to have made good on his runner-up position of last year with his own Bringbackthebiff.
“I have pointed him and he went a bit sour. This seems to have rejuvenated him though!” he said. “I bought him from Edwin O’ Grady and he now hunts every season with the Beaufort.”
Plans for the future? “I want to do more hunt rides. Definitely! When’s the next one?”
Read the full reports from this year’s Royal Yeomanry Race in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (11 December 2014)