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All systems go for team chasing

As the team chasing season takes off, this year promises to be even bigger and better

Some of the bravest and most highly skilled sportsmen and women around, team chasers provide spectators with some of the best cross-country action to be seen outside the main eventing season.

This year more effort than ever has gone into creating well presented fences and interesting courses for riders and spectators alike.

“The sportis very exciting at the top level, and with our novice and intermediate qualifiers we cater for everyone,” says Joe Cowen, chairman of the MFHA standing committee on cross-country team events.

“This is a particularly important season, becauseteam chasing raises money for the hunts at what is a difficult time.”

The team chase season will feature 13 qualifiers. There will be a final showdown, as is tradition, at the Fernie fixture on 30 March 2003.

Team chasing was devised in1974 by Hickstead supremo Douglas Bunn – the man behind the Hickstead Derby. The original course was around the grounds at Hickstead, and participants included dressage riders and show jumpers. The fences were huge hedges and uprights and the course was 11⁄2 miles in length.

In recent years, team chasing has created stars of its horses and riders. Reigning champions the Forge Flyers is the team everyone will be looking to beat after their unstoppable form last year.

Theline up of Graham Smith (Cody), Debbie Topping (Junior), Yvonne Goss (Perry) and Rob Statt (Rolo) is awesome.

Potential rivals for the championship, The Hair Raisers had, by their own admission, a poor run last year. They will be buoyed by the return of Paul Thomason, and a new sponsor, electrical firm Rappel Switch Gear.

Some hot competition for both these established runners will come from the newly reformed Fosse Manor Hotel-sponsored team. The riders are all children of the original Fosse Manor line up – a legendary team chase team from the early days.

Playing down their chances on the basis of “leaving everything until the last minute”, the old gang of Mike Roberts, Joss Hanbury, Richard Chandler and Jo Jewellare back for the Trifast Allstars.

Caroline Doody’s inimitable Sid will lead The Marston Misfits, while The Boring Gorings, with whom there is never a dull moment, again have team stalwarts George Goring and Fred French as the mainstays.

FIXTURES

Autumn season
21 September: Grafton – Ms V Harvey (tel: 01280 860443)
29 September: Atherstone – Mrs H Herrick (tel: 01455 888124)
6 October: Belvoir – Mrs A Creed (tel: 01476 870852)
13 October:Worcestershire – Mrs J Sadler (tel: 01527 404509)
20 October: Pytchley – Miss J Gurney (tel: 01604 647432)
20 October: New Forest Beagles – Mrs D Longland (tel: 02380 663310)
27 October: Mennell and South Staffs – Mr A Nelson (tel: 01283 575477)
3 November: Cotswold – Mrs J Trotter (tel: 01285 831577)

Spring season (subject to additions)
16 February: York and Ainsty North
23 February: VWH
2 March: Badsworth
16 March: Heythrop
23 March: HH
30 March: Fernie (Championship)

Read the full preview, including an in-depth review of the top teams, in this week’s Horse & Hound (19 September), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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