‘A proper test of horsemanship’: £4,200 on offer to winners of two hunt races

Two races over natural hedges, each offering more than £4,000 to the winner, will take place near Bourton-on-the-Water, Glos, in the Heythrop hunt country on 8 March 2020.

“The Gloucestershire Steeplechases”— a race over two miles and 20 hedges for 20 non-thoroughbreds and one over the same course and distance for 20 thoroughbreds — are each worth 4,000 guineas (£4,200) to winning connections.

There is also a gate-jumping competition, sponsored by bookmakers Fitzdares, with a 500-guinea (£525) first prize.

The organisers state that “the following hunts will be asked to provide entries for the Ron Brooks Memorial Pragnell Trophy [the non-thoroughbred race]: Heythrop, Atherstone, Beaufort, Belvoir, Berkeley, Bicester, Blackmore Vale, Cattistock, Cotswold, North Cotswold, Fernie, Ledbury, Meynell, Portman, Quorn, Taunton Vale, Tyndale, Warwickshire, Worcesters, Wynnstay.”

The Merriebelle Stables Gloucestershire Cup, for thoroughbreds, is open to all.

Organiser Tom Gittins said: “These races are attempting to reinvent the era of original steeplechasing in its purest format. It is the brainchild of Charlie Brooks, on whose land the course was constructed two years ago in preparation for the inaugural event.

“We are encouraging everyone to relive a 1920s raceday with prizes for the best dressed lady and gentleman, and riders will be wearing traditional hunting attire.

“Our very generous sponsors have put up the prize money to encourage the best of the hunting, point-to-point and cross-country community to enter, with a share going to help each rider’s local hunt.

“Both races and the gate-jumping will have a maximum field size of 20 and betting will be available on the day via Fitzdares.

“The course has been designed to a high standard by James Froggatt and as such will provide a proper test of horsemanship. To this end a committee will approve the entrants — note there are no entry fees.”

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Racehorse trainer Sir Mark Prescott will act as starter for the races.

Public entry costs £10 per car, which will be donated to the Heythrop hunt.

Anyone who would like to be considered for entry is asked to email Tom Gittins: tgittins@foxtrot.co.uk

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