It comprises the finale to the Hunt season, one which has seen a glorious return to regular competition after the disruption of the previous year. The Steeplechases is always hotly contested, both in terms of the overall House honours and of the individual times set. Rigg’s Hall had retained the boys’ trophy every year since 2015, but were no longer favourites this time around. The girls’ race has often been a close battle, usually between Emma Darwin Hall and the Grove, but Mary Sidney have some strong runners this year and were looking to disrupt proceedings.
In rather cold conditions, the race got underway on Top Common with the Third Form setting off for the first leg. Among the boys, Johnnie T (Ch) quickly built up a lead ahead of Monty W (S) and Alex M (Rb), Jonnie eventually handing over in a time of 8:29, with a gap of over twenty seconds ahead of the chasing pack. The girls’ race was closer, with Kitty F (MSH) crossing the line first in 10:17 and fellow MSH-er Millie B placing second in 10:29, with the Grove’s A and B runners taking the next two places.
The second leg was completed by the Fourth Form, and this is where the race heated up. Liv K (M) stormed through the girls’ pack from sixth place to hand over with Moser’s in the lead by 26 seconds! Similarly, Jack K (PH) started his leg in sixth and came through to lead with an impressive run of 7:44, one of the fastest times of the day. This set Port Hill up with a lead they were to hold for much of the rest of the race, but they were being chased by Ingram’s after a quick leg by Harry P-M left them very much in the hunt.
The third leg, run by the Fifth Form, saw the race order settle down a little, though the big change was that Rigg’s came through the field from 8th up to 4th thanks to a very quick leg of 7:54 by Brad K. Hamish G extended Port Hill’s lead over Ingram’s to almost a minute. A good battle for the highest-placed B team was emerging between the two Day Boys’ Houses, with Radbrook in 5th place overall, 15 seconds ahead of Port Hill at the end of the third leg. In the girls’ race, EDH were able to claim the lead thanks to an excellent run by Mimi G, with MSH holding on to second place and Moser’s slipping back into third.
The fourth leg is run by a Sixth Former, and often the race can be quite spread out by this point, but with some of the fastest runners in the school out on the course, it’s also where some of the big changes can happen. Kristian T (I), knowing he’d need to give everything to close the gap on Port Hill, ran heroically round in 7:42 to bring Ingram’s to within 12 seconds as he handed over to Jonny P, this year’s Huntsman. Livy E was able to stretch Emma Darwin’s lead in the girls’ race to almost two minutes with a superb run of 10:18. MSH still remained in second and Moser’s in third, but Kate R of EDH’s B team had closed the gap on Moser’s to just over a minute.
Ollie S had run strongly to retain Port Hill’s lead in the fourth leg, but holding on through the anchor leg was too big a task for Henry G, up against Jonny P with a cushion of only 12 seconds to defend. Jonny powered through in a time of 7:49, and actually Henry had to work very hard to hold off Rigg’s, as Harrison C stormed around the course in 7:34 – the fastest time of the day – and was within ten seconds of Henry at the line.
The Ingram’s victory will have been much savoured by the boys that evening, as it required speed and stamina in every leg – a true team effort. Emma Darwin Hall will also have been deeply satisfied with their win, captained by Huntswoman Sophia U in fine style in a time of 9:10, as they demolished the competition with a gap of over four minutes. Mary Sidney Hall took a deserved second place, with EDH B team coming through to claim third, thanks to a superb run from Anna B.
Medals were handed out for the three fastest times of the day in the junior (3rd and 4th form) and senior categories.
- 1st Kitty F (MSH)
- 2nd Liv K (M)
- 3rd Millie B (MSH)
- 1st Sophia U (EDH)
- 2nd Livy E (EDH)
- 3rd Mimi G (EDH)
- 1st Jack K (PH)
- 2nd Harry P-M (I)
- 3rd Johnnie T (Ch)
- 1st Harrison C (R)
- 2nd Kristian T (I)
- 3rd Jonny P (I)
It was a lovely way to finish off the term, and the atmosphere of cheerful support and healthy rivalry among the competitors and spectators alike was among the best I’ve seen in recent years. Well done to everyone who competed.
Master i/c RSSH