All content Bob MuIIins

"And Then it Rained"
Moreton Forest Hare and Hounds
Sunday 26th January 2020

Report Trevor Rowe
Photos Nick Guppy (Kwacker Snapper)

With the county of Dorset experiencing the wettest winter in living memory there was a question whether this event would ever go ahead. Three weeks ago, the answer would have been no, as parts of the Forest were submerged, however the weather gods gave the forest a brief dry spell to recover and all was set fair for a classic forest event. The organisers however decided to cap the number of riders at 120 which left many riders disappointed at not getting a ride.

A very strong entry arrived to find the forest in perfect riding conditions with mild dry weather, a challenging five-mile course awaited them. Starting the riders in groups of four seemed to get everyone away without incident and there were no reported hold ups on the first few laps. As the new course evolved and lines developed the pace was relentless at the front with Ricky Wiggins on his Wincanton Print Ktm setting an amazing tempo. After an hour of racing he had a small lead over Dylan Baynton with the rest of the Championship riders a couple of minutes further behind. After two hours of racing Wiggins had built a comfortable five-minute lead over Dylan and could ease off the pace, but he didn't, Wiggins keep a strong pace for the full three hours almost lapping the entire Championship field, winning by an impressive 13 minutes. Dylan looked set to hold onto a deserved second until he hit trouble with thirty minutes to go which allowed a determined Josh Player to pass him for second. Dylan finished fourth in a Rowlands sandwich, with Bradley Rowland taking third and brother Brett in fifth.

Championship winner Wiggins probably didn't notice but about midway through the event it decided to rain. Some would describe it as Biblical, a boat would have been useful, it absolutely chucked it down. Flowing forest tracks became slippery, rutted nightmares, choose the wrong line and you risked expending valuable energy dragging your bike out of a bottomless rut. The marshals did an amazing job, keeping the original course flowing for the entire race.

In complete contrast to Wiggins, Expert winner Daniel Richards only led for one lap, his last one! By the mid race mark Morgan Deakin had built a small lead and was pushing hard with Dean Kiff not far behind. But when the conditions changed Daniel Richards maintained his pace whilst those around him tired. Paul Taylor just managed to squeeze past Morgan Deakin to claim second on the very last lap.
The Veteran Expert class saw another Gary McCoy master class, making Gary work for his win was his usual sparring partner Jack Twentyman. But lurking just behind were Dan Groom and Dave Coles, Jack pushed hard in the first two hours shadowing Gary, but when the weather changed Jack lost touch and in one lap Dave Coles and Dan Groom splashed past him. In the closing stages Gary pulled away from these two to take a commanding lead. Dave Coles finished a strong second despite having issues with his timing transponder with Dan Groom the final Veteran to complete 11 laps.

Clubman A saw Harry Neal dominate again, he won the class by a lap and will fare well when he moves up into Expert class. William Bliss held on to finish second, behind him Daniel Grove and Harry Davey were having a cracking little battle. With thirty minutes to go they scanned together at exactly the same time, a lap later they scanned with only seconds between them, on the final lap Daniel managed to just stay ahead to grab third place by twenty seconds!

Clubman B saw age win over beauty with James O'Mara taking the class win by 15 seconds from Michael El-Ayouby. Stephen Davey looked set for third place but just lost a bit of energy towards the end which allowed Mat Osbourne through to take third.

Clubman Veterans saw the largest entry and the largest class of those who failed to finish? Again, up until the two-hour mark there was some very close racing with three riders battling for second and third place, Tim Newman had to work hard to keep Si Thomas and Shane Babey behind. Whilst they were looking over their shoulders for each other up front Steve Mulliner had grabbed the class lead on the first lap and didn't look back once. Steve rode a controlled race and led all the way to the finish on a fine 10 laps. Tim Newman also manged 10 laps to take second place with Si Thomas surviving to take third place.

Sportsman saw Jon Door win by a huge margin, Nathan Baxter managed to hold on for second whilst Matthew Dibble crawled over for third place. A special mention must go out for Connor Dunning who pushed his bike the last mile to claim a deserved finish.

Sportsmen veterans class has seen the return of some riders to the sport and the introduction of several new riders. Greg Tosdevin demonstrated what a strong rider he is with a convincing class win. Trying to stay with him were Justin Short in second place and Sean Massey in third who both rode very sensibly in the demanding conditions.

Running winter events is not easy, riding them is always a challenge, but when mother nature unleashes a torrential rainstorm mid race it says something about those that participate in this sport. A great event with some fine racing.