I've been in a state of turmoil in all this heat, wondering what on earth to wear to Flagg Races, as I'm used to putting on thermals and boots and suddenly it was T Shirt weather, but I needn't have worried, true to form, yesterday the weather reverted to the traditional arctic conditions required for holding Flagg Races.
But we Brits are made of stern stuff, so on went the sweater and the tweed jacket and we set off to Flagg Moor, just south of Buxton. The wind was whistling across the hills as we pulled into the car park, just in time for the first race.
This is point to pointing at its finest. We used to go to Welbeck when we lived in Worksop. That looks much more like a typical racecourse, but Flagg is a proper, traditional steeplechase course. To prove it, they decided to run the Members race in the oldfashioned manner, where you can take your own line. This means whizzing along and jumping the drystone walls wherever you see fit. In the old days this left things wide open for cheating, but things are, fortunately, a bit more organised now.
I have to confess, I don't understand how betting works, but it turned out either Mr O or I picked the winner in each race. And the thing that I am totally envious of, is that members of the Pony Club have their own races, in this case, two at the beginning. They don't jump the jumps and they run a shorter course, but my goodness, you should see them go!
There was one race with only one woman in it and she led in fine style all the way round, then got a slight bump going over the last fence and crashed to the floor, poor woman. Fortunately she was fine, and so was the horse, who sped on and was caught at the end by the huntsmen.
This point-to-point is run by the High Peak Hunt (in their beautiful green jackets) and is very popular. Half way through the meeting the hounds are paraded in the ring by the huntsman and children are invited in to stroke them (the hounds, that is, not the huntsmen!) Harriers are so called because they hunt hares (although that would be illegal now, of course) and are one of the fastest types of hounds (bloodhounds being the slowest, although you wouldn't believe it when you're belting along behind them!) I know a bit about harriers, because each year they put a call out if anyone wants to puppy-walk them, and two years ago, like a twit, I volunteered (we have had a bloodhound before, but they couldn't be less alike).
And so we had these two chaps:
They are Questor and Quavor. Hounds always have funny names for various complicated reasons, usually they take the same first initial as their mother. The bloodhound we had was called Poorbreck, I think his mum was Poppy, but Poorbreck is an area of woodland near Welbeck. They have names like Rogueish, Mermaid, and the very timid Rosewood. We had these puppies for about eight months, by which time they could jump out over the stable door, so they went back to the hunt kennels. They are very sweet chaps, but very sharp, they're not stupid and docile like bloodhounds.
You have to be quite fit to watch point-to-pointing, if you're going to walk backwards and forwards from the parade ring to the track, as it's all up and down hill, although strangely it was warmer at the top of the hill than it was at the bottom. At least you can buy burgers and hot drinks to sustain you, and there's always a beer tent.
As you know, Zak is an ex-racehorse, and is in fact a seasoned pointer. And can I just say, there were several horses there as skinny as he is, and quite a few he'd have given a run for their money, although perhaps not with Mr O as the jockey!
Finally, worn out and windswept, we made our way home through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. I so enjoyed it, despite the weather, roll on next year...
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