This served as their introduction to the historic Royal Shrewsbury School Hunt, and was an excellent opportunity for the Teacher in Charge of this famous club to see what calibre we have coming through the ranks. And what calibre there was!
Subsidence issues around Ridgemount Lane had forced on us a change to the traditional ‘Benjies’ route, and though the new version does without the significant hill halfway through the course, it is probably around 100m further, so the times are not easily comparable with last year. Our new Huntsman, Charlie Ockleston (O), had set the standard the previous Wednesday in a time of 8.29, though this was probably well within his capabilities. I’m sure we’ll soon be seeing times below eight minutes among the fastest runners in the School.
L-R: Huntswoman Felicity Hayward, Huntsman Charlie Ockleston and Junior Whips Tom Jackson and Sam Western
One of Charlie’s first duties as Huntsman was to sound the famous cry of ‘All hounds who wish to run – run hard, run well, and may the Devil take the hindmost!’ before giving a somewhat anti-climactic toot on the ancient bugle to start the race. A flood of eager runners rushed at him, jockeying for position, and giving him some concern that perhaps he’d need to run quite a bit faster than he’d expected in order to show them the way.
Our Huntswoman, Felicity Hayward (EDH), also had to work hard to lead the runners through the course, with an excellent pace being set at the front of the field. After a somewhat chaotic start, the pace settled down as the runners approached their first incline around 600m into the course, and the lead pack thinned behind the fleet-footed Ben Weston of Rigg’s. Among the girls, Florence Bury of Mary Sidney Hall was striding out well ahead of her nearest rival.
As the runners approached the finish, Ben had managed to extend his lead to an impressive 30 seconds or so, and crossed the line in an astonishingly quick time of 8:32. This suggests that Ben is a real 'one-to-watch', setting a time probably quicker than the equivalent old-course times of all of the last five years’ winners of this race.
There was a great battle for second, third and fourth among Archie Collings and Harry Webster (both of Radbrook) and William Singleton (Rigg’s), and they all crossed the line within five seconds of each other, just after the nine-minute mark. There is real strength in depth among this year group, it seems, with 10th position crossing the line just after ten minutes – still a very impressive time at this age group.
Among the girls, Florence took first position in a quick time of 10:23, beaten by only 16 boys, while second and third went to Jemima Dee of The Grove and Scarlett Whittal of Emma Darwin Hall respectively. Again, these times suggest some real running potential and there were also very strong performances further down the field.
Florence Bury with the rest of her House team
The boys’ House winners were Radbrook, winning for the first time in several years, ahead of Oldham’s in second and Rigg’s in third. The girls’ House winners were again Emma Darwin Hall, suggesting that their pedigree in this sport is set to continue for some years yet. Just a few points behind them were The Grove, ahead of Moser’s in third and Mary Sidney in fourth.
I was hugely impressed by the positivity, determination and House spirit on display among this new group of Salopians, who exhibited all the best qualities of what their new school stands for. Well done to everyone who competed.
Teacher in Charge of the Hunt