Tempelpirate bows out in style
Tim Underwood paid tribute to Tempelpirate after his popular veteran recorded his 26th win in what is likely to be his last race at the Kimblewick Hunt meeting at Kingston Blount, near Chinnor, on Sunday.
Showing no signs of his advancing years, Tempelpirate stretched his record as the course's most successful horse.
Freddie Gordon, who aged 16 is just one year older than his mount, rode him to his 12th win at Kingston Blount.
Gordon took up the running going down Crowell Knowell and held off his rivals to win a bunch finish by half a length.
Underwood said: "It is probably his last run. He has been absolutely brilliant. He has had his problems, but is an absolute saint. I give him to the grandchildren in the summer to help them ride."
Gordon was the 12th rider to win on Tempelpirate and praised the veteran mount: "He jumps really well. I thought when he got in front he would take some catching."
Underwood was completing a quick-fire double after Bolamore Bridge took the Restricted Race, sponsored by Richardsons, to continue Will Hickman's revival following his return to the saddle.
Hickman rode the six-year-old to triumph by three-quarters of a length.
It was an emotional winner for Hickman. He and his partner, Hannah Jones, had premature twins in October and one of them died.
Since returning to the saddle, he's had four winners from nine rides.
Alan Hill was rewarded for his careful curation of his local course to produce Good ground with two winners - Knight Bachelor and Craven Bay.
Izzie Marshall rode Knight Bachelor to the narrowest of wins in the Ladies Open, sponsored by Chiltern Fox.
Hill's double was compelted by Craven Bay in the Maiden, sponsored by College and County.
The six-year-old was ridden by James King, who remains in the hunt to retain his men's riders' championship.
It was a bittersweet success for King, however, who was fined £100 for excessive use of the whip.
King had kicked off the afternoon in triumphant fashion, winning on Kaproyale in the South Midlands Area Conditions Race, sponsored by the French Horn.
Gina Andrews rode Master Templar to an exciting win, seeing off Izzie Marshall, aboard Voie Dans Voie, in the Intermediate, sponsored by Bonner and Babbington.
The result was a reverse of the Ladies Open, when Marshall had pipped Andrews.
The country's two leading female riders are locked in tense competition, but are approaching it with a refreshingly laid-back attitude
Andrews, whose mount prevailed by a neck, joked: "I said to Izzie, 'Got you this time!'"
Owner-trainer-rider Thomas Murray repeated his 2019 win aboard Gabrial The Great in the Mens Open, sponsored by Emmett & Stone.
Gabrial set a slow pace over most of the 2m 5f, but pulled away to triumph by two lengths.
Murray said: "Gabrial has never gone that slow before. I thought, if he keeps this up, I can use his speed at the end. His jumping was brilliant and coming down the hill for the second time I let him roll."
Murray will be looking for his fourth win at the course aboard the gelding when he returns on May 29th.