Today was the Vet's Memorial Handicap, recognizing twenty-three years for the CVVCC and all those over the years who have helped make the Club as good as it is.
We also reflected on Vets and their family members who have died but have not been forgotten. Fittingly, Woodstock turned on a brutal day to guarantee a worthy winner, high temperatures and a strong gusting north wind punishing the field for the whole 47 km race. Without any other in-form scratch riders Mathew Grealy drew the short straw and rode off by himself in pursuit of good-sized groups at 1, 4, 7, 12, 16 and 26 minutes. Even though all the bunches in front of him lost riders early in the tough conditions, Matt couldn't make up the gap and was never in the race. Surprisingly, the 4 minute bunch, where wannabe chiefs outnumbered Indians, rode very strongly and despite losing a couple due to fatigue or mutiny, rounded up the seven minute bunch just before Newbridge and the 12s passing Woodstock on the way to the turnaround. More than half the field called it a day at this point, so the last 10 km became a match race between second scratch and the four minute bunch. The leaders reached the turnaround with a comfortable lead and it looked like smooth sailing until a touch of wheels saw Shane Wall hit the deck with 3 km to go. He bounced up but couldn't get the chain back on, so a group of three headed for the finish. Robert Gartside had suffered a mechanical in the earlier incident, leaving Gavin Hill and Neil Andrews to fight it out. Gavin (4 min) continued his rapid improvement and good form to out-sprint Neil to win the Memorial Handicap and take home the shield. Rob Gartside rolled home behind Neil to take third, with Murray Rankin (1 min) running 4th and claiming fastest time thanks to Tony Jones (1 min) coasting in for 5th and the irrepressible Ricky Lovell (4 min) in 6th. Unbelievably, Shane Wall managed to get his bike mobile again and finished 7th, minus a fair chunk of skin. Wendy Bennett (12 min), Carl Louchard (12 min) and Ross Ogilvie (26 min) fought on gallantly to fill the remaining places. It was a fitting event for the occasion.