The theme of the fourteenth Winchester Charity One-Ball Championships was "What to do about Bodger". Rutger Beijderwellen had won both the handicap and advanced level events in 2005 and 2006.
We took inspiration from the 1960s when Arkle was such a superior steeplechaser that the rules of racing were altered to provide every other horse in the British Isles some sort of chance. Bodger's handicap was set at -10 to see if that could stop him. It did - mission accomplished; he finished fourth equal in the 'Cryptorchid' Handicap.
The winner was Tudor Jenkins, a newcomer to the game, from Southwick, playing off 18. We shall all be hearing a lot more of this chap. The fact that he is being coached by Bodger means that the champ had a stake in the winner nonetheless.
Tudor was one of nine heat winners who were granted free entries. The One-Ball Championship raises funds for Cancer Research UK and heats were held at Blewbury, Dulwich, Littleton, Nailsea, Northampton, Sidmouth, Southwick, Surbiton and Winchester. We thank all of these clubs for helping to raise £690 for this good cause.
The Bodger strategy for the Advanced Level event, held on the second day, was to pitch against him an array of talent which included a very determined Stephen Mulliner and a confident Marcus Evans. All four seeds reached the semis (the fourth being an over-the-hill manager with four previous titles to his name). Marcus was swept aside imperiously by Stephen while Bodger stuttered to the final.
The one-ball enthusiasts (several turn up every year to watch the final) scented that this would be Stephen's year and bookies had Bodger at odds against, even so taking nothing. But in the first game Bodger started a controlled break, which only failed at 3-back; SM missed and Bodger finished. The second game in the best-of-three final began exactly the same way: eight hoops then a failed approach at 3-back. This time Stephen got going but did not, alas, continue for long. Bodger completed the fastest ever win in the WOB final, at just 50 minutes. So, Bodger took home a fifth engraved decanter after once again showing he is the master of one-ball.
This year we were delighted to entertain overseas visitors: Senor Jonathan Lamb, from Uruguay, and Evan Newell, from Ireland. The latter acquitted himself creditably, playing well without beating Marcus but taking the consolation plate with five excellent wins. We are hoping for a Dublin heat in 2008.
The Gina Lewis award for the Sexiest Legs of the Weekend went to .....
oh no, that man Bodger again.
'Cryptorchid' Handicap: 1st Tudor Jenkins, 2nd Stephen Mulliner, 3rd Bill Arliss
'Monorchid' Advanced Level: Winner Rutger Beijderwellen, Runner-up Stephen Mulliner, Consolation Event: Evan Newell