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Cheltenham's Ascot Cup Championship Qualifier survives!

[<<] [>>] by Ivor Brand at Cheltenham
31st May 2022 (GC - Championships)

I will explain my title. The entry was at its full capacity of 32 with 3 reserves, but started to drop with a few weeks to go which was of no concern as we had 3 reserves. However, with just over a week to go we were down to an awkward odd number of 27 which then finished on 25! At this point I would like to thank those people who kindly offered to drop out to make the number an even 24, one of which I duly accepted. However, right up to the night before there was yet more movement of drop outs which prompted favours being required and Graham Good saved the day by re-entering to keep the tidy number of 24, which of course led to 4 blocks of 6. This was a positive for me as it allowed me to put the top 4 through from each block instead of only the top 2 if we had an entry as large as 32?

Block A was won by the top seed James Death, despite losing to young Sam Cuthbert who finished 2nd on net points. Block B was won by the undefeated 2nd seed Jack Good, followed by an inform Richard Brand. Block C was won by the undefeated Richard Brooks who was celebrating playing his 2,000 CA ranking game this weekend. (I wonder what he did before croquet?) Lionel 'lucky' Tibble edged 2nd place on net points from Nick Saxton and Graham Good (my saviour). Block D was won by David Goacher followed by Richard Bilton (my hero) who edged ahead of Luis de Alarcon on net points.

The last 16 played their best of three that evening, however only the Neil Humphreys tight win over Luis de Alarcon went to the third game. Although, despite the result of 2-0 in the other matches, they were closely contested none more so than young Sam against the number 4 seed Richard Bilton. The father son 'Good clash' also saw young Jack prevail as did the 'local clash' of Nick Saxton over Richard Brand. The quarter finals saw James move swiftly through to face Ivor Brand in the one semi final, who had just persevered over his hero (because he does all my croquet scores for me) Richrad Bilton in 3 games. The other semi final also saw a swift Jack Good waiting to play Nick Saxton who had won in 3 games over Ian Shore. Jack continued at a swift pace past Nick in 2 games to reach the final, but was made to wait as Ivor decided to make James fight over 3 games for the right to play in the final.

Therefore, I suspect the delay did not help poor Nick who lost to Ivor for the third spot or young Jack who was never quite in the first game of the final. However, the second game was a much tighter affair as Jack started to matched James's powerful clearing shots and consistent hoop running proving why these two were the top seeds. So, congratulations to James who went one step further than his runner up spot in the previous Barter cup by winning this year's Ascot cup qualifier.

Meanwhile, the consolation plate was being won by an impressive Jayne Humpreys who only dropped one game to local boy Edwin Bone who finished as runner up. The 'Bowl' event started Sunday and consequently had a 60min time limit on it and was won by David Goacher who also only dropped one game to another local boy Richard Zhao who finished runner up. The shield was reduced to three players as Ian had to retire. Although, this did allow it to be run as a B of 3 event which was won by 'lucky' Lionel Tibble.

My gratitude goes to my team Richard Brand and Dawn Good ('proud mum' of Jack) for keeping the blocks moving forward over the weekend. Lastly, thank you to Cheltenham's catering team led by Naomi Whitehead and the grounds man Jim for the tight hoops especially if you happen to be playing a green ball as I did in my semi final (lol).


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