The annual Lambourn Open Day proved one of the most memorable ever today as near record crowds flocked to the training centre and experienced vastly contrasting weather conditions.
Visitors were greeted by persistent drizzle as they embarked on a tour of more than 30 stables but left at the end of the afternoon in glorious sunshine, which made the entertainment on the field alongside the Valley Equine Hospital all the more enjoyable.
One of the highlights was a schooling exhibition in which current champion Tony McCoy took on Richard Dunwoody as the pair schooled twice over a row of three fences.
Mick Fitzgerald took the eye schooling his horse as he was wearing a pink cap and he was accompanied by his understudy at Seven Barrows, Marcus Foley.
Some of the yards which opened in the morning were immaculate, making competition for the Corney and Barrow Cup all the more fervent.
So pristine were the stables and so friendly the staff at Stan Moore’s and Charlie Mann’s that the judges ordered a dead-heat between those two trainers.
One of the organisers, Mark Smyly, said: “The weather was kind to us when it mattered and we had a bumper crowd, possibly the biggest in our history.
“Merrick Francis proved a top-notch master of ceremonies and Luke Harvey excelled in his handling of an epic schooling competition.”
There was a parade of Lambourn heroes which included all three of Nicky Henderson’s Cheltenham Festival winners – Greenhope¸ Non So and Fondmort – as well as some favourites from the past including Gold Cup winner Looks Like Trouble, Gingembre, Large Action and Arctic Call.
After lunch a number of leading jockeys embarked in a mounted games challenge sponsored by Newbury racecourse.
These included McCoy, Dunwoody, Fitzgerald, Foley, Richard Johnson, Eddie Ahern and Timmy Murphy.
Summing up the day, Smyly concluded: “Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and once again the Lambourn Open Day has proved to be an unequivocal success.”