Twelve pairs of runners and riders entered the stalls at the start of the Province Pairs Competition for the magnificent and prestigious Grant Salvers Stakes. Tradition has given way to pragmatic wokery in the unmixing of what originated as the “ Mixed Pairs”.
It was refreshing to see a healthy entry of relatively new curlers amidst the familiar collection of old nags as teams embarked on two x4 end games, the winners to be decided by 2 wins and then most shots up.
First to show on the soft to softer ground were short priced joint favourites Watson O and Edwards G who ruthlessly demolished the inexperienced Christie twins 12-0.
Also fast out of the stalls were bookies joint favourites Rankins S and F who won big by +10 over Walls R and Seton A.
Forres foals Hardie L and Cameron R and Elgin geldings Buchan C and Pilkington S were just behind the early pace setters with +8 and +6 shots respectively, whilst visiting Nairn thoroughbreds Fraser S and Laurie S and Gateway’s Key J and Smith M were the other first round winners. Favoured runners Rankin B and Clarke L had clearly pulled a fetlock as they ran single shot losers in both their games.
In round 2 , yearlings Tom and Harry ( no sign of Dick) had a terrific 6 -0 win over the unfortunate Smiths E and C, and came in a very creditable 6th ahead of the Nairn duo,Walls and Seton and a very competitive Turnidge C and McAndie R.
As the finish line approached, Key and Smith crept up on the rails with 6 unanswered shots to take third place and relegate their Nairn opponents to the latter half of the table whilst the heavily backed Buchan and Pilkington showed up well over the final furlong to finish on the runners up podium.
In the winner takes all , loser goes home match it was the Rankin Family that came out on top as they defended their title with a decisive 6-1 victory over Watson and Edwards.
After what had been an energetic 4 hours of curling all the competitors were no doubt glad to get back to the stables for a rub down and a nose bag of oats.

from our on course reporter, Lester Piglett.