by Arthur Shone

Shirtsleeves and panama hats were very much the order of the day at sun-drenched Weston Park on Saturday May 4th for the annual Albrighton Hunt point-to-point meeting. They could have done with a few more runners, but saying that the racing was very competitive. Clerk of the course Martin Kemp had been watering the course for the last three weeks and this was despite some decent down pours earlier in the week. It paid off because if he hadnít taken this action it would probably have been a case of spot the runner.

Favourite backers got their fingers burnt in the opening Members race which saw only 3 runners face the starter. The old man in the field, Sun Surfer at 14 years with Annabel Roberts in the plate, went off the unbackable jolly at 1-4, but in a thriller was turned over on the run in by Paul Morris on the mare Dunnellie by a neck. The winner is trained at Purton Court Stables in Wolverhampton by Roy Swinburne. He said afterwards that this was his charges first run for 8 months, adding that she had had a few training problems in the past, but was sound now and that this was her ground.

Andre Laval bloodless 25 length victory in the Confined was very much a family affair. The veteran Over The River gelding provided 16-year-old Hannah Watson with her first ever winner. Andre Laval was bought by Hannahís grandmother Dawn Wolford as a schoolmaster for her granddaughter. Dawn trains the horse at Cadborough at Henley In Arten, Nr Worcester. The winner runs in the colours of 5 members of the Watson family.

The progressive Step Quick, which is owned by David Smith from Worthen and trained by his son in law Willie Bryan is starting to look like the area champion horse elect following his easy 4 length victory over Spumante in the Mensí Open. The Executive Man gelding is a model of consistency, winning 6 races and finishing an unlucky second in his other contest. I would imagine that a few of the big boys under rules will be ringing David up with offers for his horse after his latest win, thatís if they have not already done so.

Sarah Hopkins is continuing to put pressure on Sue Sharratt, the current leading lady rider in the area at present on points, following Bishops Hall's emphatic victory over Misti Hunter in the Ladies Open. The winner is trained by Gordie Edwards at Walcott, Nr Telford. The key to this mare is the ground, the firmer the better.

Forty minutes later Gordiesí sister Sheila Crow was also in the winners enclosure, following the success of Templebreedy who galloped his rivals into the ground under Joe Downes to win easing down by 15 lengths from Tale Bridge in the Restricted. The winner is owned by Richard French from Eccleshon, a long standing owner with the Crows. Hadnall trainer Sheila Crow thinks a lot of her charge and on this evidence he is clearly one to pencil in readers notebooks for the 2003 season.

Walter Puddiferís Shylock under Barry Wharfe made the trip from South Yorkshire a winning one when landing the spoils in the Maiden. The 6-4 favourite was the fifth consecutive jolly to go in which left the old enemy bruised and battered. They got a result in the opener, but got hammered afterwards.