by Arthur Shone

The Cheshire Hunt meeting between the flags at Alpraham on Sunday April 21st 2002,saw a massive crowd in excess of 10,000 bask in glorious sunshine. The meeting had also the usual thrills and spills that one associates with this great sport, but sadly the meeting will be remembered for the controversial outcome to the Maiden race, the second contest on the card.

The race was won by 21 year old Tom Greenaway on River Moy, who beat Wild About You under John Handley fair and square by three and a half lengths with the only other finisher Strong King a further 8 lengths back in third. This was the rider’s first winner and is owned by Ken Owen and trained by his son Robbie at Llanyrnog, Nr Denbigh. After a period of 10 minutes, there was an announcement that there was an objection to the winner by the clerk of the scales, because Greenaway had forgotten to weigh in, which meant that the horse had to be disqualified by the stewards and the well backed second favourite Wild About You, from the Gordie Edwards yard, was promoted to first place. The bookies by this time had paid out on the original 4-1 winner and they were now faced with a fresh queue of punters wishing to be paid as well. The result caused anger among the bookies with many refusing to pay out twice, the ring inspector got involved, but they were still people who did not get paid. Several announcements were made over the p.a, advising racegoers who had not been paid out to turn to page 26 in the race card with the address of the BPA for any punters with betting disputes. One announcement over the p.a caused much laughter amongst the crowd, the commentator was asking on behalf of the bookies for all punters who had been paid out on River Moy to return their winnings.

The day belonged to Julian Pritchard who made a rare visit to the Cheshire course, and in doing so bagged a treble for his troubles. The first leg came in the Restricted aboard Analystic, who was not extended in beating Dunston Trigger by 12 lengths with the jolly Coole Venture a further length and a quarter back in third. Gary Hanmer, who currently sidelined through injury, trained the winner for Jo Hankey, the wife of Rob Hankey the clerk of the course at Tabley.

Gary Hanmer was also responsible for Pritchard’s second winner in the shape of Bucks View, who ran out an equally easy winner of the Mens’ Open from Ask Antony under Simon Prior. The winning margin was not a true reflection of the winner’s superiority. The horse is owned locally by Richard Hocknell from Poole and was Hanmers 10th training success of the season.

Julian Pritchard demonstrated why he is a class above many riders in the Confined race. Harweld from the Crow yard ridden by Brendan Foster looked to have stolen the race when going 15 lengths up with 4 fences to go, but faded after the third last with Tennessee Twist under David Barlow taking up the running, but he was then stalked by Pritchard on David Smith’s Step Quick, who pounced on the run in to win cheekily by two and a half lengths.

It is sods law that Pritchard’s best bet of the day on paper got turned over. This was the 1-3 shot Lord Dixon in the opening Members race and many of the “old enemy” had a book without the jolly. The dual Eaton Hall winner was regarded as a formality by punters and layers alike. However, he was turned over by Pharly Star under David Barlow, who beat the favourite fair and square by a length and a half. The winner was a first training success for Michelle Mullineaux at Tarporley, who is the daughter of the licensed trained Mick.

The Bangor Final on May 18th is the next stop for the Ladies Open winner Class Of Ninety Two, who gave Sue Sharratt an armchair ride to win by 15 lengths from Sarah Hopkins on Jacobs Wife. The winner is trained by Steve Wynne at Whitchurch for a syndicate; one of the members is his father John. Steve is currently sidelined through injury, he would normally be riding under National Hunt rules and as a friend I know that Steve is keen to resume race riding later in the year, but he has proved his worth as a trainer and maybe he might be tempted to pursue that role given his current successes. Sue went on to complete a double at the Cheshire course in the Getting Out Stakes on Approaching Land, who is trained by the former point-to-point rider Stuart Shaw who trains at Burton on Trent.