by Arthur Shone

The North West Hunts Club fixture at Tabley, near Knutsford, brought the season to a close in the North Western Area on Sunday May 19th 2002. The rain kept away and a crowd of around 6,000 plus were treated to a cracking afternoons racing. The monsoon conditions on the two days prior to this fixture had ensured that the going was “Good” which was perfect racing ground.

The afternoon belonged to the Nantwich based area champion gentleman rider elect Gary Hamner, who rounded off the season in style with a treble in the plate. This was Gary’s 20th winner of the season, of which he has trained 14 himself. The first leg came with Analystic in the Members Race, who got the better of the Sheila Crow hotpot Temblebreedy under Evan Williams by 12 lengths. Hanmer stalked the odds on jolly and pounced on the run to last to win going away. The winner is owned by Joanne Hankey, wife of the fence builder for this course, Robert Hankey.

Hanmer gave the South Walian Evan Williams, the current leading national rider in the mens champion on 32 winners, a tactical lesson in the Mens’ Open. Williams was aboard the progressive Cherry Gold, a winner of 5 races this season and his presence had reduced the field to only 4 runners. Cherry Gold set out to make every yard and did so until the final fence but Hanmer brought Achill Sound on his inside and saved lengths and in doing so won the race by two and a half lengths. The winner is trained by Corrine Swarbrick at Shifnal. Corrine co-owns the horse with her father Ken Hamer.

However Gary Hanmer’s most popular winner came with Knockitback who outbattled James Handley on Secret Alliance to win readily by 6 lengths with the favourite Devilish Charm was a further 15 lengths back in third. Gary trains the winner for Ruth Lea from Ellesmere. Her late husband had bought the winner for her a few years ago and it’s no wonder she came in for a tremendous reception when she led her winner in.

Mrs Emma Heaton recorded her first ever winner when making every yard from flag fall on Manvulane in the Ladies Open. The winner provided Tattenhall trainer Reg Crank with his first winner of the season.

Sue Sharratt had a slender lead of a couple of points over Sarah Hopkins in the area ladies championship going into the final meeting of the season, but she put the issue beyond doubt when Lima Bravo provided a 14-1 shock in the opening Open Maiden contest. The winner is trained in Perton, Nr Wolverhampton by Paul Morris.

Evan Williams came to the Cheshire course with 4 very promising rides, the last of whom Marico also bit the dust when pulled up after a circuit in the “Getting Out Stakes”. Another disappointment was the odds on jolly Mister Moss who was also pulled up by his rider Gary Hanmer, which caused a groan from the crowd when announced by the commentator, Eric Windsor. The race was won easily by Geoff Barfoot-Saunt on Asthefellasays for trainer Pam Sykes. Geoff came in for the chance ride because stable jockey Richard Burton is still crocked. The winner is owned by the trainer’s daughter Angela.