by Mal Davies

It was one of the poorest Eyton meetings for some years on Bank Holiday Monday, due to the very firm ground. There were only 29 runners in seven races, though two of them were not truly ‘races’ in the usual sense.

Richard Burton appeared to ride a walkover on the multiple winner Stepquick to add to his seasonal tally, following up his Saturday Weston Park success under Will Hill, with a stroll past the Judge in the Members race. There have been one or two barbed comments about Evan Williams being jocked up on a walkover in Wales after the original declared rider was already in his/her silks, but at least here Burton was down to ride 4 of the 5 entries!

Seven went to post in the first maiden race, a very weak affair won by favourite Chocs Away under Charlie Barlow by four lengths from the small and nippy Money Magic and John Barlow. Debutante Alston House was an eye catching third, and should manage a maiden win on better going. Seymour Roses, who had planted herself at the start on her previous run did jump off this time and ran well until falling when in contention.

Whatafellow suffered a rare defeat when headed by the admirable Nothing Ventured in the Mens’ Open; the Sheila Crow charge has not been at his very best on two Eyton performances this season, but in fairness, the ground was against good horses. He appeared to lose his action slightly in the final few strides, and that was all Nothing Ventured needed.

Alistair Beedles, who rode Nothing Ventured, seemed set for a double on Wild Edric when his sole rival Spumante pulled up on the first circuit in the Intermediate race. However, the ten-year-old gelding clearly likes to have company in his races and refused the following fence four times before being pulled up and the race voided. Highlight of the race was the terribly po-faced commentary, whilst all the spectators were in stitches watching Beedles try time and again to get Wild Edric to jump the open ditch in front of the bank.

The best race on the card was the North West Area feature race of the season, the Scally Muire Ladies’ Open, and unsurprisingly given the ground, it saw a course record of 5 minutes 57 seconds by the winner, the veteran Bishops Hall. The battling sixteen-year-old defied his age to land an easy victory for regular pilot Sarah Hopkins, with Ambrose and Tessa Clark second six lengths back ahead of Cardinal Rule. Favourite Hatton Farm Babe pulled up under Sue Sharratt, possibly not handling the ground.

The Restricted race was an extremely low-grade affair, with just three runners; the untrustworthy Teal Bay was sent off favourite but had no answer to a pillar-to-post ride from Mark Keel on Adventino. 

I have mentioned this before, but the gaps between the races at 40 minutes (and 50 minutes to allow for the de rigeur parade of hounds) is too much, and the crowd were getting bored; little wonder that so many cars were leaving the car park with three races still to go to miss the holiday traffic; 35 minutes is the optimum, and, given the size of fields, 30 minutes here would have been ample.