by Arthur Shone

The rescheduled Tanatside Hunt meeting at Eyton on Severn finally got underway yesterday afternoon, albeit half an hour later than planned, the reason being that the stewards put racing back half an hour for safety reasons, due to high winds. When the gales subsided, they were replaced by heavy rain, which resulted in the areas by the officials marquees and the bookies stands resembling a quagmire, I am not exaggerating, if anyone lost a shoe or a wellington in those locations, the changes of finding them again would have been slim. However the track rode very well, which was a credit to their clerk of the course John Beddoes, who now have the unenviable job of putting the racecourse back together again for next meeting there by the North Shropshire on Easter Monday. Considering the inclement weather the crowd at Eyton yesterday was very good, those that braved the conditions were treated to cracking afternoon racing, and there was plenty to enjoy with a marathon 10 race card.

Shropshire rider Richard Burton put himself right back in contention for the National riders championship, following a double at his local course yesterday. The first leg came with Pagermar in the Intermeadiate, who beat Sarah Johnson on Jimmy Jumbo readily by 4 lengths. Alistair Crow was forced to pull up the second favourite Sams day at the second last fence, because the saddle slipped, at the time he did so he was probably by the horses tail. The winners was trained in Bishop Castle by Pam Sykes, her 5th of the season, for Mary Cambray whose husband Richard is the joint master of the South Shropshire. Burton completed the second leg on Wild Edric, the gamble of the meeting in the second division of the Restricted. The son of Weld got the better of a good dual with Henwyn, to forge clear on the run to the last to win going away by 4 lengths. Lothian Magic was a further 20 lengths back in third. The winner is trained by Lucy McFarlane for her mother Ruth, at a place called Rattling Hope, Nr Shrewsbury; Ruth also bred the winner herself. This double puts Richard Burton on the 8-winner mark for the season between the flags, more importantly it keeps him in touching distance with the current leader Alex Charles-Jones.

Also in double form at the Shropshire course were Northampton trainer Jenny Pidgeon and rider Mathew Baldock, who works for trainer Paul Webber. The combination sent out a decent sort in Cut A Niche to win the Mens Open very comfortable from the well-regarded Bucks View, from the Gary Hanmer yard. Jenny plans to keep him to Open races at present, but on this performance a couple of good hunter chases is well within his grasp. Baldock had to work much harder to complete his first ever double on Shady Exchange in the first division of the Open Maiden, the Le Bavard gelding had to pull out all the stops to repel the renewed challenge Of Wild About You by a couple of lengths, the runner up is trained at Hodnet by Gordie Edwards, if these two met again my money would be on the runner up.

The unluckiest loser at Eyton has to be David Smiths’ Stepquick under William Hill in the first division of the Restricted. On the run to last fence the loose horse came between Hills mount and the eventual head winner Woodys Mop, forcing him to check and switch to the inside for a run, which cost him a length and the race, but at the end of the day they pay on the jamstick. The winner is trained in Cheshire by John Swindells, but was home bred in Hadnall by Sheila Crow. The horse was named after the Crows housekeeper; she was foaled outside the kitchen window next to a map.

As well as breeding winners, Sheila Crow also does a good job of training them. Coole Venture with her son Alistair in the plate was a very impressive winner of the second division of the Open Maiden, thrashing Galaxy Minstrel by 8 lengths with Cadw a similar distance back in third. The winner is owned by Aled Griffith from Shawbury, who is regarded as a lucky owner in the yard after the exploits of his previous winners Equity Player and Sheer Mischief. Sheila was beaming after the race, she said,” He’s a very good horse, and he was not fit today, but he will improve a stone after this race. I was not worried about the ground today, as he will go on any. It is always so satisfying when you have a horse that you know has so much potential start to do it on the course.”

There was a cracking finish to the Ladies Open, which saw Brown Esquire under Michelle Mullineaux just touch off Hannah Kinsey on Sea Tarth by a head to win a thriller in the final two strides. The odds jolly Do It Once under Angela Rucker was a further 4 lengths away in third. This was Michelle’s first ever winner from 3 rides between the flags, she has ridden under rules for her father Mick, who is a licensed trainer at Tarporley.The winner is trained at Whitchurch by Gemma Dewhurst.

You’re never to old to ride winners in this game, if you don’t believe me just Russell Dobney, a 42-year-old salesman from Market Drayton. Three weeks ago he went up to Leicester and bought Monsieur Mossiman from a man called Graham Smith. He then proceeded to ride the animal yesterday in the third division of the Open Maiden, and in doing so he beat the odds on jolly My Native Knight under Adam Wadlow by 5 lengths, This was his first ever winner from 7 rides, this is surely what point to point racing is all about.

Phil Jones, the hard working secretary of the Tanatside left the course a happy man following the success of his horse Teal Bay in opening Members race under David Barlow. The 8-length runner up Bishops Hall was ridden by Sarah Hopkins, who was having her ride for over two years. Phil trains the winner himself at Maesmawr Nr Welshpool.