by Mal Davies

The rain-lashed Eyton course stood up tremendously well to a marathon ten-race card organised by the Tanatside Hunt, and the races were well supported, all things considered. As ever, the organisation at Eyton was first rate, and the crowd better than one might have expected given the weather,

Four turned out for the Members and David Barlow took the spoils with a smooth victory on the Scallywag mare TEAL BAY The even money favourite went on two out and held on to an eight length verdict over the venerable Bishopís Hall. 

The Intermediate was a very strong affair, with some previously impressive winners in the field. Richard Burton expertly piloted the ex-Irish PAGERMAR to win by four lengths from the revelation of the race, Jimmy Jumbo, under Sarah Johnson. Both the winner and runner up jumped cleanly and both look certain to follow up. Gary Hanmerís Freestyler stayed on exceptionally well past beaten horses for third. Alistair Crowís Samís Day was a disappointment, finishing last of the six having jumped slowly; perhaps he may prefer better ground.

Eleven went to post for the Menís Open, with the Gary Hanmer ridden Buckís View making one of his rare course appearances going off as favourite. The winner was an Oxfordshire raider, the impressive CUT A NICHE, who had won in a fast time at Mollington in January. The twelve year old was given a great ride by Matt Baldock, who is attached to the Paul Webber yard. Buckís View was a solid second and should soon score if staying sound.

Pat Tollitís Do it Once was all the rage in the Ladies Open, going off at 4-6 but could only finish a disappointing third behind the Michelle Mullineaux ridden BROWN ESQUIRE, who got up by a head to edge out Sea Tarth and Hannah Kinsey. The favourite was only third. A brief mention too for Nicky Hares, on her very first ride aboard Beeworthy, who ran well for a long way; both rider and jockey should be in the winnerís enclosure soon.

Division One of the Restricted, saw the favourite, the Richard Burton ridden Fountain Street was in a poor fourth place when he pulled up before the last, leaving the Sarah Johnson mount WOODYíS MOP to hold off the challenge of William Hillís Stepquick to score. Debutante Chatabit, a half sister to the progressive Gillone back in third for Alistair Beedles. That one can definitely go on from here.

Richard Burton and WILD EDRIC won the second division of the Restricted very much as they liked, though their task was made the easier by the antics of Hanmerís Inglerise, who was as mad as a goose in the paddock, and was then mounted on the course (went down early). After jumping well, he seemed to go wrong (jockey dismounted) in front of the Judge on the first circuit. William Hill was second again on Henwyn, and the eye-catching Lothian Magic and Lee Stephens, who ran well for a long way, in third.

The Maidens were essentially poor affairs; Matt Baldock notched his double on SHADY EXCHANGE (looked impressive in the paddock) in Division One, with Wild About You and the Gary Hanmer ridden Home Talk (favourite) filling the places. Division Two went to Alistair Crow on the Irish import Coole Venture, who had too much for Matt Baldock on Galaxy Minstrel in the finish, winning by eight lengths. Hanmerís Cadw looked to be the winner two out, but faded badly and finished very tired in third. The winner, an eight year old should be up to winning a restricted very soon.

In division Three the Steve Wynne trained My Native Knight was heavily backed (in from 3-1 to evens and odds on in places). Dai Mansell and Tedstone Fox tore into a huge lead which was only surrendered four out as the eventual winner MONSIEUR MOSSIMAN and Russell Dobney, over from Nottinghamshire, outbattled the hot favourite to land the prize. Matt Baldock ended a fruitful day with a third on My Glendalough. There was a short course maiden to finish, but a call from the wife saying she had locked herself out and could I come home immediately meant Iíll find out about that in the Post on Tuesday!