by Arthur Shone

The heavy rain the previous evening made it testing conditions underfoot for both horses and racegoers alike, however, the Shropshire course rode well at Eyton on Severn. Yesterday, I walked the track beforehand and it was in the best condition that I have seen it for years which was a credit to their clerk of the course John Beddoes. The marathon 9 race card had all the usual thrills and spills with a hint of controversey thrown in for good measure

Shropshire rider Richard Burton took centre stage with a treble which puts him on the 10 winner mark for the season. The first leg came aboard Cool Venture in the Morgan Homes Intermediate race, who was not extended to beat Star Of Raven by 10 lengths with Atoski was a further 4 lengths back in third. This winner was a noteable landmark for young Burton as it was his 100th career success in the saddle. The winner is trained at Hadnall by Shieila Crow and came as no surprise to Sheila Speaking afterwards she said, ”I ride him everyday in his work at home and he has been really sparkling. He’s a bit special because he has such a turn of foot. His class won him the race today, don’t forget he was up against decent opposition.” The second leg came on another inmate of Sheila Crow’s in the shape of Involved in the Restricted. The Macmillion gelding never came off the bridle to thrash Lenmar Boy under Chris Stockton by 20 lengths hard held. This is a very progressive horse who has now won both his races with authority. The winner is owned by Richard French who has another good horse with Crows called Templebreedy. Sheila was delighted with this win, she said, ”Richard (Burton) came back and said that he never moved on him and that he won so easy and said that I could have won on him! I liked this horse when we first saw him in Ireland last September before we bought him. I said to Edward (Crow) at the time that I thought he could be a very serious horse and he is looking like one now.”

Sheila Crow is the trainer to follow for the season for readers and her strike rate of 7 winners from 10 runners is remarkable.

Richard Burton had to work a bit harder to complete the treble on Rooneyran in the Getting Out Stakes (Div 2 Confined Maiden). The combination had a length and a three quarters in hand over the runner up John Foley. The winner is trained by Pam Sykes at Bishops Castle, a regular provider of winners for Burton, for a syndicate aptly called the Hunting Farmers.

The first division of the Confined Maiden went to Tom Brown, who was given a very confident ride by David Barlow, repelling the renewed challenge of Richard Burton on Pot Shot by a length and half. Hill Of Kilfeacle finished an eyecatching third, a further 4 lengths away. The winner is trained by the Tanatside hunt secretary Phil Jones at Welshpool. He seems to lay his horses out to win at his local meeting each season, Teal Bay last year in the Members as an example. Phil was in fine spirits when I spoke to him after the race, he said, ”I bought him in Ireland and I have always thought he had ability. He’s a half brother to Mounthenry Star, who holds the course record here. I like him a lot and yes, you would have to say he will progress further.”

The old enemy must have had a virtual skinner in the Ladies Open after Hoodwinker sprang a 16-1 shock under Jane Williams to beat Grizzly Bear with Karen Cookson in the plate by 15 lengths on merit with Pride Of Kashmir a further half a length back in third. The winner is trained by the riders mother Mrs Diane Williams at Enville Hall at Starbridge, Nr Bridgenorth. This was Jane’s third winner of the season and her mother only has three horses in training, not a bad strike rate!

The Grafton Hunt completed a double at the Shropshire track. The first of which was with Ebullient Equiname in the Mens Open under Stuart Morris who had too much in hand on the run in beating Alistair Crow on Gareth Samuel’s Whatafellow by two and a half lengths. Watch out for the third horse Do It Again next time out. He looked a stuffy type and will come on from this race. I have to be honest the runner up at 13 was the pick of the paddock, not just by me, but by  a lot of the hacks and people in know… how he never got the best turned out is a mystery. The winning trainer Samantha Loggin made the long trip from Towcester a winning one on her first ever visit to the track.

Jenny Pidgeon,also from the Grafton Hunt regards the Shropshire course as a happy hunting ground after a successful raid here at this meeting last season. She won the first division of the Open Maiden by a hard fought three parts of a length with Only Me under Mathew Baldock who got up in the shadow of the post to beat Who’s Eddie by three parts of a length. Jenny said afterwards that she bought the horse from her daughter’s vet and that it provided winning owner Keith Smith with his first winner with his first ever horse.

What a surprise to find that the opening Members race had some runners in it, as this contest in the past has been a walkover or a match. Five runners went to post and it turned out to be a cracking contest. At the second last it was a case of all five runners in a line but at the last fence Miss Foley under Tony Williams had the race in the bag and he drove the mare out for a smooth 3 length success over the jolly, Lord Of The West. The winner is trained at Ludlow by Geoff Evans for his former guvnor Jack Peacock, who has a half share in the horse along with the Herbert Folley Group. Jack only retired from training at Ludlow five years ago and he used to train the winner under rules for his wife Janet  

There was plenty of  interest in the second division of the Open Maiden with T,nightsthenight in the line up. The Scallywag gelding is co owned by Charlie Barlow and  John Malam, the former head groundsman at Bangor on Dee, who lives at Overton, not far from the track. In a dramatic finish Red Spice under Raymond Owen held on by a fast diminishing half a length from T,nightsthe night with Charlie Barlow in the plate. Barlow came back in fuming and launched an objection to the winner for taking his ground on the run to the last. The Stewards took their time deliberating, but in the end they let the placings stand. The winner is trained at Blaen-Y-Cym, Nr Mold by Raymond Owen and he co-owns the winner with his girlfriend Bethan Jones. His uncle Edward Hollister Owen used to train the useful chaser Rupertino, a winner of 10 chases under rules for the late Lord Kenyon.