by Arthur Shone

The busy Easter period had seen a lack of runners at most meetings on Easter Saturday. However there were no such problems at the Easter Monday fixture at Eyton by the North Shropshire Hunt. There was a massive crowd, the biggest seen at the Shropshire venue for a few years, especially with the top car park full up an hour before racing. Those that could get in enjoyed a very completive days racing. I suppose you can’t have everything weather wise; the first three races were run in really warm sunshine, but then the heavens opened non stop for the next three contests, which resulted in very testing underfoot conditions for racegoers. 

Shropshire rider Richard Burton continued his relentless pursuit of his second consecutive national riders championship with an emphatic win on Pristeen Spy in the opening Members race to record his 26th winner of the season. The Teenoso gelding made every yard from flag fall to win unchallenged by a remote distance. Home Tor from the Heidi Brookshaw yard remounted to finish third under Jarrett. Pristeen Spy was recording his third win of the season for Nantwich owner David Hayes. Hadnall trainer Sheila Crow has always thought a lot of the winner. Speaking afterwards she said, ”I have always liked him. I was very pleased with the way he jumped and he keeps improving. He did not even know he had a race today, he wouldn’t have blown out a candle afterwards. Because he jumped so big today, we will have to put him over bigger fences now.” 

Thirty-five minutes later Sheila Crow’s brother Gordie Edwards was in the winner’s enclosure following the very easy success of Mountsorrel in the Open Maiden race. The race was over three out when Ben Shaw kicked Mountsorrell on and he extended the lead to 15 lengths at the jam stick from the other 5-2 co-favourite Reflected Glory with Mervsintrouble a further head back in third. Gordie who trains at Somerwood Stud, near Shrewsbury, was delighted to get off the mark for the season. His wife Sarah has hunted the horse throughout the season with the North Shropshire in her role as the whipper in with the hunt. The winner used to be trained under rules by Trevor Wall before his owner Derek Pugh, a well-known Shrewsbury auctioneer, sent him to Gordie to train. 

A change of scenery also had the desired affect on Dare in the Confined race, who stayed on well close home under David Barlow to beat Richard Burton on the odds on jolly Indian Wings by two and a half lengths. The winner was a first season training success for Leighton handler Jonathon Lee. The Beveled gelding was previously trained on the flat by David Evans and over the sticks by Richard Lee. Dare is owned by a syndicate of three people all from Welshpool area including the trainer. The other co-owners are James Potter and Jim Blurton. 

The most impressive winner of the day was reserved for the Paul Jones trained Thyne Man in the Restricted, who put up a breathtaking display in the well known Michael Parr colours under Gary Hamner to win very easily by 30 lengths from Templenoe Hare at the post. Wolverhampton trainer Paul Jones said afterwards that he had bought the winner in Ireland after finding out that he finished second to Fundamental (who won at the Cheltenham Festival). He said, ”I was on my way home to the docks when I heard he was for sale, so I went back and hopped over a gate and saw this chestnut in a barn. The place was deserted, so I rang Michael (Parr) and told him that I had found him a nice horse, which he agreed to buy straight away. I would like to run him next in a hunter chase at Folkestone but the owner will probably want to go to the Bangor Final now, so I will now have to sit down and discuss with Mr Parr where he wants to go to next”. Michael Parr has won the Bangor Final four times, three times with the classy Lord Harry trained by Sheila Crow and with Glacial Trial trained by Paul Jones. The Bangor Final is a race that Parr likes to win and he looks a shade of odds on to have Thyne Man in the line up at the Welsh course on May 15th and on this performance it is going to take a good horse to beat him next month. 

Gary Hanmer completed a double at the Shropshire course aboard on Just Cliquot in the Mens’ Open where only four horses faced the starter. Hanmer eased his mount right down for a very smooth six-lengths win over Oneandthreequarters partnered by Robert Jagger. The winner is trained by Corinne Swarbrick at Shifnal who has just this one horse in her yard. She plans to run her charge in a hunter chase at Hexham next Monday. As for Gary Hanmer, this was his 13th winner of the season. 

Cheshire rider Hannah Kinsey recorded her second winner of the season on Pacon in the Ladies Open beating Justin Mac by 12 lengths in a quick time of 6m 12s. Pennyahai trained Heidi Brookshaw at Preston Farm, near Shrewsbury fell at the last with Tessa Clarke when staying on strongly. Both the mare and rider got up unscathed. The winner is trained by Hannah’s mother at Frodsham. 

Benbow, trained at Somerwood by Gordie Edwards, was well supported in the Getting Out Stakes (Open 3 mile Maiden) to give the popular Shropshire trainer a double at his local course. The Gunner B gelding could only finish third to Whatamonkey, who was ridden by his owner and trainer Paul Morris from Perton, which was his first winner of the season. Gordie told me that he was feeling confident before Benbow’s race because he had been to church on Easter Sunday and prayed for rain, which he got. Next time Benbow is due to race I would suggest that he goes to the pub instead. 

Clerk of the course John Beddoes came in for much praise from owners, trainer and jockeys alike for the condition of the course.