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30th January 2005
by Arthur Shone
photos by Phil Britt

The new 2005 season between the flags in the North Western Area came under starters orders in style on Sunday with the Albrighton fixture at Weston Park. It was a brave decision by the Albrighton hunt committee to race so early in the season and it was one which paid handsome dividends.

There were plenty of quality runners at the track, which produced a very competitive eight race card, and a decent crowd of around 7,000 who braved the biting cold wind for the opening meeting of the new campaign.

Sheriffhales trainer Caroline Robinson, who was featured on the Jumping for Fun website in profile, highlighted Honest Yer Honour as the best horse in her yard and she confirmed yesterday that her charge is on course for the Cheltenham Foxhunters after he bolted up Cottenham last week. Robinson also highlighted Jemaro for the Albrighton Members race, which he duly won in a hack canter yesterday by a distance from Master Jock with Atcham rider Richard Burton in the plate. Robinson said that her charge is so enthusiastic and added that despite reaching the veteran age of 14 he still runs away with her on the gallops! This race has a habit of producing veteran winners, it is not all that long ago that the 17-year-old Shoon Wind, who was owned by Neale Dalton, the chairman of the Albrighton Hunt committee, won this race.

Jemaro clears the last to win the Hunt Members opening race

Richard Burton went on to complete a double aboard the very promising Darnil in the second division of the Restricted. The winner is trained at Hadnall by Sheila Crow for Shrewsbury owner David Rogers. The son of Grand Plaisir produced a decent turn of foot to quicken past Saint Reverien two out to win going away by 3 lengths. Boddidley from the Paul Nicholls yard was a further 12 lengths back in third. Crow thinks a lot of the winner and said, ”It’s good to get of the mark for the season. He’s a nice horse and he will improve a stone from this run easily. He was finishing so fast that Richard (Burton) told me that he had a hard job to pull him up at the end of the race.”

Darnil and Richard Burton fight it out over the second last with eventual runner-up Saint Reverien in yellow
in the Division 2 of the Restricted Race

The same combination were backed off the boards to win the first division of the Restricted with the mare Miss Sallyfield but they had to settle for second best behind the comfortable 6 length winner Shemardi. On this evidence the runner up (Miss Sallyfield) should not be long in winning. The winner is trained at Shobdan near Leominster by Steve Issac and is owned by his landlord Crawford Gibbons, who also co owns the winner with his sister Moira and his mother Barbara.

Shemardi and Rob Hodges jump the last to win the Division 1 of the Restricted Race

In any sport there is no substitute for class as Foly Pleasant demonstrated with a comfortable 3 length win in the Mens’ Open. The former top class chaser under rules was given a very confident ride by Marc Barber and quickened away readily from the Andrew Dalton trained Quality First with Guignol Du Cochet a further 7 lengths back in third. The winner is owned and trained at Tenbury Wells by Nick Shutts. The winner was bought at the Doncaster Sales last May and Nick pointed out that the under bidder that day was Ginger McCain. He said, “When I bought this horse it was with a view to running him in the Cheltenham Foxhunters because that is where he has always ran his best races. I also have him entered in the John Smiths Grand National at Aintree.”

Foly Pleasant and Marc Barber on their way to winning the Mens Open Race

Patience is a virtue that owner Clive Hitchings has in abundance. Jarode carried his well-known yellow and blue colours to victory in the Intermediate race. The 10-year-old gelding was having only his 5 th run in his life, but saying that he has won three times from five outings. Adrian Wintle gave the winner a super ride come from off the pace to win a shade cheekily by a couple of lengths from the long time leader Maquilleux. Winning trainer Andy Hobbs from Hanley Swan, near Worcester trained under rules from the same yard until relinquishing his licence last April.

Jarode approaches the last before taking the Intermediate race for the late Capt Foster's Challenge Trophy

The mare Jackie Jarvis, who was the champion horse in the area last year, has two ways of running, as sometimes she refuses to start, but when she does race she is useful. The Ladies Open saw her on one of her going days, beating a decent field under Sarah Johnson with Mytime three lengths in arrears. The winner is trained at Tarporley by the riders father John Swindells for owner Jan Wood.

Jackie Jarvis ridden by Mrs S Johnson takes the second last before winning the Ladies Open

Swindells was very unlucky not to have completed a double at the Staffordshire course with Braeburn in the first division of the Maiden. His charge was cantering with his daughter Gemma in the plate and some five lengths clear when over pitching at the 5th last with the race at her mercy. This left the race to Uncle Neil under Richard Burton and Youwouldhavethat with Julian Pritchard in the plate with the latter prevailing by 15 lengths. The winner is trained Low Broad Heath, near Worcester for Market Drayton owner Don Constable who was recording his first winner at his local course.

Youwouldhavethat no 19 gives Julian Pritchard a winner with Uncle Neil the grey in second place

The second division of the Maiden was won by the Lisa Williamson trained and owned Red Square Lad, who provided 19 year old David Gater, who works for the trainer at her Saighton yard Nr Chester, with his first winner between the flags from only his second ride. It was a good training performance from Williamson as her charge had been off the racecourse for almost two years.

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