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Sunday 11th April 2010
by Stella Havard


A bumper crowd enjoyed an excellent eight race card at Bitterley, the spring sunshine generating a carnival- like atmosphere.

The good going at the popular course attracted plenty of runners in all but one race.

Course builder Steve Graham had debated which race to aim his charge Lagosta for, finally opting for the Hunt Members race. It was a good call, as Rachel Reynolds sent Lagosta up to join the leaders three from home and he coasted clear to win by eight lengths. Emotional Article (Adam Wadlow), owned and trained by point-to-point secretary, Belinda Clarke made a gallant bid to grab second place, dead heating with So Many Questions (Josh Hamer). Steve Graham was quick to praise Rachel Reynolds for her riding tactics, and also pointed out that his Presteigne-based farrier Julian Price was a crucial part of the team as Lagosta suffered badly with cracked hooves.

The Confined event was another winner for the in-form Welshpool stable of Phill Jones when Lord Louis (Adam Wadlow) got the better of Rumbury Grey (Paul Tolman) by a length. The nine-year-old was bred by Shropshire owner Bridget Everall.

Richard Burton looks set to partner his first winner at the meeting in the Restricted race with The Partalonian, but 17-year-old Emily Godsall had other ideas. Despite a slight mistake at the second last, she galvanised Napalm to get up in a close finish. Emily is certainly bred for the job, her father Graham kicked home plenty of winners at Bitterley and her mother Sally (nee Bufton) who owns and trains Napalm, had been second there 30 years ago with Ledger Line. “Emily’s a better rider than her mother!” said Sally, “Mackenzie and Selby were very rude about me!”

Raleagh House (James Horton) smashed the track record in the Men's Open race, clocking 5 minutes, 51 seconds. This was no mean feat, as the record of 5 minutes, 54 seconds was set by Hemay and George Cartwright in 1983. George was present to witness the new record holder, remembering, “Hemay had to carry 13 stone that day, giving a stone to his rivals. He won 17 of his 27 races, THAT record will be hard to break!”

Raleagh House was winning his fourth on the bounce for Clive and Eileen Bennett. They have seven horses currently in training, all capably handled by Emma Alvis at Dymock. James Horton, partnering the eight-year old for the first time, proved an able deputy for usual rider, Tom Weston, who was grounded on a suspension.

The Ladies Championship race sponsored by Bridgenorth trainer, Belinda Clarke, was the only small field of the day, with just two runners going to post for the £600 first prize. Both Jane Williams (Upton Legend) and Isabel Tompsett (Cannon Bridge) meant business from the outset, and there was a gasp from the crowd when the short priced favourite Cannon Bridge turned over at the sixth fence. Jane Williams sensibly decided to ride as if she still had rivals, and Upton Legend galloped and jumped gamely in splendid isolation for over a circuit, not the easiest of tasks. Owned by loyal enthusiast, Peter Corbett, Upton Legend is trained at Kimbolton by the hard-working Sarah-Jayne Davies, who commented, “ This is a lovely genuine mare, and jumping is the name of the game. It was a difficult situation to be in, and Jane handled it well” Luckily both Cannon Bridge and rider returned unscathed.

The first division of the Young Horse Maiden was a satisfying one for the Crow family when Richard Burton partnered Philasonic to an eight length victory. “Patience is a virtue!” commented Alistair Crow greeting the homebred gelding explaining that it has taken two years for the horse to recover from an incident at his first point-to-point at Tabley. The echoes from the PA system caused him to take fright in the lorry and he became wedged, and had to be chainsawed out. “ He was skinned like a cat,” recalled Alistair. “We haven’t risked putting him in the big lorry today,-he’s come in the smaller cattle wagon! He’ll be a tidy horse now”

Condarian, trained by Hannah Lewis, provided Sam Painting’s second career win for his grandmother, Sylvia Tainton in the second division. Sylvia, who has recently had a couple of hip replacements, was overjoyed at the success for both horse and rider. Adrian Wintle, who purchased Condarian privately at Doncaster last May, was slightly surprised and very pleased at the horse’s performance. “He’s still a baby, and a lot to look forward to.”

Society Whisper (Paul Tolman) asserted early and gave a breathtaking display of jumping in the 8 yrs + Maiden for Sirrell Griffths and his wife. His painful back problems temporarily forgotten, the trainer of Gold Cup winner, Norton’s Coin was happy to recount the tale of his ‘gift horse’. “John Queally, a friend of mine who trains at Waterford, came over last June for the opening of the Ffos Las course, and offered me this horse as a gift. He’d cost 28,000 five years ago at Fairyhouse, and got a bad cut soon after, so had been out in the field since., but was sound. He’s so well-bred- Moscow Society out of a Deep Run mare- who’d turn that down? He came over last September, and he hasn’t been the easiest to keep condition on, but we’ve been very hopeful for him and his three runs have been so unlucky! Last week he slipped up at Maisemore, but finally his luck’s turned! I think he’d want it softer than this too, so it was a good run.”

During the meeting a presentation was made to long-standing steward, Dick Pike as a token of thanks from The Ludlow Hunt. Though Dick is required to retire as a senior steward, he will still be on duty on the steward’s trailer.

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