by Arthur Shone

The Vale of Lune meeting yesterday attracted a huge bank holiday crowd, but unfortunately was a bit short on runners. This is unfortunate, as the Clerk of the Course, Chris Hodgkinson, has done a cracking job with the track, not just with the drainage, but with every aspect of the course. Unfortunately there are four meetings in the North West taking place over the Easter period that means that not all fixtures will have an abundance of runners.

The easiest thing to do punting wise yesterday was to latch on to the odds on favourite and then do your money with the old enemy.

Probably the best formula for finding a winner is to punt on to any horse trained by the Fords from Tarporley, who seem to win the opening Members race with regular monotony. Yesterday was no exception as they won the race again, this time around with Camden Fellow at a very generous 4-1, who came home unchallenged by 20 lengths from Aly Daley under a very confident ride from Caroline Hurley who owns the horse as well. This was the 19-year-old rider’s third winner of her career. The winner was trained by her boss Carrie Ford at Tarporley, who emulated her husbands win on Rolling Ball in the Aintree Foxhunters in 1996 by winning the 2004 race with Forest Gunner a fortnight ago after coming out of retirement. I am also very grateful to Caroline’s’ father Geoff for his email suggesting that I become the chairman of the Richard Burton Fan Club. I never thought of that but I would suggest that after “Burtie” wins his second consecutive National riders championship it would be a good idea if Mr Hurley sends his CV into the Racing Post and applies for the position of his agent when it is advertised.

Grand National winning owner John Halewood of Amberleigh House fame was on hand to present the trophy to Joe Coates following the success of the veteran Blank Cheque in the Halewood International Confined race. Borden Run looked all over the winner at the last but tired which allowed David Coates to win going away by 3 lengths on the old boy. The Idiots Delight gelding is a wonderful advert for our sport as this is his ninth consecutive season racing between the flags. It not difficult to see why the riders sister Wendy, who trains the horse, completely dotes on him.

Everything comes to those who wait as Wendy Gibson discovered in the Ladies Open aboard Yorkshire Edition who made virtually every yard to beat the odds jolly Jackie Jarvis under Katherine Diggle by two and a half lengths. This was the 27 years old riders first ever winner, which as she admitted afterwards, had been a long time coming. The winner is trained by her boss Chris Dennis who trains near Scotch Corner. The winner is owned by Sir Robert Ogden who had Ellis Park in training with Dennis last season but this was his first winner that Dennis has trained for him.

19-year-old Harriet Bethell having her first ever race ride made it a winning one on Dolphin Square in the Intermediate beating the well backed Master Club Royal under Michael McAllister comfortably close home. Considering this was the Harriet’s first ride in public, she kept a very cool head on her shoulders when Master Club Royal poached a good lead on the final circuit and she timed her run to perfection to get up in the shadow of the post. On this performance she will definitely be a leading contender for the Yorkshire Ladies area championship in the not too distant future.

Only four runners went to post for the Land Rover Mens’ Open, but there was only ever one horse in it. Dorans Magic under Niall Saville recorded a bloodless victory over the marginal favourite Victorias Boy. The winner, who is trained by Annabelle Armitage, near Brandsby, looks so fresh when he came back in that I suspect he could have gone around again.    

Malpas owner and trainer Richard Hewitt is well known for laying out a horse to win the Members race at his own hunt meeting, the Flint & Denbigh. He has a very strong contender for the 2005 renewal following the bloodless victory of Clodagh Valley in the Maiden under Will Kinsey.