by Arthur Shone

For the second time in a fortnight, the Staffordshire course at Weston Park provided point-to-point enthusiasts with a really good days racing.

The fixture by the Meynell & South Staffs Hunt took place in glorious sunshine for most of the afternoon, which resulted in a bumper crowd estimated at around 8,000 plus. Clerk of the course Richard Froggatt came in for much praise from owners and riders alike for getting the course back in good shape a fortnight after the last meeting here.

Favourite backers got off to a good start in the opening Members race, with Lord Manton (Milo Watson) winning the race for the second year running on Approaching Land, beating Carly Goodhall on Young Tomo readily by a length and half at the line. The winner used to be trained by David Easterby but moved this season to Stuart Shaw’s yard at Burton in Staffs.

Nantwich trainer and rider Gary Hanmer won a race at Weston Park for the second time in two weeks when his mount looked beaten. Two weeks ago he produced Master Club Royal to win the Maiden, when Benbow looked all over the winner. This time around, also in the Maiden (Div 1), Hanmer looked beaten when jumping the last two lengths down on No Remorse to the Trice-Rolph ridden Artic Summer, but remarkably No Remorse got up on the line by half a length. The winner is owned by George Leech from Altrincham, who bred the winner himself.

There was another home bred winner of the second division of the Maiden, which was won by Ben Shaw on Welcome News, who made virtually ever yard on the mare to beat Richard Burton on Uncle Ada by a length. The winner was home bred by Bens’ parents Glen and Caroline at Oswestry and is trained by Andrew Dalton locally at Shifnal, who was winning at Weston Park for the second time in two weeks.

The coolest man at the races yesterday was rider Ashley Bealby who timed his run on Marston Moses to perfection in the Confined to beat West Coast under Willie Hill very cheekily on the run in by a couple of lengths. The winner is owned and trained by Billy Foulkes in Leicestershire. He had a really good pointer Adamare, who was a prolific winner in this neck of the woods a few years ago with his daughter Helen in the plate. It is also worth reflecting that at the defunct Staffordshire racecourse at Woore, which closed in 1966, Foulkes was the leading rider at the course quite a few times.

There is no substitute for class as Jane Williams demonstrated on the progressive Supreme Citizen, when winning the Ladies Open very easily by three lengths from Jackie Jarvis under Karen Diggle with the veteran Class Of Ninetytwo, from Steve Wynne’s yard at Threapwood, a further 6 lengths back in third. The winner is trained at Enville, Nr Bridgenorth by the rider’s mother Diane Williams, who was celebrating her 54th birthday at the course yesterday.

Threapwood trainer Steve Wynne looked booked for second spot with his charge Step on Eyre in the Mens’ Open until the favourite Mickthecutaway tipped up at the last when in a lead of a couple of lengths under Daniel Skelton. This left the race at the mercy of Stuart Morris on Step On Eyre, who took full advantage to win easing down by 8 lengths from Picket Piece. This was the first winner for Steve Wynne from his new yard, he said afterwards that his charge would have a month off and his main target would be the Bangor Final on May 15th 2004. The winner is owned by a local syndicate consisting of Alan Wynne, John & Chris Stockton, Richard Hewitt and Cameron Moir. Morris thought that he would have caught the jolly Mickthecutaway on the run in, but Daniel Skelton, son of the showjumper Nick and originally from Shropshire, was in no doubt about the result if his horse had not fell at the last. He said, ”I definitely would have won the race if we had got over the last as he still had a bit left, but that’s racing. This is only my second ever ride in a race and I won on my first ride at Barbury Castle and I am disappointed that it’s not two from two.”

Stuart Morris went on to complete a double at the Staffordshire track in the Getting Out Stakes (Restricted) with Hijacked, who was a very lucky winner, which was acknowledged by Morris. The even money favourite Misty Ramble had a lead of a good 10 lengths when falling at the last with the race at his mercy. The winner is trained at Feckenham in Worcester by Alan Hollingsworth, who has 9 horses in his yard for the season.