There was a great finale for the North West season where the Meynell and South Staffordshire at Garthorpe had an excellent turnout of 82 runners from an original entry of 131, which resulted in some competitive racing. Full praise is due to Clerk of the Course Brian Crawford and his team who once again did a sterling job in preparing genuine good ground, with good to firm in places. In addition to the seven races, proceedings commenced with seven pony races which meant it was a very long day for the crowd and the organisers.
14 runners went to post for the Mixed Open which looked a really open affair on paper. However, when Nick Orpwood gave Battle Range the office after the third last, the combination steadily drew clear to win by twelve lengths from Broughtons Bandit with Time Gentleman a further five lengths back in third. Trainer Jacqueline Coward who had a winner with this gelding on her last ride a couple of weeks ago before retiring as a jockey, admitted that this is the only horse she will really miss race riding. The winner is in such good form she may consider looking for a Novice Chase over the summer.
There was a double at the meeting for Zac Baker on The Gunner Brady in the Intermediate and Well Said in the concluding 4. 5. And 6 year old Maiden over 2 ½ miles. The Gunner Brady was a convincing winner of the Intermediate winning by seven lengths from Love Manhattan with the odds-on favourite Proximo never travelling well and only finishing a well beaten fifth. Tracey Bailey was delighted with the gelding's third win of the season having surpassed his seasonal target to run in the Subaru Restricted Final at Sratford where he only managed to come eighth.
The second leg of the Baker double was a pillar to post one where Well Said set a strong pace and always had too much in hand, eventually winning by seven lengths from the favourite Kabanga Bay. The six year old winner trained by John Bryan was having his third ever run, having been bought privately in Ireland a few months ago by Michael Oliver for his brother Martin and Jack McGrath.
The opening Club Members Race saw another outstanding ride from Gina Andrews who sent the heavily backed favourite to the front at the third last and held on well to win by a length and short head from Dunowen Point and Push Ahead, with Twentypoundluck only a neck away in fourth. The fast improving winner was completing a hat-trick of wins at Garthorpe and loves the fast ground.
In the PPORA Club Members race for Novice Riders, Jack Andrew on local course specialist Lough Inch set out to make all and although the prolific Tempelpirate was produced by Ben Hicks with a good challenge at the last, the superior jump from Lough Inch quickly settled the matter with Liz Harris' charge staying on well to win by three lengths. Tommy Morgan had decided to take on the favourite in this race rather than opting for the Intermediate and was delighted with the result.
The Restricted over the shorter two and a half miles saw sixteen of the nineteen entries stand their ground, making it a very open contest. Richard Collinson on the favourite looked to have slipped the field on Torann na Donn but Sam Davies-Thomas came with a sustained late run on the Jimmy Tarry trained Nelson's Legend to get up in the last few strides winning by half a length.
In the older horses' Maiden, several held chances as they entered the straight but Tommie O'Brien who had held up Davie's Delight came with a strong run at the second last and won going away from Black Sambuca. The winner is trained by Jake Coulson near Macclesfield and was bought privately in Ireland by trainer Katy Price for owner Nick Carter after been placed in Irish points during the winter.