Wheatland at WOLVERHAMPTON
Sunday 14th May 2000
by Mal Davies
Gary Hanmer secured the North West Men's Title with a hat trick at Dunstall Park on Sunday as the curtain came down on the Area's pointing season.
Going into the meeting, Hanmer was neck and neck with Alistair Crow on 55 points with Richard Burton back in third on 31. The pendulum swung in Hanmer's favour in the Mens Open when Crow's fancied mount Jacob's Wife took a crashing fall at the third last when looking in command. Whilst it was Dai Mansell's Jalcanto who benefitted directly to win the race from Native Cove, Hanmer managed a third place on Mister Moss to nose ahead in the title race and, with Crow feeling the after effects of his tumble giving up his remaining rides, Hanmer was not to be caught and indeed he celebrated by taking the last three races on the card.
The first of the trio was on his own horse Inglerise in the second division of the maiden, by far the faster of the two divisions. Hanmer made it two on Spumante, who followed up breaking his maiden at Weston Park last week with a held-up victory in the Restricted (thus proving this correspondent totally wrong as Id predicted he would struggle to win a restricted!) , and the hat-trick came in the season's finale, on Garryspillane in the Wheatland Hunt race, a contender for the most awful Hunt Race of the season, which is saying something!
Amongst the other jockeys in the limelight was Mike Worthington. He made the recovery of the season to somehow stay aboard Barney Bear in one of the maiden races after practically being unseated and clinging on underneath his horse's neck, which acrobatics brought a huge round of applause from the grandstand. In the next race his enterprising front running tactics on Analystic, who had already run in the Mens' Open, nearly paid off in the restricted, only to be caught by Spumante close home.
Mouse Barlow won the valuable Scally Muire Ladies Open on Killatty Player, due reward for a horse who has performed consistently well at this level all season. Although Carrie Ford was out of luck on Aegean Fanfare in this race, her points total for the season was unassailable and she was again leading Area Lady rider.
The Countryside Alliance members race fell to William Hill on Rising Sap from the home hunt, making it two wins from just two rides for the young jockey this season. Sheila Crow's Native Cannon, with Brendan Foster picking up another spare-ride due to Alistair Crows indisposition, took the other division of the maiden after a great battle with Hanmer on Master Will.
This was my first visit to a Wolverhampton point. This might be heresy to dyed-in-the-wool point followers, but the facilities are a million dollars, the atmosphere of the crowded grandstand shouting on the runners was far better than the muted reception one gets in a muddy field, and overall did not detract from the lack of a bucolic setting. In my view, more points should at least consider booking available racecourses.