by Pete Mansell

Locally based jockeys dominated last weeks Radnor fixture at Cold Harbour and they repeated that feat during Saturdays North Ledbury meeting at the same venue, when Matthew Hooper, Richey Spate, Julian Pritchard and Geoff Barfoot Saunt were all successful.

18-year-old Matthew Hooper from Leigh Sinton scored his first win on Stride to Glory in the Members. Hooper's mount was always travelling easily but they had to pull out all the stops when the race developed into a battle with Jalcanto during the final half mile. Damian Duggans experience looked likely to carry the day, but Hooper refused to be intimidated and gained a narrow advantage at the last, which was maintained all the way to the line. Jo Tremain trains the winner at Hanley Castle for the rider's father Nigel who purchased Stride to Glory at Ascot Sales in February.

Richey Spate and Simply Better have become familiar faces in the winners enclosure this season and they made their third visit after a facile win in the Confined. Simply Better had taken command of this race before the defection of some of his better fancied rivals and passed the post as his nearest rival was jumping the last. The 9-year-old is owned by Carl and Chrissie Spate, mine hosts of the Bluebell Inn at Ryall and was the first leg of a treble for Castlemorton trainers Roy and Mary Shail who sent out Rusty Fellow and Maggies Brother to win Huntingdon Hunter Chases later in the evening.

Eastnor's Julian Pritchard maintained his challenge for the Jockeys Title with a hatrick of wins on Mounthenry Star (Mixed Open) and Persona Pride and Cider Man (Maidens). With conditions in their favour Pritchard set out to make all the running on Mounthenry Star and they were never headed after taking up the running at the second. Richard Burton and Lochnomore were unable to get within striking distance of the favourite who finished 20 lengths clear of his rival without being asked a serious question. It was later disclosed that Burton who was making a rapid return from a shoulder injury was unlikely to ride again this season.

Pritchard's treble was completed on board Persona Pride in Division I of the 3-mile Maiden and Cider Man in Division I of the 2 1/2 mile Maiden. The ex-Champion tracked Dante's Inpharno for much of this race and had just taken command when Mark Wall's mount ducked out at the third from home which allowed Percy Priday's home-bred 8-year-old to coast home to victory.

Janet Hughes was on hand to congratulate Persona Pride's connections because she had ridden the winners dam Le Jour Fortune to victory in several Ladies races during the late 1980's. The Castlemorton based owner/trainer had cause for celebration an hour later after Cider Mans victory in the Maiden in the colours of his owner/breeder Ron Bunn.

Geoff Barfoot Saunt and Come on George repeated their course success of a week earlier in the Restricted. The Eastnor based rider did well to survive when his mount slipped turning into the home straight and his limpet like qualities were needed when his mount dived through the last but once they were back on an even keel the result was never in doubt.