by Arthur Shone

Sadly Saturdays’ April 26th fixture between the flags by the Flint & Denbigh hunt at Eaton Hall, Nr Chester, will be remembered for its lack of runners at the Cheshire course. Despite putting 150,000 gallons of water on the track, there were only 22 horses to contest 7 races. The crowd of around several thousand did not have a great deal to watch and the crowd figures would have been down anyway, as this meeting clashed with the Wrexham promotion game with Cambridge, which they won 5-0 watched by a crowd of almost 10,000.

Shrewsbury rider Richard Burton cemented his lead at the top of the National riders championship with a double at the course, which put him on the 27 winner mark of the season. The first leg came aboard Do It Again in the Mens’ Open, who he got the better of his sole opponent Bucks View by three parts of a length; the runner up did not finish soundly. The winner is trained by Pam Sykes at Bishops Castle, whose horses have been running well this season. Burton completed the double aboard Templebreedy in the Intermediate race, also a two-runner affair, winning cheekily by half a length from Oyster Bay. The winner is trained at Hadnall by Sheila Crow, who has provided Burton with most of his winners this season.

Sheila Crow’s  brother Gordie Edwards also found himself in the winners enclosure following the success of Bishops Hall, who made all under Sarah Hopkins to beat Jimmy Jumbo by a length in the Ladies Open. It also provided Gordie with his first winners of the season and the first since his move to Summer Wood Stud, Nr Shrewsbury last year. The winner at 17 years young looked magnificent in the winners enclosure afterwards and he’s a credit to his trainer.

I always thought that most people used the Internet for dating, however Tarporley trainer John Swindells uses the net to buy horses for his Cheshire yard! One such purchase Fryup Satellite provided his 22 year old daughter Gemma with her first ever winner in the saddle when beating Cardinal Rule readily by 6 lengths.

The biggest field on the day, 6 runners, contested the Open Maiden. The race was won by Maks Peril, the complete 20-1 outsider of the field, who won easily by 15 lengths under Ben Shaw. The winner is trained by Mary Mackie, wife of the trainer John Mackie at their Sudbury yard in Derbyshire. This was Shaw’s fifth winner between the flags plus he has also ridden two winners under rules.

It’s not over until the fat lady sings, which was true of Henbury Dancer and David Sherlock, who tipped up at the last in the Restricted with the race won, which gifted the race to Master Banker and Mr T Ellis from the Warwickshire Hunt.

The Members race at this meeting is usually a joke, as it rarely has any entries and on the day is usually a walk over or a match. Last Saturday’s contest was true to form. 16 year old Sam de Gregory from Kimmel Bay, Nr Rhyl, having his first ride in a race, walked over on his mount Chuck to claim the spoils. The Flint & Denbigh must surely look at putting this race last on the card in future, then when the usual no contest takes place it will give everyone a chance to leave early.