by Mal Davies

Highlight of the day at the Easter Monday meeting was yet another treble for Richard Burton, taking his seasonal tally to 24 as he stepped up his bid to become national Mens’ champion for the first time. He shared the limelight with another local rider Sammy Beddoes, who notched a fine double herself.

There was a little overnight rain, and one or two squally showers throughout the day, but in general the meeting was run in fine sunshine, with the usual huge crowd. The course had been watered, but was possibly still plenty firm enough in patches for there to be a lower than average turnout.

The first few races were frustrating for Burton, before he mopped up at the end, winning the last three on the reel.

The Members race saw another course win for the tough old Nothing Ventured, who gave Alistair Beedles another fine ride, to notch his 11th career win, from just 21 races; the former eventer remains a credit to connections at the age of 14. Oneanthreequarters was back in second with the Burton ridden Templenoe Hare, easy to back, in third.

There was a cracking finish to the Open Maiden, with Sammy Beddoes’ Point debutant Thatcher's Longshot, trained by Steve Brookshaw, grabbing, in the end, a conclusive 5L victory from Burton on hot favourite Donrico. The winner, unplaced in a bumper in his only previous racecourse run, looks certain to go on to Restricted success.

Lord Harry made his seasonal debut in a five runner Mens’ Open, and appeared to be very generously priced at 1-2; perhaps the market know a thing or two, and Alistair Crow was hard at work before the turn in for home; Lord Harry, rallied well, but a better leap at the last by Smile Pleeze secured the race for Tim Stephenson, with Lord Harry a length back in second, and an interesting Gary Hanmer debutant in Racanteur a further four lengths back in third.

The Ladies Open was full of incident, but most of it occurred before the horses were in the home turn, and Sammy Beddoes, who had blazed into a long lead on Pennyahei, put in a great round of jumping and was never headed, coming home a distance clear of the only other finisher Cardinal Rule. Favourite Vain Minstrel crashed through a wing, giving Emma Heaton a bad fall; Cascum Lad, also quietly fancied, also exited the same way, and Allow, under Hannah Kinsey unseated, though looked beaten at the time.

The first of Burton’s treble was bloodless win, the fourth in a row this season for Involved in the Intermediate, winning by a distance from Freestyler and Gary Hanmer. The winner looks well up to Open class, and hopefully, he’ll be given a try in that grade before the end of the season.

The winner of the Restricted, Karzang, is not the most genuine of characters, but Burton gave him a peach of a ride, and crucially, seemed to seek out the better ground on the straight before the turn; he came home an easy ten lengths ahead of Miss Foley, with Horton-cum-Peel staying on past tired horses for third. Honourable mention for old Barney Bear, who ran a blinder, and was in contention until 3 out, before his early efforts told on him and he faded to fifth. The Sheila Crow Fruity Farm was sent off favourite, which was more than a little surprising, given that she had beaten very little when winning her maiden, and she was well beaten when pulling up before the home turn.

Burton then repeated the performance on Pot Shot in the last, a two and a half mile maiden, again tacking over under the hedge on the home turn before establishing a commanding lead; the winner’s jumping looked very sketchy indeed over the last three, and it may well be that his stamina was giving out, even over this trip. By Alflora, he would not be an obvious candidate to see out three miles. Owenabue Valley ran well enough to take second.

This weekend’s action is at Eaton Hall on Saturday (first race 2.00) and at Brampton Bryan (2.05), and they also race at Upper Sapey on Sunday (2.00)