by Arthur Shone

Yesterdays’ point-to-point fixture at Eyton on Severn by the South Shropshire Hunt was a typical Easter Bank Holiday fixture. There was the usual large crowd, estimated at 12,000 plus and there was also a few spills and thrills with a hint of controversy thrown in for good measure, which added a bit of spice to the days proceedings. The course was in perfect racing condition, which was a credit to their clerk of the course John Beddoes and his team. They had worked tirelessly for the last 10 days to get the course in such good nick, which was appreciated by all the owners and trainers. One of the leading owners in the area Michael Parr lead the tributes, he said, ”I would like to congratulate John Beddoes and everyone that helped him to produce the best ground that I have ever seen at Eyton.”

The weather was generally good, plenty of sunshine, but the heavens opened before the second race and stopped afterwards. The commentator Eric Windsor could not even see the horses in the race, the rain was so heavy but thankfully it stayed away afterwards.

Shropshire trained horses dominated the afternoons racing with the Brookshaw family and their relatives taking centre stage. Richard Burton, whose mother Judy is the secretary for the South Shropshire, took centre stage with a treble in the saddle which cemented his lead at the top of the National Riders Championship. This now puts him on the 24 winner mark for the season. Young Burton also rode a treble two days before at the Sandon.

The first leg came aboard the very useful Involved in Morgan Homes Confined, beating the only other finisher Freestyler by a distance. Only three runners faced the starter, but this son of Macmillion has now won his last 4 races for Eccleshall owner Richard French and is a serious horse, which is why he frightens off the opposition. Winning trainer Sheila Crow from Hadnall said afterwards, ”He needed that race as he does nothing at home. Edward (Crow) has always said he has a lot of ability and you don’t win 4 races without it. I will probably run him at Bangor next in a Novice Hunter Chase next month.”

Burton completed the middle leg aboard Karazang in the Restricted who won easily by 10 lengths from Miss Foley. The winner is owned by Jeremy Beasley and trained by his daughter Caroline Robinson at Sheriff Halls, Nr Shifnal. Caroline does not have a bad strike rate from the 5 horses that she trains; she has had 23 runners and 12 have been placed or won, a lady to follow.

Richard landed the treble in the Getting Out Stakes (Open2.5 mile Maiden) aboard Pot Shot who won with insulting ease. The winner is owned by his father Rob and trained at Bishops Castle by Pam Sykes, whose horses are firing on all cylinders this season.

Richard Burtons’ uncle Steve Brookshaw got on the score sheet when Thatchers Longshot won the three mile Open Maiden in a thriller by a neck under Sammie Beddoes (daughter of the clerk of the course) from the jolly Donrico under Richard Burton. Steve who trains at Preston Farm, Nr Shrewsbury, was racing at Uttoxeter yesterday. He was represented at the course by his wife Zena who said after the race, ”He ran in a bumper at Worcester 12 months ago and Steve thought that hunting and racing him between the flags would sweeten him up and he has done it nicely today.”

An hour later Steve Brookshaws’ daughter Heidi was in the winners enclosure as the successful trainer of Pennyahei who won the Ladies Open under Sammie Beddoes by a distance from the only other finisher Cardinal Rule. Beddoes, who left Sue Smiths Yorkshire yard at Xmas, completed a double at the Shropshire course and is very tidy lady rider. She rides out most days for Steve Brookshaw and Shifnal trainer Heather Dalton.

The Mens’ Open went to Smile Please under Tim Stephenson who prevailed by a hard a fought length from the classy Lord Harry under Alistair Crow. The winner is trained by Michael Daniel at Upton on Severn for owner Sue Troughton, who also has another horse Run To Glen with Daniel. The winner also won the same race in 2000. The runner up blew up 5 out and connections were beaming after the race. Lord Harry goes for the Bangor Final on May 17th where he will be trying to win the race for a record fourth concecutive year. Lord Harry’s trainer Sheila Crow was beaming like a Cheshire cat, she said, ”That has put him spot on for Bangor. He will improve from this and they have to beat again.”

The runner ups cause was not helped when a loose dog ran across his path on the approach to the last, which prompted a stewards enquiry.

Alistair Beedles, the joint master of the South Shropshire Hunt, seems to win a race every year with Nothing Ventured at this course, this time around he landed the Members race for his principal owner Countess Goess-Saurau. Alistair trains the winner at his Dorrington yard and this was also his first winner of the season.