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North Staffordshire at Sandon
Saturday 31st March 2018
by Rory Alkin

The meeting went ahead after an early morning inspection and a couple of the bends were altered. Luckily it remained dry throughout the meeting although the heavy going was testing.

There was another riding double for Alex Edwards on Salvatore and Optimised for trainer Phil Rowley, but a major shock aboard his other mount Hazel Hill who suffered his first defeat in the UK at the hands of Garde Ville.

In the Men's Open, Stephen Davies on Garde Ville dictated the pace for most of the race and although Hazel Hill came to challenge after the third last, Garde Ville in receipt of twelve pounds from the long odds-on favourite was always finding more and won by a length and a half with Ballyrath a further twenty five lengths back in third. The delighted winning owner/trainer Trish Rigby who trains just three horses near Llangollen is likely to give Garde Ville another run in a point before tackling a hunter chase.

Edwards first winner was in the opening Members, where the Bangor Maiden winner Salvatore took over from the tiring leader Galabally King after the third last and won easily by fifteen lengths from Big Brother George. The five-year-old winner was greeted by an enthusiastic local syndicate which included the Entries Secretary Di Cope, Chairman Chris Mellard and Declarations Steward Sue Sharratt.

In the Intermediate, Edwards had an easy task when Optimised drew away from Belton Red Fox in the straight and won by fifteen lengths. The five-year-old is now qualified for the Connolly's Red Mills Intermediate Final at Cheltenham in May and may take that option.

There was plenty of drama in the Skinner's Ladies Open where Leanne Painter unseated on the favourite Global Power at the twelfth fence and both Executive Benefit and Horsham Lad refused two fences later, leaving the held-up Owen Glendower virtually solo to win unchallenged. Both Alyson Deniel on Executive Benefit and Phine Banks on Horsham Lad retraced and jumped the fourteenth fence and came home at long intervals behind Owen Glendower. The winner is owned, trained and ridden by 25-year-old Hannah Gregory who acquired the thirteen-year-old from her boss Sophie Leech a couple of years ago.

The largest field of the day was in the Club Members Conditions Race where nine went to post. However, the race was dominated by A-Level student Harry Myddleton who led throughout on his father's Mister Splodge trained by Ed Glassonbury, winning easily by twelve lengths from Well Mett.

Only two of the twenty three entries went to post for the two mile five furlongs Maiden and Tom Chatfield-Roberts on his father John's Dulwich Hill went clear of Lyre Lad from three out to win by five lengths. The six-year-old mare was acquired at the May 2016 Ascot Sales for £12,000 and is trained by Helen Connors.

In the Restricted there was only one declaration and Fair Exchange walked over.

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