APRIL 2004
by Arthur Shone

The Cheshire Hunt meeting between the flags at Alpraham, near Tarporley, has always been a licence to print money. By tradition it has always been one of the best-supported fixtures in the North West Area and Sunday’s meeting was no exception with a crowd well in excess of 8,000. This was despite heavy rain throughout the night, which made the going very testing underfoot for racegoers and horses alike. In fact just getting on to the course with a car was a very skilful driving test, unless one had a 4x4 in the deep mud. There was a good chance of either getting stuck or losing the exhaust system, which a few people did, but that all adds to the glorious uncertainty of point-to-point racing.

The meeting could have done with a few more runners but it turned out to be a good competitive days racing, despite a low turn out in the Open races. There was also an appearance of this years Aintree Grand National winner Amberleigh House, which received a good round of applause from the crowd, as did his charismatic trainer Ginger McCain.

Gingers’ son Donald saddled the odds on jolly Master Club Royal with Gary Hanmer in the plate in the opening Members race, where he faced only one other opponent Raiseapearl under Ian Clyde, but it was the latter won by 20 lengths easing down to record the first shock of the day. The winner is trained at Faddeley, near Nantwich by Patrick Thompson for owner Alan Williams.

Worleston trainer and rider Gary Hanmer did not leave his local course empty handed, following the easy 30 length win by Analystic in the Confined, who never came off the bridle to give Hanmer his 14th winner of the season. The winner is owned by Jo Hankey from Knutsford, whose husband Rob is the clerk of the course at the Cheshire Forest meeting at Tabley.

More local success was to follow in the Ladies Open, when the old boy Wandering Light, now a sprightly 15-year-old, ran out a comfortably six-length winner under Tessa Clarke, beating Cascum Lad in the process. This is the second time that the winner has beaten the runner up in a week, as it was the same outcome at Sandon on Easter Saturday. The winner is owned and trained by Richard Francis at Malpas. Tessa went on to complete a double in the Getting Out Stakes (Open Maiden Race) aboard Mosscroft Jack, who is trained nearby at Tarporley by John Swindells.

Alpraham trainer Richard Edwards recorded his first winner when Border Run under Stuart Ross landed the spoils a shade comfortably from Step On Eyre. Richard, who works as the travelling head lad for Alan Bailey at Tarporley, bought the horse at the start of the season for a “monkey” off Mick Mullineaux. The winner is also a first winner for owner Will Padden from Norley, near Frodsham, who is going to work for Alan Bailey this seasons as the stables amateur jockey.

The best finish of the day was reserved for the Open Maiden. At the second last fence there were five horses in a line and in a cracking finish Sue Sharratt got back up near the jam stick to win a thriller on Ridware George by a neck from Jonathon Jarrett on Top Weld. The winner is owned by Sue Froggatt and trained by her husband Richard, who is the clerk of the course for the Meynell & South Staffs. Richard trains at Rugeley in Staffs.

The North Western Area chairman Roger Everall won the Confined race at this track 16 years ago with Cute Pam. This time around he landed the Restricted with Cutina, the daughter of Cute Pam, who ran on strongly close home under a confident ride from David Barlow to beat the Whittington winner Clodagh Valley by half a length. The owners son in law Phil Jones trains the winner at Welshpool.