by Arthur Shone

The ups and downs of this sport were clearly demonstrated by Hadnall trainer, Sheila Crow. Sheila was elated with the performance of Pristeen Spy, following a very impressive win under Richard Burton in the Confined. The Teenoso gelding was still full of running at the last fence and went away to win very easily by 10 lengths from Gunner Sid. This was Burton’s 20th winner of the season and once again he looks a strong contender to retain his National Riders championship. Crow thinks a lot of the winner, she said, ”I have always liked him. He has plenty of ability and we will go hunter chasing with him this season.”

An hour later Sheila Crow experienced the other end of the scale with Along The Lawn in the Restricted. Her charge was ridden by her son, Alistair, who parted company with his mount at the fourth fence. Alistair took a crashing fall which left him unconscious and badly brusied, but nothing broken according to his mother yesterday evening. The horse then proceeded to run off and crash into a gate and broke his pelvis, which sadly meant that he had to be destroyed. The race was won by Master Club Royal under Gary Hanmer, who beat Snitton West by half a length in a thriller. The winner is trained at Cholmondley by Donald McCain Jnr for the flamboyant entrepreneur, Derek Malam.

Worleston rider and trainer Gary Hamner took centre stage at the Cheshire course with treble in the plate. The first leg came with Border Fusion in the second division of the Maiden, who came late and fast to beat Heathyards’ Element by a length and a half and in doing so denied McCain and Malam completing a double at the course. The winner is home bred by well-known Bookmaker Gordon Crawford from Nantwich, who has a pitch at every meeting in the North Western Area. Amazingly this was Crawford’s first ever winner as an owner in 14 years of trying. Hanmer completed the treble with consummate ease on Soundtrack who won the Mens’ Open unchallenged by 30 lengths from Springwood White. The winner is owned by John Eaton from Pershore, near Cheshire, whose father won the 1934 Cheltenham Foxhunters on Alfrida. Hanmer said after that the former Venetia Williams inmate would be aimed at the Bangor Final.

Richard Burton’s cousin Heidi Brookshaw, who trains at Preston Farm, near Shrewsbury, won the first division of the Maiden with Meentagh Loch, who was given a good ride by 17 year old Jonathon Jarrett, who kept a cool head to beat Phillip Trevor Hemmings on Spot The Native by a neck. His famous father, Trevor, was there to watch his son in the race. The Shropshire born rider was recording his first winner and it was fitting that it was for the Brookshaw family as Heidi’s mother Zena pointed out that the Jarrett family have worked for the Brookshaw’s for four generations. The winner is owned by Heidi and was given to her as a gift by Pip Harney, the master of the North Shropshire Hunt. Jonathan is attached to Henrietta Knights’ Wantage yard.

Willington trainer John Swindells always seems to find a good horse most seasons and this time around is no exception. The mare Jackie Jarvis made her class tell in the Ladies Open, when beating Native Man by 8 lengths with the trainers daughter Karen Diggle in the plate in the fastest time of the day, 6m09s. Swindells is aiming the winner at the Bangor final on May 17th. The runner up who is trained at Malpas by Charlie Barlow will not be long in winning on this evidence, the gelding is co owned by John Malem, the former head groundsman at Bangor on Dee.

18 year old Natalie Lloyd, from Adrefelin Farm, Overton, near Wrexham, was another rider to record her first ever winner at the Cheshire course following Star Changes hard fought length success over Major Adams in the Members. The winner is trained by her father Steve.

Bridgenorth rider Adam Wadlow made every yard from flag fall on Sovereign Gale to land the spoils in the PPORA Club Maiden to beat Thixendale by 8 lengths. Chaddesley Corbett trainer Theresa McCurrich was a very relieved lady after the success of her charge, adding that the mare deserved it, as she had been dogged with leg problems.

Eaton Hall at one time had a bad reputation with owners and trainers because of the state of the course. This time around with improved drainage and plenty of hard work by the new clerk of the course Nicky Hugo, the track received rave reviews, especially from two long standing trainers. Sheila Crow said, ”I am very surprised on how good the course is, it was perfect jumping ground”. John Swindells said, ”I have never seen the course in better condition, it’s a credit to the ground staff.”