Eyton on Severn basked in glorious sunshine for the South Shropshire point to point fixture on Easter Monday. The weather had racegoers flocking to the course in large numbers. Considering all the hard work that the South Shropshire Hunt had put into watering the racecourse to ensure decent ground, it did come as a surprise to find that the Members and Intermediate races were reduced to matches, saying that there were enough runners in the other five races.
There was a delay of nearly forty minutes to the start of Men’s Open, this was due to an accident to one of the marshall's on duty at the crossing on the course, who was hit hard by a loose horse who crashed through the rails, the delay was caused by the waiting for the air ambulance to take the unfortunate gentleman to hospital. This was the second time that the air ambulance was required in the North Western Area following the bad fall of Carly Goodall at Sandon on Easter Saturday. When the race did get underway it was a case of last years winner Home Made from the Heidi Brookshaw yard and ridden by Jonathan Jarrett setting out in their customary front running role. This set the race up perfectly for Maurice under Brian Toomey who took up the running at the last fence to win very easily going away by 4 lengths from Richard Burton on the jolly Gunner Gunner Be Quick with Home Made a gallant third three parts of a length away. The winner is owned and trained at Cholmondley by Sian McCain, the wife of top national hunt trainer Donald McCain Jr. McCain was elated when I spoke to her afterwards, she said, ”I was given the horse as a gift by Trevor Hemmings as long as I did not run him under rules, when he ran in the Liverpool Foxhunters he did so in Trevor Hemmings name. The Bangor Final has always been the plan with him and we go into the race in good heart after this win, he did it very nicely and Brian Toomey gave him a great ride, he turns professional after he has ridden the horse in the Bangor Final.”
Trainer Rebecca Abraham who leases a couple of boxes at Jo Priest’s yard at Abberley recorded her first winner after the aptly named Somewin under Jane Williams won the Ladies Open readily by three lengths from Dubai Bound with the staying on Magicien a further 5 lengths back in third. The mare is co owned by Mel Lloyd and Alan Goodwin from Halesowen, they bought the horse four years ago, the horse used to be trained under rules for for well known owner Nick Shutts.
Eleven horses went to post for the two and a half mile Maiden, but only two finished. The race went to Quick Bay who provided Brian Toomey with a double, but I feel the combination were a bit fortunate as the runner up Fresh Fruit under Richard Burton was badly hampered by the two fallers at the second last fence, certainly the horse Youandme did him no favours, the winning margin was only 3 lengths. Winning trainer Geoff Evans who trains on the Bitterley point to point course was convinced his horse would have won anyway. Evans bought the horse in Ireland at Christmas for owners Jim and Joy Baker and Arnold and Val Davies from Dudley.
Richard Burton must have known it was not going to be his day at Eyton on Severn after his mount History Master the 1-2 on favourite in the Restricted came under starters orders but refused to start. The race was won by the progressive Glidewell under Jonathan Jarrett, the Gildoran gelding showed a nice turn of foot and a perfect display of jumping to win impressively by 12 lengths from Murphy’s Fusilier with The Salad Dodger a further 5 lengths back in third. The winner is owned and trained at Shifnal by Neale Dalton, who is also the chairman of the Albrighton Hunt point to point committee. Speaking after the race Dalton said, “He is a nice horse who will take some handling. He just keeps on improving, I thought he jumped very well today. I do not have any plans for him at this present time.”
Jonathan Jarrett went on to complete a double aboard Upton Legend, which was his 9th winner of the season after his mount finished alone after his only other rival Four Opinions fell at the fourth last fence. The winner is trained at Middleton on The Hill, Nr Ludlow by Sarah Jayne Davies for her principal owner Peter Corbett who also bred the mare himself.
The best finish of the day was reserved for the Open Maiden. Will Telfer on the James Handley trained Sizzling Shizzy looked all over the winner when jumping the last in front only to be caught on the run in by an inspired ride from Sally Randell on Rich Nomad, who got up in the last twenty yards to win a thriller by a length going away with Call Me a Lady a further 3 lengths back in third. The rider also trains the horse at Raglan in Monmouthshire for owner Paul Rich, who was on holiday in Spain. Despite winning two races under rules, this was her first ever winner between the flags.
Only two runners went to post for the opening Members race, which developed into a tactical contest between Will Hill on Good Time Willie and Will Kinsey on Michabo. Will Hill took up the running six from home and was never headed afterwards winning by 8 lengths comfortably. The winner is trained at Worthen by Willie Bryan for his father in law David Smith, the former chairman of the South Shropshire point to point committee, who was celebrating his birthday at his local course.
John Beddoes stood down as clerk of the course for the South Shropshire meeting this season, which meant that the new clerk of the course John Cornes has a hard act to follow. Beddoes will still be clerk of the course for the North Shropshire meeting at Eyton on Severn for many years to come. He was presented with a memento by Phil Jones in recognition of all the work he has done for the South Shropshire as their clerk of course for many years, and this reward was richly deserved.