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MEYNELL AND SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE
WESTON PARK
20th February 2005
by Arthur Shone

The Meynell & South Staffs meeting between the flags at Weston Park was one for the die hards of the sport. It was so bitterly cold that racing had to be back an hour because of the frost in the ground. After several inspections by the stewards and the clerk of the course Richard Froggatt the meeting was given the go ahead. It was a brave decision but the right one as the frost had come out of the ground before the first race.

Unfortunately, as a race meeting this was a non event with only 22 runners turning up to contest the six races and of these, nine of them ran in the Maiden, which left the freezing racegoers with one four runner race, a five and three matches. Rumours were rife after the fourth race that the last two races on the card were only two runner affairs, which was probably why so many people left early. In the Meynell & South Staffs defence, they were not helped by the adverse publicity about the state of the ground at the last meeting at the course at the end of last month and also the switch by the North Hereford at Whitwick Manor from the previous day to a Sunday, as there were no meetings between the flags the previous day because of the hunting ban.

One man not complaining about the lack of runners was Atcham rider Richard Burton, who notched up a treble at the track, which puts him on the eight-winner mark for the season between the flags.

The first leg came aboard Petrouge in the Confined. Once Burton asked Petrouge to go on four out, the race was over. The Petoski gelding came home unchallenged by 12 lengths from Jimmy Jumbo. The winner is trained at Sheriff Hales by Caroline Robinson and owned by her father Jeremy Beasley. Robinson said afterwards that her charge had enjoyed himself today and added that he was suited by small fields.

Burton had the choice of Jemaro or Quality First in the Men’s Open; he chose the latter and won the race by 30 lengths from Stormhill Stag after making every yard from flag fall. The winner is owned and trained by Andrew Dalton at Shifnal and was his first winner of the season. The French bred gelding used to be trained under rules by Andrew’s former wife Heather and is a decent recruit to the pointing ranks. Dalton said afterwards that the Bangor Final on May 14 th was a strong possibility for his charge.

He completed the treble on the Sheila Crow trained mare Miss Sallyfield in the Restricted, who beat his sole challenger Hill Of Kilfeacle by 25lengths. The winner is owned by Aled Griffith OBE from Shrewsbury, and is yet another dark horse selection from the trainers husband Edward, who has now had 10 winners from 11 selections over 9 seasons. He highlighted this winner along with High Chimes, who has yet to run, in the 5 th January edition of the Shropshire Star.

It was a good day for Edward Crow who saw his familiar scarlet and black colours carried to victory on The Young Purty in the Maiden with Joe O’Brien in the plate. It was a good performance by the winner, but it would have been interesting if the well backed favourite Top Of The Dee had not fallen three out when a narrow leader. However Sheila Crow was in no doubt that her charge would have prevailed, she said, “Joe (O’Brien) told me that he could have gone around again he was going so well, he had a job to pull him up. We bought him last July in Ireland. We knew he had ability and I think he is a nice horse.”

The Ladies’ Open almost turned into a walk over because Tarporley trainer John Swindells only decided to run his mare Jackie Jarvis after walking the course three times and only making up his mind to run with a few minutes to spare before declaration time. As it turned out, Jackie Jarvis took up the running four out and won easing down from her sole rival Life Of A River by 12 lengths.

The opening Members race was yet another match, which was won by Ridware Pride under Sue Sharratt who finished alone, as Western Lad broke down on the approach to three out and sadly had to be put down. The winner is trained at Hill Ridware, near Rugeley by the clerk of the course Richard Froggatt. It was probably a bittersweet victory for Froggatt as Western Lad was owned and trained by his niece Jane.

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