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FLINT & DENBIGH
EATON HALL
Sunday 3rd April 2005
by Arthur Shone

Sundays Flint & Denbigh meeting between the flags at Eaton Hall, near Chester attracted a massive crowd of around 10,000 people. However, the runners were a bit thin on the ground. This was due to the change in the going,which was soft with heavy patches.

Much Wenloch trainer John Groucott and Cholmondley trainer Donald McCain Junior took centre stage, training two winners each. Both of Groucotts winners were owned by Mark Harris from Shrewsbury and ridden by William Hill. The first leg went to Ikemba, who was a very impressive winner of the Open Maiden. The Executive Perk gelding, who is a half brother to Tug Of Peace, was heavily eased at the line for a length and a half success over the Richard Burton ridden Joe Brown from the Sheila Crow yard. Owner Mark Harris sent his horse to Groucott eighteen months ago. The horse had previously campaigned under rules with Steve Brookshaw and Richard Phillips.

Precious Bane completed the double in the Restricted beating Raiseapearl under Tessa Clarke by three and a half lengths. The runner up did well as he was nearly brought down when Instamoss fell six from home. The winner used to be trained on the level by Nick Littmoden and was sent to Groucott eighteen months ago by Mark Harris. He was full of praise for his trainer for improving his horses jumping. Owner Mark Harris has four point-to-point horses in training with Grocoutt, his best is No Retreat whom he gives a major chance to in this Thursdays Foxhunters at Aintree.

Nantwich trainer and rider Gary Hanmer won the Mens Open last year with Soundtrack and won the race for the second year running on the son of Orchestra, who made every yard from flag fall to beat Rambo Tango by 5 lengths. The only change from last year was the owner, this time around the horse is owned by Chester bookie Geoff Powell. He bought the horse last year on the recommendation of Hamner and this is the first horse that he has owned.

Towcester trainer Jenny Pidgeon made the long three and hour journey worthwhile when Galaxy Minstrel landed the Intermediate race under Sarah Phizacklea by 5 lengths from Euro Bob. Pidgeon said afterwards that the winner was not an easy horse to train and that he needed the conditions underneath to be very testing, which he got here.

After Flagg Races on Easter Tuesday, it was a relief that there was no controversy this time around with Houghton Bay, from the Cholmondley yard of Donald McCain Junior. The Camden Town gelding hacked up under Tessa Clarke in the Confined to win going away by 8 lengths from Coole Venture. The winner is owned by the flamboyant entrepreneur Derek Malam from Nantwich, who also has The Eeens and Cornish Gale in training with McCain Junior, the latter of which could run in the Foxhunters at Aintree this Thursday if the ground dries up.

Thirty five minutes later McCain Jnr was back in the winners enclosure following the success of Another Club Royal in the famous Amberleigh House colours of John Halewood, which was carried to victory in the Confined by Gary Hanmer who completed a double in the saddle after they beat the useful Darnhill from the Sheila Crow yard by 3 lengths. McCain Jnr revealed afterwards that the winner had galloped alongside the ante post favourite for the John Smiths Grand National Amberleigh House at Haydock Park last Sunday morning in the horses final workout before trying to win the Grand National for the second year running and McCain added that people have said to him that the winner is too good for pointing.

The easiest winner of the day was reserved for Top of The Dee who won the TBA Mares Maiden race by a fence under David Gater. The runner up Thingaboutsophie jumped the last fence when the winner had pulled up well past the line. The mare is trained at Saighton, near Chester by Mark Williamson and owned by his wife Lisa.

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