Photos by Peter & Marilyn Sweet (Sweet Photography)
The Cheshire hunt meeting between the flags at Alpraham attracted plenty of runners at the Cheshire course , it was the most that I had seen for many years, unfortunately the bitterly cold afternoon saw the smallest crowd for a long time as well, those that stayed away missed a really good afternoons racing. Clerk of the course Hugh Holbrooke had done a great job to have the course spot on, the going was good on day.
Trainer Sheila Crow and jockey Richard Burton took the honours at the course with a double. The first leg came in the Confined with Gunner Be Quick in the well known colours of the trainers late husband Edward.This was a very cheeky win under Burtie who drew alongside Shraden Edition under Will Kinsey and let out a bit of rein to win easily by 3 lengths, Gigs Bounty was a further 15 lengths back in third. Speaking after the race, Sheila Crow said, "Richard (Burton) gave him a perfect ride, as he needs to be held up until the last possible minute.I have always thought that he has a lot of ability, and I he is improving all the time. I think he will turn out to be a serious horse, I really do."
The second leg was pure vintage Burton in the two and a half mile Maiden aboard the Derek Pugh owned Lilly De Rome, Burtie kidded the mare over the line to beat Red Law.This was Burton's 22nd winner of the season, the winner was well backed in the ring from 16-1 down to 4-1. Oscar Churton took a real pearler of a fall on Ravens Gale, thankfully he got away with just a few bruises.
Since going pointing Good Time Willie trained by Willie Bryan at Worthen for his father in law David Smith, the chairman of the South Shropshire point to point committee is enjoying a new lease of life. The gelding made it two wins from three starts under Will Hill in the Restricted, holding off Aldea by half-a-length with Farmer Gunner a further length back in third. Owner David Smith was on holiday in South Africa when his horse won at Eyton on Severn last month, he was there in person this time around. Speaking after the race, he said,"Willie(Bryan) bought him for me as a foal in Ireland, I put him under rules with Peter Bowen where he was 3rd in hurdle and 4th in a chase, he then got a leg and had a season off. He fell on his only start last season, but Willie has worked on his jumping and it is paying dividends, thats two wins and a second now from his three starts this season, he is certainly going the right way."
Casalani, trained and co-owned by Romsey trainer Wendy Baylis made in three wins on the trot in the Ladies Open, the mare was given a supremely confident ride by the stylish Hannah Watson, the combination winning on the bit by 12 lengths from Hannah Burton on Flashy Boy. The other co owner is Sue Jordan from Clent in Worcester, the winner would be a major contender if she lines up in the Bangor Final in May.
If you are going to have a winner on your local course then you might as well have one in the feature race on the card, the Men's Open for the Tarporley Hunt Cup. Thats exactly what Mandy Shore, the Cheshire hunt secretary did with Pristine Condition who never came off the bridle under Tom Greenall to win going away by an easy 10 lengths from Geeveem with Mister Bertolli a further 4 lengths back in third. The Tamure gelding is trained at Middleton in Yorkshire by David Easterby and until last season ran in the colours of Lord Daresbury, but for this season he runs in the colours of Mandy Shore.Speaking after the race, she said, " This is fantastic, I leased him off Lord Daresbury for the season and he has now won three races for me this season, this means a lot to me to win at my local course."
The Open Maiden will have provided plenty of pointers for the future, the race was won by the Nosey Gunner under Stuart Ross who also trains the horse at Kelsall, the runner was the Sheila Crow trained and Rob Burton owned Golden Harvey under George Scott a further two and a half lengths away, Focus Point was a further 3 lengths back in third.The mare is owned by Peter and Irene Danby from Manchester, Peter said afterwards that any mares by Gunner B do not wake up until they get their pension book.The first three past the judge look useful.
The opening Members race was won by Harry Challoner on Festival Time who got up on the run in to beat the Sian McCain trained Pack Drill under Brian Toomey by a length, the winner is trained at Tarporley by Richard Edwards for owner Gillian Milner, who is also from Tarporley.