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Meynell & South Staffs
Garthorpe
Sunday 24th May 2009
by Graham Taylor

A good size family crowd enjoyed some exciting racing in bright sunshine when the Meynell & South Staffordshire Hunt held their annual Point- to- Point meeting for the first time at Garthorpe, near Melton Mowbray on Sunday, where Brian Crawford, the hard-working Clerk of the Course, and his team had produced genuine Good to Firm Going after watering in difficult conditions.

Despite this being the fifth and final meeting to be held on this popular racecourse this season, the course and surroundings looked magnificent and a real tribute to all involved. The in form, Tom Greenall had three winning rides at the meeting and therefore took The Garthorpe Championship Leading Rider Award with a final total of 36 points. Runners up were Richard Armson and Tom Ellis. Greenall’s third winner of the day was also his 50th of the season and this keeps him hot favourite to become this seasons National Men’s Champion and with only a handful of meetings remaining his target is to beat or match the 56 winners that younger brother Oliver achieved last year when the 2008/09 Champion.

First race of the afternoon, The Open Maiden Race was kindly sponsored by Richard Winterton, Fine Art Auctioneers, and four horses went to post. This was won by the well fancied seven year old, Ocean Fou. Rider, Rupert Stearn had the gelding in the lead from flag fall and won by an easy ten lengths from Victor Grumps with Castleconner Lad taking third place.

Only three horses were declared for Race Two, The Intermediate Race and this was sponsored by Palletways. This gave leading rider, Tom Greenall his first win of the afternoon on the consistent Tom Bannister owned My Old Piano. Winning for the sixth time this season the seven year old had too much pace for Carbon Footprint and Luke Lively who took the minor placings.

It took a moment or two to clear the parade ring before the third race with so many children wanting to see the Meynell Hounds who paraded between races – a wonderful demonstration of the link between the Countryside and racing.

Else Law, Commercial Solicitors kindly sponsored Race Three, The Owners & Riders Club Members Race where a total of six horses were declared to run. Rare Gold, ridden by Dale Peters was always in touch and held off the once useful, Tooley Park, with the hot favourite, Lou Du Moulin Mas a disappointing third.

Fourth Race, The Mens Open Race, produced a field of six runners. Palletways International were the sponsors here. This was to be Tom Greenalls second winner at the meeting. Richard Hunnisett, riding the Gerald Bailey trained, Denvale led for most of the way but failed to hold off the Greenall ridden, Valance, who ran out a seven length winner. Major Shark took third place.

Although only three horses were declared for The Dunstall Estates Ladies Open Race, a good contest took place. Cassia Heights, with Jane Williams up made the early running and was closely followed by Gemma Hutchinson on Free. However, Louise Allan, riding the Joe Turner seven year old, Assassino, took up the lead and drew away by some 20 lengths. Free held on to take second spot.

Sixth race of the afternoon was The Restricted Race and this race attracted a field of seven runners. The race was sponsored by Countryside Insurance Services of Leicester. Richard Burton, having his first and only ride of the afternoon, led for most of the race on the Albrighton seven year old, Oscar D’Angron. However Tom Greenall on the favourite, Wantage Road, took the lead after the final fence and went on to win by two and a half lengths. Totally Beat, with youngest brother Jake on board took third place.

Following his 50th victory and the Garthorpe Award, Tom Greenall made presentations on behalf of all owners, trainers and riders to Brian Crawford and his assistant, Chris Barnett, to acknowledge their efforts throughout the season in producing the course in consistently good condition.

Final race of the day, The Hunt Members, sponsored by Cawarden Holdings was The Hunt Members, Subscribers & Farmers Race. However this resulted in a walk over for Mrs Sue Wilson’s Arctic Summer who was due to be having his last outing before retirement.

Meynell Chairman, Richard Frogatt, reflected; “It has been a privilege for us to hold our meeting here as we needed a new venue. The day has surpassed my expectations; the course and the competitive racing have provided the large family crowd with a wonderful day out. I am already looking forward to next May when I hope we can return and build on this year’s success.”

The next Midlands area meeting is The Harborough Race Club, scheduled to take place at Dingley, near Market Harborough next Saturday, 30th May.

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