wonderful early Spring weather brought out a massive crowd to Eaton Hall
on Sunday, for a competitive eight race card. Indeed, so busy was the
traffic that your correspondent missed the Hunt race, which was apparently
won by THREE SAINTS. Presumably there was a race (only three entries) as
opposed to a walkover.
ground looked like perfect jumping ground, though perhaps had some give as
Eaton Hall is not a well draining track, even given the recent dry spate
(an ambulance treating an injured rider at the first fence got stuck and
had to be towed away by a tractor).
first division of the maiden was a tightly contested heat, and saw Russell
Dobney aboard PEARLY’S SONG lead for most of the last circuit to claim a
battling win from Chris Stockton on The Smuggler, with Charlie Barlow on
the fancied Hill Of Kilfeacle back in third. One to note was the running
on Jupiter George. He is the subject of some barbed comments in this
year’s MacKenzie, not without good reason, but this was something of an
improvement, and if maintained could result in him winning an ordinary
Stockton was runner up again in the second division of the maiden, when
his Clodagh Valley failed to catch the winning favourite UNDERLEY PARK
ridden by Kevin Pearson. The Carrie Ford trained nine year old gave his
backers a few worrying moments before rallying to reach the line first.
Back in third came Deal A King (Adam Wadlow), who, like the runner up,
looks well up to winning a maiden.
Burton notched his only winner of the meeting on INVOLVED in a decent
looking Confined, but was made to battle far harder than a 1-2 shot ought
to, before prevailing from the Gary Hanmer ridden Analystic, who seems
just as good as ever at 13. The winning margin was 4L, with Sue
Sharratt’s Mr Kermit 25L adrift in 3rd. Honourable mention
here for bookie Keith Johnson, who had the guts to price up the rags in
this race at ‘proper’ prices. Berkeley Moss was 100-1 (20’s
elsewhere), Dunston Gold also 100’s (16-1 down the line), and Jimmy
Jumbo 33-1 (just 8-1 on most books). The overrounds at North Western
meetings have rightly come in for some stinging criticism from our
Webmeister, and with good reason. It’s nice to see a sporting layer on
the record, one board’s overround for this 12 runner race (not even a
maiden, and with lots of exposed types) was a criminal 202.76%. That is
frankly appalling but unfortunately most Sunday afternoon punters don’t
realise they are being taken for a ride.
of exposed types, the Mens’ Open was the equine equivalent of a SAGA
coach tour to Margate, with the formerly useful Lord Of The West (14),
Whatafellow (13) and Step On Eyre (13), amongst others in opposition. The
youthful Sam Quale (a mere 11) attracted plenty of support in the ring,
but, fittingly for Eaton Hall, it was the horse who was once owned by
Anne, Duchess of Westminster, STEP ON EYRE who battled to a stirring
victory under the driving of Chris Stockton. The ex Henry Daly star had
too much for a decent outsider in the shape of the Gary Hanmer ridden The
President, with Whatafellow, back in third. The margins were 3L and 10L.
The Sheila Crow trained favourite, ridden by son Alistair is certainly
living up to his Mackenzie and Selby squiggle at the moment.
Ladies’ Open was one of the stronger heats on the North Western circuit,
and the excellent Hannah Kinsey gave SEA TARTH a peach of a ride to score.
She judged the pace to perfection, and overcame a couple who, on the form
book, she should not have beaten, in the shape of former Cheltenham
Festival winner Wandering Light and Manvulane.
Light probably needs further than 3 miles anyway, but unless he goes
hunter chasing (which at 14 may not be much of an option), he is likely to
find run of the mill Opens too short for him, and he was well held in
second by the winner, the margin of victory being a comfortable 4L.
Zamhareer was a further 7L back in third. Warner For Players (Sue Sharratt)
was well backed, but fell at the first.
penultimate race was a qualifier for the Mares Championship Final (to be
held at the Melton Hunt meet at Garthorpe in May), and Sheila Crow’s
FRUITY FARM (ridden by Joe O’Brien), despite jumping left, had enough in
the tank to last home from even money favourite River Moy (David
Greenway). The runner up has of course already won a maiden, only to be
disqualified because Tom Greenway forgot to weigh in at Alpraham.
would be something of a surprise if any of the first four (Ridware Rose 3rd
and Simply Divine 4th) featured at the business end of the
Final of this series. One to watch from this race is Ghetto Superstar from
the Groucott yard. Never put in the race by Will Hill, she jumped well,
and could well have featured if given the office. She ought to win a
maiden this season.
The finale was a solid looking Restricted and Gary Hanmer was seen at his best in powering CHARLIE KEAY to a one and a half length victory from the equally enterprisingly ridden Lemmar Boy (Chris Stockton who had a good day generally). Pam Sykes ran three in the race, with Richard Burton opting for hot favourite Petrouge. He looked to hold every chance turning in, but was soon outpaced and finished fourth. Given that the second in the maiden won by Petrouge at Chaddesley (Hill Of Kilfeacle) also ran below expectations, it may pay to be wary of the form of that particular race. It was another Sykes horse Donrico, who took third, staying on really well past beaten horses. He ought to be winning soon.