The Cheshire meeting at Alpraham produced a cracking days racing. There were plenty of runners, the large crowd basked in glorious sunshine and with only one jolly going in on the seven race card, it was a very good day for the “old enemy”.
Bookmakers got off to a good start in the opening Members race when Raconteur, the complete outsider at 25-1, made virtually all the running under Michelle Mullineaux to beat the well backed “jolly” The Eens by three parts of a length. The winner is trained at Tattenhall by the former jockey Reg Crank and owned by John Wood from Audlem. Wood rode After You to win the Members race at the North Staffs meeting at Sandon 12 years ago.
Thirteen runners went to post for the Open Maiden race but only three finished with the rest pulled up. Gary Hanmer must have had mixed feelings about the result as he rode the winner of the race on the Laura Levy trained Stewarts’ Dream, who came home in splendid isolation from Grey Tarquin, a horse he trains himself, by 20 lengths. Deux Bons Amis was a very remote third. The trainer is the wife of Stoke on Trent trainer Barry Leavy and this was the first time that she had ever trained a winner and this is also the only horse she has in training. The winning owner Stuart Riley from Leek in Staffordshire has had many winners under rules including Stewart’s Pride who used to be trained by Steven Brookshaw.
Hanmer went on to complete a double aboard the very progressive Noble Persian, who won the Confined with insulting ease by 20 lengths from Benditbecks with Houghton Bay was a further two lengths back in third. Hanmer, who was riding his 8 th winner of the season also trained the son of Persian Bold. Afterwards, Hanmer said that the winner hated the glue pot condtiions but added that he is very good and wished he had a few more like him. The winner has now won all five starts for his owner Rob Hankey, who is the clerk of the course at Tabley.
It was a good weekend for the Ford’s from Tarporley. Richard Ford trained Brown Teddy to win at Bangor the day before and yesterday at Alpraham it was the turn of his wife Carrie to visit the winners enclosure, following the success of the veteran Chadswell in the Ladies Open under Pernilla Hermasson who outstayed Potoffairies to win by two and a half lengths. The winner which is owned by the trainers husband Richard and has been a great schoolmaster for the yard as Carrie explained, ”He has been a great servant for the yard. He just loves it here and we love him. I am really pleased for Pernilla to have ridden her first winner and that is only from three rides. She is Swedish and came to us two years ago from the British Racing School where she was the top graduate. We will run the old boy next in the Members race at the Vale of Lune meeting at Whittington on Easter Saturday.”
Another lady who had a good weekend was Sherrifhales trainer Caroline Robinson, who won with Whistling Straights at Garthorpe the day before. Yesterday Rebel Army won a thrilling Men’s Open under Charlie Huxley to wear down Judge Reilly on the run in to win by a length and a half with Trooper a further 4 lengths back in third. It is not often that Burtie gets in wrong, but he could have ridden this winner for Robinson but opted to ride Infrasonique for Pamela Sykes instead. This was the trainers 4 th winner of the season and her horses are running really well at present and afterwards she said that the Bangor Final was a possibility for her charge. The winner is co owned by her father Jeremy Beasley and George Hibbert from Clitheroe.
Former point to point rider David Barlow has ridden many winners at this course as it was his local track and his manor so to speak. Yesterday he was back in the winners enclosure with Copper Grove as an owner, a horse he co owns with Ian Anderson, the secretary of the Tanatside Hunt. The winner provided Jonathon Jarrett with his first win of the season and for trainer Gwynne Owen. This was his third winner of the season, all of which were for owners David Barlow and Ian Anderson. Chalk It Up followed up his Eyton win by winning again at Siddington the day before.
It would be safe to say that one could write on the back of a postage stamp what Market Drayton owner Ray Gittins does not know about racing. He was secretary to trainer Stan Mellor for over 20 years, a position he now holds with Helshaw Grange Stud at Tern Hill. Yesterday he became a successful owner after his colours were carried to victory in the two and a half mile Maiden by Maggie Boon, who relished the conditions under a fine ride from David Sherlock to win eased down by 10 lengths from Cheers Thank You with Vallum a further 5 lengths back in third. This is the first horse that Gittins has ever owned and he bought the mare at the Doncaster sales last August because he liked her breeding. The winner is trained at Much Wenloch by Lisa Willis.