Photos by Ian Johnson
Somerwood trainer Gordy Edwards took centre stage with a double at his local course, but the Shropshire handler also experienced the highs and lows of the sport after his promising charge Shady Begonia had to be put down in the two and a half mile Maiden.
The opening Members race provided the first leg with Magnetic Pole with Richard Burton in the plate, the combination were 8 lengths too good for the runner up Lord Louis. The winner ran in the well known colours of his wife Sarah. Edwards plans to run his charge next in a novice hunters chase at Uttoxeter in two weeks time. All the four runners in the race completed the course including Terry Warburton on the Heidi Brookshaw trained Talbot Lad who finished last, but it was a major achievement for the soldier who had learned to ride and hunt with the trainer and this was his first ever ride in a point to point race, a remarkable story even more so when he has not long come back from a tour of duty in Iraq. He also celebrates his 28th birthday today (Tuesday May 5th 2009).
The second leg came with the useful mare Shady Anne, who followed up her recent win at Whittington with an emphatic eight length victory in the Men’s Open over Home Made, the daughter of Derrylin was given a very confident ride by Mathew Sollitt. The 20 year old Yorkshireman joined Edwards at the start of the season after working previously at Sue Smith's and Donald McCain's yards. The winner is owned by Shrewsbury businessman Derek Pugh. Edwards will not be running her in the Bangor Final, speaking after the race, he said,” She is very good mare, when she is right she is very good. I will keep her to pointing at present, because she doesn’t jump regulation fences very well.” There was a forty minute delay to the start of this race as riders are voiced concern about the turn into the cross fence being slippy, as a result the riders in the remaining five races bypassed the cross fence which was the 12th.
Gordy Edwards sister Sheila Crow was also in the winners enclosure after Fresh Fruit finally got her head in front in the two and a half mile Maiden, beating the only other finisher Nodanawink. The winner is owned by David Rogers who used to have the dual area championship horse Darnil in training with Sheila Crow. The trainer was elated when I spoke to her afterwards, she said, ”She has been so unlucky she should have won her last two races as well, she is a serious horse who will have no problem getting the three miles next season, the mare is the best since her grandmother Fruit Farm who won 18 races for us, I will speak to the owner but the plan is to give her rest now until next season. I think she could be very good. As for the former national champion rider Richard Burton he achieved a notable landmark by riding his 350th winner.
Rich Nomad, trained and ridden by Sally Randell followed up their victory in the two and a half mile Maiden at this course on Easter Monday, with an equally smooth victory winning by a very easy two lengths from Another Late Night under Stuart Ross, the jolly Quick Bay was a further 15 lengths back in third. As for the winning owner Paul Rich, he was the former master of the Pentrych Hunt for 12 years, he missed his horses win last at the course last month as he was ill in hospital in Spain. The rider is a class act and we will be hearing a lot more of her in the future.
Sue Sharratt took the riders honours with a treble at a track that she listed as her bogey course, until last year she had never had a winner at Eyton in 19 years of riding.
Her first leg came aboard the quirky Von Origny in the Ladies Open, the Blushing Flame gelding ran in snatches but did enough to hold the fast finishing Artic Reason under Sally Randall by a length. The winner is trained at Malpas by Corrine Wynne and is owned by friends of husband Steves sister Alison Wynne, which include Geoff Probin, Kristian Davies, Cameron Moir and Keith Lloyd. The trainer said afterwards that it was a case of just catching the horse right, she added that the same syndicate are having a flat horse in training with her husband Steve under rules.
Scotsmail Too ran out a very easy 10 length winner for Sharratt in the Confined winning by 10 lengths from Shraden Edition. It was also a 46th birthday present for one of the owners Diane Cope from Eccleshall, the other owners are her mother Dorothy from Nantwich and Sue Sharratt, who also trains the Saddlers Wells gelding at Rugeley.
Sharratt completed the treble in style with Trocadeno in the Open Maiden, the combination won going away by 10 lengths from Brookview Lad. The winner is trained at Hamstall Ridware by Jane Froggatt and co owned by her and her partner Martin Wanless. The winner was bought privately by Wanless from Howard Johnson, this was the first season that the horse could run between the flags, as he ran under rules at Sedgefield prior to them buying the horse.
It was ironic that the rain forecast for Eyton in the days prior to the meeting never materialized until the day of the races, then there were quite a few heavy downpours, which affected the crowd, which was only moderate for a May Bank Holiday meeting. The fields were quite small, but saying that the racing was competitive and despite the fast ground the horses were making a print in the ground. Clerk of the Course John Beddoes was really in a no win situation, if he watered the course prior to racing and it would have rained then he would have got some flak for producing false ground, instead he waited for the rain that was fore-casted and it never came.