The North West Hunts Club at meeting between the flags at Tabley produced a fantastic days racing in front of a big crowd. Clerk of the course Rob Hankey had done a great job with the course to ensure excellent racing ground, which was reflected in an abundance of runners at the Cheshire course. This meeting seems to go from strength to strength each year, since our chairman George Barlow founded the North West Club about twelve years ago.
The feature race on the card was the Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members race for the novice riders championship final. There was a thrilling finish to the race, which saw the Joe Turner trained Parkinson with his grandson Ed Turner needing the line, and it came in the nick of time as Aztec Warrior under George Henderson came with a strong run to finish within half a length at the post. No Virtue was a further ten lengths back in third. The Turner family made the long trip from Suffolk worthwhile, the veteran owner and trainer is the winning most owner in the history of point to pointing. In fact the Turner family are steeped in history and tradition in the grass roots of our sport.
Nantwich trainer Gary Hanmer regards Tabley as his manor, he completed a treble on the card as did rider Miles Seston who rode all of Hanmer’s horses. The other time that Seston rode a treble in his career also came at this course. The first leg came aboard Glenteviot in the first division of the Open Maiden, the Terimon gelding won going away by 12 lengths from Sister Beryl with Gemma Garton in the plate. The winner is a half sister to Border Fusion, who had finished runner up in the Bangor Final the day before. Hanmer bred the winner himself and the gelding used to run in the colours of the late bookmaker Gordon Crawford, he was bought by his current owner John Crook three years ago. Hanmer and Seston also took the second division of the Open Maiden with Whitepark Legend, who galloped his rivals into the ground to win unchallenged by 25 lengths from Ferton Sid, with the Gordie Edwards trained Spring Francais a further length away. The winner was bought in Ireland last year by Oakenholt owner Roy Thomas as a 40th birthday present for his wife Sarah.
Ballyeightra Cross took the North West Club Members race to complete the treble for Hanmer and Seston in impressive style beating Premier Kadam by 5 lengths, with keeverfield a further 7 lengths back in third. The Anshan gelding is owned by Steven Evason and is clearly held in high regard by Hanmer. Speaking after the race, he said, ”Miles(Seston) rode him well as he is quite a tricky ride, I have always known he has plenty of ability, we will put away now, and I have big plans for him in the future.”
Horses for courses certainly applies to Les Seychelles, who made it three wins out of three runs at the Cheshire course, when galloping his rivals into the ground in the Men;s Open under Joe Proctor to beat Royal Tender by 4 lengths. The winner at 16-1 was a bit of a shock, especially as he turned over the 2007 Cheltenham Foxhunter winner Amicelli, who was never got into the race at any time and was very disappointing. The winning owner and trainer Richard Hewitt from Anglesey was surprised at his charges starting price of 16-1, given that he is unbeaten at the track
Lagosta trained at Ludlow by Steve Graham and ridden by Rachel Reynolds won the Ladies Open for the second year running, the combination took up the running at the second last and pulled away on the run in to win by 6 lengths from Angela Rucker aboard the well backed jolly Petit Lord, General Grey was a similar distance back in third under Sam Drake. The winner was given to Graham as a gift three years by Martin and Angela Roddis from Doncaster. Not a bad gift as he has won six out of twenty races for him. The trainer works full time as a fence builder, and he supplied the birch for the fences at Tabley.
Richard Burton had one of those weekends that will be etched on his mind for years to come. The day before he had won the North West Point to Point Final at Bangor on Dee aboard the Sian McCain trained Ice Tea, in the well known colours of the flamboyant owner Derek Malam, he also became a father for the first time after his wife Hannah gave birth to a baby girl called Arabella. Burtie was seen as his brilliant best to win the Restricted aboard the Sheila Crow trained Enter Paradise in the well known colours of Richard French, he got the better of a titanic battle on the run in to win by half a length from Mercurial Girl under Katy Young, Jolly Rock was a further 6 lengths back in third. This was a vintage ride from Burton, Tabley is now Richard French;s local course now since he moved from Eccleshall to Congleton, the last time he had a winner here it was in a snow blizzard a few years ago with Kong King.
It seems that forgetting to bring her racing colours to the course is proving to be a lucky omen as Enville trainer Di Williams explained after Her charge Sweet Citizen had won the 10 year old and upwards Club Members race readily by 8 lengths from Malt Max. Optmistic Max stayed on well under Sam Drake two lengths away. The winner is owner by the trainer and her husband Peter, but ran in the borrowed silks of William and Angela Rucker, Williams said that she has two horses in borrowed colours and both have won. The trainer also said that her prolific winning pointer Step And Run had been retired.