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Sunday 29th January 2006

by Arthur Shone

Following two course inspections by the stewards yesterday, the Meynell & South Staffs fixture was finally given the go ahead, but the meeting was put back an hour to allow all the frost to come out of the ground. The first race scheduled for 1.00pm was further delayed for twenty minutes because the paramedics got lost on the way to the track.

However despite these setbacks, the afternoon produced a very good day’s competitive racing and the large crowd had plenty to cheer on a chilly afternoon.

The opening meeting of the season in the North West area finally got underway at 1.22pm with the traditional Members race. This was won very easily by Carly Goodall on Young Tomo who made virtually every yard from flag fall to win easing down by 25 lengths from Ridware George with Sue Sharratt in the plate. The runner up is trained by the clerk of the course Richard Froggatt. This race was a milestone for 23-year-old Carly Goodall as this was her first winner in the plate; she also trained the horse herself from her yard at Sutton on the Hill and just to round off a memorable day for Goodall family, the winner was owned by her mother Janette Goodall.

Shrewsbury rider Richard Burton, the National and Area champion rider, started the 2005 season by a riding a treble at this fixture and some 12 months later and he repeated the same feat. The first leg came aboard the very progressive Rebel Army from the Caroline Robinson yard at Sheriffhales. This was a good performance from the Mister Lord gelding who beat Majestic under Adam Wadlow readily by a length and a half. Robinson was delighted with her charges performance when I spoke to her afterwards, she said, “He has answered a lot of questions today and came through them well. He has gone through the ranks very quickly and will run next in Opens and then will progress to hunter chasing. I consider him to be a dour stayer who can also quicken as well.” The winner is owned by the trainers father Jeremy Beasley and by Marion Renaghan and George Hibbett; the latter two owners live in Clitheroe.

Burtie completed the middle leg on Darnil in the Volkswagen Touareg Men’s Open, beating the very useful Caught At Dawn very comfortably by 10 lengths. Darnil, the champion horse in this area last season by virtue of 5 wins, is trained at Hadnall by Sheila Crow, who was recording her first winner of 2006. Crow thinks very highly of the Grand Plaisir gelding and speaking after the race, she said, “He is a good horse to have in the yard. He is so tough and he has won on heavy to firm and will go on anything. I feel he has improved from last year and he will run in the sponsor’s final at Towcester (on Monday May 15 th 2006).” The winner is owned by David Rogers from Shrewsbury.

Burtie completed the third leg on Future Sovereign; another Sheila Crow trained horse, in the Restricted. This race produced the best finish of the day between Future Sovereign under Richard Burton and Will Hill aboard the Paul Jones trained Capt Jack. On the run to the final fence the pair was locked together and it was only in the shadow of the post that the former got on top by three quarters of a length. The runner up is owned by Michael Parr, who used to own the classy Lord Harry and his horse should be winning soon on this evidence. Kelnik Glory under Kevin Farrow was a further 12 lengths back in third. Crow bought the winner at the Breeze Up Sales at Cheltenham for Ledbury owner Clive Hitchings. It was a good day for Hitchings as he had another winner on the same day with Saint Reverien in the Men’s Open at the Midlands Area Club fixture at Thorpe Lodge and he arrived at the course just in the nick of time to greet his second winner of the afternoon.

I doubt whether there is a more popular horse in training anywhere in the country than the veteran Upton Adventure. The mare came to Weston Park with 25 wins under her belt. Win number 26 came with consummate ease in the Ladies Open under Emma James, who beat Magicien by 6 lengths in the fastest time of the day in 6m44s. Nicky Shepherd trains the winner at Eastnor Castle for Ludlow owner Peter Corbett, who bred the winner himself and the mare has been a wonderful servant for him. She looked an absolute picture in the paddock.

The most fortunate winner of the day was the Steve Wynne trained On The Forty under Sue Sharratt in the Confined Maiden. The combination looked nailed on for second place when Rebel Lad from the Caroline Robinson yard was 6 lengths up and cruising under Adam Wadlow before falling at the last and handing the race to On The Forty on plate. The gelding went on to beat Artic Summer by 7 lengths with the jolly, Silver Orchid, a further 5 lengths back in third. The winner was backed down from 16-1 to 4-1 and landed a quite a touch in the ring. Winning trainer Steve Wynne from Malpas assures me that it was not his money that shortened the price. He bought this horse privately out of Jonjo O’Neill’s yard last October and said afterwards that the winner had only raced nine times in his life and added that Sue (Sharratt) told him that the horse would improve from the race. The winner is owned by a syndicate consisting of the trainer’s sister Alison, his father John, Jane Smith and Sue Heap, the latter two owners come from the Wirral. Spare a thought for Adam Wadlow’s girlfriend Rachael Cox as she rides out On The Forty every day in his work at Steve Wynne’s yard; she must have had mixed emotions at the last fence.

Clerk of the course Richard Froggatt came in for much praise for the excellent condition of the course at Weston Park. I walked the track beforehand and it was in the best condition that I have seen it in for years. The sheep had been kept off the course it had been mown and rolled and look in great Nick. Just one example those of us who know owner Michael Parr know that he is a man who speaks his mind, for him to say that the track was in the best condition that he has ever seen it, is high praise indeed for Froggatt and his team.

The next meeting in the North Western Area will once again be at Weston Park, when the Albrighton fixture takes place here on Sunday February 12th; first race is at 12 noon.


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