Richard Burton bagged a couple of easy wins to boost his
fight to retain his Champion Jockey title at a sun-baked Eaton Hall on
Sunday; if one of them was courtesy of a walkover aboard KARZHANG in the
final Intermediate race, the other was nearly as simple as Burton piloted
JEMARO to win the Mensí Open by a distance. The 13 year old, winning his
fifth Point scored in a hack canter, having toyed with the venerable Lord Of
The West, who was so exhausted that he couldnít jump the last, albeit well
beaten at the time. He was attended by the vet but seemed sound afterwards.
Itís probably time to retire him, as he owes the game nothing now. This was a poor race for the inaugural running of the Anne
Duchess of Westminster Perpetual Shield, as evidenced by the fact that the
very moderate Harry Hotspur ploughed on for second.
The equine turnout was in stark contrast to the massive
crowds who flocked to the Cheshire course, and just 32 runners faced the
starter in the seven contests. The biggest field of the day came in the
opener, the first division of the maiden, won by serial loser ROBERT THE
RASCAL, who finally broke his duck at the eighteenth attempt, well ridden by
John Barlow. The form of this race will probably not bear close scrutiny, as
another long time also-ran, Snitton Salvo (no wins from 21 runs now), was
just beaten half a length into second, with the very disappointing Donald
McCain trained favourite Heathyards Element only third under Gary Hanmer.
Keep an eye on Tidal Beach, a flat bred sort, running his first race in
points; despite his breeding, he seemed to get the trip alright, and was
given a sympathetic ride by William Hill.
Hanmer endured a frustrating day, as his well-backed favourite Commander Conn was pulled up on the first bend in the second maiden race. MULLARTíS LAD, just a five year old won readily enough under Stuart Ross, from the long time leader Hendrix (Niall Saville), whose error at the last sealed his fate. Top Weld, as frustrating as ever, could do no better than third. The form of this division of the maiden is likely to stand up better than the first, and the winner looks a useful sort.
Nicholls Cross went off in the Confined under Hanmer like a
scalded cat, and was nearly a fence clear by the end of the first circuit.
But, as often happens, his early exertions took their toll, and the other
two runners had comfortably taken his measure by the back straight on the
final circuit, and it was the progressive DARE, with John Barlow in the
plate, who asserted to score by 15 lengths from the former Ferdy Murphy
trained Fornaught Alliance.
Although there were only three declared for the Ladiesí
Open, this was a race notable for it being the final Point to Point run of
the amazing Balisteros. Winner of 33 of his 81 races between the flags, he
is lined up for retirement after running in a Hunter Chase which Kelso
racecourse is staging, named in his honour next month, and this was his
farewell to the Pointing scene, which he has served so splendidly for so
Unfortunately for the 15 year old, there was to be no fairy tale ending, and despite keeping up a sound gallop, he eventually found the concession of five pounds to the useful JACKIE JARVIS too much in the end, and came home beaten 12 lengths, but not disgraced. The winner is a useful horse in her own right, and at just 7, sheíll win a few more races yet.
The novice ridersí race went to Annabel Turner, who gave
NEW ROSS an excellent ride, to nick the verdict by a length from Di Caine on
Wychnor King, with Gemma Garton on Chelsea King back in third. Jockeyship
won this one.
The Restricted race was not much better than a maiden, and
area leading lady rider Tessa Clark notched another success aboard the
sometimes moody THE LORD ROBERTS. At this point, only one having been
declared for the Intermediate, stumps were drawn.
The ground was probably the reason for the poor turnouts. It
was not so much a case of there being plenty of grass on top as it being
silage waiting to happen. There were some boggy patches in the home
straight, though on most of the course there was distinct jar, even despite
the grass cover.
And just a word for the books; there were plenty of bookies
in attendance, (and the Ludlow Hunter chase priced up too, fair play) and
all told, the prices werenít too bad. If you werenít able to beat SP in
most races, you couldnít have looked too hard.