WARRENTON, Va.--Keri Brion began this year's steeplechasing season just where she left off last year, saddling three winners at Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point on March 19.
Having just set out as a trainer on her own just a little over a year ago after serving as assistant trainer to Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Brion immediately began saddling winner after winner and was NSA Leading Trainer as well as winning the Eclipse Award with The Mean Queen.
"I want things to stay the same this year as they were last year, I don't want people saying last year was beginner's luck," said Brion after winning the Eclipse Award.
So, despite the fact that this was a point-to-point and not a National Steeplechase Association recognized meet, things certainly are the same so far this year.
"Hopefully, we can do this when the money counts,"said Brion after Warrenton.
While Brion saddled three, Mark Beecher also had a very good day, saddling two winners including the winner of the Open Hurdle.
Brion concentrated on bringing out some of her recent additions to her string in the three divisions of the 2 mile Maiden Hurdle race, in which she had six entries with two winners and two that placed third.
PARISH DELIGHT (Ire), owned by Molly and Paul Willis and ridden by Parker Hendriks, won the first division of the Maiden Hurdle.
"Parish Delight ran second to a good horse trained by Gordon Elliot at Far Hills last fall," said Brion. "The he ran no good at Charleston. Parker wasn't really trying. I sent him out just for a day out racing."
Parish Delight raced in the middle of the eight horse field, went to the front at the last fence and held of Bright Eyed Eagle (Ire), trained by Kathy Neilson, to win.
CFC Stales' Undercover Rowdy (Ire), ridden by Barry Foley, won the third division of the Maiden.
"Undercover Rowdy broke Richie Condon's back at the Gold Cup last fall," said Brion. "When you have a horse that had a fall like that, it takes a while to acclimate him again. Barry gave him a great ride., It was a nice, positive race for him."
Undercover Rowdy, who also ran mid-field for most of the race, won over Big City Dreams, trained by Neilson, with another of Brion's, King Bubble (Ire), third.
Brion's third winner came in the Novice Rider Flat, with Atlantic Friends Racing's Historic Heart (Ire), ridden by Hendriks, winning by a length.
"Historic Heart was prepping to the Carolina Cup," said Brion.
The first sanctioned race is Aiken on March 26, and Brion said she has four entered there, one in each of the hurdle races, and has two entered in two of Cheshire Hunt Point-to-Point on March 27.
MARK BEECHER had two winners at Warrenton.
"It was a nice start to the season," said Beecher.
Holwood Stable and Port Lairge Stables' Decisive Triumph, ridden by Jaime Bargery, won the Open Hurdle after leading all the way and then holding off Knockholt, trained by Neil Morris, to win by 2 lengths.
"Decisive Triumph is a nice, hard knocking horse," said Beecher. "He won a nice race at the Gold Cup last fall. This was a prep for the Carolina Cup."
Happenstance & Achsah O'Donovan's Hero's Return, ridden by Bret Owings, won easily by 6 lengths over Make A Stand, trained by Graham Watters, with Pleasecallmeback, trained by Brion, third.
"Hero's Return is a nice horse," said Beecher. "He was second in a maiden race at the Gold Cup last fall, He was prepping to Camden in two weeks."
Paddy's Crown, trained by Emily Hannumm and ridden by Foley, won by 1/2 length over Fat Chance Farm's Flaming Sword, trained by Richard Valentine, in a two horse race in the 3 mile Open Timber.
Beverly Steinman's Be Somebody, trained by Doug Fout, won the Novice Timber by 4 lengths over Sea Mast, trained by Valentine.
Teddy Davies rode So Sublime, owned by Keystone Thoroughbreds and trained by Todd McKenna, to win the Foxhunter Timber by 7 lengths over Rhythmic, also trained by McKenna,.
The Sidesaddle Chase , a 1 1/8 mile flat race, ended in a dead heat between Devon Zebrovious rode Soul Approval, owned by Cherry Blossom Farm and trained by George Kuk, and Olivia Sitar on her own Nova.
The Open Flat was a family affair, with Teddy Davies winning his second race, on Brave Deacon, owned by his mother Blythe and trained by his father Joe.