UNIONVILLE, Pa.--Cheshire Point-to-Point added four National Steeplechase Association timber races with purse money to its meet on Sunday, March 26, and it brought four top horses to its Open Timber as well as maidens from many of the top trainers to compete.
Leslie Young, last year's Leading Trainer, saddled allowance and handicap winner Court Ruler (Ire), owned by Leipers Fork Steeplechasers and ridden by Freddy Procter, to win the $15,000, 3 mile Cheshire Bowl Open Timber.
Court Ruler went right to the front, drew off to a big lead and was eased to win by 14 lengths over Mystic Strike, trained by Todd McKenna.
Mystic Strike won last year's Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, Cracker Factory, who won a stakes race at Middleburg last year, was third and allowance winner Flaming Sword was fourth.
"It's a local meet, and we wanted to support it," said Young, whose barn in is West Grove. "Plus, it was a perfect fit for Court Ruler in that spot. We're looking toward Nashville for him. His owners come from Nashville."
Young also saddled Cause for Pardon, ridden by Procter, to place second in the $10,000 Maiden Timber, second division.
Black and Blue Stable's Fletched, trained by Forest Kelly and ridden by Elizabeth Scully, won by 1/2 length over Cause for Pardon.
Fletched went right to the front, was overtaken at the last fence, dug in a a three way stretch duel with Cause for Pardon and Lap of Gods, trained by Sanna Neilson and ridden by champion jockey Parker Hendriks, and won by 1/2 length.
"FREDDY said he just hit the front too soon, and he got a little looky there," said Young. "He surged back, but too late. I was hoping he'd win and we'd go from them. We have a couple of options now."
Young also had the winner of the Novice Rider Flat Race, Eleazar, ridden by Virginia Korrell.
Ricky Hendriks saddled Armata Stables' Chosen Mate (Ire), ridden by Harry Beswick, to win the $10,000 Maiden, first division, by 2 /34 lengths over Rhythmia, trained by Todd McKenna.
"Chosen Mate won a hurdle race at Cheltenham two years ago," said Hendriks, referring to the top steeplechase meet in England. "I got him from Gordon Elliot a couple of years ago when he brought him here for Far Hills. The idea was to run him over hurdles a few times and then convert him to timber."
Mark Beecher saddled Master Seville, an allowance winner owned by South Branch Equine and ridden by Brett Owings, to win the $10,000 Apprentice Rider.
Master Seville had finished a half length behind Awesome Adrian, trained by Kathy Neilson, but Awesome Adrian was disqualified for going off course, along with both the other horses in the race, all three having cut a flag.
Virginia Korrell, who rode Eleazar to win, was one of those also disqualified on Young's Mercoeur.
"They didn't put that flag out until 11 o'clock, after I had walked the course," said Korrell. "The stewards said that in the jock's meeting, but it was unclear whether it was before or after the fourth fence."
"Brett pays attention," said Beecher of why his rider was the only one in the race he knew not to cut the flag. "He's pretty vigilant walking courses, plus he's one of the more experienced novice riders. Apparently, the stewards again told the riders in the first race about the flag that wasn't placed until 11, but they didn't remind the novice riders about it."
"Maser Seville will either go to the Grand National or the apprentice race at the Manor." said Beecher. "He''s a nice horse for the future, for the bigger timber races. We went to Cheshire because he broke his maiden there last year, but also because we want to support point-to-point races that go to the trouble to raise the money to have sanctioned races. Kathy (Neilson, co chairman of the Cheshire race committee) deserves a lot credit for adding sanctioned races."
Neilson saddled the winners of two of the three flat races, both of which were ridden by Gerard Galligan..
Hard Game's High Deff (Fr), won the Open Flat in a drive at the finish over Profits Voice, trained by Hendriks, and Vintage Vinnie, trained by Joe Davies to win both the 2021 and 2022 Maryland Hunt Cup races by 54 and 48 lengths, was third.
Armata Stables' Imperial Assassin (Ire), hung on gamely to win the Maiden Flat over Sea Cruise, trained by Hendriks.
Neilson's Hail to the Chief was second to Eleazar in the Novice Rider Flat.
Cami Kern on Mallory won the Small Pony race, Yomar Ortiz on Blueberry won the Medium Pony race, and Jaidyn Shore rode Janey Dancer to win the large Pony.