THE PLAINS, Va.--Jack Fisher saddled two winners as well as both the first and second placed horses in the featured $100,000 David Semmes Memorial Hurdle Stakes at the Virginia Gold Cup on Saturday, May 6.
Harold Via's Welshman ridden by Graham Watters, won the David Semmes by 2 lengths over stablemate Riverdee Stable's Gordon's Jet, ridden by Jamie Bargary.
Welshman went to the front about halfway through the race and held off Gordon's Jet, who had run second throughout the race.
"Graham gallops Welshman every day," said Fisher."He's a little difficult to gallop. He'll go to Saratoga next."
"Gordon's Jet is a lovely horse," said Fisher of the 7-year-old gelding that ran in handicaps in England through 2022 before coming to this country and winning his first race in this country at Tryon in April.
"I expected Welshman to run a good race," said Watters. "I didn't want to go to the front that early, but I didn't want to break his spirit."
Sheila Williams and Northwood Stable's Storm Team, ridden by Watters, won the $30,000 Steeplethon Stakes by 14 1/2 lengths over Brooklyn Speights, trained by Mark Beecher.
Storm Team, a stakes winner over timber, had been eased in his last race at Middleburg after leading for the first 2 1/2 miles.
"AFTER MIDDLEBURG, he told Jack he wanted a shorter distance and something he could be clever at," said Mike Hankin, one of his owners. "I'm happy for Storm Team and for Sheila, who isn't here."
Stooshie, who have been the pre-race favorite, lost his rider at the second fence.
"There was a change of tactics when Stooshie lost his rider," said Watters. "I could wait a little longer to make the front. He's definitely not a cool character. He's hard work for the girls at home. But he loves to jump."
Mystic Strike, owned by Upland Partners, trained by Todd McKenna and ridden by Gerard Galligan, won the $100,000 Vrginia Gold Cup Timber Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Andi'amu, trained by Leslie Young, the only two finishers.
Tomgarrow lost his rider and Cracker Factory went off course before the water jump while leading and going easily.
"He's a special horse," said Galligan. "He loves to jump and he loves to win. Mystic Strike didn't want to let Amdi'amu by him again."
"I've never won a race here before," said McKenna. "My owner always had his eye on this race. Something bad always happens when he's at one of Mystic Strike's races. He's not here today. I called him and said `We won! We won!' He said, `He wouldn't have won if I'd been there."
"He loves to run and jump,"said McKenna. "He needs a lot of prep races. He traveled well and jumped well. I knew we had a shot when he came around the turn. I'm tickled."
Arch Kingsley saddled Hurricana Farm's Merry Maker (Ire),ridden by Steven Mulqueen, to win the $45,000 Allowance Hurdle by 2 1/2 lengths over Modus Operandi (Ire), trained by Keri Brion.
"This was his second win, and today's win was against winners." said Kingsley. "Things are coming together for him. Steven rides beautifully, and he compliments this horse."
"When he broke his maiden, he came out of it with an injury," said Kingsley. "He missed a year, then Taylor (his daughter) rode him on the flat in a race anf created a new way to ride him, and then she rode hm back in a point-to-point before this."
Merry Maker went to the front over the last fence and went on to win comfortably.
"I was lucky to run into Arch at the Aintree Grand National, and he got meover here," said Mulqueen.
Leipers Fork Steeplechasers' Rampoldi Plan, trained by Leslie Young and ridden by Jack Doyle, won the $40,000 Maiden Hurdle by 8 1/4 lengths over Rocket One, trained by Fisher.
Irv Naylor's McTigue ,trained by Cyril Murphy and ridden by Bargary, won the $50,000 Four-Year-Old Hurdle Stakes by 8 1/2 lengths over Praghas Ceart, trained by Brion.
Kathy Neilson saddled David Lee Hain's Hail to the Chief, ridden by Galligan, to win the $25,000 Maiden Claiming Hurdle by 1 1/4 lengths over Be Yourself, trained by Neil Morris.
"Winter Paxson, who works for River Hills Hunt, told me about hm," said Neilson. "He's a big, strapping, good looking horse. It just happened that David Hain, who is in charge of Radnor Hunt Races, was looking for a horse at the same time. I'm grateful to have success for him."
"He's a wonderful horse," said Neilson. "I see him and all I think of is timber races. He's about 17.2 hands."