South Monarch owned by Morning Star Stables, trained by Sanna Hendriks, and ridden by Chip Miller won the $15,000 Willowdale Steeplechase
The Hendriks family saw a lot of the winner’s circle at the 19th running of the Willowdale Steeplechase in Kennett Square, PA, on Sunday May 15. Sanna and Ricky Hendriks’ Morning Star Stables posted two winners out of the seven race card, including the featured Willowdale Steeplechase.
Sanna Hendriks’ South Monarch, ridden by Chip Miller, stayed near the front through the first part of the three-mile timber race. Scuba Steve under Mark Beecher fell on the first fence, leaving Mach Ten, ridden by Nick Carter and then South Monarch to set the pace for the early going.
“I told Chip he's kind of spooky in front so he wanted to have a lead as long as he could. He had one bad fence up there,” Hendriks said.
South Monarch is a six year old that Hendriks also fox hunts with Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Hounds. He came into Willowdale off a second place finish at Winterthur the previous weekend. “He’s a pretty good horse. I was hoping he had enough gas left in the tank to fight them off,” Hendriks said following the win. “He’s my number one man, South Monarch, so I'm glad he had a good day.”
Sanna was not the only Hendriks to train a Willowdale winner. Her husband Ricky’s ten year old gelding, Thermostat, was ridden to a win in the Landhope Cup timber race by jockey Paddy Young.
After scratches, there were just four starters in the race, and Thermostat went to the front. That was the safest place to be when Jeff Murphy on Brands Hatch fell, and Nick Carter on Native Mark had to pull up on the last circuit of the course.
Darren Nagle on Irvin S. Naylor’s Fieldview avoided the faller, but was left well back to finish a distant second while Thermostat jumped the last fences alone on his way to the win in 6:22.
Falls were a problem in several of the races. The schedule for the day was delayed from the beginning when junior rider Valerie Thompson fell at the start of the large pony race and had to be taken from the course by ambulance.
The biggest timber field of the day came to the flag in the Marshall W. Jenney Memorial. With ten starters, the race was competitive, but there were falls by Armed Brat with Nick Carter and Bug Eyed Willy under James Stierhoff. William Dowling also fell from Casey’s Emblem, and three horses were pulled up – Wolf Shadow (Jody Petty), Wolfe Tone (Darren Nagle) and Relear (Ross Geraghty).
That left just four horses going to the wire, with Aero, owned by Alfred C. Griffin, Jr., and ridden by Jeff Murphy, coming from behind to finish over Kristin Fischer on Mussiecoocoo who had led for most of the race.
There was also a fall in the final race, the Rose Tree Cup. With just three fences left Better Be Ready and Petty went down hard. The horse had to be removed from the course by the equine ambulance after Flying Friskie went on to win by more than 20 lengths under Richard Boucher for owner Marilyn Ketts and trainer Lilith Boucher. Class Mark owned by Debra Kachel, trained by Ricky Hendriks and ridden by Paddy Young finished second.
Other race winners were Staying On, ridden by Brian Korrell for owner trainer Michael J. Moran in the Liam Magee Amateur training Flat Race; Flying Contraption – ridden by Ivan Dowling for owner trainer F. Bruce Miller in the Foxhunter’s Chase; and Be Great, owned by Keystone Thoroughbreds and ridden by Danielle Hodsdon for trainer Todd McKenna.
Ricky Hendriks even had winners in the Junior ranks at Willowdale as the trainer of Dale Thiel’s Sir Dynamite who finished first in the Junior Horse race with six-teen-year old McCauley Kinnerman aboard.
Kinnerman, who lives in Kirkwood, PA and attends Solanco High School, won his first race out of the juniors just three weeks earlier. This was his first time on Sir Dynamite and only his second time riding for Hendriks. "He was tremendous - absolutely awesome - he didn't pull me around at all, just a nice galloping ride," Kinnerman described his ride. Kinnerman hopes to study communications in college and become a broadcaster while remaining involved in the racing as an amateur rider.
Other winners in the pony races were Ross Mace of Maryland on small pony Time Flies and Katie Miller of Kirkwood PA on her large pony Beatrice Boodles.
Proceeds from the Willowdale Steeplechases go to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Quest Therapeutic Services, and the Stroud Water Research Center.