Donít Tell Sailor, ridden by David Byrne, pulled ahead of the mob during the final stretch to win the Novice Timber race.
Rescheduled due to conditions from April 5 to Easter Sunday, the spectators were sparse, but the racing action was good at the Fair Hill Point To Point Races, April 20 at Fair Hill, MD. A full card of pony races, a leadline race, two flat races and four races over timber were run along with a carriage parade and live music to liven up the day.
The first of the timber races, the Heavyweight Timber, went to Irvin S. Naylor's Super Saturday, ridden by James Slater. "I was delighted because James' instructions today were to get him to settle," said trainer Katherine Neilson after the race. "The first time we ran him over timber, he ran in Virginia and he was a little keen and not as careful at the jumps. Today he settled and jumped very well."
The bulk of the race was led by Personal Brew, but as the horses headed around the last long turn, Personal Brew nearly went off course and had to be pulled sharply back to the jumps, losing the lead in the process. "He did not appear to get bothered by the horse swerving in front of him," Neilson said. "I think he loved the course and this will be a good spot for him to come back for the novice timber race here in May. He's kind of a piggy little horse. He doesn't necessarily want to do anything you want him to do, but he seems to like this. He likes timber racing and he likes fox hunting."
In the Novice Timber, Don't Tell Sailor, owned by Rosbrian Farm and trainer Louis Neilson III, and ridden by David Byrne, came out of a well bunched pack in the final stretch to take the win.
"He was a very nice horse in England, now he's two for two in this country," Neilson said. "We brought him out at Cheshire in the flat. He was second there, then he won at Elkridge Harford in a similar race, maybe we're going to rules next time."
Neilson let Byrne see the strategy for the race as it developed. "They'll know more after you jumped a fence than you can tell them," he said. "The plan was to just keep him in the race and get him to relax."
Northwoods Stable's Battle Op won the Open Timber for Connor Hankin, putting him back on a winning track. "Frankly, he didn't run really well last week at the Manor so we brought him up here to give it a go to see if we could figure out what's going on and he did much better," said Michael Hankin, father of rider Connor Hankin. From here, fourteen-year-old† Battle Op could have another shot at the Maryland Hunt Cup next month.
100 Length Lead
The final race of the day was the Foxhunter's Race, where owner / rider Alex Leventhal showed how strong his horse Mr. Tack can be. He ran away from the other two starters before reaching the first fence, and kept increasing his lead to at least 100 lengths and retaining that margin all the way to the finish line.
For most of the race he was jumping fences alone while the other horses were a full fence or more behind him. "I just let him roll. I tried to check him after the first fence, he came back a little bit;† after the second fence he came back a little bit; coming through the infield I feel like I slowed him down a little too much. He bobbled that fence and then I just let him run. He jumped much better when I let him run," Leventhal said.
Pony Race winners for the day were: Small Pony - Hoof Hearted owned by Jessica Basciano, trained and ridden by† Alice Nolen-Walston;† Medium Pony - Ice Melted owned by Jessica Basciano, ridden by Malachi Lyles; Large Pony - Espuela owned by Joseph Manheim, ridden by Malachi Lyles;† Leadline Pony - Carousel Anna owned by Maggie Buchannan, ridden by Flora Hannum.
In the flat races, Second Amendment, owned by Mrs. Timothy J. Gardner and ridden by Tim Carroll, won the novice flat race, while the open flat race was won by Virsito, owned by† Sheila J. Williams and ridden by Jeff Murphy.
When the Plumstead Farm Point to Point Races were discontinued, just two established races remained as part of the Delaware Valley Point To Point Association series. Stepping into Plumstead's place three years ago was the new Fair Hill Point to Point Races, which were the conclusion of this year's DVA series, following Cheshire and Brandywine Hills point to points.
Champions for the 2014 Series are: Small Pony - Creamsicle; Medium Pony - Fionna; Large Pony - Modernly Millie; Heavyweight - Great Halo; Novice - Big Willie; and Open - Almarmooq. Almarmooq, owned by Irvin S. Naylor, was also the overall champion horse. The champion Lady Rider for the series was Annie Yeager, while James Slater was the Champion Rider and William S. Meister was named the Champion Trainer.