May 2015 | Cheshire Hunt Point to Point Races
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Cheshire Hunt Point to Point Races

May 2015 - Marcella Peyre-Ferry

Maggie Buchanan on Mookie MonsterMaggie Buchanan on Mookie Monster won the Large Pony race.

For the third year in a row, Grinding Speed has won the Cheshire Bowl for the Open Timber Race at the 70th running of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds Point to Point Races, outside Unionville, Pa.

Run on Sunday, March 29, Cheshire was a good spring tune up for Grinding Speed, owned by Michael Wharton and trained by Alicia Murphy, in his preparation for the Maryland Hunt Cup.

"He went very well. He settled in nicely and he gained a lot of ground jumping the third from home. He's got a good kick so he finished out nicely," jockey Mark Beecher said after his win. "With jumpers, if they get a good jump they can give themselves a breather. I know he's got a good kick at the end."

This was a good weekend for Beecher, who rode three winners on Saturday at Green Spring, then added two more at Cheshire on Sunday. In addition to Grinding Speed, Beecher rode to a win in the Heavyweight Race on Puller, owned by Charles C. Fenwick, Jr., and trained by Todd Wyatt.

"He's a nice horse, he jumped well," said Beecher who was riding Puller for the first time. "We're always happy to be able to come up and run here. I think they do a great job considering the weather."

Entries were so high for the Novice race at Cheshire that it was split and run in two divisions, both of which were won by Jockey Diana Gillam.

In the first section of the Novice race, Gillam won on Prime Prospector for owners Peter and Sarah Jay and trainer Todd Wyatt. The race was decided by a close margin with Atlantic Ocean coming a close second for Rosbrian Farm under Martin Rohan.

"He's a really great jumper - he has some flat form and some hurdles form," Gillam said after the race. "He ran like a real professional today, not like a first time starter by any means. It was a great pace, tightly bunched the whole way. It was no sprint from the last fence. It was a good gallop the whole way around."

Gillam then piloted Catch the Echo to a win for trainer Blythe Miller Davies. Catch the Echo rides under Gerry Brewster's colors, but the horse is actually part of a partnership between Brewster and Jeb and Emily Hannum.

"The Brewsters of Maryland and the Hannums in Pennsylvania, we go back many generations to when our grandfathers rode against each other in the Hunt Cup a hundred years ago," Brewster said. "We decided it would be fun to have a Pennsylvania - Maryland partnership and the Hannums were kind enough to include me as a partner with this horse, Catch The Echo. We're having a lot of fun together."

Brewster is also the solo owner of Brands Hatch, the winner of the Foxhunter's Timber race under rider Adair Bonsal Stifel for trainer Blythe Miller Davies. "We've had him for a while. He's run in the Hunt Cup twice and unseated his jockey both times," Brewster said. "That was the best trip he's ever had, so maybe he deserves another go at the Hunt Cup."

Ladies Race
There were five starters for the Ladies Race that was won by Sarah Shaffer on Personal Brew, owned by Irvin S. Naylor and trained by William S. Meister.

Personal Brew ran most of the race alone out front until the rest of the field closed the gap at the final fences. "He likes to take the lead and set the pace. Once he settled, I had a comfortable pace," Shaffer said. "I had the last two fences pretty well figured out. He hit them right in stride and then I just asked him to move on to the wire."

Other winners for the day were Fantastic Song owned by Mrs. S. K. Johnston, Jr., and Brief Holiday, owned by Elizabeth Barr, in the two divisions of the Flat Race. Both horses were trained by Fenneka Bentley and ridden by Barry Walsh.

Young Riders
There was also plenty of racing for junior riders. Winning the Small Pony Race was Benjamin Siepser on Creamsicle. The Medium Pony Race winner was Skylar McKenna on Fionna and the Large Pony Race winner was Maggie Buchanan on Mookie Monster.

New for this year at Cheshire was the Field Master's Chase where the field of junior riders on horses and ponies were led over the course of fences until they were released at the last fence to run for the finish.

Trophies were awarded to both the winning horse and the first pony to cross the finish line.

The Pony Division went to first time race rider, 12-year-old Haven Arms on Fabulous. "I really like this because I feel like I wasn't working my hardest the whole time. It felt like I could really wait for a burst of energy at the end down the stretch," she said. "He did amazingly. My pony is fabulous. He sort of goes at his own pace and I trust him."

The winner of the horse division was John Brophy on Undisputed Champ. "She was a little hard to rate at first, but she got into a rhythm. Going down the hill I thought I might lose her for a minute, but she was good," said Brophy, who at 15 is looking forward to racing against the adults soon. He enjoyed the challenge of the Field Master's Chase format. "I think this is a lot more valuable to teach us than the short sprints because you have to judge your fences and judge everything like you were in a jump race - which is where most of us will be going."