June 2015 Issue - page 8

Page 8
June 2015
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
In her first time at Willowdale and her first ride on Schoolhouse Rules (center), Bethany Baumgardener
was the winner of the Willowdale Steeplechase, a 3.5 mile race for amateur riders, held on Mother’s Day.
Sovereign Fund (right) finished second, ahead of Major Malibu (left).
Photos by Marcella Peyre-Ferry
by Marcella Peyre-Ferry
In Chester County, PA, fam-
ilies with an equestrian connec-
tion often make the Willowdale
Steeplechases their Mother's Day
destination. Sun., May 10, over
10,000 people enjoyed the bright
sunny day with tailgate parties,
kids’ activities and a day of excit-
ing National Steeplechase Associ-
ation sanctioned racing action.
The featured event of the
day was the $25,000 Willowdale
Steeplechase, a 3.5 mile timber
race for horses 5 years old and
up, ridden by amateur riders. The
race was won by Kinross Farm's
Schoolhouse Rules, trained by
Neil Morris, and ridden by Betha-
ny Baumgardener.
The early leader for the race
was Fritz Boniface on Person-
al Brew, who was alone well
in front the first time over the
Bethany Baumgardener & Schoolhouse Rules Win the Willowdale Steeplechase
water jump, but Boniface had a
rough landing and came off a few
strides after the jump. Willow-
dale's water jump is the only one
of its kind in North America, with
a 12-foot span and an 18 inch
drop in elevation that makes it a
unique challenge.
Boniface was far enough
ahead that he had time to get
out of the way of the oncoming
horses, while Personal Brew con-
tinued to lead around the course
until he was caught.
With a long race to run,
Baumgardener stayed back in the
pack with Schoolhouse Woods un-
til the last two fences. She jumped
the last alongside Sovereign Fund
and early leader Major Malibu,
then went past them in the stretch
run. "The main objective is to shut
him off, get him relaxed. I know
he's got a big gallop and a big jump
in him," Baumgardener said.
This was Baumgardener's
first time on Schoolhouse Woods.
"I've watched him race before.
I've always really liked him.
He's a really cool, very talented
horse," she said.
This was also Baumgardener's
first time at Willowdale. "It seems
to be a really fun course," she said.
Jenny Memorial Timber
The Marshall W. Jenny
Memorial Timber race was won
by Lea Von, owned by Magalen
O. Bryant and ridden by Kieran
Norris, but only after a steward's
inquiry that could have invalidat-
ed the entire race.
The entire field missed a flag
on a turn, with all of the horses
briefly going off course. The
jockeys were called to the tower
and after discussion, the results
were allowed to stand.
"It was touch and go for a
while there. Thankfully there
were more intelligent people up
there than me who made some
valid points," Norris said. "It
was a fantastic race. It would
have been a shame if it was void.
There were nice horses and a
great finish. I was happy with my
horse, he jumped fantastically, he
deserved that win."
Norris held Lea Von with the
pack until the final fences. "My
ride was fantastic. It's always a
pleasure to come to Willowdale,
there's good fences and good
horses and the ground is always
right," Norris said. "The horse on
the outside made a little mistake.
That gave us momentum. Once
my horse got his head out in
front he didn't stop. It worked out
perfectly."
Rose Tree Cup
The Rose Tree Cup Claim-
ing Hurdle Race was won by
Hockey Pop, owned by Mrs.
John Fisher and ridden by Sean
McDermott. This was Hockey
Pop's second time over tim-
ber, and only his second race
back after treatment for Lyme
disease.
"It just shows his honesty
and his ability," McDermott said.
"He's such an honest horse and
a good jumper he could make a
Hunt Cup horse."
The Foxhunter's Chase was
won by Prime Prospector, owned
by Peter and Sarah Jay and ridden
by Diana Gillam.
"When you have a horse that
good, you just sit up there, keep
him tucked in until the end. He
jumped perfectly, didn't miss a
fence and had everything left
in the tank when it mattered,"
Gillam said after the race.
The Folly
The Folly, a $15,000 Maiden
Claiming Hurdle race finished
out the day. It was won by EC's
Favorite, owned and trained by
Jonathan Sheppard and ridden
by Paddy Young. Like the other
winners of the day, Young let
other horses set the pace, saving
his horse for the closing stage of
the race.
"Mr. Sheppard said to
take my time...She was always
traveling the best I felt, and
she jumped the last well, then
quickened away at the back of
it," said Young, who was riding
the horse for the first time.
"With fillies you don't want to
be too hard on them. She just
needed some reminder just to
say come on sweetheart, we're
racing here."
The day of racing also
included junior races for horses
and ponies and the Liam Magee
amateur training Flat Race, which
was won by Chamirey, owned by
Frank A. Bonsal Jr., and ridden
by Martin Gomez.
Diana Gillam (left) on Peter and Sarah Jay’s Prime Prospector,
shown at the final fence, overtook Conrad Somers and Illustra-
tion (right) to win the Foxhunter’s Chase at Willowdale.
Fritz Boniface on Personal Brew
led most of the Willowdale Steeple-
chase before a rough landing at
the signature water jump left him
walking to the finish.
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