May 2016 Issue - page 11

May 2016
Page 11
By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
Horses were literally running
with the wind, and against it,
at the Brandywine Hills Point
to Point Races, Sunday, April
3. Heavy winds kept spectator
numbers lighter than usual for the
74th running of the races at the
Myrick Conservation Center in
West Chester, PA, but there was
still good racing to be seen by
those who braved the cold.
The featured Open Timber
Race for the Henry C. Baldwin
Challenge Trophy was the high-
light of the afternoon with a field
of five horses going to the start.
Sarah Shaffer rode Donald Reu-
wer Jr.’s Grand Manan to the win
for trainer William Meister in the
fastest time of the day at 5:44.
Shaffer gave Grand Manan
his first start over timber last
year, and won the Heavyweight
race at Brandywine Hills with
him, but an injury kept her out for
the rest of the season. “It’s nice
to be back in the saddle with him
today,” she said.
Grand Manan was on the
lead for most of the race, some-
times at a distance from the pack.
“There was the plan to let him
go in the front. That’s where he’s
happiest. He was very fresh, very
happy today and I just let him
be who he is and didn’t fight it,”
Shaffer said. “I just let him be
comfortable and relax. It’s better
to do that than to fight them. He
doesn’t like to be told what to do.
He’s the type, you just leave him
be and he’ll pick his own spots.”
Ladies Race
In the Ladies Race for the
Betty Baldwin Meister Memorial
Trophy, Leffingwell Lion set the
pace early on, but chipped in at a
fence causing a fall. From there,
Erika Taylor on Sumo Power took
over and stayed on top to the wire.
“He was lovely,” Taylor said.
“When I came down the bottom
side, I just wanted to keep up. I
let him find his stride and he did
Sarah Shaffer and Heroic Royal (left) fought off a challenge by Fritz
Boniface and Dewey Blue (center) to win the Heavyweight Race. The
third starter, Any Key, ridden by Alex Leventhal, fell at the last fence.
Brandywine Hills Point to Point Races
Sumo Power, owned by
Charles Noell and Blythe Miller
Davies, trained by Joseph Davies,
was Taylor’s first timber mount.
She won on him in the amateur
race at the Grand National last year.
“I love the horse. I had a great time
on him last spring, so it’s great to
be on him again this year.”
The trainer also likes the com-
bination. “She and this horse have
together gotten better and better
each time, here beating two good
horses behind her,” Davies said.
Heavyweight Race
The Joseph T Murtagh
Memorial Heavyweight Race had
three starters. Alex Leventhal and
Any Key were trailing the well-
grouped trio when they fell at the
last fence leaving Sarah Shaffer
on Heroic Royal to fight off a
challenge by Fritz Boniface on
Dewey Blue.
Heroic Royal, owned by
Armata Stables and trained by
Katherine Neilson, made his
debut over timber a week earlier
at Cheshire. “He ran pretty well
there, so we decided to run him
back here. He carried a little more
weight today. I put him in behind
to gain a little confidence, but
he wanted to run on. He’s very
brave,” Shaffer said. “It was very
tight. We had an early run over
the last two fences. Fritz was
putting the pressure on us and I
just kept him into it. The horse
wanted to stay in. He got both the
fences in perfect stride, it helped
out for the win.”
Neilson also trained the win-
ner of the Novice Race, Nancy
Reed’s homebred Handsome
Hoyt with jockey Gerard Galli-
gan. “He’s an easy horse. He’s
been foxhunting all winter (with
Cheshire). It’s made him a very
happy horse,” Reed said.
There was just one entry for
the Foxhunter’s Timber race, so
Lauren Schock rode her mare
McCrady’s with the Novice Race.
“Going with the older ones,
it was great to watch them go on.
We just wanted to have a nice
safe ride because she's so green,”
Schock said, adding that she hunts
the mare four days a week with
River Hills. “She has a great heart,
a lot of power - it’s always a nice
safe ride. She really tries for me.”
At the last fence McCrady’s
banged her knee on the fence
throwing Schock off balance for a
few strides before she recovered,
avoiding a fall. “I’ll be damned
if I come off on the finish line in
front of all these people,” Schock
Pony Races
Pony races are always popu-
lar at Brandywine Hills. The win-
ners of the Small, Medium, and
Large Pony races all ran and won
a week earlier at the Cheshire
Point to Point races on Easter
Sunday. Teddy Davies on Hoof
Hearted (small); Nina McKen-
na on Fionna (medium); and
Anna Farber on Mookie Monster
(large) all added points for a
second win toward the Delaware
Valley Point to Point Association
Series Awards.
One race that is distinctive to
Brandywine Hills is the Leadline
Race for very young riders. This
year’s winner was four-year-old
William Slater, son of jockey
James Slater.
Proceeds from the Point to
Point races go to the Brandywine
Red Clay Alliance (formerly the
Brandywine Valley Association)
for education and conservation
On the spectators’ side of the
rail, a tailgate spot by the finish
line, normally taken by the late Les
Haines McNemar, was reserved in
his honor, with memorabilia from
his years as a race horse owner and
trainer. The former president of the
Professional Horsemen’s Associa-
tion passed away last December at
the age of 87.
Brandywine Hills is the
second of three races in the Del-
aware Valley Point to Point As-
sociation Series, which finishes
with the Fair Hill Point to Point
April 17.
Grand Moran led the featured Open Timber race at Brandywine
Hills for most of the race. Jockey Sarah Shaffer gave the horse his
first start over timber last year, but then was sidelined the rest of the
season with an injury.
Photos by Marcella Peyre-Ferry
Sumo Power (right), ridden by Erika Taylor, won the Ladies Race after
the pacesetter, Leffingwell Lion, had a fall. Sumo Power is owned by
Charles Noell and Blythe Miller Davies and trained by Joseph Davies.
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