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Eventing star wins first time out in timber race at Brandywine Hills

UNIONVILLE, Pa.—Jennie Brannigan, a top event rider who was the 2014 National CIC3* Champion and has won both the CIC3* and 2* at Fair Hill International, won the Ladies Timber Race at Brandywine Hills Point-to-Point on April 2, in her first attempt at racing over timber.

brannigan smallJennie BranniganShe won on Armata Stables’ Joshua G, trained by Kathy Neilson, in six minutes 45 seconds.

“This was the first jumping race I’ve ever ridden in,” said Brannigan. “It was really fun. It’s quite different from eventing.”

“I was lucky,” Brannigan said. “I had a really good horse. Jody (Petty, a top steeplechase rider) walked every panel with me.”

“This should really help me with eventing,” said Brannigan. “David O’Connor (U.S. chef d’equipe) has been very supportive of my doing this.”

Brannigan, who operates her training and coaching facility out of the Matz’ farm in Coatesville, Pa., could ride a more forward and competitive round in the cross county phase of evening after riding in races.

Today’s riders tend to stick to just one discipline, but in the 70s it was common for riders to compete in various disciplines.

Olympic eventing gold medalists like Bruce Davidson and Mike Plumb both rode in the toughest timber race of all, the Maryland Hunt Cup, as did Kevin Freeman, and show jumping Olympians Frank Chapot and Kathy Kusner also rode in the Maryland Hunt Cup.

Crossing into different disciplines made them more complete horsemen and women.

Brannigan on Joshua G beat Virginia Korrell on Leffingwell Lion, owned and trained by her mother, Elizabeth C. Korrell, by a length and a half, with Bethany Baumgardner on Merriefield Far’s Battle Aray, trained by Billy Meister third.


SANNA NEILSON had the best of it in one race and the worst in the next.

Neilson saddled Stewart Strawbridge’s 8-year-old Kings Apollo (GB), ridden by Petty, to win the Novice Timber in 6:22.

Peppermill Stable’s Captain Easy, trained by Meister and ridden by Keith Dalton, was second and NoGo Stable’s Tango Rhythm, trained by Meister and ridden by Darren Nagel, was third, “He went really well,” said Neilson. “We got him last year, in May or June.”

Kings Apollo had 31 starts in England over steeplechase fences, with five wins, five seconds and three thirds, before Strawbridge bought him.

“He’s a neat horse,” said Neilson, who is Master of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds. “I took the field on him all winter, He’s very intelligent. He’ll run in the maiden race at My Lady’s Manor. That’s been the plan all along.”

But in the Open Timber, Guts For Garters, owned by Strawbridge, trained by Neilson and ridden by Petty, fell heavily at the last fence while chasing the winner Grand Manan, owned by Howard R. Reuwer, trained by Meister and ridden by Nagle.

“He had a nasty laceration on his forearm,” said Neilson. It was stitched up that night. He’s going to Dr. Riddle.”

“I’m sick about Guts,” said Neilson. “He’s been so successful, and he’s never made a mistake. I’ve found that if a really good horse makes a mistake, it’s a doozer. He’ll be retired to be a hunter. He’s 14. He’s a lovely hunter, He’s always been an extremely lovely horse.”


GRAND MANAN, who inserted himself into the battle for Timber Horse of the Year last year with wins in the Genessee Valley Timber Stakes and the International Gold Cup Timber Stakes, finished in 6:07, the fastest time of the day.

“He didn’t look like he was doing that much, but he’s that kind of a horse,” said Meister. “He’ll run in the Manor next.”

Holbrook Hollow Farm’s Wingo Star, trained by Meister and ridden by Dalton, finished a distanced second, with And The Eagle Flys, owned by Mrs. William D. Class Jr., also trained by Meister and ridden by Baumgardner, finished further back in third.

IMG 06731Keith DaltonMeister also trained the winner of the Heavyweight Timber, Gas Can Eddie, owned by Class, and ridden by Dalton.

“He won at Howard County two years ago, but he keeps getting himself hurt in the paddock,” said Meister. “He bowed last year. Hopefully he’ll go to the Manor.”

Irv Naylor’s Ride Away, trained by Neilson and ridden by Baumgardner, was second with Donald Cochran’s Out Playing, trained by Todd McKenna and ridden by Annie Yeager, was third.

Chewy, ridden by Anna Farber, won the Small Pony race over Emmy-Lou, ridden by Max McKenna, and in the Medium Pony race Count Chocula, ridden by Theo Sushko, won over Fionna, Nina McKenna up, and Princess Pogo, ridden by Chase Damron.

“That was fun,” said Sushko. “I stayed behind Nina and then moved up on her when she wasn’t expecting it.”

Parker Hendriks won the Large Pony race on Mookie Monster, riding a hard finish to beat Joey Dipierro on Hot Chocolate and Cassidy Wilcox on Baboo.

“I rode all the way to the finish,” said Hendriks. “We got her last December. She had bowed, so Dad got her.”

Skylar McKenna rode Embarrassed to win the Junior Field Masters race, a late addition to the card after Cheshire was cancelled.

Maggie Buchanan on Sally was second with Teddy Davies on Buckshot third.

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