KENNETT SQUARE, Pa.—Doc Cebu won over fences for the fourth time from five starts in sanctioned races, this time scoring by 9 lengths in the Willowdale Steeplechase Amateur Timber Stakes
Owned by Charles C. Fenwick Jr., trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Hadden Frost, the 7-year-old bay gelding by Hard Spun won the featured $35,000 Stakes at the Willowdale Steeplechase on May 14.
Frost, an Englishman who was previously a professional jockey, was in this country for just over a month, and he said he was going back to England a few days after Willowdale.
But before he left, he said he was going to ride another bull.
“I rode the first bull last week,” said Frost, adding that that bull didn’t buck hard enough. “I’m going back to ride another bull before I leave.”
Grand Manon, owned by Donald Reuwer Jr., trained by Billy Meister and ridden by Gonzague Cottreau, led for most of the race but was caught by Doc Cebu, who took command with two fences to go.
“The pace was good for him,” said Fisher.
Grand Manon was second, 37 ¾ lengths in front of third placed Class Brahms, owned by Rosbrian Farm, trained by Tara Elmore and ridden by Mark Beecher.
“Doc Cebu won his first race over fences in a maiden claiming hurdle race at Middleburg last October, and then won a allowance hurdle race at Montpelier in November,” said Fisher. “But Charlie said he didn’t care about hurdle racing, so we switched to timber.”
After switching, Doc Cebu won the maiden timber at My Lady’s Manor and then finished second in an allowance race at Charlotte on April 29 before becoming a stakes winner at Willowdale.
“We debated whether to go to Radnor or come here,” said Fisher. “Charlie is a major donor here, so we decided to come here. Hadden did a great job on him.”
WILLOWDALE was marred by a number of falls, one resulting in serious damage for Annie Yeager, an amateur jockey and exercise rider for Jonathan Sheppard.
In the first three races over fences, six horses fell and three lost their riders from 24 starters.
At Willowdale, the timber course includes both natural brush fences and timber fences, and of the first three races, two were for maiden horses and one was for amateur apprentice riders.
The combination of inexperienced horses and inexperienced riders competing over a course that switches from brush, where the horses find they can brush through the top, to timber, where brushing through the top is lethal, seems annually to cause numerous falls.
Yeager suffered a very severe concussion, a broken bone at the base of her neck, another fracture lower on her spine and a broken collarbone that punctured a lung.
She was released from hospital the following day and is recuperating at Keri and Andrew Wolfsont’s house.
Blair Wyatt’s Witor, trained by Todd Wyatt and ridden by Amelia McGuirk, won the $15,000 Maiden Timber by 3 1/4 lengths over Irvin Crawford’s Touchdowntony, trained by Joe Davies and ridden by Cottreau. Witor won earlier in the season at the Fair Hill Point-to-Point, but this was his first win in a sanctioned timber race.
“We’ve had him for a few years, but we own him now,” said Wyatt. “So there’s not as much pressure to get him to the races. My wife has always adored him.”
Kathy Neilson saddled Irvin Naylor’s Aquies, ridden by Gerard Galligan, to win the second section of the $15,000 Maiden Timber by 9 ¼ lengths over De Chera, owned and trained by Bruce Fenwick and ridden by Sean McDermott.
“My daughter Skylar hunts him,” said Neilson. “We’ve had him since he was 3. Gretchen Winterstein bred him.”
Neilson said at one point she ran him in a claiming race at Penn National, and he was claimed,
“Scott Lake claimed him,” said Neilson. “I bought him back. It cost me a little more, but it was worth it,”
Wyatt also saddled Peter Jay’s Prime Prospector, ridden by McGuirk, to win the Amateur Apprentice Timber by 3 lengths over Blythe Davies’ Ride Away, trained by Joe Davies and ridden by Trevor Ryan.
“I’ve had him for five or six years,” said Wyatt. “He’s won over hurdles. He won this race here two years ago. This is the third time he’s run in this race.”
JONATHAN SHEPPARD saddled Hudson River Farms’ Codrington College (Ire) to win the $15,000 Maiden Claiming Hurdle under Darren Nagle.
“We’ve had him about four years,” said Sheppard. “We brought him over from Ireland. He’s run over hurdles in England. We ran him over hurdles, but he’d lose three or four lengths over every fence. Then he started having tendon problems.”
Codrington College ran only once each year in 2013, ’14 and ’15.
“Then we ran him on the flat, but that was disappointing,” said Sheppard.
Sheppard said Nagle worked with Codrington College to get him to jump flatter so he wouldn’t lose lengths over fences.
“We ran him in the Queens Cup, and he was in contention,” said Sheppard. “Darren thought maybe we should run him in a maiden claiming to get his confidence back. He thought no one would claim him.”
So he ran at Willowdale and won by two lengths over The Fields Stable’s Norse Star (Ire), trained by Elizabeth Voss and ridden by Jack Doyle.
Pathfinder Racing’s Cognashene, trained by Neil Morris and ridden by Kieran Norris, won the Conditioned Claiming Hurdle by 12 lengths over Naylor’s Shinobi (Ger), trained by Neilson and ridden by Roger Quinlan,
Sara Katz rode Achsah O’Donovan’s Overawe, trained by Alicia Murphy, to win the Amateur Training Flat race and was promptly doused with a huge bucket of ice water for winning her first race.
“I’ve ridden in about 10 races, and probably six under rules,” said Katz. “I’m probably one of the greener riders here.”
“Overawe was sour from running on the track,” said Katz. “He wasn’t interested in running. Alicia is great, though. She takes her time. He’s going to run over hurdles.”