MALVERN, Pa.—Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike won the $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup timber race on a disqualification after being beaten a nose by Irvin Naylor’s Ebanour (Ire) on a day when falls left two jockeys badly hurt and two other jockeys suffered freak falls but luckily were unhurt at the Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on May 20.
Ricky Hendriks took over the training of Mystic Strike after his former trainer, Todd McKenna, was suspended for kicking the horse, apparently colicing, in the stomach at the Maryland Hunt Cup.
After losing by a short nose, Mystic Strike’s jockey Mark Beecher claimed foul at the last fence on Ebanour, ridden by Gustav Dahl.
“Ebanour came in on top of my horse at the last fence,” said Beecher. “The horses made contact, and I hit my knee on the wing.”
Ebanour was about a half length in front over the last fence, but a fast closing Mystic Strike, despite the interference at the last fence, came within a nose of winning.
“I never sat on him before,” said Beecher. There was no pace in the race, but we were getting 10 pounds from Ebanour.”
I’ve had Mystic Strike for two weeks,” said Hendriks. “We ran him in the flat race at Willowdale, and he finished mid-pack. I had Ross Geraghty school him before this race. I didn’t want to make Mark come up all the way from Maryland just for a school.”
“Wildcatter, owned by Armata Stable, trained by Elizabeth Voss and ridden by Jack Doyle, was another ½ length back in third.
PADDY YOUNG, looking for his 199th victory over fences, rode Stewart Strawbridge’s King’s Apollo, trained by Sanna Neilson, but King’s Apollo fell about 2 miles into the 3 ¼ mile race.
Young, 41, suffered a severe head injury and a concussion when a horse in the field behind the faller hit Young, and he was transported to hospital, where he remains as of May 30.
Young had bleeding on the brain and doctors removed a piece of his skull to make room for the swelling, and he also suffered a fracture of C7 vertebra in his back.
He is very heavily sedated, but when doctors reduce the sedation for a few minutes, although he doesn’t wake up he is able to respond to doctor’s commands.
Amy Taylor Rowe, who is one of Young’s owners and is very close to the Paddy and his wife Leslie, said on May 27 that Paddy had contracted pneumonia and also a Mercer infection, but that he is still expected to have a full recovery.
A Mercer infection, a contraction for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, which is caused by a strain of antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria, is spread by person-to-person contact in hospitals, and begins as a painful boil.
It is treated by antibiotics, and the class of antibacterial medication used is dependent on the severity.
Leslie wrote on Facebook on May 30, “Spent the night with Paddy last night after Devon..(where their children started the Shetland pony race)...he has been fighting a temp for past few days. Because of the pneumonia and merca. At one point it was up to 104.7 (a few days ago) ..happy to say i think they have gotten the right antibiotic for the Merca....it was down to 98.8 this morning....he isnt awake yet but did try and pull out breathing tubes last night so his hands are tied down again. Thats a good thing. Hes a fighter.”
GRAHAM WATTERS, replacing Young after his injury, rode Naylor’s Jamarjo (Ire), trained by Leslie Young, to win the G3 $50,000 National Hunt Cup Hurdle Handicap.
It’s ironic that the Youngs, feeling that this might be Paddy’s last year of riding races, particularly if he reached the 200 races won mark he was after, had invited Watters and his girlfriend to come to the States for a couple of weeks to see if he liked it here and might consider moving here to be the Youngs’ stable jockey.
“I’ve only been here since Monday,” said Watters. “I came for two weeks to see what it was like. They’re trying to find someone to ride, because Paddy’s not going to ride forever.”
“I’ve been riding races since I was 16,” said Watters. “I started as an amateur and then got my conditioned apprentice license. I’m only three wins away from moving up.”
“The money here is great,” said Watters. “The maiden race here was $30,000. Maiden races are $5,000 in England.”
“I schooled this horse, and he jumped great,” said Watters. “Paddy told me everything about him. I was second all the way. Along the back side, a loose horse carried two horses wide, and that gave me a two length advantage. I stayed up with the loose horse in the stretch, as I didn’t want him to carry me out.”
Jamarjo won by 6 ½ lengths over Special Skills, owned by Sheila Williams and Northwood Stables, trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott, with Charminster, owned by Naylor, trained by Murphy and ridden by Doyle, third.
One of the two freak accidents happened to cause the loose horse when Alajmal, trained by Janet Elliot, hit the pylon holding a flag marking the course and lost his rider, Shane Crimin.
In the first race, Travel True, owned by Hudson River Farm and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, was in the lead when he, too, hit a flag, hurling his rider, Darren Nagle, to slide 30 yards to the left, through the middle of the entire field, but miraculously not one horse touched him.
In the same race, Kieran Norris, riding Bonnie Rye Stable’s Make Big Plans, wasn’t so lucky.
Make Big Plans clipped heels in the stretch and fell, and Norris suffered a fracture of the condylar bone, the bone in the base of the skull that enables a person to turn his head.
Norris, who is out for the year, was released from hospital that evening and is in a neck brace.
The race, a $30,000 Maiden Hurdle, was won by Robert Kinsley’s Al, trained by Elizabeth Voss and ridden by Doyle, with Rowe’s Meteroroid, trained by Leslie Young and ridden by Watters, finishing second.
BEFORE his devastating injury, Young rode Michael Smith’s Mercoeur, trained by Leslie, to win the $35,000 Allowance Hurdle over Giza, owned by William Pape and trained by Sheppard.
“Paddy picked the right spot for Mercoeur,” said Rowe, speaking for the owner and trainer in the Winner’s Circle. “Leslie bought him privately at Newmarket in England. He likes the quicker ground, and it’s wetter in England.”
Watters won a second race for the Youngs in the fifth, a $35,000 Hurdle Handicap, on Invocation (Fr), owned by Straylight Racing LLC.
“He jumped like a stag,” said Watters, who ran second for about the first 2 miles of the 2 ¾ mile race. “The plan was to get him covered up. He was so keen all the way.”
Invocation drew ahead and increased his lead, winning by 16 lengths over Naylor’s El Monstro (Ire), trained by Murphy and ridden by Doyle.
With all Watters success and Paddy being hurt, it seems almost inevitable that he’ll return.
“I guess I’ll be back if I can get a visa,” said Watters.
Todd Wyatt saddled Bruton Street-US’ Bishop’s Castle, ridden by Willy McCarthy, to win the $20,000 Maiden Claiming Hurdle by 1 ¼ lengths over Mrs. S.K. Johnston’s Hanno, trained by Fisher and ridden by McDermott.
“He was brought over from England, but when his owner realized he would be better over fences, he didn’t want him, said Wyatt. “So we got him.”
Welcome Here Farm’s Amazing Anthem, trained by Elizabeth Merryman and ridden by Nagle, won the $20,000 Filly and Mare Maiden Hurdle by 1 ¾ lengths over Lady Olivia North Cliff’s Atlanta Babe, trained by Lillith Boucher and ridden by Shane Crimin.
Amazing Anthem ran on the flat, with her last race being April 16 at Laurel, before turning to hurdle racing,
She finished second in her first start at Foxfield on April 29 before winning her second start at Radnor.