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April 24, 2009

Incomplete Finishes The Job At My Lady's Manor

Deep footing doesn’t slow down Charlie Fenwick and his charge.

Hometown favorite Incomplete and Charlie Fenwick III took a decisive win in the 99th running of the $30,000 My Lady’s Manor timber stakes in adverse conditions on the Monkton, Md., course.

Despite torrential rains the night before and well into the morning of the race, the field only had one scratch, leaving a hearty 10 to traverse the 3 miles of big timber on April 11.

Coming off a win at Piedmont Hunt Point-To-Point (Va.) on March 21 and a second-placed finish at Elkridge Harford Point-To-Point (Md.) on April 4, Incomplete entered as the clear favorite. Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Hounds Point-To-Point (Pa.) open timber winner, Augustin Stable’s South Monarch (Jody Petty), was the possible spoiler.

At flag fall, Lindsay Dryden’s Foiled Again (Jeff Murphy) plowed to the front, keeping the lead for about 13 of the 16 fences. Knowing his horse is not a front-runner, Fenwick kept Incomplete covered up, waiting for the chance to unleash his horse’s powerful kick with only a few fences to go.

As Fenwick made his move, Petty asked South Monarch for more, and the two barreled into the long stretch. But it was too little, too late, and Incomplete had the upper hand, winning the race by more than 10 lengths. J. Alfred Prufrock (Conrad Somers) was third.

For Incomplete’s owner and Elkridge-Harford jt-MFH Robert Kinsley, whose Elkridge-Harford kennels are just a stone’s throw from the meet, this is his first Manor win and Incomplete’s third career sanctioned win. The 8-year-old son of Press Card won the amateur highweight at the Grand National in 2007 and the allowance race at the Grand National in 2008.

Trained by his mother Ann Stewart, this is Fenwick’s second win at the Manor. He won in 2004 with Irv Naylor’s Askim, a horse also trained by his mother.

“This horse has never had a bad race,” Fenwick said. “He has won five or six races for us and only been second once. We like him a lot. He will throw his belly down and try for you every time. We wanted to win a big graded race with him this year. He is just the right kind of horse for the Virginia Gold Cup [May 2], but I think the Gold Cup is going to be a real barnburner this year. We are not much in a hurry with this horse; we will have to see.”

Fenwick’s cousin Sanna Neilson Hendriks trains second-placed South Monarch. “He handled the fences well, but I am not sure he liked the ground,” said Hendriks. “But we can’t make excuses. The horse that beat him is a really good horse.”

Full Circle

Two years ago, Darren Nagle’s first Manor experience ended with a medical airlift for a broken vertebra in his back. This year, he was all smiles in the winner’s circle with Naylor’s Patriot’s Path.

Again, undaunted by the deep going, 10 horses started the amateur maiden timber. Veteran rider William Meister led on Jean Class’ Voler Bar Nuit until about the 11th fence, where Armata Stables’ Toughkenamon (Jason Griswold) took over, only to be passed by Patriot’s Path soon after.

By the last, Patriot’s Path was all alone and sailed across the wire with more than 10 lengths to spare. Michael Leaf’s Messomania (Jacob Roberts) was second while Toughkenamon hung on to place third.

According to trainer Desmond Fogarty and owner Naylor the plan was not to make a move until the last fence.

“It’s probably the worst ride I have ever given a horse,” Nagle said. “But for some reason he still ended up winning. I can’t believe he went out in front and did it all by himself. Horses make fools of all of us.”

Patriot’s Path has been a bridesmaid for many races, but Naylor said it has not been because of his jumping.

“We knew Patriot’s Path had a lot of ability, but he never wanted to go in the front, and that’s why he has been second so many times,” Naylor said. “He’s such a special horse. I think it is partly because he is out of a dam that is a Salutely, the same sire as timber champion Saluter.”

Naylor has his stablemate and 2007 Gold Cup winner Salmo pointed to the Virginia Gold Cup and said Patriot’s Path might be a good supplemental entry.

Inheriting The Lead

Races change in an instant, and if you add the unpredictability of a loose horse in the mix, it can be potentially disastrous. For George Hundt, who was leading the field in the highweight timber aboard Michele Marieschi, loose horse Ice Is Nice had been bothering him for five fences, after depositing Nagle early in the race.

As they approached Fence 11, the loose horse started to go to the right, around the fence and through a gap, but an outrider there moved toward the horse, causing it to veer sharply. The loose horse turned back to the field and careened into Michele Marieschi as he jumped, pitching Hundt back first into the board fence.

At this point, with only three left in the field, Perry Bolton’s Haddix (William Santoro) inherited the lead with only King Lear (Suzanne Stettinius) challenging him in the stretch. But King Lear could not make up the last 3 lengths.

This is the second consecutive highweight timber win from the Manor for Haddix. Trainer Kathy Neilson McKenna was pleased with Haddix’s effort in such deep going and said she owes much to her stable help for keeping him so fit.

“He’s so much more relaxed this year,” McKenna said. “He’s been hunting with Cheshire a lot. I have to give Janice Dugan a lot of credit because she has been schooling him, and Jason Griswold came this winter and helped out. It has all been great for him.”

Santoro was impressed with the way Haddix negotiated the conditions: “Haddix is a four wheeler. I can't say whether he powered through the soft footing or floated over it. At any rate it was no bother.”

This is Santoro’s last year of sanctioned racing eligibility as he turns 60 next year. But he doesn’t appear to be slowing down a bit.

“I’m hugely grateful to the owners and trainers ringing my phone,” Santoro said. “They are the ones responsible for making this fantastic sport live. For me to be accepted as a player at my ‘great age’ is very rewarding. Under current ruling I should not be licensed for sanctioned racing next season. Will I still ride point-to-points? I'd be a foolish man indeed if I ruled out any possibilities.”

Unbelievably, Hundt was not injured in his fall. “I do a lot of yoga,” he said. “I am really flexible. I think that is what saved me.”

Hundt said he saw the whole thing unfold, but there was no way to avoid it.  “I went through the emotions—first elation the horse was going around the fence, then absolute fear when he came back and hit us. I was so lucky I fell between the two horses, and they both jumped cleanly over me. The most important thing is Michele is OK. He was not hurt a bit. I am really sore, and I have two huge plank marks on my racing silks, but other than that, I am OK.”

Hundt has no bad feelings about the mishap. “These things happen,” he said. “This is steeplechasing. I am just hoping now that I have something like this behind me so I can move forward.”

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