Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024

Fappa Fire Brings The Heat At My Lady’s Manor

One of the best fields in recent years came out to run for the My Lady’s Manor $30,000 timber purse, April 14 in Monkton, Md., but while everyone was watching the usual suspects, a little horse named Fappa Fire stole the prize out from under the former champions.

Owned by Pack Up Stable and ridden by Blake Curry, Fappa Fire was perfectly content to follow along dead last.
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One of the best fields in recent years came out to run for the My Lady’s Manor $30,000 timber purse, April 14 in Monkton, Md., but while everyone was watching the usual suspects, a little horse named Fappa Fire stole the prize out from under the former champions.

Owned by Pack Up Stable and ridden by Blake Curry, Fappa Fire was perfectly content to follow along dead last.

The 2006 National Steeplechase Association timber horse of the year, Irvin S. Naylor’s Askim, was a late scratch due to an undisclosed leg injury, which will keep him out of the spring season.

The 2006 Willowdale (Pa.) Steeplechase winner Royal’s Quest (William Meister) showed the way for most of the 3 miles over stiff Maryland timber. Early on the tricky course took its toll on King Lear (William Santoro) and Timmy R (Darren Nagle), unseating both their riders.

Unable to find a rider, trainer Jack Fisher had to ride his own charge, the $75,000 Far Hills (N.J.) Timber Stakes winner, Mr. Bombastic. He put Diana Gillam up on his other big timber horse, Bubble Economy, and the pair rode together in pursuit of Meister on his little gray.

But Curry was never too far out of the running, and as they approached fence 11, he started to close the gap on the leaders. At fence 12, Rosbrian, who finished second in last year’s Maryland Hunt Cup, stumbled, losing jockey James Slater in the process.

Again, Curry moved up toward the leaders. By fence 16 it looked like Royal’s Quest might have this race wrapped up, but he got cornered and lost ground. Fisher and Gillam moved ahead, sending their horses toward the last of the two fences.

At the last, it was Bubble Economy and Mr. Bombastic, but Fappa Fire was in striking distance in the long stretch and found yet another gear. Curry sent his horse on a wild and not-so-straight ride to the wire to win by half a length over Bubble Economy. Mr. Bombastic took third, with Royal’s Quest taking fourth-placed money.

But Fisher was not quite ready to concede victory. He claimed foul on Curry, saying Fappa Fire drifted in on him and cost Mr. Bombastic the race. After about 15 anxious minutes of reviewing the tapes, the race was called and the foul disallowed.

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Trainer Alicia Murphy was ecstatic. “I am happy and relieved,” Murphy said after the race was made official. “I could see the stretch, and I knew he came over.”

Curry had a huge smile on his face after the win. “I drifted a little to the left, but it was not enough. Jack was really good about it. As soon as he saw the tape, he said it was not enough to claim foul,” Curry said.

This is not the first time that Fappa Fire has seen this course. Curry and the horse battled hard in the stretch with the $15,000 amateur winner Turkish Corner (Chris Gracie) in 2006. Curry said he learned a lot from that first start.

“For us it is a huge objective for him to settle,” Curry said. “I have always known the horse handles the geography better than anything else on the course. So the other ones had him beaten over jumping, but these hills take less out of him than they do the other horses. I knew I could fire up around that turn. I lost my whip last year; I did not make that mistake this time.”

Curry found the 10-year-old son of Personal Flag while working at the track, and he convinced his parents and their friends to invest in the horse. For now, Curry and Murphy are not quite sure which race will be next.

“It looked like he found every jump perfectly,” Murphy said. “It just worked out for him. He likes this distance, no doubt about that, so we will have to see what is next, there are not a lot of options.”

A Liberating Win

The racing gods shined on Meister for the second race of the day in the $15,000 John Rush Streett Memorial amateur maiden timber. Meister knew he had a good horse with Mr. Liberator, who was making his first sanctioned start, but he was not expecting to be sitting on such a powerhouse.

Owned by Anna Stable, the little chestnut jumped ahead of the 10-horse field and stayed out of trouble. And trouble came again for Nagle at the fourth fence when Irv Naylor’s Irish Laddie popped him out of the tack.

Mr. Liberator’s only real competition did not surface until around fence 13, with former Grade I hurdle stakes horse, Brigadoon Stable’s Erin Go Bragh (Colvin Ryan) and Move Up Stable’s Trusted Comrad (Todd McKenna). The two horses stalked Mr. Liberator, but every time they got close, he put some more daylight between them.

By the last fence, Mr. Liberator had the race in hand and sped away to win by 8 lengths over Erin Go Bragh, with Trusted Comrad in third.

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Meister, who also trains the 7-year-old grandson of Northern Baby, could not be happier with his performance. “I knew he would run well,” Meister said. “But I was not planning on being in front the whole time. They were jumping all different ways, and I knew if I placed him near the lead I could stay out of trouble so there I stayed.”

He added, “I guess they started to come up to me a couple times. I kept looking around when they did and just slapped him once on the shoulder and he would take off. I had an unbelievable jumping trip.”

Nagle was not as fortunate in his second fall of the day. After an orthopedic surgeon assessed his situation, officials agreed that Nagle needed to be airlifted to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

There, tests revealed Nagle had a compression fracture of his L-5 vertebrae and several other older fractures. Nagle was placed in a protected brace and released that evening, his spring season finished.

Wire To Wire

The third sanctioned race also was virtually wire to wire when Conrad Somers put his trusty hunter J. Alfred Prufrock out in the lead of the amateur highweight timber, and the horse ate up the course.

His only competition was the two-time Pennsylvania Hunt Cup winner Dr. Ramsey (Gillam) and Hotspur (Ryan), but Somers held them off at the wire. Hotspur was disqualified when Ryan jumped the wrong fence, and Naylor’s Hot Springs (Desmond Fogarty) was placed second with Dr. Ramsey in third.

Bought from friend Christopher Lyons, Somers has been hunting and running in a few point-to-points, winning both Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds Point-To-Point (Pa.) and the Brandywine Hills Point-To-Point (Pa.) heavyweight timber races.

“He’s a fabulous find,” Somers said. “This was our first sanctioned win, and, well, I won my first point-to-points this year too. Right now, we are taking it one day at a time. He’s a fantastic jumper and still young. I have been just thrilled with him.”

In non-sanctioned racing, Taking Inventory (Emily Fenwick) won over Minnie Me (Anna McKnight) in the lightweight timber. In the heavyweight timber, Messo-mania (Rod Comeron) won decidedly over Scoot Scooter (Robert Young). Announcer Michael Finney also rode in the race, but his horse Hot It Up lost him early on. Finney raced back to the announcers stand to finish the race call, and it can be safely said that he is the first jockey to ever do that at the Manor Races.

Sarah L. Greenhalgh

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