Jockey brings Batchwood to life

Clancy, who scored 3 wins at Fair Hill, rejoins horse to top feature race by head

June 01, 1999|By Joe Clancy | Joe Clancy,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FAIR HILL -- Jockey Jonathan Kiser was blaming himself, but there really wasn't anything he could have done.

Kiser and his horse Hunt Lane lost the $30,000 Miles Valentine Stakes (Grade III), the feature of yesterday's steeplechase card at the Fair Hill Races near Elkton, by a head to Batchwood and jockey Sean Clancy. Batchwood and Clancy carried more than ability across the finish line -- fate came along for the ride.

Sixteen days earlier, at the Radnor Races near Philadelphia, Clancy suffered a concussion in a fall from another horse and missed riding Batchwood -- one of his favorite horses.

"I really like him; he's a neat horse," said Clancy, who won three races at Fair Hill. "I know the horse, that's our fourth win together, and he just tries so hard for you. Horses like Batchwood are why I do this."

Batchwood, owned by Butler residents Sheila and Rufus Williams, was second without Clancy at Radnor but rallied through the Fair Hill stretch to catch early leader Hunt Lane at the last fence, and prevailed by a head in a strong drive.

Kiser found fault with his final fence. "It just took us a few strides to get back together, and I think that cost us the race. My horse was very game."

So was Batchwood. Trained by Jack Fisher, the 7-year-old Maryland-bred saved ground on the inside while running about fifth for much of the race. On the final turn, he jumped to third and steadily closed over the final three fences in the long Fair Hill stretch.

"I was revving him up when we came out of the turn," said Clancy, the country's top steeplechase jockey with 10 wins in 1999. "He got very aggressive, which is a good feeling to get at that point in the race, and he set his sights on Hunt Lane. He was going to get past him."

Bred by top Maryland flat trainer Carlos Garcia, Batchwood switched to steeplechasing when purchased by Fisher for the Williamses in 1997. He won three races that spring, but went to the sidelines with a variety of injuries, including a broken bone in a hind leg from kicking a fence. Batchwood was in a cast this winter.

"I just love to watch him, I like the way he jumps," Sheila Williams said. "You're pushing your luck when you say things like this, but he gives you a lot of confidence.He's had bad luck, but he's a good horse."

The win capped a rare triple for Clancy, who has turned the hat trick just four times in a 12-year career. He won the third with The B Twelve Kid for trainer Ricky Hendriks and came back in the fifth to win aboard Rain, also for Fisher.

"It's a big accomplishment for a steeplechase jockey to win three in one day," he said. "I've been at it a long time and have had just a few. Put it this way, I've never won four in a day."

Cindy and David Moose's Bredesen Moe won the day's only timber race, taking the lead on the backside and winning for visiting New Zealand jockey Brett McDonald and trainer Sanna Neilson.

Pub Date: 6/01/99

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