`Parcel' wraps up victory in My Lady's Manor 'chase

Augustin horse wins easily after `Sham' falls near end

April 17, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Pleasant Parcel capitalized on a consistent effort and some racing luck to win the 95th running of The My Lady's Manor steeplechase on a perfect day in Monkton yesterday.

By a comfortable seven lengths, the Augustin Stables gelding prevailed over Make Me A Champ after Sham Aciss, who was racing toward an apparent victory, failed to jump the next-to-last fence.

"Once he [Sham Aciss] fell, I just sort of rode my horse on home," said winning jockey Stewart Strawbridge. "I felt we were gaining on him and still had a good chance, but I don't know if we would have caught him."

The victory was a family affair. Augustin Stables is the property of George Strawbridge, and Sanna Hendriks, Stewart's sister, is the trainer of Pleasant Parcel, who won four times in six starts last year.

"That's what makes it nerve-racking," said Hendriks, who finished second in the steeplechase training standings to Jack Fisher, trainer of Sham Aciss, in 2004. "Hopefully, we can turn the tables on Jack this time."

With Paddy Young up, Sham Aciss gained command about three-quarters of the way through the race after Kebo Valley, who also fell later, and Narrow River vied for the early lead. Pleasant Parcel was running evenly behind the pace through the majority of the three-mile test.

"He's such a great mover and galloper," said Stewart Strawbridge. "We ended up on the lead, which is not where I wanted to be, but he was moving so easily. He just jumped his way to the front."

Stewart Strawbridge - who also captured the final event on the card by a neck with Invest West - began riding in timber races last autumn. He had competed only in pony races and fox hunting rides until then.

Hendriks could sympathize with the fate of Sham Aciss, but added: "Maybe he was getting a little tired. You've got to jump every fence."

Pleasant Parcel was second in the Virginia Gold Cup last fall.

The secondary feature, the John Rush Streett Memorial, turned into a two-horse duel after a rash of scratches and two nasty spills that sent two riders to the hospital.

Classic Cal opened leads as long as 30 lengths, but couldn't fend off the late charge of Equi- star, the only competitor left after the accidents. With Blair Waterman urging him, Equistar roared up on the inside through the stretch to prevail by a neck.

"I kept waiting for Classic Cal to slow down a little bit, but he just kept running," Waterman said.

Trainer Tom Voss said Equi- star would have won more convincingly if he hadn't brushed the final fence. "He would have gone off by himself," Voss said. "This is a very good horse."

Equistar won a stakes over hurdles last year and accumulated $58,000 in purse money.

Riders Remy Winants and Ellen Horner were flown via helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center after their mounts missed jumping fences. Both were considered in stable condition when they were transported.

Danielle Brewster Oster also fell upon encountering Horner's downed horse, but was not injured.

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