Rosbrian capitalizes, wins Grand National

Bruno Castelli's mishap opens door for Fenwick III

April 24, 2005|By Wendy E. Lane | Wendy E. Lane,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Charles Fenwick III got the ride on Rosbrian just two days before yesterday's 103rd Grand National steeplechase in Butler, and more good fortune came his way during the race when the front-runner fell at the final fence.

Rosbrian, an Irish-bred gelding, took command of the 3 1/4 -mile test when Bruno Castelli, who had led all the way, hit the top rail of the 18th and last fence with his front hooves and tumbled to the ground. Rosbrian surged past Bug River to win by a head.

"I said I would stick near Bug River and go when he goes," Fenwick said. "We benefited from the horse [Bruno Castelli] in front of him falling. It was fun. He [Rosbrian] really did take care of me."

It was the first win since 2003 for Rosbrian, who finished third in the Grand National last year. Despite the victory, trainer Casey J. Randall said he hasn't decided whether Rosbrian will run in next week's Maryland Hunt Cup, the culmination of the Maryland timber racing season.

With his first victory in the $30,000 Grand National, Fenwick continued a tradition set by his father, Charles Fenwick Jr., who won the race 10 times.

"It's very exciting," the elder Fenwick said. "I thought Charlie rode very well. We talked about it. He had a plan and he executed it very well."

The younger Fenwick was a late replacement for leading British amateur rider Gordon Elliott, whom Fenwick said could not make the race from overseas. Elliott had been aboard Rosbrian in two previous outings.

The outcome was a bitter disappointment for Bruno Castelli's trainer/rider, Christopher Lyons, whose unheralded 10-year-old gelding set a quick pace, enjoyed a comfortable lead over most of the course and was jumping easily until the final fence.

"I got a little too careful," Lyons said. "I knew I had the race, so I came off the gas a little bit. He didn't get quite enough height. My horse led the whole way. He had 17 beautiful fences. He had plenty of gas left in the tank."

That 18th fence is one of the most formidable in timber racing, even though it is not one of the higher barriers on the course, said Fenwick Jr., who last won the Grand National in 1994.

"You're under a lot of pressure," he said. "You've just ridden 2 3/4 miles. You have the hill in front of you. There's no taking back. That makes this race all the more exciting."

For Jack Fisher, the two-time defending National Steeplechase Association champion trainer, tough luck continued when Charlie's Dewan pulled up after the third to last fence.

"He jumped badly, so I said, `That's enough for today,' " said rider Brian Korrell. "We were out of contention and there was no point in getting the horse or myself hurt."

The second race, the Benjamin M. Murray Memorial, was reduced to a match race when the other five entries scratched. Sky and Sea led the 3 1/4 -mile allowance timber event all the way in defeating Coal Dust by two lengths.

The final race, the inaugural Western Run Plate II, also saw the final fence claim a rider. Make Your Own, ridden by Danielle Brewster Oster, was gaining ground on front-runner Young Dubliner approaching the fence when he fell, and the 16-year-old Young Dubliner easily outdistanced Ivorgorian to make owner Katherine McKenna a winner.

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