Askim is grand in National

Last 3 jumps propel victor under Fenwick

April 23, 2006|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

On a miserable, rainy day in Butler, jockey Charles Fenwick III, trainer Ann D. Stewart and owner Irv Naylor left the 104th running of the Grand National Steeplechase with the sunniest dispositions.

That trio combined to send out Askim to win the $30,000 feature in come-from-behind fashion before a crowd noticeably thinned by the weather.

The New Zealand-born import prevailed by a comfortable margin over Sky And Sea, who set a leisurely pace after the early front-runner, Salmo, refused the water jump and sent rider Roger Horgan flying over the fence alone midway through the race.

"He [Askim] really jumped the last three well," Fenwick said. "At the beginning of the race I just wanted to get him relaxed and into a rhythm. I just sat back and chilled out. We went over the last together [with Sky And Sea], then he just ran away. It was a real pleasure to win it for Irv."

It was the third Grand National victory for the owner, who was paralyzed in a racing accident several years ago and is in a wheelchair. Naylor's Tarsky set the record for the present course (5:51) in 1995 and his Make Me A Champ prevailed two years ago.

Tim Maddix was scheduled to ride Askim, but he suffered a broken back on the previous week's card at My Lady's Manor. So, Fenwick gained the mount for his trainer/mother and they teamed again to win the final race on the program with Secret Impression after a driving finish with Riderwood.

"Charlie Fenwick really knows that horse," Naylor said. "All I told him was to tuck him in and go nice and easy until he turns toward home."

Askim, a 10-year-old son of Lord Ballina out of Centermaid, has only been schooled for two months after missing 2005 with a tendon injury. He warmed up with a win at the Green Spring point-to-point meeting, but will not be pointed toward the Maryland Hunt Cup Saturday.

"I may send him to the Virginia Gold Cup," said Naylor.

The victory marked the second straight in the Grand National for Fenwick, who steered Irish-bred Rosbrian home first last year. His father, Charles Fenwick Jr., was the winning Grand National jockey 10 times in three different decades.

"It feels really good to win two in a row," Fenwick III said. "But I'm just doing this in little baby steps, one win at a time [unlike his father]. For me, it's just a lot of fun."

Horgan, who won the My Lady's Manor a week earlier aboard Sham Aciss, was taken to Greater Baltimore Medical Center with what was believed to be a fractured leg, his dream of riding in the Hunt Cup after a three-year absence probably shattered.

The secondary feature, the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial, was pared to four entries by seven scratches and two finishers with Allimac overtaking Loughbeg Rambler through the stretch to win a second race for Naylor.

Jockey Blake Curry received the traditional ice bath from his fellow riders after his first victory in a sanctioned race.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

Grand National

Results

1

$30,000, The Grand National Steeplechase, about 3 miles over timber

Horse Rider Askim C. Fenwick III Sky And Sea W. Meister Zaratanie B.Curry

Time: 6:30 1/5. Scratched: Lil Starvin Marvin, Loughbeg Rambler, Secret Impression.

2

$15,000, The Benjamin H. Murray Memorial, about 3 miles over timber

Allimac B.Curry Loughbeg Rambler C. Gracie

(no third finisher) Time: 6:24 2/5. Scratched: Zaratanie, Seeking Seattle, Yankee Skip, Sky And Sea, Make Your Own, Watch Captain, Jamaica Me Laugh.

3

$5,000, Western Run Plate II, about 3 miles over timber

Secret Impression C.Fenwick III Riderwood A.P. Smithwick Jr. Royal's Quest W. Meister

Time: 6:46 2/5. Scratched: Yankee Skip, In Kent's Memory.

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