Prancing Cat, Northern Bay double on the day for Fout at Blue Ridge Trainer saddles twin winners at second in Virginia point-to-point series

Submitted by: Betsy Burke Parker
Email Address: betsy(at)
Date Added: 3/12/2009

BERRYVILLE, VIRGINIA – There was a new face in the winner's circle on Virginia's steeplechase circuit Saturday.
And if Ben Garner has anything to say about it, he'll be back.
The English native took his first spin over American-style hurdles at the March 7 Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point, winning the amateur hurdle with Maggie Bryant's Prancing Cat.
Garner, 25, was pleased at the efforts of 6-year-old Prancing Cat. “He's a bit 'sharp' at home,” at trainer Doug Fout's farm near The Plains, Garner said, explaining that Maggie Bryant's homebred lived up to his name on the training grounds. “I was, honestly, bracing myself for the worst down at the start, but (the horse) was a true professional on course. He gave me a great ride.”
Prancing Cat finished seven lengths to the better of two-time Virginia hurdle champion Marino Feliz, marking him as one to watch in allowance company this spring. “It was a pretty good first try,” Garner said of this, his first time out on an American course.
Garner, 25, is a native of Kent, southeast of London, England. He rode three-day eventers (to the preliminary level – called “novice” in England) before turning to steeplechasing. He based first with leading trainer Nicky Henderson in Lambourn, then swapped his tack to Charlie Mann's just up the road. Garner rode point-to-points – winning four, all over the stiff, tall English “fences” (as opposed to the smaller, more forgiving hurdles).
After last year's spring season ended, though, Garner realized his career needed a kickstart. Following a direct line from Mann's head lad, Jeremy Young – whose brother Paddy Young is contract top jockey for Fout – Garner came to the U.S. in May for a visit and an extended “interview” with Fout.
“He rides nice,” Fout said of the 10-pound apprentice. “I like the way he handles a horse.”
Though Garner found the sweltering Virginia summer “horribly hot,” he liked the setup at Fout's and saw plenty of opportunity on Virginia's busy 'chase circuit.
He returned home at the end of summer to put his affairs in order, and came back to The Plains in January on a P1 “professional sportsman” visa.
Prancing Cat was his first U.S. race ride.
“The hurdles rode well, the course rode well,” Garner said of the Woodley Farm course, newly laid out as a right-handed circuit. “The (American-style, 'national fence' hurdle) rides better than our English hurdles. They're quite forgiving, but thte horses jump them well.
“It was lovely ground” around the mile-long circuit. “The horses could get their toe in it – not too firm, not too soft.”
Garner said he watched the day's timber races with keen interest. Timber racing is unique to the U.S. – there is no racing over timber in the U.K. or in Europe. “I liked watching Paddy (Young, aboard Harry's Firebolt in the novice – second.) He's a master on a racehorse. So balanced, so patient. When Doug Fout feels like I'm ready to ride over timber, I'll give it a go.” Until then, however, Garner said he's happy to stick to hurdles. “Timber is a totally different style.”
Showing that he approves of the totally different style of racing over timber, Kinross Farm's Hey Doctor kicked off his fencing career in style, well-placed near the pace in the three-mile novice timber by stable jockey Chris Read before drawing off for a two-length victory. The Virginia-bred son of Regal Classic won a couple over hurdles but farm trainer Neil Morris felt his jumping style was suited best for the more demanding – less speed-oriented – timber division.
Other timber winners on the day included Antonio Star (Diana Gillam up) and Royal We (Ted Zimmerman) repeat victors in their respective ladies timber and owner-rider timber division races. Loudoun Hunt huntsman Noel Ryan found the winner's circle with his Quick Line in the foxhunters timber, first for both horse and rider.
Fout also saddled Cary Jackson's Northern Bay (Paddy Young up) to win the maiden hurdle.
Vickey Kennedy handled Spy in the Sky to win a division of the novice rider turf for owner Randleston Farm and trainer Jimmy Day. Day also sent out Society Milliner to win a division of the maiden turf, also for Randleston. Stable jockey Liam McVicar was up. Day's Daybreak Farm was the winning breeder of Virginia-bred turf winner Expel. Expel races for new owner Northfield Farm and trainer Teddy Mulligan. Jeff Murphy got the call.
Bruce Daley handled Maximize to win the other novice turf division.
Virginia's circuit moves to Airlie north of Warrenton this Saturday, March 14, for the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point. Log onto for details.

Junior field masters chase. Large ponies. 1 ½ miles. 1. Ridgetop Moya, o/r Isabella Eyles. 3 started.
Horses. 1. Izzy's Clus Kid, o/r Scarlett Lovett; 2. Appalachian, o/Gregg Ryan, r/Alex Bazdar. 3 started.
Amateur hurdle. 1 7/8 miles. Time: 3:46. 1. Prancing Cat, o/Maggie Bryant, r/Ben Gardner; 2. Marino Feliz, o/Gary Baker, r/Billy Santoro. 5 started.
Maiden hurdle. 1 7/8 miles. Time: 3:57. 1. Northern Bay, o/Cary Jackson, r/Paddy Young; 2. Farah T Salute, o/Flying Horse Farm, r/Billy Santoro; 3. What A Warrior, o/Tom Hulfish, r/Richard Spate. 8 started.
Ladies timber. 3 miles. Time: 7:33. 1. Antonio Star, o/John Pettibone, r/Diana Gillam; 2. Comanche Station, o/Kingdon Gould, r/Caitlyn Stoddard. 5 started.
Sheila Baldwin memorial novice rider turf. 1 ½ miles. Time: 2:34 1/5. 1. Spy in the Sky, o/Randleston Farm, r/Vickey Kennedy; 2. Analyze, o/Flying Horse Farm, r/Melanie Williams; 3. Lucky Zoom, o/Bonita Farm, r/Kristen Fischer. 6 started
Second division. Time: 2:32 4/5. 1. Maximize, o/Gordon Keys, r/Bruce Daley; 2. Bullet Dancer, o/Bruce Smart, r/Muirish Hinchion; 3. Sir Elton, o/Cary Jackson, r/Ben Gardner. 7 started.
A. A. Baldwin memorial novice timber. 3 miles. Time: 8:09 2/5. 1. Hey Doctor, o/Kinross Farm, r/Chris Read; 2. Harry's Firebolt, o/Maggie Bryant, r/Paddy Young; 3. Endless Mountain, o/Indian Run Farm, r/Richard Spate. 6 started.
Virginia-bred turf. Purse: $2,000. 1 mile. Time: 1:50 1/5. 1. Expel, o/Northfield Farm, r/Jeff Murphy; 2. Wild Ball, o/Randy Rouse, r/Rod MacKenzie; 3. Tatjana's Salute, o/Jalin Stable, r/Melanie Williams. 10 started.
George Greenhalgh memorial owner-rider timber. 3 miles. Time: 8:02 2/5. 1. Royal We, o/Tad Zimmerman, r/Ted Zimmerman. 2 started.
Foxhunters timber. 3 miles. Time: 8:04. 1. Quick Line, o/r Noel Ryan; 2. Instamatic, o/Wheatland Farm, r/Steve Green; 3. Rude Ransom, o/Michael Harris, r/Bryan McDonald. 4 started.
Maiden turf, first division. 1 ¼ miles. Time: 2:24 2/5. 1. Society Milliner, o/Randleston Farm, r/Liam McVicar; 2. Smart Green, o/Jim Falk, r/Jeff Murphy; 3. Fershaw, o/Margaret White, r/Paddy Young. 7 started.
Second division. Time: 2:25 4/5. 1. Wazee Moto, o/Vicki Bower, r/Melanie Williams; 2. General Skye, o/Kinross Farm, r/Chris Read; 3. Eastern Starlett, o/Marethon Farm, r/Loring Heard. 6 started.

All Photos Copyright Betsy Burke Parker 2009

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