Building Racing's Future
(first appeared in The Equiery
By Regina Welsh
It’s hard to believe that it has been ten years,
since Mason Lampton, George Strawbridge and George Sloan asked me to
assist in starting an organization that would help amateurs learn to
steeplechase race. Being the Executive Director of an organization was
a reach from the Biochemistry Master’s degree I was working on
at the time, but not so far of a reach from my commitment to the sport
of steeplechasing as a trainer and fan. One thing led to another and
this crazy “idea” of Lampton’s quickly turned into
a full-fledged 501c3 nonprofit organization, which Lampton dubbed the
North American Point-to-Point Association (NAPPA). The mission: to promote
and perpetuate the sport of steeplechase racing, and foster its relationship
Joe Davies was one step ahead of NAPPA in his revitalization of the
Maryland Junior Hunt Cup, which ran for its 11th consecutive year in
2011. Davies created the Field Master’s Chase where the “field”
follows a “Field Master” at a solid hunting pace over a
timber course suitable for the skill level of the entrants.
Lampton heard about Davies’ idea and incorporated it into NAPPA.
The Field Master’s Chase became the foundation from which many
riders, young and old, have learned to race ride.
It was after the first few years of NAPPA, that we realized the future
of the sport was going to depend on the young riders. NAPPA took over
the reins of the Maryland Junior Hunt Cup in 2002 and added divisions
such as the Lead Line Trot and Young Rider Timber races. What started
out as an event with 20 riders in a field in Monkton grew to a full
day of racing at Shawan Downs with 80 entries. Clearly, the kids where
coming back year after year.
Several of the “NAPPA kids,” as I call them, have gone on
to have quite successful careers in the horse industry. Here is a highlight
of just a few of NAPPA’s graduates over the years.
Winants - First NAPPA race: March 23, 2002, Willowdale Junior
Horse Field Master’s Chase aboard Reggie. Current Status: Assists
mother Lilith with her training operation in Pennsylvania.
A last name like Winants needs little introduction in the foxhunting
and steeplechasing worlds. A life of horsing around was hard to escape
with the lineage of parents Lilith Boucher and Woods Winants, trainer
and amateur jockey respectively, and grandfather Peter Winants, former
publisher of The Chronicle of the Horse and well-noted steeplechase
photographer. Remy rode in the inaugural running of the Maryland Junior
Hunt Cup and NAPPA Championship. She went on to graduate from the junior
ranks and rode her first sanctioned winner for top steeplechase trainer
Jonathan Shepard in 2004.
Remy has 94 sanctioned and point-to-point starts to her name, including
six sanctioned winners. She has worked and ridden for many of the top
trainers in the game.
Fritz Boniface - First NAPPA race: March 23, 2002,
HCIB Point-to-Point Junior Horse Field Master’s Chase aboard Ambassadorial.
Current Status: Licensed amateur steeplechase jockey working for Jack
Being from the well-known Boniface racehorse family, Fritz half jokingly
once said, “I have no choice, I am an indentured servant,”
in response to whether he’d be in the horse business or not. Fritz’s
family dabbled in steeplechase racing throughout the years, but flat
racing was always their focus. Fritz took the road less traveled and
pursued a steeplechase path in 2002 on Ambassadorial in the Junior Field
Master’s Chases. He met his current employer, champion steeplechase
trainer Jack Fisher, during the 2005 NAPPA Young Rider Steeplechase
Camp. To date he has ridden in 43 sanctioned and point-to-point races
and won the Grand National, the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, The Queens Cup,
the Timber Stake at Shawan Downs, and also has had an impressive ride
in the Maryland Hunt Cup.
Sam Cockburn - First NAPPA race: May 24, 2003, NAPPA
Championship Small Pony Field Master’s Chase aboard Socks. Current
Status: Licensed amateur steeplechase jockey working for Bay Cockburn.
NAPPA met Sam when he and Socks, a fuzzy little Shetland, gave the Small
Pony Field Master’s Chase at the NAPPA Championship a whirl. We’re
not sure where Socks is these days, but we know that Sam has definitely
come a long way. Like Remy and Fritz, Sam’s parents, Chrissy Keys
and Bay Cockburn, were heavily involved in horses, so a career in the
industry was far from a stretch. As an attendee of the 2008 NAPPA Young
Rider Summer Steeplechase Camp, Sam met trainers from outside his circle.
He now has 64 sanctioned and point-to-point starts under his belt as
a licensed amateur jockey. He tuned up his father’s horse Maximize
with a victory in this year’s the “Beat Up Cup” (a
NAPPA alumni flat race held at this year’s championships).
Rosie Napravnik - First NAPPA race: March 23, 2002,
HCIB Point-to-Point Junior Horse Field Master’s Chase aboard French
Revolution. Current Status: Licensed professional flat jockey. Possibly
NAPPA’s biggest success story, Rosie rode pony races and jumped
into the NAPPA circuit in 2002, finishing second in the NAPPA Championship
Junior Field Master’s Chase that year. She went on to ride in
open races at point-to-points and then moved to the flat track. She
was the Amateur Apprentice Eclipse Award nominee in 2009 and this year,
she was the leading jockey at the Fairgrounds meet, highlighted by a
win on Pants on Fire. A few weeks later, Pants on Fire helped Rosie
become the fifth female in history to ride in the Kentucky Derby. She
took a day off from her busy flat track life for the opportunity to
ride against her sister, trainer Jazz Napravnik, aboard her mother’s
horse, Classic Storm, in the “Beat Up Cup.”
Together with the Maryland Steeplechase Association, NAPPA helped develop
a scholarship program for Maryland’s young jockeys. The most prestigious
of the awards is the Jonathan Kiser Memorial Scholarship. The recipient
is awarded tuition to the NAPPA Young Rider Steeplechase Camp and a
week as a working student with top chase trainer Jack Fisher. This year’s
recipient, Maggie Herzog, received the award due to her dedication to
the sport of steeplechase racing, her exemplary sportsmanship, and her
MSA also offers several Junior Foxchasing Scholarships in an effort
to reinforce the tie between steeplechasing and foxchasing. Juliette
Chalmers’ dedication to steeplechasing and her love of foxhunting
did not go unnoticed this year and she was the recipient of the top
Junior Foxchaser Award. MSA and NAPPA believe that programs such as
these will keep steeplechasing alive. It has been a fun ten years and
I, for one, am looking forward to the next ten!