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Marshall's demolition job in Maryland

29-April-2024 16:53
in General
by Peter McNeile

Spring's Maryland Hunt Cup should be an event on any self-respecting Jumps fan's bucket list. This year's 127th running proved a gripping contest, all the more so for British rider Charlie Marshall. 

At four miles over 22 post-and-rail fences — some nearly five-feet tall — the Maryland Hunt Cup – the third and final leg of the Maryland Timber Triple series over a three-week span – is a unique test of jumping skill and stamina. In keeping with tradition, the $100,000 race is restricted to amateur riders. It's certainly a race for riders of a particular mindset. In contrast to the Aintree Grand National, there have been no sops to the do-gooders; these timber rails are unforgiving and take some real jumping.

Marshall is no stranger to the game either. Whilst followers of racing under Rules don't see much of him, his 450+ rides between the flags have resulted in 50 odd winners, the most recent being in a Restricted at Charing in March. But even this was in a different ball park.

In a nine runner field, four were fielded by Joe Davies, trainer of Vintage Vinnie, twice a winner of this race, and seemingly the winner in '23 before tiring after 18 fences, a spent force. Vintage Vinnie is a horse that races with his heart on his sleeve. In a previous win, he'd led from pillar to post, his nearest pursuer more than 30l adrift from the fourth fence onward. Not so this time. 

Making the running from the off, the rest of the field kept in better touch with the leader, a fearsome jumper. Asserting a commanding lead nonetheless, tired legs meant that by the penultimate fence, the field was closing up rapidly. Marshall conjured a good leap at the last to come up the inner of a spent Vintage Vinnie and land the spoils by under a length.

Quite worth the plane trip Charlie.

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4m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)


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