The first of 13 scheduled spring meets takes place on Sunday in Coatesville, Pa., featuring the Louis “Paddy” Neilson III Memorial Amateur Apprentice Timber event. Though the meet will take place behind closed doors because of ongoing concerns about the pandemic, race-day video will be aired in the evening following the races.
Eight horses have been entered in the National Steeplechase Association-sanctioned Neilson, and the 3-mile contest has been split into two, four-horse divisions, each carrying a purse of $7,500. The first division has a 1:30 p.m. post time; the second is scheduled to go off at 2:30 p.m. The race is sponsored by BNYmellon Wealth Management and Selkirk Partners, and the Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase Foundation.
Appropriately enough, the extended Neilson family will be well represented in both divisions, with the legendary horseman’s daughter Sanna Neilson saddling Charlie Fenwick’s Royal Ruse, ridden by Paddy’s granddaughter Skylar McKenna, in the first. Skylar’s mom is trainer Kathy Neilson, another of Paddy’s daughters, who trains two in the race: Move Up Stables and Sally Reed’s It’s Nothing, with Aaron Davis in the saddle, and Irv Naylor’s Aquies, ridden by Parker Hendriks, who is Sanna’s son and Paddy’s grandson. The fourth entry is Wendy Hendriks’ Officer Sydney, trained by her son, Ricky Hendriks, and ridden by his son McLane Hendriks. Parker also happens to be Ricky’s son.
In the second division, Kathy Neilson starts Sally Reed’s Awesome Adrian (and jockey Skylar McKenna), while Sanna Neilson saddles Sherry Fenwick’s As You Like It (Parker Hendriks). Also in the race are Armata Stables’ Some Response, trained by Joe Davies and ridden by his son, Teddy, who recently earned his first win over fences at the Piedmont Point to Point, and Wendy Hendriks’ Cheers to Us, again for connections Ricky and McLane Hendriks.
Sunday’s meet is filled with plenty of other action and activities: the Work to Ride Small Pony Race; Chester County Food Bank Medium Pony Race; Red Raven Large Pony Race; Kathee Rengert AA Flat Race; National Bank of Malvern Leadline Trot Race; Miles Valentine Novice Timber Race; Joseph Walker Cheshire Bowl; and Joy Valentine Side Saddle Chase. First race post time is 10:30 a.m.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, there will be no general admission, but video coverage — including interviews and color commentary from a variety of racing personalities — will be posted as soon as possible after the meet at https://steeplechase.tv/.