Other owner-riders sang hallelujah for Estermadura this afternoon when Willaim (Mike duPont's 8-year-old bay upset Randy Rouse's Cousin Wes in the 18th running of the Ben Venue timber steeplechase.
Estermadura's margin after 2 1/2 miles of Rappahannock's punishing hills and steep downhill grades was bare two lengths. Roy (Tennesse) Graham's Boca Bird was third. Joe Rodgers' Virginia Volunteer was fourth while David Simmes, who had won this race three times with August Acorn, was fifth and last today with his new jumper, Super Sub.
Singing hallelujah for duPont among the record Rappahannock point-to-point crowd of over 6,000 were the legion of owner-riders who annually chase Rouse, the perennial Seven Corners' series champion. A victory today, added to his win last week at Casanova, would have given him a very fast start toward his ninth title in the past 11 years.
For the long while today, at 13 of the 14 fences, Rouse had Cousin Wes in front. But first Boca Bird challenged and went to the top at the 14th and last fence, and then out of nowhere, Estermadura slammed into the lead in the sharp turn to the stretch and held it during the long run to the wire.