Flying Boxcar, Virginia's top point-to-point horse last year, returned to the timber wars today and won the Blue Ridge Open Race by a length over Idol Fellow before a crowd of nearly 2,000.
Ask the Price, last year's winner of this three-mile, 17-jump steeplechase was third, another two lengths behind. Crazy Stripes was fourth.
Timber Topper, a winner at Rappahannock last week and leader today over the first 10 fences, fell at the 13th. Neither horse nor rider, Willie McCormick, was injured.
"He always starts slow, jumps poorly at the beginning, said Paddy neilson, Flying Boxcar's rider.
Neilson held the Ridley White-trained bay behind the field, content to enjoy last place while Timber Topper set a dizzy early pace with Ask the Price right up with him.
At the 11th fence, with Bruce Fenwick on Crazy Stripes leading, Neilson began his move. He went ahead with Idol Fellow over the last fence.
Neilson let him go down the stretch, but Idol Fellow refused to quit and went right down to the wire.
Flying Boxcar, owned by Richard Stokes, won three major races last spring - the Rokeby Bowl at Piedmont, the Leith Cup at Middleburg and the Eustin Cup at Oatlands.
Another White-trained chaser, Mike DuPont's Hami, also made its first start of the year. It ran a strong second to Randy Rouse's Free Movement in the George P. Greenhalgh Memorial. It was the third victory of the young season for Free Movement and the fourth time he has won this race.