Everything was in order as the field approached the 18th and final jump in the Ricacho cup today, the feature of the Fairfax Hunt's point-to-point meeting at Belmont Plantation. The weather was perfect, the crowd good and the favorite safely in front.
But the favorite, Boca Bird, went on his head at the 18th.
No Answer, owned and ridden by David Semmes, went on to win the three-mile timber steeplechase by a neck over Prompted with Boca Bird third. t
"It was my fault," said a dejected Roy (Tennessee) Graham, Boca Bird's jockey. "I should have gone to the middle but I went inside instead."
Going inside meant that Boca Bird had to jump a section of the fence that had been replaced after the top rail had been taken out in the previous race.
"The different colors startled him," added Graham, "and he took an extra step . . . Then he went on his head."
Neither horse nor rider was injured in the spill. Bird jumped up, Graham remounted and the favorite managed to come in less than three lengths behind No Answer.
The fall not only cost Boca Bird the race but also a chance to take the lead for the Seven Corners Challenge Trophy. It projected No Answer into contention for the trophy, emblematic of the spring owner-rider point-to-point championship.
It was the first victory for No Answer Semmes's 7-year-old chestnut gelding, after two seconds and a third in previous starts this year.
It also was the first victory for Semmes since the retirement of his August Acorn, who had turned in one of the most consistent records in timber racing over the past decade.
In the cofeatured First Colony Life Insurance Hurdles, defending champion Charles (Chick) Owens' Cultivating won the two-mile hurdles race by three lengths over Joanne's Brother with Garden Games another half length behind.