Hard Water Man and Mark Stickley, two newcomers to timber steeplechasing, combined talents to win the third running of the S.R. Rogers Memorial today by 28 lengths over Crocodile Fears. Road to Freedom was third and Orotund fourth.
A crowd of slightly more than 6,500 at the Morven Park Races saw favored Timoney bobble at the next-to-last fence and lose rider Joy Carrier and leave the 3 1/4-mile, 19-jump chase to the unheralded Hard Water Man.
"What's he done?" said trainer Bill Walsh in answer to a question. "Not much."
Hard Water Man had tried timber for the first time in Chicago last month and had fallen. Today he looked as if he had been jumping the big boards all his life. He chased Baby Doe (who subsequently fell at the eighth fence) over the first seven jumps, then took command and led throughout the remainder of the 6:39 4/5 that it took to run the race over a hard and fast course.
"How about Mark (Stickley)?" added Walsh. "It was his first try ever at timber . . . he turned in an amazing performance."
The cofeatured Maryland National Bank steeplechase drew a small but select field and it was Doug Fout on Dery Rumroe who carried off the winner's share of the $7,000 purse. It was the third straight year in Morven Park's three-year history that Fout, of Middleburg, Va., had been aboard the winner of a featured race.