Tag: james stierhoff

“Has He Won?” Jockey’s Dad Caught Hunt Cup Victory News after Dramatic Delay


Thanks to unlucky timing, Lee Stierhoff — Maryland Hunt Cup 2012 winner James Stierhoff’s proud dad — was on a long-planned getaway in Sedona, Arizona, this weekend while his son took the late swift lead on Twill Do. Lee, 59, an aspiring plein air painter and Baltimore native living Rodgers Forge, saw his son’s first Hunt Cup victory in 2010, but this year asked a friend to help him and his girlfriend, fiction writer Jen Grow, listen in by cell phone.

“It was an amazing experience,” Lee says. “We asked Stephan [Kowalczyk who provides audio tech support for the Cup], ‘Would you mind calling me and holding the phone near a speaker so I can hear?

“The whole race I was more interested in hearing the name Twill Do announced because that meant the rider was on the horse. We heard at one point Twill Do was trailing — but I thought I heard failing and [Jen] thought she heard sailing. [James had] been in last place for three quarters of the race until he decided it was time to turn the engines on. He knew Twill Do had a lot of energy left — he asked the horse to go faster.”

I asked Lee how James, 25, got his passionate riding start and to describe for Baltimore Fishbowl the childhood discipline involved in the making of an “amateur” equestrian champ.

Straight from the Jockey’s Mouth: A Maryland Hunt Cup Re-Cap

Photo by Chandler Willett.

The EMTs thought that Billy Meister was crazy, or concussed, or something. Meister had fallen off at the seventeenth fence in the Maryland Hunt Cup, but he was acting like his horse was still in the race, waving off the EMTs who were blocking his view of the field. “My horse is doing well!” he told them.

It turns out that Meister knew exactly what he was talking about. The horse he wanted to get a look at was Twill Do, a twelve-year old gelding ridden by James Stierhoff who looked like he had a good chance of repeating an earlier victory. In 2010, Stierhoff had stepped in to ride Twill Do in the 2010 Hunt Cup after Meister, the horse’s trainer, broke his pelvis just before the race. It was Stierhoff’s first time in the Hunt Cup, and he’d just barely recovered from the flu; expectations were not high. But Stierhoff and Twill Do ended up winning the race by five lengths — and now they had the chance to do it again. That’s what Meister was so eager to see.