Michael A. Smith’s Mercoeur drew clear to a two-length victory in Montpelier’s $35,000 Noel Laing Handicap on Saturday and provided jockey Darren Nagle some breathing room atop the National Steeplechase Assocation’s jockey standings. French-bred Mercoeur, trained by Leslie Young, came home ahead of stablemate Andi’amu, who had laid down the early pace in the 2
Zanjabeel attacked before the final fence and drew away in the Steeplechase at Callaway’s stretch to win Saturday’s $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle by 2 1/2 lengths over Ice It.
The finish of the top two duplicated the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, in which Zanjabeel had won his first U.S. start by 4 3/4 lengths on Oct. 21. The British-bred four-year-old, now owned by Rosbrian Farm and Benjamin and Wendy Griswold, formerly raced for The Confidence Partnership.
Ross Geraghty rode Zanjabeel for trainer Ricky Hendriks.
Oakwood Stable’s Kensington Court, ninth in the Foxbrook, laid down the early pace with DASH Stable’s running second, while Zanjabeel kept the front-runner within range about 10 lengths back in the early going.
Zanjabeel kicked into gear approaching the final fence, overtook Ice It, and top aim at Kensington Court, ridden by Mark Watts. Kensington Court led over the last fence, but Zanjabeel rallied powerfully and swept to the lead and the victory.
Sean McDermott drove Ice It past a tiring Kensington Court and took the place spot. Kensington Court held on for third, 11 1/2 lengths behind Ice It. Lachares finished fourth in a field of seven novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Zanjabeel raised his U.S. earnings to $120,000 after completing the Aflac Supreme Hurdle’s 2 1/4 miles in 3:56.40 on turf rated as good at the Pine Mountain, Ga., course.
The National Steeplechase Association elected three new directors and re-elected two others to the organization’s Board of Directors on Thursday. The NSA’s annual meeting was held at its headquarters in Fair Hill, Md. Elected to three-year terms on the board were Robert Bonnie, Peter Fenwick, and Meriwether H. Morris. Re-elected to second three-year terms were
Zanjabeel, impressive winner of the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, and second finisher Ice It will resume their nascent rivalry Saturday in the $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle, the featured novice stakes of the 33rd annual Steeplechase at Callaway.
The popular race meet at Pine Mountain, Ga., kicks off with a 1 p.m. first post time.
Zanjabeel, imported specifically for the Foxbrook on Oct. 21, scored a 4 3/4-length victory for his owners, The Confidence Partnership, and also made an impression on his new owners, George Mahoney Jr.’s Rosbrian Farm and Benjamin and Wendy Griswold.
Now trained in Pennsylvania by Ricky Hendriks, the British-bred Zanjabeel will be ridden by Ross Geraghty.
DASH Stable’s Ice It, second in last year’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle, never quit trying in the Foxbrook and clearly was second best for the second straight year. He is trained by Jack Fisher, who has established a new National Steeplechase Association earnings record with nearly $1.3-million in 2017 purses.
Sean McDermott, currently leading the jockey standings by purse earnings, will ride the five-year-old Tapit gelding.
The Foxbrook was run at 2 1/2 miles, and the Aflac Supreme Hurdle competitors will be cutting back to 2 1/4 miles. Several other Foxbrook participants will be attempting to improve on their performances in New Jersey.
Also coming out of the Foxbrook are James S. Carter’s Macnicholson, who was sixth; Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Lachares, eighth; Oakwood Stable’s Kensington Court, ninth; and Gil Johnston’s Mutasaawy, who stumbled early and unseated his jockey.
Completing the field is Tantivy Racing’s Laser Light, an Irish-bred import who finished sixth in the Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle in May for trainer Ted Thompson. Bernie Dalton will ride.
A highly competitive field will race over lush natural fences in the $35,000 Noel Laing Handicap, the featured race of Saturday’s 83rd annual Montpelier Hunt Races on the grounds of historic Montpelier. The 2 1/2-mile race over Montpelier’s distinctive brush fences will highlight a seven-race program, with a 12:30 p.m. post time. The Noel Laing’s
Irv Naylor’s Ebanour will be seeking his second straight win in the $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup on Sunday, and Where’s the Beef will be looking to complete a two-state sweep in the four-mile timber classic at Unionville. First post time is 1:30 p.m. for the four-race program. The races will be live-streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orjBHjq-WEE. Raced