Straylight Racing’s Invocation remained undefeated for the year when he scored a two-length victory over Eve Ledyard’s Go Get the Basil in the Steeplechase at Charleston’s featured $30,000 ratings handicap on Sunday. Apple Equipment’s Oskar Denarius finished third.
The South Carolina meet brought down the curtain on the 2018 National Steeplechase Association season and decided several annual championships.
Darren Nagle scored a five-length victory in the afternoon’s first race with Irv Naylor’s Moss Code to secure his second straight title as champion jockey by wins. With another strong fall season, Nagle had 17 victories for the year.
Jack Doyle, who led for much of the year, had been tied with Nagle going into the Charleston meet and finished second in the standings with 16 wins. Moss Code prevailed in the maiden claiming hurdle for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Jack Fisher went into the Charleston meet with a one-race lead in the trainer standings over Ricky Hendriks, and he went two up with a victory by Noble Stables’ Dynaformersrequest in a $30,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle. Willie McCarthy rode the Dynaformer gelding, who was Fisher’s 22nd winner of the year.
The 2018 steeplechase racing season concludes Sunday with the Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry, and two major championships will be at stake in its four hurdle races.
First post time will be 1 p.m. at the course in Hollywood, S.C. In addition to the four hurdle races, which offer $100,000 in purses, the program will conclude with a flat race over the Stono Ferry course.
The titles on the line are champion trainer and champion jockey, both by wins. Jack Fisher, the National Steeplechase Association’s champion trainer for the last six years, has a one-race advantage over Ricky Hendriks, 21 wins to 20.
Both are all in for the Charleston finale, with Fisher dropping seven contenders into the entry box and Hendriks with six entries.
The jockey battle between reigning champion Darren Nagle and Jack Doyle is deadlocked at 16 wins apiece. Both top riders have mounts in all four hurdle races.
The battles may well come down to the afternoon’s featured race, a $30,000 ratings handicap that drew an oversubscribed field of 14, with 12 permitted to start on the Stono Ferry turf course.
Frank A. Bonsal Jr.’s Stand Down, making only his fifth career start, became a timber classic winner on Sunday when he pulled away to a 7 3/4-length victory in the 84th running of the $40,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Reserved in the back of the field by jockey Eric Poretz, the six-year-old Irish-bred surged toward the lead approaching the last fence, jumped it with International Gold Cup runner-up Super Saturday, and drew clear to the finish line of the Unionville course.
Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Gordonsdale Farm’s Canyon Road in third. Morningstar Farm’s Carrickboy finished fourth in a field of eight.
Trained by Joseph G. Davies, Stand Down ran the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s four miles in 8:34 on a course rated as good.
Apple Equipment’s Winner Massagot, a close second in his U.S. debut, soared over the Montpelier Hunt Races’ natural brush fences with jockey Tom Garner and drew away impressively to a 16-length victory in Saturday’s $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap. Trained by Richard Valentine, French-bred Winner Massagot had jumped the last fence on the historic Montpelier grounds
DASH Stable’s Ice It, second in the last two editions of the $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle, prevailed by a head over stablemate Gibralfaro in the Steeplechase at Callaway’s signature race on Saturday.
Sean McDermott, aboard second finisher Gibralfaro, claimed foul, alleging interference at the fourth from last fence, but Callaway’s stewards disallowed the claim. Gillian Johnston’s Set to Music finished third, three lengths behind Gibralfaro.
Carrington Holdings’ Boss Man, who had set the early pace with Gibralfaro, finished fourth. Darren Nagle kept Ice It at the back of the field before launching his bid on the final circuit of the Pine Mountain, Ga., course.
Ice It and Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro are trained by Jack Fisher, who completed the hat trick after winning the previous two races on the Steeplechase at Callaway program. The three wins moved the Maryland-based horseman into the lead for the trainer title ahead of Ricky Hendriks.
Two of the year’s top novice performers, Boss Man and, Gibralfaro, will face off Saturday in the $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle, the featured hurdle race of the 34th annual Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.
The Aflac Supreme Hurdle will highlight a Steeplechase at Callaway program that kicks off with a 1 p.m. first post time.
Boss Man holds the lead in the fight for the championship for newcomers to the jump-racing game with $109,500 in earnings over fences this year. Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., Boss Man won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes by a half-length over Ice It.
In his most recent race, he appeared to dislike the yielding ground at the Far Hills Races in a Foxbrook Champion hurdle division and was pulled up before the last fence. Michael Mitchell will ride Boss Man in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Gibralfaro finished a very solid second in the other division of the Foxbrook on Oct. 20. He led nearly all the way on the New Jersey course and held on well to be beaten only a half-length. He previously finished sixth to Boss Man in the Entenmann. Sean McDermott will ride.
Fisher, trying to make up ground on Ricky Hendriks in the battle for this year’s training title, entered DASH Stable’s Ice It, who finished fourth in Gibralfaro’s division of the Foxbrook. Darren Nagle, making his accustomed late-season run on the jockey title, has the mount.
Hendriks, who has 20 wins this season to Fisher’s 18, entered Rosbrian Farm’s Veneer of Charm, who finished sixth in the first Foxbrook division. Bernie Dalton has the mount.