A memorial service for Susan duPont McConnell, a longtime devoted supporter of the Montpelier Hunt Races, will be held at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Va., at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. Ms. McConnell died peacefully with family at her side on Wednesday, March 20, after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 68.
For the first time in its history, the $50,000 Carolina Cup will be run as a ratings handicap, and Saturday’s historic race attracted a field worthy of a graded stakes with five highweights.The 87th annual Carolina Cup race meet marks the arrival of spring in South Carolina’s Midlands, and this year’s edition of the Camden tradition attracted strong, full fields for its six races. First post time is 1:30 p.m. at Springdale Race Course, and the races can be viewed on the NSA Network’s livestream.The Carolina Cup is limited to competitors with National Steeplechase Association ratings of 130 or lower, and five of the prospective starters previously had been rated at 130 by the three-member ratings committee and thus share the 158-pound highweight.Heading the quality-loaded Carolina Cup is local favorite Show Court, owned by South Carolina attorney Mark W. Buyck Jr. and trained in Camden by Arch Kingsley Jr. The Irish-bred jumped into the ranks of Grade 1 winners last summer when he won Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial.He closed his 2018 season with an easy victory in an allowance hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia. Bernie Dalton, who also is based in Camden, has the mount.Kingsley also will saddle Carrington Holdings’ Boss Man, the strapping winner of Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes last September. Thomas Garner will ride the Florida-bred, who carries 155 pounds with a 127 rating.Jack Fisher, the champion trainer for the last seven years, will saddle two highweights among his three entrants. DASH Stable’s Ice It broke through for a victory in last November’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle for novices and will be ridden by Jack Doyle.Ice It shares a 158-pound weight assignment with Harold A. “Sonny” Via’s Hinterland, who finished second to champion Zanjabeel in last September’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park before a fourth in the Far Hills Races’ Grand National (Gr. 1). Michael Mitchell has the mount.
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Morningstar Farm’s Indigo Heart, always prominent under Jack Doyle, took the lead on the second circuit of the Aiken Horse Park course and drew clear to a 4 1/2-lengh victory in the Aiken Spring Steeplechase’s featured $30,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup on Saturday.
Rosbrian Farm’s Barhanpour, the lightweight in the ratings handicap hurdle, came on to take second, a half-length ahead of third finisher Dapper Dan.
The first two finishers are trained by Ricky Hendriks, who owns Morningstar Farm and was a close second in last year’s trainer standings by both wins and earnings. Indigo Heart ran the Budweiser Imperial Cup’s two miles in 3:40 4/5 on firm turf.
Morningstar acquired Indigo Heart from Rosbrian over the winter, and Rosbrian had purchased the Heart of the Storm gelding privately before a Shawan Downs ratings handicap victory last September.
Hendriks trained him on the Unionville, Pa., farm, worked him at the Fair Hill Training Center, and then shipped him to Camden, S.C., to await the race.
“He likes the front end, and he keeps galloping,” Hendriks said.
NSA Network—the first and only video channel devoted exclusively to steeplechase racing—will make its debut this week as part of the recently launched Plaid Horse Network and will feature exclusive, high-definition coverage of the Aiken Spring Steeplechase on Saturday.
The live-streaming broadcast from the National Steeplechase Association’s season-opening meet also will be the sport’s first studio-based show, with expert commentary supporting the high-definition images from Aiken, S.C.
Created by TPH Productions, the NSA Network will offer livestreaming and on-demand video of all 2019 race meets. Each race meet has its own channel, which contains years of archived video and other information. The NSA Network can be accessed at www.theplaidhorse.com/steeplechase.
“We welcome the launch of the NSA Network by TPH Productions,” said NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri. “The high-definition live broadcasts, the polished production, and the on-demand archived video will only help to expand the audience for American Steeplechasing, both in our home markets and overseas.”
The NSA Network will be available on a wide variety of devices, including mobile, desktop or laptop computers, and television on Apple TV or advanced TVs with internet browsers. The Plaid Horse Network app is now available free of charge on the Apple app store. All video will be accessible on the app.
The NSA Network is part of a new, innovative horse-sports video destination, The Plaid Horse Network, that will have the largest-ever collection of steeplechasing video and will serve a wide range of equine disciplines.
“Our goal is to make it the most-visited horse sports platform for video content of all types,” said Steve Hankin, TPH Production’s chief executive. “I have no doubt that the NSA Network will increase fan interest in American jump racing.”
The studio broadcast of the Aiken Spring races will encompass the entire six-race program. First post time is 1 p.m., and the featured fifth race will be the $30,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup, a ratings handicap.
The National Steeplechase Association and the Carolina Cup Racing Association will host “The Cup Runneth Over,” a full program of jump racing offering $90,000 in purses at the Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., on Saturday, April 6.
“The Cup Runneth Over” takes the place on the NSA calendar of the Georgia Steeplechase, which was canceled by its organizers on March 18. “The Cup Runneth Over” will offer a second consecutive weekend of racing over the historic Springdale course, after the 87th annual Carolina Cup Races on March 30.
“We regret that, after a valiant effort last year, the Georgia Steeplechase could not sustain its position on the NSA calendar,” said NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri. “The Board of Directors and I believe it is vitally important to have a racing opportunity for our horsemen on April 6, and the board agreed to fund the event despite such short notice.
“We are most grateful to the Carolina Cup Racing Association for its willingness to open the Springdale Race Course for a second day of racing and to provide an important opportunity to our horsemen. Working together on a very short timeline, the NSA and the Carolina Cup Racing Association have taken a potentially negative development and turned it into a positive—a new, innovative community event.
“Most if not all of our horsemen have raced on Springdale’s impeccable racing surface, and it is familiar territory to them,” Torsilieri said.
John Cushman, vice chairman of the Carolina Cup Racing Association and the Carolina Cup’s executive director, welcomed the opportunity to showcase jump racing for a second Saturday afternoon in his home community.
“Truly in this case, the Cup runneth over,” he said. “One week after the Carolina Cup, we will stage an event for the entire Camden community while supporting our steeplechase horsemen,” he said.
“Camden is horse country, and it is the longtime Southern home of steeplechase racing. Our community strongly supports the Carolina Cup, and we will devise an attractive guest package to welcome our fans back to Springdale for a second afternoon of spring racing.”
Bill Gallo Jr., the NSA’s director of racing, said the racing program will closely approximate the proposed racing card at the Georgia Steeplechase so that horsemen can continue their preparations without undue adjustments to training schedules.
The afternoon’s program will be a $30,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle, a $25,000 ratings handicap for horses rated at 115 or lower, a $20,000 maiden hurdle for fillies and mares, a $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle, and a training flat race.