The year’s first novice stakes, the $100,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, has attracted both quality and quantity for the headline race of the 24th annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase on Saturday, April 27.
Purses will total $200,000 for the races at Brooklandwood in suburban Charlotte. The races will be run in memory of Midge and Jim Price, who supported the dream of son Bill Price to establish a steeplechase for North Carolina’s largest city.
With 15 nominees to the 2 3/8-mile race, the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase is likely to have a top-notch field of jump racing’s rising stars. Last year’s second-leading novice earner behind champion Iranistan was Carrington Holdings’ Boss Man, who is raced by Carrington and Bill Price, the Queen’s Cup co-chairs.
Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., the tall Florida-bred won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes in September, was pulled up in a division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, and was fourth in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in November.
The third-leading novice earner was Belisarius, winner of a Foxbrook division for owners Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Stable. Kate Dalton, who trains Belisarius, also nominated Virginia Lazenby Racing Stable’s Help From Heaven and Canadian Gold, both of whom were sidelined the last two years.
Fourth on the 2018 novice earnings list was Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro, winner of last spring’s Tryon Block House. A member of trainer Jack Fisher’s powerful stable, the Irish-bred most recently finished second in a Foxbrook division and the Aflac Supreme Hurdle.
Fisher also nominated Riverdee’s City Dreamer, who finished fourth in Belisarius’ Foxbrook division, and Bruton Street-US’s Lord Justice, a brilliant allowance winner at the Iroquois Steeplechase who most recently finished third in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes.
Off to a fast start in the current season, Fisher nominated Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stable’s Storm Team, who stormed to a front-running three-length victory in a Carolina Cup allowance hurdle on March 30.
Gil Johnston, one of the sport’s leading owners, was represented in the nominations by Contented, trained by Richard Valentine; Mutasaawy, trained by Neil Morris; and Set to Music, trained by Kathy Neilson.
Contented would be making his first U.S. start after a handicap career in England. Mutasaawy won the Fair Hill Races’ Valentine Memorial Handicap in May and was third to Belisarius in the Foxbrook. Set to Music finished third in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle.
Last year’s leading owner, Rosbrian Farm, nominated Veneer of Charm, who finished sixth in the Foxbrook and fifth in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle for trainer Ricky Hendriks.
Here are the 15 nominees to the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase in alphabetical order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Belisarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu—Lasting Chance, by American Chance. Owner: Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: Lynch Bages Ltd. And Camas Park Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 6-2-1-2, $106,200. Won 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle by 6¼ lengths. Set all the pace and won 2018 Monmouth Park maiden hurdle by two lengths. Never has finished off the board in five jumps starts. (127)
Boss Man. 2010 ch. g., English Channel—Jenny Joy, by Acceptable. Owner: Carrington Holdings. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Breeder: Kinsman Farm (Fla.) 2018 NSA record: 7-3-0-1, $113,250. Finished fourth in 2018 Aflac Supreme Hurdle after being pulled up in Far Hills Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after third in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at Saratoga. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by front-running 2 1/4 lengths. Graduate of Jason Servis’ flat training operation scored his maiden victory over fences at the 2018 Queen’s Cup. (127)
Canadian Gold. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Marchfield—Tyne, by Awesome Again. Owner: Virginia Lazenby Training Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: William B. Harrigan and Mike Pietrangelo (Ont.). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: No starts. In most recent race, won a 2016 Colonial Cup handicap following maiden hurdle victory at the International Gold Cup. (116)
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $9,250. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, his U.S. debut, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won two English juvenile hurdles in September 2017 and had been competitive in modest handicap company before joining Fisher stable in summer 2018. (129)
Contented (Ire). 2013 gr. or ro. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Leo’s Spirit (Ire), by Fantastic Light. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Breeder: Christopher Maye (Ire). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Won a modest-level hurdle handicap at Worcester in September 2018 and then was sixth in higher handicap race before being imported. (126)
Gibralfaro. (Ire). 2012 b. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Ronda, by Bluebird. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Sarl Darpat France (Ire). 2018 record: 5-1-3-0, $77,250. Finished second in Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished second in Iroquois’ 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices, then was sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Set pressured pace and won 2018 Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. In final start in England in October 2017, finished third in an allowance hurdle at Bangor-on-Dee. Won an Ascot allowance hurdle in January 2017. (130)
Help From Heaven. 2012 ch. g., Divine Park—Harlan Helper, by Friends Lake. Owner: Virginia Lazenby Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: Brereton C. Jones and Jimmy Blanton (Ky.) 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: No starts. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle in August 2016 and went to sidelines. Two-time winner on flat in Louisiana began jumps career with second at 2016 Middleburg Spring meet, was taken down in Iroquois maiden hurdle, and easily won a Monmouth Park maiden hurdle. Finished second in Saratoga allowance hurdle. (117)
Lord Justice (Ire). 2013 b. g., Zoffany (Ire)—Roselita, by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Whisperview Trading (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 3-1-1-1, $43,800. 2017 NSA record: 2-0-2-0, $12,600. Won 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase’s allowance hurdle after close second in Block House allowance hurdle, then finished third in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. In two U.S. starts in 2017, finished second in Foxfield Fall’s optional allowance hurdle and International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Showed good form on flat and over hurdles in Ireland. (126)
Macnicholson (Ire). 2009 b. g., Definite Article (GB)—Heroic Performer, by Royal Applause (GB). Owner: James S. Carter. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Breeder: D. Shine (Ire). 2018: No starts. 2017 NSA record: 5-0-1-0, $20,250. Best of rest when second in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at 35-1 odds, then was sixth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and fifth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished sixth and placed fifth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Lost riders in his first U.S. starts, 2017 Carolina Cup and Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, both for novices. Looking for first victory since August 2015. (119)
Mutasaawy. 2010 b. g., Tapit—Pretty Proud, by Mr. Greeley. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Neil Morris. Breeder: Pretty Proud Syndicate (Ky.). 2018 NSA record: 7-1-1-1, $53,000. 2017 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $66,900. Finished third in 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division, then lost rider in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Won Fair Hill’s 2018 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap before second in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes as favorite. Finished seventh in 2018 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase and fell in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. (127)
My Afleet. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Afleet Alex—My Own Story, by Lasting Approval. Owners: Jeffrey S. Amling and Merriebelle Stable. Trainer: Mark Beecher. Breeders. Jeffrey S. Amling and Charles Noell. 2017 record: 4-2-1-0, $66,750. Finished well-beaten fourth in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Made a successful jumps debut with 34 1/2-length victory in 2017 Tryon Block House maiden hurdle, then won Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle before second in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. Stakes winner on flat finished second in Saratoga’s John’s Call Stakes in final flat start. (124)
No Wunder (GB). 2011 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Iwunder, by King’s Best. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeder: Executors of the late J. Ellis (GB). 2018 NSA record: 6-0-3-0, $43,200. 2017 NSA record: 8-2-1-1, $67,150. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was sixth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished close second in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes after similar close second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Opened 2018 campaign with second in Carolina Cup for novices, then was fifth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. (123)
Set to Music. 2011b. g., Dynaformer—Pussycat Doll, by Real Quiet. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Breeder: Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jackson (Ky.). 2018 record: 5-1-2-2, $42,600. Had third-place finishes in 2018 International Gold Cup handicap and Aflac Supreme Hurdle at Steeplechase at Callaway. After two close second-place finishes, broke through for a maiden hurdle victory at the 2018 Fair Hill Races. (120)
Storm Team. 2014 ch. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—Stormy Dixie, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Colts Neck Stables (Ky.). 2019 record: 1-1-0-0, $21,000. 2018 record: 5-1-1-2, $30,120. Kicked off 2019 season with three-length win in Carolina Cup allowance hurdle. Won a maiden hurdle at 2018 Foxfield Fall and was second in Callaway flat race. Finished third in Monmouth Park maiden hurdle after being pulled up in Radnor maiden hurdle. (122)
Veneer of Charm (Ire). 2014 b. g., Fast Company (Ire)—Nova Tor (Ire), by Trans Island (GB). Owners: Rosbrian Farm and Martin J. Wasylocha. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: P. Burns (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $6,750. Finished sixth in Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division, then was fifth in Aflac Supreme Hurdle at Steeplechase at Callaway. Scored 33-1 upset victory in 2018 Cheltenham Festival handicap hurdle but failed to retain that form and finished well-beaten sixth in an allowance hurdle in his final overseas start. (125)