Cashel Stud’s Ballet Boy, returning to the races after a more than 10-month absence, surged powerfully over the final fences and turned back a game Gustavian to win the $50,000 National Hunt Cup, the hurdle feature race of the 82nd annual Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on Saturday, May 19.
Trained by Tom Voss and ridden byWillie McCarthy, Ballet Boy finished a neck ahead of Hickory Tree Stables’ Gustavian in the race for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences. Armata Stable’s Cornhusker, also trained by Voss, finished third. Ballet Boy ran the National Hunt Cup’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:36.60 on firm ground.
Ballet Boy had won the Vita C. Thompson allowance hurdle at Radnor a year ago, and he then finished seventh in the William Entenmann Novice Stakes at Belmont Park on July 3, his last previous start before the National Hunt Cup.
“Everything went wrong in that race,” Voss said of the Entenman. “He had a rough, rough trip.” Ballet Boy came out of the Entenmann with a persistent cough that kept him from the races for the remainder of the year.
The eight-year-old Irish-bred gelding by leading sire Sadler’s Wells trained well up to the National Hunt Cup and followed the early pace laid down by The Fields Stable’s Wanganui, also trained by Voss. On the first circuit of the right-handed Radnor Hunt course, Wanganui met a fence awkwardly and dislodged jockey Danielle Hodsdon.
Anne Pape’s Fog Island took over the pace before Ballet Boy and Gustavian took up the battle after the last fence. Ballet Boy opened a clear lead in midstretch, but Gustavian and jockey Carl Rafter fought back to narrow the gap at the finish line.
In the $40,000 Radnor Hunt Cup over timber fences, Arcadius Stable’s Delta Park came back on a week’s rest to win by 1 1/4 lengths over pacesetter Four Schools. Magalen O. Bryant’s G’day G’day finished third, 14 1/4 lengths farther back. Ridden by Darren Nagle, Delta Park ran the Radnor Hunt Cup’s 3 1/4 miles in 6:47.40 on firm turf.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Delta Park had finished third in the Mason Houghland Memorial timber race at Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase on May 12. He came back with an impressive run in the Radnor Hunt Cup. Andre Brewster, managing member of the Arcadius partnership, said the Iroquois effort made a difference in his Radnor performance. “He came back stronger,” Brewster said. “He ran real well last week, but he couldn’t get up the hill[after the final fence] there. Here, he got up the hill.”
Ridden by Robbie Walsh, Four Schools laid down a solid pace and opened a sizable lead on the second circuit of the Radnor course. G’day G’day closed ground on the final circuit and appeared ready to bid for the lead before falling back. Ballet Boy took up the chase and gamely overtook Four Schools in the final furlong.
Walsh said he thought he had a chance to win at the final fence. “He just has that one pace, and he got caught,” he said.