The inaugural Charleston Trials, an afternoon of exciting horse racing and outdoor fun, kicks off the 2013 National Steeplechase Association season on Sunday, March 17. The St. Patrick’s Day program at the Stono Ferry Course in Hollywood, S.C., will feature four training races and a jockey’s foot race.
Training races are intended to prepare horses for races later in the season, and several leading owners and trainers are taking advantage of the Charleston Trials opportunity. Jockeys need to be fit, too, and the riders will go to the start for a one-furlong (one-eighth of a mile) sprint on the turf course.
Two Charleston Trials starters, Country Cousin and Cuse, will be preparing for prospective starts in the $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup, a Grade 3 race at Aiken Spring Steeplechase in Aiken, S.C., on Saturday, March 23. Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin, a multiple stakes winner in past seasons, will compete in the open training flat race at 1 3/8 miles. Trained by Julie Gomena, Country Cousin will be ridden by Roddy Mackenzie.
Also in the open flat race is Cuse, owned and trained by Karen Gray. The sport’s iron horse in 2012, Cuse made eight starts and had two victories in optional allowance claiming races over hurdles. Regular jockey Gus Dahl will ride.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will be represented by William Backer’s Tuxedo Park in one of two 1 7/8-mile maiden races over hurdles.