Mede Cahaba Stable’s Complete Zen and 2010 novice champion All Together staged another scintillating battle in the $50,000 National Hunt Cup at the 81st Radnor Hunt Races on Saturday, May 21, and once again Complete Zen came out in front, this time by just a nose. But the race shaped up differently from their confrontation in the $50,000 Priority Payment Systems Georgia Cup, which Compete Zen won by a head on April 16 after setting all the pace and holding off All Together.
In the National Hunt Cup, Complete Zen and jockey Richard Boucher pressed the pace of front-runner Triplekin through the early stages, while All Together stalked them under jockey Xavier Aizpuru. All Together made the first move when Triplekin began to tire on the final circuit and and took a narrow lead. They battled over the final fence and through the stretch before Complete Zen prevailed by a head bob.
Demonstrative, last year’s three-year-old champion and winner of Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial on April 30, finished third, 8 1/2 lengths farther back. Triplekin was pulled up. Trained by Lilith Boucher, the jockey’s wife, Complete Zen completed the National Hunt Cup’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:54 4/5.
Magalen O. Bryant’s lightly raced Triplekin had returned from a nearly year-long absence to win the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase on April 30, setting all the pace and scoring by more than 5 3/4 lengths over Complete Zen. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Brian Crowley, Triplekin again went to the front on W. Burling Cocks Memorial Race Course in Malvern, Pa., and was on the lead for the first two miles. But he offered little resistance when All Together and Complete Zen came to him approaching the final turn on the right-handed course.
“On the backside, Triplekin seemed to get spooked,” Boucher told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We got up real close on him, and he juked like he saw something. We went right by him, and didn’t see him again.”
Boucher also rode Pink Ribbon Racing’s Won Wild Bird to victory in the afternoon’s co-feature, the $40,000 Radnor Hunt Cup over timber, and Mede Cahaba’s Class Indian to a win in the $25,00 Milfern Cup, a Sport of Kings maiden hurdle.
Although All Together could not hold off Complete Zen in the National Hunt Cup, Brewster and Williams had reason to cheer when their Straight to It prevailed by a length in the $30,000 Strawberry Hill Classic, an allowance hurdle that was the featured contest of the 79th annual Strawberry Hill Races at Colonial Downs near Richmond, Va. Willie Dowling rode the winner for trainer Jack Fisher, who also trains All Together. Your Sum Man took second, and Spy in the Sky was third in the 2 1/4-mile race over National Fences.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey, owners of reigning steeplechase champion Slip Away, scored a victory on their home ground when Church Service won the $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle, the featured race of the High Hope Steeplechase at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington on Sunday, May 22. Manown Kisor’s Sumo Power finished second, 19 lengths behind Church Service.
Paddy Young rode Tom Voss-trained Church Service for the Ramseys, who live in Nicholasville, south of Lexington. Young, who had three victories at Radnor, increased his lead in the jockey standings by wins over Boucher, who also had three scores at Radnor, and Crowley. He has 16 wins to seven for his closest challengers. He also leads the earnings table by a substantial margin over Darren Nagle, who rode Tax Ruling and Decoy Daddy to graded stakes victories for Irvin S. Naylor. Voss leads the trainer standings by wins and earnings.