Irvin S. Naylor’s Decoy Daddy will be shooting for a third consecutive victory in the $35,000 Noel Laing when he meets a talented field at the 78th annual Montpelier Hunt Races on Saturday, Nov. 3. First post time at the historic Virginia property is 12:15 p.m.
Decoy Daddy is winless this year but finished fourth in Saratoga Race Course’s Grade 1 races, the A. P. Smithwick Memorial and the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap. Trained by Brianne Slater, Decoy Daddy prepared for the Noel Laing with a win on the flat in the International Fegentri World Cup at the International Gold Cup in The Plains, Va., on Oct. 20. Jeff Murphy picks up the mount.
The Irish-bred gelding will face a formidable task in the Noel Laing, a 2 1/2-mile race over natural brush fences. Among his opponents will be 2010 Eclipse Award winner Slip Away, who won the Noel Laing in 2009.
Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Slip Away has not made a start over fences since August 2011. He tuned up with a flat win at Shawan Downs in Maryland on Sept. 29 and was scratched from the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 20 because of soft ground. Champion jockey Paddy Young will ride the Skip Away gelding for trainer Tom Voss.
The Maryland-based trainer also entered Armata Stables’ Cornhusker, who most recently finished sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 27. Kieran Norris was named to ride the English-bred gelding.
Trainer Richard Valentine entered Augustin Stables’ Rainiero, who this season has one win, in a starter allowance in Lexington’s High Hope Steeplechase in May, and a third in a Saratoga optional allowance. Regular rider Matt McCarron will be in the saddle.
Emerging from the Grand National was Bill Pape’s The Price of Love, who was pulled up on the soft turf. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, The Price of Love had a second and a fourth in Saratoga optional allowance hurdles in August.
Also entered the Noel Laing was Mede Cahaba Stables’ Complete Zen, the Fegentri’s second finisher. Trained by Lilith Boucher, Complete Zen will be making his first start over fences since finishing fifth in the 2011 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at Callaway Gardens in Georgia. Richard Boucher rides. Also coming back from a long layoff is owner-trainer Kristina Miller’s Dr. Bloomer, who would be making his first start since a 2010 Saratoga optional allowance.