Decoy Daddy, Irv Naylor’s ageless hurdles star, scored his second straight victory in the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) when he turned back a late challenge from Inti to win the Radnor Hunt Races’ featured stakes race by five lengths on Saturday, May 17.
Michael J. Moran’s Staying On finished third, 6 3/4 lengths farther back, and The Fields Stable’s Wanganui was a distant fourth. Trained by Cyril Murphy and ridden by Carol-Ann Sloan, Decoy Daddy won his second Grade 3 stakes race of the year, following a score in the Tempe Gwathmey, a race he also had won last year.
The 12-year-old Irish-bred raised his 2014 earnings to $60,000 with the National Hunt Cup score and lifted his career earnings above $465,000 from 58 starts.
Wanganui, making his first start since August 2012, went to the lead immediately, with Decoy Daddy stalking the pace of the 2011 three-year-old champion and top jockey Willie McCarthy. On the final circuit of the Malvern, Pa., course, Wanganui tired suddenly, dropping Decoy Daddy on the lead.
Meritage Stable’s Inti, also trained by Murphy, runs his best races on softer turf, and he mounted a strong challenge heading into the last fence. Inti and jockey Kieran Norris drew within a few lengths, but Decoy Daddy had plenty left and pulled away to the finish line.
Decoy Daddy ran the National Hunt Cup’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:52.40 on turf rated as good. W. Burling Cocks Memorial Race Course in Malvern, Pa., had some soft areas at lower elevations after drenching rains the day before.
Naylor, currently the sport’s leading owner by earnings, said he entered the National Hunt Cup with considerable confidence in his highly consistent stable star. “He won this race last year, and the jockey is very familiar with the horse. He has a trainer who is new to the horse [since last summer], and he is a trainer in whom we have a lot of confidence,” Naylor said.
Murphy said Decoy Daddy bounced back strongly from his second straight win in the Temple Gwathmey in Middleburg, Va., on April 19 and maintained his condition.
He conceded that his concern was Inti, who won last year’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on soft turf. But, for the second straight year, Decoy Daddy’s class proved the decisive factor in Radnor’s final straight as he drew away to his 16th career win.