Decoy Daddy, Irv Naylor’s ageless wonder, will shoot for a third straight victory in the $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap, Saturday’s featured race at the 81st annual Montpelier Hunt Races. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
The 13-year-old Irish-bred has had unprecedented success at the Virginia course. He won the 2 1/2-mile Noel Laing in 2010 and 2011, finished second in 2012, and returned to the winner’s circle in 2013 and 2014.
Most recently an honorable fifth in the Grand National (Gr. 1), Decoy Daddy is rated at 155 pounds, three pounds below his stablemate Able Deputy, who carries the Noel Laing’s highweight. In his first 2015 start, Naylor’s Able Deputy finished third in the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), a race he won in 2014.
Cyril Murphy, who trains both stakes winners, gave return calls to Carol-Ann Sloan on Decoy Daddy and Ross Geraghty aboard Able Deputy.
Paddy Young, currently holding an eight-race lead in his bid for a fifth champion jockey title, has the call on Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu, a French-bred import who has had three straight second-place finishes since his arrival in the U.S. He is trained by Leslie Young, the jockey’s wife.
Jimmy Day, who is currently tied for second in the trainer standings, will saddle S. Bruce Smart Jr.’s Bonded and Magalen O. Bryant’s Plated. Bonded finished fourth in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at the Far Hills Races on Oct. 17, and Plated finished third in a Far Hills Ratings Handicap.
Jack Doyle, who leads the jockey standings by purse earnings, will ride The Fields Stable’s Kingdom, who finished sixth in the Ratings Handicap at Far Hills for trainer Elizabeth Voss.
Here is the field for the $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap.
Kingdom. 2009 b. g., Louis Quatorze—Distant Drumroll, by Eastern Echo. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Mimi Voss (Md.) 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,050. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $16,500. 2013 record: 10-2-2-1, $63,910. Finished sixth in Far Hills Ratings Handicap on Oct. 17. In 2015 debut, finished fifth in a Suffolk Downs flat race for hurdlers. Beaten on the head bob in Saratoga’s 2014 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Mimi Voss-bred is half brother to two-time filly and mare champion Guelph (2005 and 2008).
Plated. 2009 b. g., Tiznow—Imaginary Gold, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Overbrook Farm (Ky.) 2015 NSA record: 5-1-1-3, $56,600. 2014 record: 2-1-0-1, $20,000. Finished third in Far Hills Ratings Handicap. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 17 before third in Great Meadow flat race in September. Finished third in tough Fair Hill Ratings Handicap Hurdle on May 23. Won maiden victory last fall at International Gold Cup.
Able Deputy (GB). 2007 b. g., Lomitas (GB)—Island Colony, by Pleasant Colony. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeders: Charles and David Hodge (GB). 2015 record: 1-0-0-1, $5,000. 2014 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $30,000. Finished third in International Gold Cup’s 2015 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) in first start since easy victory a year earlier. Won Worcester’s 2014 Toteplacepot Handicap.
Andi’amu (Fr). 2010 b. g., Walk In The Park—Sainte Parfaite, by Septieme Ciel. Owner: Ballybristol Farm. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Therese Bouche (Fr). 2015 NSA record: 3-0-3-0, $32,400. Finished second in first three U.S. starts, most recently in an International Gold Cup allowance hurdle on Oct. 24. Also had two place finishes at Saratoga. Won maiden victory at Market Rasen in November 2014.
Bonded (Ire). 2007 b. g., Oasis Dream (GB)—Lovealoch, by Lomond. Owner: Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Michael Woodlock and Seamus Kennedy (Ire). 2015 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $44,000. 2014 record: No starts. Finished fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle after victory in Saratoga allowance hurdle in August. Fell over another horse in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9.
Decoy Daddy (Ire). 2002 ch. g., Lord of Appeal–Young Bebe, by M. Double M. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. Breeder: Charles Persee (Ire). 2015 record: 3-0-1-0, $21,000. 2014 record: 3-3-0-0, $87,000. Set pace in Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills and finished fifth. Finished second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by subsequent Grade 1 winner, in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Mirrored his 2013 victories with scores in 2014 Temple Gwathmey, Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), and Noel Laing Handicap, his fourth win in that race.
Fog Island. (138) 2006 b. g., Rossini—Orchid Island, by Broad Brush. Owner: Anne Pape. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Diane Snowden (Ky.). 2015 record: 5-0-0-1, $13,100. 2014 record: 5-0-0-2, $21,250. Finished seventh in Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap. Pressed early pace in Carolina Cup and held well to finish third, beaten two lengths. Had two subsequent fifth-place finishes, in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes and Saratoga optional allowance hurdle. Finished third in his final two 2014 starts, Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap.
Triton Light. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Vicar—Angela, by Private Terms. Owner-trainer: Nicki Valvo. Jockey: Zoe Valvo. Breeder: Coleswood Farm (W. Va.) 2015 record: 4-0-0-1, $4,000. Finished 11th in International Gold Cup turf race after being pulled up in Virginia Fall allowance hurdle. Finished fourth and was placed third in Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle on May 2.