Irv Naylor’s Ebanour will attempt to win the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup for a third straight year when he meets a challenging field in the four-mile timber classic that headlines Saturday’s 93rd edition of the ever-popular race meet.
The Virginia Gold Cup program offers nearly $400,000 in purses in its eight races. Also on the card are the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) over hurdles, the $50,000 Secretariat Stakes on the flat, and the $40,000 Steeplethon Stakes over mixed obstacles.
The Virginia Gold Cup annually attracts the largest crowd on the National Steeplechase Association circuit. First post time at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains is 12:30 p.m.
Trained by Cyril Murphy, Ebanour will be making his first sanctioned start of the year in the storied Virginia Gold Cup, a strategy that served him well last year. The 11-year-old Irish-bred will be ridden by 2017 champion jockey Darren Nagle, who was in the irons for Ebanour’s second straight victory in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last November.
Naylor also will be represented by Super Saturday, the Middleburg Hunt Cup victor trained by Kathy Neilson. Gerard Galligan was named to ride.
Also coming out of the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 21 are Michael A. Smith’s Le Chevalier, the second finisher, and Armata Stables’ Grand Manan, who was pulled up. Trained by Julie Gomena in Virginia, Le Chevalier will be ridden by Jack Doyle, who currently leads the jockey standings.
Grand Manan, winner of the 2016 International Gold Cup, was pulled up on soft turf conditions in last year’s Virginia Gold Cup. He usually sets the early pace in his races, and trainer Billy Meister named Willie McCarthy, the 2014 champion jockey, to ride.
A Virginia-bred threat in the Gold Cup will be Sara E. Collette’s homebred Zanclus, who blazed to a front-running, 25 1/4-length victory in the My Lady’s Manor on April 14. Kieran Norris has the mount for trainer Neil Morris.
Also coming out of the Maryland timber meets is Sportsmans Hall’s Hill Tie, who scored his maiden victory in the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance on April 21. The Dance With Ravcns eight-year-old is trained by Joe Davies, who notched his third straight Maryland Hunt Cup victory on April 28.
In the saddle will be Eric Poretz, who rode Senior Senator to victory in the Maryland Hunt Cup. Davies and Poretz swept the three-race Grand National card, with Senior Senator winning the Grand National for a second straight year.
Also coming out of the Murray is owner-trainer Bruce Fenwick’s Daddy in the Dark, who finished seventh. Sean McDermott has the mount.
Here is the field for the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup in post-position order.
Super Saturday. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Any Given Saturday—Lady Aloma, by Cozzene. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Walton Breeders (Ky.) 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2017 record: 6-0-1-1, $13,400. 2016 record: 5-0-1-0, $4,550. Won 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup by 2 1/2 lengths. Finished second in 2017 New Jersey Hunt Cup and third in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance after fourth in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Finished fourth in the 2017 Grand National, then fell at fourth fence of Maryland Hunt Cup and was fifth in Willowdale Steeplechase.
Daddy in the Dark. 2010 b. g., Bernardini—Appealing Zophie, by Successful Appeal. Owner: H. Bruce Fenwick. Trainer: H. Bruce Fenwick. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: My Meadowview (Ky.). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $9,750. Finished seventh in Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance at 2018 Grand National meet. Won a 2017 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup maiden timber by more than 32 lengths after beginning his career with a fourth over timber at the Virginia Fall Races. Raced on the flat in Maryland and specialized in off tracks.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 5-0-3-0, $28,500. 2016 record: 4-3-0-0, $82,950. Pulled up in 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished second in 2017 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup and International Gold Cup. Finished fourth in 2017 My Lady’s Manor, then was unplaced in Virginia Gold Cup after setting most of pace. Closed 2016 season with back-to-back front-running victories in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup and International Gold Cup.
Ebanour (Ire). 2007 ch. g., Indian Ridge—Ebadilya, by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Aga Khan’s Studs (Ire). 2017 record: 5-2-1-0, $89,150. 2016 record: 4-3-0-0, $78,000. Won Virginia Gold Cup and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in 2016 and 2017. His 18-length win at Unionville followed fifth in 2017 New Jersey Hunt Cup. Was disqualified to second from win in 2017 Radnor Hunt Cup. Won 2015 New Jersey Hunt Cup.
Zanclus. 2010 ch.g., Xenodon—Jordani, by Two Smart. Owner: Sara E. Collette. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Sara E. Collette (Va.). 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2017 record: No starts. 2016 record: 5-2-3-0, $56,500. Set all the pace in 2018 My Lady’s Manor and won by 25 1/4 lengths. Won a 2016 International Gold Cup timber allowance by 15 lengths and then was second in a similar race at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Scored maiden win at Foxfield Spring by more than 35 lengths that year. Never worse than second over timber before missing 2017 season.
Hill Tie. 2010 b. g., Dance With Ravens—Ready for Love, by Not For Love. Owner: Sportsmans Hall. Trainer: Joseph G. Davies. Jockey: Eric Poretz. Breeders: Corbett Farm and John B. Secor (Md.) 2018 record: 2-1-1-0, $18,000. 2017 record: 1-0-0-1, $1,500. Won his maiden victory in Grand National’s 2018 Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance after second in John Rush Streett maiden timber at My Lady’s Manor.
Le Chevalier. 2009 g. or ro. g., Broken Vow—Orellana, by With Approval. Owner: Michael A. Smith. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Haras du Mezeray (Ky.) 2018 record: 1-0-1-0, $5,400. 2017 record: 1-0-0-1, $3,000. 2016 record: 5-2-1-0, $49,250. Finished second in 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished third in the 2017 My Lady’s Manor. Won the 2016 New Jersey Hunt Cup by 11 lengths, then was fourth in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance. Broke through for a decisive victory in division of John Rush Streett Memorial maiden timber race at 2016 My Lady’s Manor, then was second in Mason Houghland Memorial at Iroquois Steeplechase.