Jack Fisher, well on his way toward an eighth straight leading trainer crown with a dazzling spring, has entered four contenders for Saturday’s $100,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, the headline race of the 24th annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase.
With purses totaling $200,000 for the races at Brooklandwood Race Course in suburban Charlotte, this year’s Queen’s Cup will be run in memory of Midge and Jim Price, who supported son Bill Price’s dream of establishing a top-shelf steeplechase for North Carolina’s largest city.
Topping the Fisher quartet for the 2 3/8-mile Queen’s Cup is Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro, winner of last spring’s Tryon Block House and most recently second in two top novice stakes last fall, a division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle in New Jersey and the Aflac Supreme Hurdle in Georgia. Michael Mitchell has the mount.
Riverdee also will be represented by City Dreamer, who most recently was fourth in a Foxbrook division. Sean McDermott will ride.
Fisher’s other two starters are Bruton Street-US’s Lord Justice and Storm Team, owned by Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Lord Justice, who will be ridden by Willie McCarthy, finished third in Saratoga Race Course’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes last July.
Storm Team kicked off Fisher’s spring splurge—he already has eight wins and nearly $200,000 in purse earnings—with a score in a Carolina Cup allowance hurdle on March 30. Jack Doyle was named to a repeat ride on the Candy Ride five-year-old.
Doyle, currently leading the jockey standings with five wins, also was named aboard Robert A. Kinsley’s No Wunder. Trained by Elizabeth Voss, the eight-year-old by Rock of Gibraltar most recently finished sixth in the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) in October.
Making his first U.S. start will be Gil Johnston’s Contented, a handicap winner in England last September. Thomas Garner rides for trainer Richard Valentine.
Rosbrian Farm, last year’s champion owner, will be represented by Veneer of Charm, who finished sixth in a Foxfield division and then fifth in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Trainer Ricky Hendriks will put Gerard Galligan in the saddle.
Kieran Norris will be aboard Jeffrey Amling’s and Merriefield Farm’s My Afleet for trainer Mark Beecher. The homebred by Afleet Alex finished fourth in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes and missed last racing season.
Completing the field is Virginia Lazenby’s Canadian Gold, an Ontario-bred who is coming back after missing the last two seasons. In his prior start, he won a 2016 Colonial Cup ratings handicap. Trainer Kate Dalton named husband Bernie Dalton to ride.
Here is the field for the $100,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
No Wunder (GB). 2011 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Iwunder, by King’s Best. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Executors of the late J. Ellis (GB). 2018 NSA record: 6-0-3-0, $43,200. 2017 NSA record: 8-2-1-1, $67,150. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was sixth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished close second in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes after similar close second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Opened 2018 campaign with second in Carolina Cup for novices, then was fifth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. (123)
Storm Team. 2014 ch. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—Stormy Dixie, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Colts Neck Stables (Ky.). 2019 record: 1-1-0-0, $21,000. 2018 record: 5-1-1-2, $30,120. Kicked off 2019 season with three-length win in Carolina Cup allowance hurdle. Won a maiden hurdle at 2018 Foxfield Fall and was second in Callaway flat race. Finished third in Monmouth Park maiden hurdle after being pulled up in Radnor maiden hurdle. (122)
Gibralfaro. (Ire). 2012 b. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Ronda, by Bluebird. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Sarl Darpat France (Ire). 2018 record: 5-1-3-0, $77,250. Finished second in Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished second in Iroquois’ 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices, then was sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Set pressured pace and won 2018 Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. In final start in England in October 2017, finished third in an allowance hurdle at Bangor-on-Dee. Won an Ascot allowance hurdle in January 2017. (130)
Lord Justice (Ire). 2013 b. g., Zoffany (Ire)—Roselita, by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Whisperview Trading (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 3-1-1-1, $43,800. 2017 NSA record: 2-0-2-0, $12,600. Won 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase’s allowance hurdle after close second in Block House allowance hurdle, then finished third in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. In two U.S. starts in 2017, finished second in Foxfield Fall’s optional allowance hurdle and International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Showed good form on flat and over hurdles in Ireland. (126)
My Afleet. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Afleet Alex—My Own Story, by Lasting Approval. Owners: Jeffrey S. Amling and Merriebelle Stable. Trainer: Mark Beecher. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders: Jeffrey S. Amling and Charles Noell. 2017 record: 4-2-1-0, $66,750. Finished well-beaten fourth in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Made a successful jumps debut with 34 1/2-length victory in 2017 Tryon Block House maiden hurdle, then won Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle before second in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. Stakes winner on flat finished second in Saratoga’s John’s Call Stakes in final flat start. (124)
Canadian Gold. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Marchfield—Tyne, by Awesome Again. Owner: Virginia Lazenby Training Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: William B. Harrigan and Mike Pietrangelo (Ont.). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: No starts. In most recent race, won a 2016 Colonial Cup handicap following maiden hurdle victory at the International Gold Cup. (116)
Veneer of Charm (Ire). 2014 b. g., Fast Company (Ire)—Nova Tor (Ire), by Trans Island (GB). Owners: Rosbrian Farm and Martin J. Wasylocha. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: P. Burns (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $6,750. Finished sixth in Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division, then was fifth in Aflac Supreme Hurdle at Steeplechase at Callaway. Scored 33-1 upset victory in 2018 Cheltenham Festival handicap hurdle but failed to retain that form and finished well-beaten sixth in an allowance hurdle in his final overseas start. (125)
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $9,250. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, his U.S. debut, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won two English juvenile hurdles in September 2017 and had been competitive in modest handicap company before joining Fisher stable in summer 2018. (129)
Contented (Ire). 2013 gr. or ro. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Leo’s Spirit (Ire), by Fantastic Light. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Christopher Maye (Ire). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Won a modest-level hurdle handicap at Worcester in September 2018 and then was sixth in higher handicap race before being imported. (126)