Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, undefeated in two stakes starts this year, is among 15 nominees to the Far Hills Races’ $125,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Saturday, Oct. 20. The 2 1/2-mile Foxbrook for novices, or horses in their first seasons of competition over fences, drew a strong list of contenders, including one based overseas.
The Foxbrook is a supporting stakes race for the $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), Far Hills’ classic hurdle and the richest jump race in North America.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Surprising Soul has been out twice this year and won the Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on very soft ground on May 19. Hendriks, currently the National Steeplechase Association’s leading trainer, brought his mother’s six-year-old Ontario-bred back for the Saratoga Race Course meet, where he won the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 22.
Hendriks also nominated Rosbrian Farm’s Detroit Blues, who finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 20 in his first start in more than two years.
Rosbrian is a partner with Martin Wasylocha in the overseas entry, Veneer of Charm, the upset winner of Cheltenham Race Course’s Boodles Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle in March. The four-year-old is trained by Gordon Elliott, who shipped over Zanjabeel to win last year’s Foxbrook. Now trained by Hendriks, Zanjabeel is a two-time Grade 1 winner and a Grand National nominee.
The Entenmann victor, Carrington Holdings’ Boss Man, was nominated to the Foxbrook by trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. The Florida-bred was third behind Surprising Soul in the Walsh after winning a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 1.
Jack Fisher, the reigning champion trainer who is closing hard on Hendriks’ lead in the standings, nominated four contenders to the Foxbrook. DASH Stable’s Ice It, second in last year’s Foxbrook, finished second to Boss Man in the Entenmann.
Two of Fisher’s nominees, City Dreamer and Gibralfaro, are owned by the Riverdee Stable syndicate headed by Sean Clancy. City Dreamer finished fifth in his U.S. debut in the Entenmann, and Gibralfaro was sixth in that novice stakes after a second in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices.
Fisher also nominated Woodslane Farm’s Pik Em, winner of the High Hope Steeplechase’s ratings handicap on Sept. 23.
Prominent owner Irv Naylor was represented by two nominees, both recent imports. In his first U.S. start, Indian Hawk finished seventh in the Entenmann for trainer Leslie Young. Cyril Murphy trains Amschel, a four-year-old who won his final three starts in Ireland.
Trainer Elizabeth Voss nominated two contenders owned by York, Pa., businessman Robert A. Kinsley, No Wunder and newcomer Aardwolf. No Wunder, seventh in last year’s Foxbrook, most recently finished fourth in the Entenmann.
Aardwolf, a four-year-old, won two allowance hurdles in Ireland before he was shipped to the U.S. and joined Voss’ Maryland stable.
Gillian Johnston, whose Mr. Hot Stuff won last year’s Grand National, was represented in the Foxbrook nominations by Mutasaawy, winner of the Fair Hill Races’ Valentine Memorial on May 26. Trained by Neil Morris, he most recently finished fifth in the Walsh.
Here are the nominees to the $125,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle in alphabetical order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Aardwolf. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Cape Cross (Ire)—Desert Gazelle, by Smart Strike. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeder: Darley (Ky.). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Making first start in U.S. after successful run in modest-level allowance hurdles in England. Final overseas start was third in Worcester allowance hurdle.
Amschel (GB). 2014 b. g., Nathaniel (Ire)—Darinza (Fr), by Dalakhani (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Breeder: Newsells Park Stud (GB). 2018 NSA record: No starts. After second-place finish in his racing debut in April, has reeled off three straight victories in Ireland, most recently in a €20,000 novice hurdle at Roscommon in July for trainer J. F. O’Shea.
Belisarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu—Lasting Chance, by American Chance. Owner: Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: Lynch Bages Ltd. And Camas Park Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 4-1-1-2, $31,200. Set all the pace and won 2018 Monmouth Park maiden hurdle by two lengths. Never has finished off the board in four jumps starts. (116)
Boss Man. 2010 ch. g., English Channel—Jenny Joy, by Acceptable. Owner: Carrington Holdings. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Breeder: Kinsman Farm (Fla.) 2018 NSA record: 5-3-0-1, $99,500. Won Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after third in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at Saratoga. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by front-running 2 1/4 lengths. Graduate of Jason Servis’ flat training operation scored his maiden victory over fences at the 2018 Queen’s Cup. Pulled up in initial start over fences at the Tryon Block House meet. (127)
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $3,000. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, his U.S. debut. Won two English juvenile hurdles in September 2017 and had been competitive in modest handicap company before joining Fisher stable in summer 2018. (134)
Detroit Blues (GB). 2010 ch. g., Tobougg (Ire)—Blue Missy, by Swain (Ire). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: R. W. Huggins (GB). 2018 record: 1-0-0-1, 7,500. 2016 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $39,000. Came back to the races after missing the 2017 season with third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Won only U.S. jumps start, a 2016 Saratoga allowance hurdle, after second in Parx flat race for hurdlers. Won maiden hurdle at Fontwell in England in May 2015. (118)
Gibralfaro. (Ire). 2012 b. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Ronda, by Bluebird. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Sarl Darpat France (Ire). 2018 record: 3-1-1-0, $41,250. 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. (133)
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2018 record: 4-0-1-0, $23,500. 2017 record: 6-1-2-1, $100,330. Finished second, beaten a half-length, in Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after fifth in Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle at Iroquois Steeplechase. Finished fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after sixth in Carolina Cup. Finished hard-trying second in Far Hills Races’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Won 2017 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. (127)
Indian Hawk (Ire). 2012 b. g., Westerner—Yorkshire Girl, by Anshan. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie F. Young. Breeder: Patrick Fennessy (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. In U.S. debut, finished seventh in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Concluded his career in England with 10-length victory in a steeplechase allowance at Wincanton in May. In previous start, was second as odds-on favorite in a steeplechase allowance at Towcester. (133)
Invocation (Fr). 2013 dk. b. g., Intense Focus—Fabiola, by Medicean. Owner: Straylight Racing. Trainer: William Santoro. Breeder: E.A.R.L. Elevage Des Loges (Fr). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 3-2-1-0, $58,500. 2016 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $20,000. Won 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle. Drew away to a 16 1/2-length win in a 2017 Radnor ratings handicap after second in Queen’s Cup ratings handicap. Won a 2016 Colonial Cup allowance hurdle by 18 lengths after third in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes, his U.S. debut. Maiden on flat in England but frequently in the money. (121)
Mutasaawy. 2010 b. g., Tapit—Pretty Proud, by Mr. Greeley. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Neil Morris. Breeder: Pretty Proud Syndicate (Ky.). 2018 NSA record: 5-1-1-0, $40,500. 2017 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $66,900. Finished lackluster fifth as 9-to-5 favorite in Saratoga’s 2018 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Won Fair Hill’s 2018 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap before second in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes as favorite. Finished seventh in 2018 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase and fell in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Third in Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Novice Stakes. (127)
No Wunder (GB). 2011 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Iwunder, by King’s Best. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeder: Executors of the late J. Ellis (GB). 2018 NSA record: 5-0-2-0, $42,500. 2017 NSA record: 8-2-1-1, $67,150. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. 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. Drew away impressively to win 2017 Saratoga handicap after good second in similar race. Finished seventh in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (126)
Pik Em. 2014 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Seattle Smooth, by Quiet American. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Mercedes Stables (Ky.). 2018 record: 3-2-0-0, $28,500. Won 2018 High Hope ratings handicap handily after maiden victory over fences in Radnor maiden claiming hurdle. Finished fourth in Foxfield Spring maiden hurdle. (115)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Srprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2018 record: 2-2-0-0, $75,000. 2017 record: 7-3-0-1, $106,500. Won Saratoga’s 2018 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Opened 2018 with dominant victory in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Advanced to third in Saratoga’s 2017 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes after victory in Iroquois’ $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Finished 10th in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (131)
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: Gordon Elliott. Breeder: P. Burns (Ire). 2018 NSA record: No starts. 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.