With leading novice competitor Moscato headed for the $400,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), Saturday’s $125,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle is shaping up as a highly competitive and very crowded slugfest featuring jump racing’s rising stars.
The 2 1/2-mile Foxbrook is the supporting feature on a Far Hills Races program with seven races, five of them stakes, and $800,000 in purses. First post time is 1 p.m.
The Foxbrook attracted a packed field of 12 and features horses who have flashed talent in their first years of competition over fences.
Moscato leads all National Steeplechase Association competitors going into Saturday’s program, and several other horses are within striking range of the divisional leader.
Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul has more than $100,000 in earnings, largely from three consecutive wins this past spring. One of them was the $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 13.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Surprising Soul most recently finished fifth behind Moscato in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 21. Ross Geraghty rides the five-year-old.
Also within striking distance is Robert A. Kinsley’s No Wunder, a dominant handicap winner at Saratoga Race Course in August. He lost all chance in the Entenmann when he was bumped sharply by another horse and unseated his rider. Jack Doyle will ride for trainer Elizabeth Voss.
Jack Fisher, who trains Moscato, will be represented in the Foxbrook by DASH Stable’s Ice It, winner of Far Hills’ 2015 Gladstone Stakes. The Tapit gelding won the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase in April and was third behind Surprising Soul in the Marcellus Frost. Sean McDermott has the mount.
Armata Stables’ New Member, also trained by Fisher, finished second in the Entenmann and will be ridden in the Foxbrook by Danny Mullins.
Trainer Neil Morris will saddle PathFinder Racing’s Mutassawy, a two-time winner over fences who was third in the Entenmann. Leading jockey Darren Nagle has the mount.
Declan Queally will be aboard James Carter’s Macnicholson, who most recently finished a distant second to Moscato in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 23 for trainer Jimmy Day.
Irish-based trainer Gordon Elliott will send out The Confidence Partnership’s Zanjabeel, a hurdle handicap winner in June. David Russell will ride.
Here is the field for the $125,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices. The horses’ weights are in parentheses at the end of the profiles.
Macnicholson (Ire). 2009 b. g., Definite Article (GB)—Heroic Performer, by Royal Applause (GB). Owner: James S. Carter. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Declan Queally. Breeder: D. Shine (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 4-0-1-0, $16,500. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Best of rest when second in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at 35-1 odds. Finished sixth and placed fifth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Lost riders in his first U.S. starts, 2017 Carolina Cup and Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, both for novices. Looking for first victory since August 2015. (153)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Srprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2017 record: 6-3-0-1, $106,500. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-2-0, $13,200. Advanced to third in Saratoga’s 2017 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes after victory in Iroquois’ $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Finished fifth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after being pulled up in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Won maiden hurdle at 2017 Aiken Spring easily and won allowance hurdle at Tryon Block House. (156)
New Member (Ire). 2011 b. g., Alhaarth (Ire)—Sincere, by Buhhare. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Danny Mullins. Breeder: Golden Garden Stud. 2017 NSA record: 3-0-1-1, $21,000. Finished second in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes after well-beaten third in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Finished good third in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes but disqualified for going off-course in tight quarters. Had allowance and handicap wins in England in 2016. (156)
Osmoz. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Birdstone—Wichitoz, by Affirmed. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Wertheimer et Frere (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $19,400. 2016 record: 3-1-0-0, $20,950. Opened 2017 with win in Middleburg Spring ratings handicap, then finished fourth in Iroquois ratings handicap. Won Parx maiden hurdle in July 2016. Made two starts on the flat in California for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, with a fourth as his best showing. (153).
Zanjabeel (GB). 2013 b. g., Aussie Rules—Grain Only, by Machiavellian. Owner: The Confidence Partnership. Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Jockey: David Russell. Breeder: Kirsten Rausing (GB). 2017 NSA record: No starts. Has made mixture of flat and hurdle starts in 2017, with handicap hurdle win in June and a flat win in July. (145).
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. 2016 NSA record: No starts. 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. (153)
Kensington Court. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Backseat Driver, by El Corredor. Owner: Oakwood Stable. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeder: Paul Pompa Jr. (Ky.) 2017 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,250. 2016 record: 4-2-1-0, $63,600. 2015 NSA record: 2-0-1-0, $5,750. Finished sixth in Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after setting early pace. Went to the sidelines in July 2016 after winning Saratoga allowance hurdle on the lead. Won 2016 Fair Hill maiden hurdle in fifth start over fences. Finished second to three-year-old champion Ice It in 2015 Far Hills’ Gladstone and was fifth in Colonial Cup’s Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial in 2015. (153)
Mutasaawy. 2010 b. g., Tapit—Pretty Proud, by Mr. Greeley. Owner: PathFinder Racing. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Pretty Proud Syndicate (Ky.). 2017 NSA record: 4-2-1-1, $66,900. Impressed in winning 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes. Broke through at Parx Racing with a dominant victory in a $25,000 maiden hurdle. In only other jumps start, finished second in Fair Hill maiden. (153)
Lachares (Ire). 2013 ch. g., Manduro (Ger)—Louve Imperiale, by Giant’s Causeway. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Paul Townend. Breeder: Dayton Investments Ltd. (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $3,750. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after pressing early pace. Product of Wildenstein breeding operation made impressive debut over fences in Ireland with three hurdle wins, a second, and four thirds in busy 2017 season. (148)
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2017 record: 3-1-0-1, $57,250. 2016 record: 5-1-3-0, $68,250. 2015 record: 3-1-0-0, $18,600. Won 2017 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after sixth in Carolina Cup, then was third in Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle at Iroquois Steeplechase. Won 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance and was second in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. (156)
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). 2017 NSA record: 7-2-1-1, $67,150. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Drew away impressively to win 2017 Saratoga handicap after good second in similar race. Lost his rider in a freak incident in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Won his maiden victory at 2017 Fair Hill Races after third at Iroquois, then was moved up to sixth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. (153)
Mercoeur (Fr). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Archange d’Or (Ire)—Erivia, by Kendor. Owner: Michael A. Smith. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Rhys Flint. Breeder: Ambrose Dupont (Fr). 2017 record: 2-1-1-0, $27,300. 2016 record: 4-1-0-2, $19,500. Won 2017 Radnor conditioned allowance hurdle after second in Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. Scored maiden hurdle victory at 2016 Montpelier Hunt Races. (153)