Formidable overseas invaders, including 2018 winner Jury Duty and top-rated competitiors Wicklow Brave and The Storyteller, are among the 16 nominees to the America’s richest steeplechase race, the $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), at the Far Hills Races on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Arrayed against nine overseas nominees for the 2 5/8-mile Grand National are the past two Eclipse Award winners, Scorpiancer and Zanjabeel, and the two most recent novice champions, Moscato and Iranistan.
The Grand National’s 16 nominees capped a record 105 horses nominated to Far Hills’ all-stakes races program, with purses totaling $850,000. First post time will be 1 p.m. at Moorland Farm in Far Hills, N.J., and pari-mutuel wagering will be offered on all seven races.
Gordon Elliott, a leading Irish trainer who sent over Jury Duty for an impressive 3 ½-length victory last year, nominated Sideways Syndicate’s standardbearer and The Storyteller, who is owned by Pat Sloan.
Now eight, Jury Duty will be attempting to rediscover his best form. He took the winter off after his American win and won an allowance hurdle in March, but he was unplaced in his next two starts and most recently was sixth in the PWC Champion Chase at Ireland’s Gowran Park, a key race for Irish competitors looking to a trip to America.
The Storyteller carried a top rating into the Gowran Park race on Oct. 5 and finished eighth at 12-to-1. The eight-year-old will be going for his first victory in 18 months at Far Hills.
Trained by Willie Mullins, Wicklow Brave is riding a three-race winning streak to New Jersey. He won two allowance steeplechases around a six-length victory at even money in Galway’s Guinness Brewery Novice Steeplechase on Aug 1.
Trainer Jessica Harrington nominated Gerard McGrath’s homebred Jett, who defeated The Storyteller in Fairyhouse’s Devenish Steeplechase in April.
Topping the American team are Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer and Zanjabeel, owned by Rosbrian Farm and Meadow Run Farm. Trained by Jack Fisher, Scorpiancer comes into the Grand National from a fifth-place finish in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1).
In May, Scorpiancer won the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) for a second time. His 2017 victory in the Nashville race capped his Eclipse Award campaign that year.
Zanjabeel will return to the race course for the first time since winning the 2018 Lonesome Glory and locking up last year’s championship. Trained by Ricky Hendriks, the six-year-old participated in the horsemen’s invitational trials at Shawan Downs on Oct. 5 and worked an additional distance.
Bruton Street-US’s Moscato, also trained by Fisher, missed the 2018 season and returned with a victory in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). He finished third in the Iroquois on May 11 and eighth in the Lonesome Glory on Sept. 19.
Also returning to the races after a long absence is Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, who most recently finished third in the 2018 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course. The five-year-old is trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard.
Here are the 16 nominees to the Grand National (Gr. 1) in alphabetical order. The horses’ ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Brain Power (Ire). 2011 b. g., Kalanisi (Ire)—Blonde Ambition (Ire), by Old Vic (GB). Owner: Michael Buckley. Trainer: Nicky Henderson. Breeder: David Harvey (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Won Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham last December but unplaced in Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and Scottish Champion Hurdle in April, his most recent start. (150)
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2019 record: No starts. 2018 NSA record: 5-3-1-1, $145,000. Champion novice 2018. Finished game second in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was third in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), while favored in both. Won 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices by six lengths. Skipped maiden ranks and won allowance hurdles at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring to begin 2018 season. Scored maiden flat victory at Delaware Park in July 2018. (130)
Jett (Ire). 2011 b. g., Flemensfirth—La Noire (Ire), by Phardante (Fr). Owner: Gerard McGrath. Trainer: Jessica Harrington. Breeder: Gerard McGrath (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Won the Devenish Steeplechase (Ire-Gr. 2) at Fairyhouse in April and most recently was seventh in PWC Champion Chase (Ire-Gr. 2) at Gowran Park on Oct. 5. (149)
Jury Duty (Ire). 2011 b. g., Well Chosen (GB)—Swan Heart (Ire), by Broken Hearted (Ire). Owner: Sideways Syndicate. Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Breeder: T. Carroll (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $270,000. Won 2018 Grand National (Gr. 1) by 3 1/4 lengths. Opened 2019 with an allowance chase victory but has been unplaced in three subsequent starts, most recently sixth in the PWC Champion Chase (Ire-Gr. 2) at Gowran Park on Oct. 5. (154)
Modem (GB). 2010 b. g., Motivator—Alashaan, (GB), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Deer (GB). 2019 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $4,500. 2018 record: 2-0-1-0, $41,250. Finished 11th in Saratoga’s 2019 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was sixth in the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2018 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) before sixth in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Finished second in four 2017 Grade 1 races. (132)
Moscato (GB). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Hernando (Fr)—Alba Stella, by Nashwan. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Miss K. Rausing (GB). 2019 record: 3-1-0-1, $60,000. 2018 record: No starts. Novice champion of 2017 returned from a year on the sidelines and won the 2019 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), then was third in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and eighth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Won Belmont’s 2017 William Entenmann Novice Stakes and Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes impressively after strong closing second in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. (144)
Pravalaguna (Fr). 2012 b. m., Great Pretender (Ire)—Arnette (Fr), by Denham Red (Fr). Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Willie Mullins. Breeder: Philip Gueret (Fr). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Won an allowance hurdle in August between seventh-place finish in the thetote.com Galway Plate Steeplechase and fifth in the Guinness Kerry National Steeplechase. (141)
Rashaan (Ire). 2012 ch. g., Manduro (Ger)—Red Halo (Ire), by Rainbow Quest. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Leslie Young. Breeder: The Aga Khan’s Studs (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Won the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle in April and most recently was last of 18 in Galway’s Mervue Hurdle. (146)
Redicean (GB). 2014 b. g., Medicean (GB)—Red Halo, by Galileo (Ire). Owner: Sharon E. Sheppard. Trainer: Leslie Young. Breeder: Cheveley Park Stud (GB). 2019 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $49,500. Graduated from novice ranks with victory in Saratoga’s 2019 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes, his first U.S. start after respectable career in England, then was sixth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Departed with 11th in Scottish Champion Hurdle in April. (144)
Rocket Lad (Ire). 2013 b. g., Olden Times (GB)—Merry Moet (Ire), by Flemensfirth. Owners: Paul Byrne and Emmet Mullins. Trainer: Emmet Mullins. Breeder: Desmond Ellard (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. In second start over fences, won a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park on Oct. 5. In first season of racing at age 6. (116)
Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2019 record: 3-1-0-0, $96,000. 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 2-2-0-0, $150,000. Won Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) for a second time in 2019 before fifth in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Missed 2018 season and was pulled up in his first 2019 start, the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Claimed 2017 Eclipse Award with victories in Calvin Houghland Iroquois and Temple Gwathmey. Won Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (154)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Srprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2019 record: 3-1-1-0, $119,500. 2018 record: 3-2-1-0, $97,500. 2017 record: 7-3-0-1, $106,500. Won Belmont Park’s 2019 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) by3¾ lengths. Finished second in 2019 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr 1) after fourth in Carolina Cup Handicap, his 2019 debut. Won Saratoga’s 2018 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, then was second in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Opened 2018 with dominant victory in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). (139)
The Holy One (Ire). 2013 b. g., Court Cave (Ire)—Vickate (Ire), by Old Vic (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Rosemary Swan (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Won a modest hurdle handicap in April and in most recent start finished in a dead-heat third in a steeplechase allowance in August. (127)
The Storyteller (Ire). 2013 ch. g., Shantou—Bally Bolshoi (Ire), by Bob Back. Owner: Patricia Sloan. Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Breeders: R. Cotton and S. Lannigan O’Keeffe (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Finished second behind Jett in the Devenish Steeplechase in April before third in Coral Punchestown Gold Cup Steeplechase. Finished last of eight in PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park on Oct. 5. (158)
Wicklow Brave (GB). 2009 b. g., Beat Hollow (GB)—Moraine (GB), by Rainbow Quest. Owner: Wicklow Bloodstock Ltd. Trainer: Willie Mullins. Breeder: Millsec Ltd. (GB). 2019 NSA record: No starts. One of Ireland’s top-rated hurdlers, veteran is riding a three-race win streak. Won Galway’s Guinness Brewery Steeplechase in August before an allowance victory at Listowel in September. Finished third in Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle in May, a race he won in 2017. Won the 2016 Irish St. Leger (Ire-Gr. 1) on the flat. (156)
Zanjabeel (GB). 2013 b. g., Aussie Rules—Grain Only, by Machiavellian. Owners: Rosbrian Farm and Meadow Run Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Kirsten Rausing (GB). 2019 record: No starts. 2018 record: 4-2-2-0, $265,500. 2017 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $120,000. Won 2018 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) after second-place finishes in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won Far Hills’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, his U.S. debut for former owners and trainer Gordon Elliott. For new owners, won Steeplechase at Callaway’s 2017 Aflac Supreme Hurdle. (151)