A well-matched field of nine will line up for Saturday’s $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap, the featured race of the 84th annual Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia.
The race meet on the grounds of James and Dolley Madison’s historic home will kick off with a 12:30 p.m. post time.
Ricky Hendriks, currently leading the battle for the training title, will saddle Rosbrian Farm’s Detroit Blues and Clarcam, owned by Rosbrian and Meadow Run Farm, for the 2 1/2-mile trip around Montpelier’s natural brush course.
Winner of a Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division at the Far Hills Races on Oct. 20, Detroit Blues will be ridden by Ross Geraghty, while Willie McCarthy was named aboard Clarcam, who was pulled up in Far Hills’ Grand National (Gr. 1). He was trained by leading Irish horseman Gordon Elliott for North America’s richest steeplechase race and will carry the 154-pound highweight in the Noel Laing.
Two other Noel Laing competitors took part in the Grand National. Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose finished third for the second straight year for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. Jack Doyle was named aboard the 2017 Grade 1 winner.
Gillian Johnston’s Days of Heaven, trained by Jack Fisher, finished sixth in the Grand National and will be ridden by Kieran Norris.
Jack Fisher also entered Edith Dixon’s Schoodic, who finished third in last Saturday’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) at the International Gold Cup. McCarthy has a double call.
Leslie Young will saddle last year’s Noel Laing winner, Michael A. Smith’s Mercoeur, and Irv Naylor’s Indian Hawk, seventh in Detroit Blues’ division of the Foxbrook. Barry Foley rides Mercoeur, and Eric Poretz will be aboard Indian Hawk.
Naylor also will be represented by Cyril Murphy-trained Osmoz, third in a Far Hills ratings handicap. Graham Watters will ride. The second finisher in the Far Hills handicap, Apple Equipment’s Winner Massagot, will have Thomas Garner in the saddle for trainer Richard Valentine.
Here is the field for the $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap. The horses’ handicap weights are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2018 record: 5-0-0-1, $ 61,000. 2017 record: 7-2-1-3, $179,300. Finished third in 2018 Grand National Gr. 1) for second straight year, after fifth in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and sixth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. Began 2018 with fourth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) at Middleburg Spring, then fell in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished third in Grand National (Gr. 1), beaten two noses. (150)
Days of Heaven (Fr). 2010 dk. b. g., Saint des Saintes—Daramour, by Anabaa Blue (GB). Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Guilhaine le Borgne. 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $13,500. 2016 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $14,000. Finished sixth in 2018 Grand National (Gr. 1). In U.S. debut, finished fifth in the 2016 Grand National (Gr. 1) for prominent American owner. Reeled off three straight handicap wins over steeplechase fences last year in England for trainer Nicky Henderson. (150)
Mercoeur (Fr). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Archange d’Or (Ire)—Erivia, by Kendor. Owner: Michael A. Smith. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Ambrose Dupont (Fr). 2018 record: 4-0-0-2, $18,750. 2017 record: 4-2-1-0, $54,550. 2016 record: 4-1-0-2, $19,500. Finished fourth in 2018 Far Hills ratings handicap. Finished third in 2018 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 2) and then was fourth in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Also third in National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on soft ground at Radnor. Won Montpelier’s 2017 Noel Laing after fourth in Far Hills’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (140)
Clarcam (Fr). 2019 b. g., Califet (Fr)—Rose Beryl, by Lost World. Owner: Rosbrian Farm and Meadow Run Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Jean Michel & Dominique LeBreton. 2018 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $5,250. Distanced in 2018 Grand National (Gr. 1) for trainer Gordon Elliott. Lost all chance in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) when he stumbled at the third from last fence and his jockey lost an iron. Set pace in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and faded to finish sixth. In final overseas start, won €250,000 Galway Plate Steeplechase by six lengths at 33-to-1 odds. (154)
Winner Massagot (Fr). 2011 ch. g., Muhaymin—Winnor (Fr), by Lesotho. Owner: Apple Equipment. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeders: Christian Ballet and Jean Luc Terrieres (Fr). 2018 NSA record: 1-0-1-0, $9,000. In U.S. debut, finished second in 2018 Far Hills ratings handicap. Won lower-level handicap at England’s Fontwell Park before export. (140)
Osmoz. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Birdstone—Wichitoz, by Affirmed. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeder: Wertheimer et Frere (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-1-0-1, $14,000. 2017 record: 3-1-0-0, $24,400. Won 2018 Fair Hill allowance hurdle by 23 lengths and then was third in Far Hills ratings handicap. Finished seventh in 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Opened 2017 with win in Middleburg Spring ratings handicap, then finished fifth in Iroquois ratings handicap and Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Made two starts on the flat in California for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, with a fourth as his best showing. (140).
Detroit Blues (GB). 2010 ch. g., Tobougg (Ire)—Blue Missy, by Swain (Ire). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: R. W. Huggins (GB). 2018 record: 2-1-0-1, 82,500. 2016 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $39,000. Won division of 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Came back to the races after missing the 2017 season with third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Won first U.S. jumps start, a 2016 Saratoga allowance hurdle. (144)
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2018 record: 5-0-1-2, $35,800. 2017 record: 5-1-0-0, $50,750. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2018 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and then distant third in International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2). Just missed when second by a neck in 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase ratings handicap. Opened 2018 campaign with closing third in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), then was ninth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won 2017 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup, then was a dull fifth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), a race he won in 2016. (144)
Indian Hawk (Ire). 2012 b. g., Westerner—Yorkshire Girl, by Anshan. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie F. Young. Jockey: Eric Poretz. Breeder: Patrick Fennessy (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $0. In U.S. debut, finished seventh in Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes and then was seventh in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. 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. (144)