In a thrilling battle to the finish line, Stewart Strawbridge’s Guts For Garters bested Imperial Way by a nose in the 118th renewal of the historic Maryland Hunt Cup on Saturday, April 26.
Lightly regarded after an eighth-place finish in a Grand National amateur timber allowance race a week earlier, Guts For Garters conquered the tall fences on the Maryland Hunt Cup course in Glyndon, and jockey Jody Petty drove the 11-year-old Irish-bred through the stretch to the finish line.
Guts For Garters had just enough to win the head bob over Merriefield Farm’s Imperial Way, ridden by Bethany Baumgardner. Merriefield’s Bon Caddo, the 2011 timber champion, took the third spot, and two-time Hunt Cup winner Twill Do was fourth for the second straight year.
Trained by Sanna Neilson, Guts For Garters ran the Hunt Cup’s four miles in 9:20 on turf rated as good. The Hunt Cup win marked a milestone for Petty, a former champion jockey who began riding as an amateur last year. He had entered semi-retirement previously and decided to keep active in the sport by riding as an amateur.
The two leaders hooked up leaving the backstretch for the final time, and Imperial Way jumped to a length lead after the final fence. But Petty drove Guts For Garters past Imperial Way in the final yards.
Merriefield’s Foyle, the 2013 timber champion, was several lengths in front when he and jockey Sam Waley-Cohen fell midway down the backstretch the second time.