Pennsylvania-based trainer Ricky Hendriks is near the top on the 2018 trainer leader board, and he will have a double-barreled opportunity to move up the ladder in the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), the featured hurdle race of Saturday’s 88th annual Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia.
The six-race program, which also includes the $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup over timber fences, will kick off at 1:30 p.m. at W. Burling Cocks Memorial Race Course in Malvern.
Heading the Hendriks team is Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile, an Irish-bred who collected his first Grade 1 victory with an upset score in last summer’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga Race Course. Sent away at 28.50-1, he won by two lengths under Michael Mitchell.
The eight-year-old began his 2018 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on March 31 and most recently was pulled up in the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) on May 5. Mitchell again will be in the saddle.
Ross Geraghty, who rode Hendriks-trained Zanjabeel to victory in last Saturday’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), will be aboard Surprising Soul for the 2 3/8-mile National Hunt Cup.
Owned by the trainer’s mother, Wendy Hendriks, Surprising Soul won last spring’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. The Ontario-bred will be making the first start of his six-year-old season.
Pennsylvania-based trainer Leslie Young will saddle Michael A. Smith’s Mercoeur, who finished fourth in the Semmes. The French-bred gelding, now seven, won last fall’s Noel Laing Handicap. Jack Doyle, who currently leads the jockey standings by wins and earnings, has the mount.
Completing the field is Irv Naylor’s Bobabout, who will be making his first start of the year for trainer Cyril Murphy. After arriving from Ireland last summer, he finished seventh in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Darren Nagle, the reigning champion jockey, will ride.
Here is the field for the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Mercoeur (Fr). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Archange d’Or (Ire)—Erivia, by Kendor. Owner: Michael A. Smith. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Ambrose Dupont (Fr). 2018 record: 2-0-0-1, $11,350. 2017 record: 4-2-1-0, $54,550. 2016 record: 4-1-0-2, $19,500. Finished third in 2018 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 2) and then was fourth in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Won Montpelier’s 2017 Noel Laing after fourth in Far Hills’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won 2017 Radnor conditioned allowance hurdle after second in Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. Scored maiden hurdle victory at 2016 Montpelier Hunt Races. (125)
Bobabout (Ire). 2013 b. g., Big Bad Bob—Chaperoned (Ire), by High Chaparral (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: John Harrington (Ire). 2017 NSA 1-0-0-0, $0. In first U.S. start, finished seventh in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Won Punchestown handicap in April 2017 for breeder-trainer and then had two seconds before sixth at Tipperary in late June. (122)
Swansea Mile (Ire). 2010 b. g., Dylan Thomas (Ire)—Hurry Up Helen, by In the Wings (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: W. Kane (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $6,000. 2017 record: 7-1-1-2, $122,650. Finished fifth in 2018 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), then was pulled up in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Won Saratoga’s 2017 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 28.50-to-1, then finished fifth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) and third in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Opened 2017 with second in Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured optional allowance hurdle and then was fourth in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Finished third in High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory in U.S. debut. (131)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Surprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2017 record: 7-3-0-1, $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, then was 10th in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won maiden hurdle at 2017 Aiken Spring easily and won allowance hurdle at Tryon Block House. (124)