Trainer Ricky Hendriks started the 2017 steeplechase season impressively with two hurdle victories, and he again will play a strong hand at Saturday’s inaugural Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry, a new event on the National Steeplechase Association spring calendar.
Managed by the Bruno Event Team, the Steeplechase of Charleston kicks off its five-race program at 1 p.m. at the Stono Ferry Racecourse in Hollywood, S.C.
Pennsylvania-based Hendriks had three wins at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase, including both divisions of the featured Sport of Kings maiden hurdle.
For the Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured $30,000 optional allowance hurdle, he will field Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile and Wendy Hendriks’ Any Given Royal, one of the trainer’s Aiken winners on March 25.
Irish-bred Swansea Mile won an allowance hurdle at England’s Kempton Racecourse last April and was fourth in his initial U.S. start, Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) in September, before unplaced finishes in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J., and the Noel Laing Handicap at the Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia.
Ross Geraghty, who rode all of Hendriks’ winners at Aiken, has the mount on Swansea Mile, who prepped with a win in a Carolina Cup training flat race last Saturday.
Any Given Royal, campaigned by the trainer’s mother, made his steeplechase debut last fall after a long (40-start) career on the flat. The eight-year-old Any Given Saturday gelding always was close to the pace in his Aiken breakthrough race and won by 3 1/2 lengths.
Michael Mitchell, an English jockey who had been riding in New Zealand before his current American sojourn, will ride Any Given Royal.
Welcome Here Farm’s Second Amendment will be looking to fire in his 2017 debut for trainer Elizabeth Merryman. The seven-year-old National Anthem gelding won a Virginia Fall ratings handicap last October and finished a close second in the Colonial Cup’s ratings handicap.
Darren Nagle again will ride Second Amendment, who won his maiden victory on the Stono Ferry course in November 2015.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher will be represented by Rather Be Racing’s True to Form, a five-year-old Dynaformer gelding who won his inaugural trip over fences at the Virginia Fall meet and then was third in a ratings handicap at the Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. Willie McCarthy has the mount.
Irv Naylor, the sport’s leading owner, will send out El Monstro, an Irish-bred making his first U.S. start for trainer Cyril Murphy. The four-year-old won an allowance hurdle race in France last fall. Jack Doyle will ride
Here is the field for the Steeplechase of Charleston’s $30,000 allowance optional hurdle in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of each profile.
Fantastic Song. 2009 b. g., Lemon Drop Kid—Fantastic Shirl, by Fantastic Light. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Fenneka Bentley. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Del Ridge Farm (Ky.) 2016 record: No starts. Coming back to the races after missing the 2016 season. Won 2015 High Hope optional allowance hurdle and was third in similar race at Saratoga that year. (113)
El Monstro (Ire). 2013 b. g., Astronomer Royal— Phille Phuong, by Quiet American. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Haras des Capucines (Ire). 2017 NSA record: No starts. French-raced Irish-bred gelding sent over hurdles after flat career and won his second start over fences in September. (111)
Arrakis. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Royal Academy—Quinn, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Over Creek Farm. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeder: Iron County Farms (Ky.). 2016 record: 2-0-1-0, $5,550. 2015 record: 8-0-2-1, $15,550. 2014 record: No starts. Finished sixth in 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then was second in Block House optional allowance hurdle. Finished fourth in International Gold Cup’s 2015 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), then fourth in Charleston Cup. (110)
Swansea Mile (Ire). 2010 b. g., Dylan Thomas (Ire)—Hurry Up Helen, by In the Wings (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: W. Kane (Ire). 2016 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) in U.S. debut, then was seventh in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and pulled up in Noel Laing Handicap. Won at Kempton in April after two wins in July 2015 for former stable. Failed to meet reserve and was bid in at approximately $25,300 at 2016 Goffs UK National Hunt sale in August. (125)
Second Amendment. 2010 gr. or ro. g., National Anthem (GB)—Bullet Card, by Press Card. Owner: Welcome Here Farm. Trainer: Elizabeth M. Merryman. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Nina H. Gardner (Pa.) 2016 record: 7-1-3-0, $27,450. 2015 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $14,000. Won Virginia Fall ratings handicap and was a close second in Colonial Cup ratings handicap. Closed for second in 2016 Radnor conditioned allowance, then was fifth in Parx Ratings Handicap and eighth in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Finished second in allowance hurdle at 2016 Virginia Gold Cup. (119)
True to Form. 2012 b. g., Dynaformer— Idols Eye, by A.P. Indy. Owner: Rather Be Racing. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeders: Castleton Lyons and Kilboy Estate (Ky.) 2016 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $17,000. Won at first asking over fences at Virginia Fall and was third in Montpelier ratings handicap. (116)
Any Given Royal. 2009 b. g., Any Given Saturday—Really Royal, by Unreal Zeal. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Ben Lengacher (Ky.) 2017 record: 1-1-0-0, $15.000. 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $900. Won his maiden 2017 start handily at Aiken Spring after a sixth-place finish in debut over fences at Colonial Cup. (116)