A highly competitive field of jump-racing newcomers will line up Saturday for the $35,000 Block House, the featured race of the 72nd annual Tryon Block House Races. First post time for the five-race program is 1 p.m. at the new Green Creek Race Course in Columbus, N.C.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher is still seeking his first victory of the young 2018 season, and he will have a double-barreled team for the 2 1/8-mile Block House over National Fences. Sean McDermott will be aboard Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro, who was imported after a third-place finish in an allowance hurdle at Bangor-on-Dee Race Course in England last fall.
Fisher also will saddle Bruton Street-US’s Lord Justice, who had two good second-place finishes in the U.S. last fall after winning his final start in Ireland. Jack Doyle, currently leading the jockey standings, will ride.
Rosbrian Farm and trainer Ricky Hendriks entered two contenders for the Block House. French-bred Sixty Five, a claim off the flat at Ellis Park last summer, won a maiden hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in November. Sail Ahoy won his first start over fences at the Carolina Cup on March 31. Ross Geraghty was named aboard both.
Thomas Hulfish’s Swellelegant made a successful shift from flat racing last fall and won a maiden hurdle at the Montpelier Hunt Races. Michael Mitchell will ride for trainer Neil Morris.
Edition Farm’s Zio Elio enters the Block House from a seventh-place finish in the Carolina Cup for novices. Trained by Kate Dalton, the New York-bred will be ridden by Bernie Dalton.
Here is the field for the $35,000 Block House in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Zio Elio. 2013 ch. g., American Lion—Runaway Zia, by Runaway Groom. Owner: Edition Farm. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: Christopher Shelli, Patrick Morell, and Darby Dan Farm (N.Y.) 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 5-1-1-0, $31,900. Faded to finish seventh in 2018 Carolina Cup. Finished second, beaten a neck, in 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then was fifth in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. In debut start over fences, won 2017 Queen’s Cup maiden hurdle. Maiden on the flat at New York tracks. (115)
Sixty Five (Fr). 2013 b. g., King’s Best—Accusation (Ire), by Barathea (Ire). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Haras d’Haspel (Fr). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $27,000. A $30,000 claim at Ellis Park in July 2017, finished second at Far Hills in first venture over fences and then won at the Steeplechase at Callaway. (116)
Lord Justice (Ire). 2013 b. g., Zoffany (Ire)—Roselita, by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Whisperview Trading (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 2-0-2-0, $12,600. In two U.S. starts in 2017, finished second in Foxfield Fall’s optional allowance hurdle and International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Showed good form on flat and over hurdles in Ireland. Before being imported, won a flat handicap at Leopardstown after close second in Limerick allowance hurdle. (123)
Sail Ahoy. 2013 b. g., Bernardini—Matlacha Pass, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2017 NSA record: No starts. Won his first start over fences at 2018 Carolina Cup, Competed at top flat meets and won a Monmouth Park optional claimer in June 2017. (116)
Swellelegent. 2012 ch. g., Pure Prize—Latania, by Polish Numbers. Owner: Thomas Hulfish III. Trainer: Neil Morris. Breeder: Mrs. Arturo Peralta Ramos (Ky.) 2018 record: No starts. 2017 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $15,000. Won 2017 Montpelier maiden hurdle by 4 1/2 lengths after being pulled up in a Virginia Fall maiden hurdle, his first career start over fences. (116)
Gibralfaro. (Ire). 2012 b. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Ronda, by Bluebird. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Sarl Darpat France (Ire). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 NSA record: No starts. In final start in England in October 2017, finished third in an allowance hurdle at Bangor-on-Dee. Last win was at Ascot in an allowance hurdle in January 2017. (136)