DASH Stable’s Ice It won last year’s $75,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase with Sean McDermott in the saddle, and they will join forces again on Saturday for an assault on a second consecutive victory in the featured hurdle race of the 23rd annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase.
The annual racing festival at Brooklandwood Race Course near Charlotte, N.C. kicks off with a 1:30 p.m. first post time.
Ice It is trained by Jack Fisher, who established an earnings record last year with more than $1.3-million in purses while also claiming his sixth straight title as champion trainer by wins. The silvery Tapit gelding, 2015’s champion three-year-old, is owned by the trainer’s wife, Sheila, and her father, Rufus Williams.
The 2 3/8-mile Queen’s Cup was the highlight of Ice It’s 2017 season, which concluded with second-place finishes in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and the Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Those races, like the Queen’s Cup, are limited to novices, or horses in their first seasons of competition over fences.
McDermott, a veteran Irish jockey with more than 150 victories in his native country, has been the National Steeplechase Association’s leading jockey by purse earnings for the last two years.
Fisher also will saddle Armata Stables’ New Member, who finished third in the Carolina Cup for novices on March 31. Willie McCarthy, champion jockey in 2014, has a return engagement on the Irish-bred seven-year-old.
Jack Doyle has opened a big lead in the 2018 jockey standings, and he will look to pad his margin with Robert A. Kinsley’s No Wunder. Trained by Elizabeth Voss, No Wunder won impressively at Saratoga Race Course last summer and most recently was second in the Carolina Cup.
Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard has made a fast start this season and leads the trainer standings by wins and earnings. He will saddle Hudson River Farms’ Taper Tantrum, who finished fourth in the Carolina Cup. Darren Nagle, last year’s champion jockey by wins, will ride.
Gillian Johnston was a close second in last year’s owner rankings, and she has acquired Mutasaawy, a Saratoga winner last summer who most recently was sixth in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle in Georgia in November. Trainer Neil Morris named Kieran Norris, the 2016 champion jockey, to ride.
Michael Mitchell, who was injured at the Queen’s Cup last year but came back for a successful summer and fall campaign, will be aboard Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Lachares for trainer Richard Valentine. The Irish-bred finished fifth in the Carolina Cup.
Trainer Ted Thompson will put Richard Boucher in the saddle to ride Tantivy Racing’s Laser Light, who finished sixth in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle last May.
Completing the field is S. Bruce Smart’s Officer’s Oath, the 2016 three-year-old champion. Bred by trainer Jimmy Day’s Daybreak Stables, Officer’s Oath competed on the flat last season. Bernie Dalton has the mount.
Here is the field for the $75,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
UHudH Taper Tantrum (Ire). 2012 b. g., Azamour (Ire)—Maramba, by Hussonet. Owner: Hudson River Farms. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Jockey: Darren Nagle. Philip Newton (Ire). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,750. 2017 NSA record: No starts. Finished fourth in 2018 Carolina Cup. Imported after active 2017 season in England that included four second-place finishes in handicaps. Won modest allowance hurdle in Sepember 2016, his most recent victory before being imported. (128)
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,250. 2017 record: 6-1-2-1, $100,330. 2016 record: 5-1-3-0, $68,250. 2015 record: 3-1-0-0, $18,600. Made no impression when sixth in 2018 Carolina Cup. Finished hard-trying second in Far Hills Races’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and Aflac Supreme Hurdle behind rising star Zanjabeel. Won 2017 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after sixth in Carolina Cup, then was third in Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle at Iroquois Steeplechase. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. (129)
Lachares (Ire). 2013 ch. g., Manduro (Ger)—Louve Imperiale, by Giant’s Causeway. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Dayton Investments Ltd. (Ire). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,000. 2017 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. Began 2018 with fifth in Carolina Cup for novices. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Also finished eighth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle.S Product of Wildenstein breeding operation made impressive debut over fences in Ireland with three hurdle wins, a second, and four thirds in busy 2017 season. (122)
Officer’s Oath. 2013 b. g., Luftkus—Officer Pepper, by Officer. Owner: S. Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Daybreak Stables (Va.). 2017 NSA record: No starts. 2016 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $42,000. Claimed 2016 three-year-old title with victory in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes after maiden score at Foxfield Fall. Raced exclusively on the flat in 2017. (112)
No Wunder (GB). 2011 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Iwunder, by King’s Best. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Executors of the late J. Ellis (GB). 2018 record: 1-0-1-0, $13,500. 2017 NSA record: 8-2-1-1, $67,150. Opened 2018 campaign with second in Carolina Cup for novices. Drew away impressively to win 2017 Saratoga handicap after good second in similar race. Lost his rider in a freak incident in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was seventh in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won his maiden victory at 2017 Fair Hill Races after third at Iroquois, then was moved up to sixth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. (126)
New Member (Ire). 2011 b. g., Alhaarth (Ire)—Sincere, by Buhhare. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Golden Garden Stud. 2018 record: 1-0-0-1, $7,500. 2017 NSA record: 4-0-1-2, $28,500. Began 2018 with third in Carolina Cup. Finished second in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes after well-beaten third in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, then finished third in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Finished good third in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes but disqualified for going off-course in tight quarters. Had allowance and handicap wins in England in 2016. (130)
Mutasaawy. 2010 b. g., Tapit—Pretty Proud, by Mr. Greeley. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Pretty Proud Syndicate (Ky.). 2017 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $66,900. Impressed in winning 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes. Stumbled and lost his jockey early in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, then was sixth in Aflac Supreme Hurdle. (122)
Laser Light (Ire). 2011 b. g., Kutub—Sioux Falls (Ire), by Monashee Mountain. Owner: Tantivy Racing LLC. Trainer: Ted Thompson. Jockey: Richard Boucher. Breeder: Clongiffin Stud (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $3,000. Finished sixth in Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2017 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, then was pulled up in Aflac Supreme Hurdle. In final start in England, won a Kempton allowance hurdle. In six career starts in England, won three and never off the board. (126)