Montpelier Hunt Races’ $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap attracted a full field of 10 to contest the 2½-mile voyage over the Virginia course’s lofty natural brush fences on Saturday.
The Montpelier meet, on the property of President James Madison’s restored home, drew several full or oversubscribed fields for its seven races. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
Fifteen contenders were entered for the Noel Laing on Monday, but that group was reduced by scratches to 10 on Wednesday.
The Noel Laing will draw heavily from the Far Hills Races’ Appleton Handicap, a ratings handicap. Woodslane Farm’s Pik Em, trained by Jack Fisher, won the 2 1/8-mile Appleton by 3½ lengths at 24.30-to-1 odds. One of the fall season’s most improved horses, the five-year-old Tapit gelding will carry 150 pounds and will be ridden by Michael Mitchell.
Also coming out of the Appleton are Leipers Ford Steeplechase’s Querry Horse, the second finisher; Rosbrian Farm’s Stooshie, who finished third; Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, fourth; Irv Naylor’s Amschel, sixth; and Rather Be Racing’s Kremlin, ninth.
Prominent owner Gill Johnston will be represented by Set to Music, who finished ninth in an International Gold Cup ratings handicap last Saturday. Trainer Kathy Neilson named her daughter, Skylar McKenna, to ride the eight-year-old Dynaformer gelding.
Trainer Julie Gomena entered Bon Nouvel Chasers’ Repeat Repeat, who was pulled up after being impeded in an International Gold Cup allowance hurdle.
Also coming out of the Far Hills meet on Oct. 19 is Mark Buyck’s Show Court, who finished 11th in the New Jersey Hunt Cup, a flat stakes race. A Grade 1 winner last year, Show Court is trained by Arch Kingsley Jr. and will be ridden by Paul O’Neill.
Straylight Racing’s Invocation has followed an alternate route to the Noel Laing by racing in Virginia’s steeplethons on courses of mixed obstacles. A two-time winner in ratings handicaps last fall, the French-bred finished second in Virginia Fall’s Kinross steeplethon on Oct. 12 and third in the International Gold Cup’s Steeplethon Stakes last Saturday. Trainer Mark Beecher did not name a rider.
Here is the field for the $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap in post-position order. The horses’ handicap weights are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Kremlin. 2012 ch. g., Eskendereya—Dock Leaf, by Woodman. Owner: Rather Be Racing stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Juddmonte Farm (Ky.) 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2018 2-1-0-0, $18,000. Finished ninth in Far Hills’ 2019 Appleton ratings handicap. Won 2018 Queen’s Cup ratings handicap, then was pulled up in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). (146)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2019 record: 6-0-0-1, $40,750. 2018 record: 6-0-1-1, $ 68,200. Finished third in Belmont Park’s 2019 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), then was fourth in Far Hill’s Appleton ratings handicap. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s 2019 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). In 2019 debut, finished fourth in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), then was fourth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2018 Noel Laing at Montpelier Hunt Races. Finished third in 2018 Grand National Gr. 1) for second straight year. Won 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (152)
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Paul O’Neill. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 4-0-0-0, $3,500. 2018 record: 6-2-0-0, $122,000. Finished 11th in Far Hills’ 2019 New Jersey Hunt Cup on flat after being eased in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), which he won in 2018. Opened 2019 with sixth in Carolina Cup Handicap, then was pulled up in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) and fourth in Valentine Memorial Handicap. (148)
Querry Horse (Fr). 2012 b. g., Equerry—La Richelandiere (Fr), by Garde Royale (Ire). Owner: Leipers Fork Steeplechase. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Pierre Duvignaud (Fr). 2019 NSA record: 3-0-3-0, $11,700. Since spring 2019 arrival in U.S., has had three second-place finishes, most recently in Far Hills’ Appleton ratings handicap. (140)
Amschel (GB). 2014 b. g., Nathaniel (Ire)—Darinza (Fr), by Dalakhani (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeder: Newsells Park Stud (GB). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,500. 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $12,500. Made 2019 debut with sixth-place finish in Far Hills’ Appleton ratings handicap. In only other U.S. start, finished third in division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won three straight races in Ireland in 2018 before export. (152)
Repeat Repeat. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Arch—Dattt Echo, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Bon Nouvel Chasers. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Dattt Farm (Ky.) 2019 record: 4-1-1-1, $34,700. Finished second in 2019 Virginia Fall ratings handicap, then was pulled up when impeded in International Gold Cup ratings handicap. Won his steeplechase debut by a neck at the 2019 Carolina Cup, and then was third in tough allowance hurdle at Iroquois after setting early pace. Had four consecutive first-place finishes on flat in 2018. (142)
Invocation (Fr). 2013 dk. b. g., Intense Focus—Fabiola, by Medicean. Owner: Straylight Racing. Trainer: Mark Beecher. Jockey: Open. Breeder: E.A.R.L. Elevage Des Loges (Fr). 2019 record: 4-0-2-2, $24,100. 2018 record: 2-2-0-0, $48,000. Finished third in International Gold Cup’s 2019 Steeplethon after second in Virginia Fall’s Kinross Steeplethon. Finished second in 2019 Carolina Cup, then was third in Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). In two 2018 starts, won ratings handicaps at Far Hills and Charleston. (152)
Pik Em. 2014 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Seattle Smooth, by Quiet American. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Mercedes Stables (Ky.). 2019 record: 7-1-2-1, $61,000. 2018 record: 4-2-0-0, $33,500. Won Far Hills’ 2019 Appleton ratings handicap after score in Shawan Downs ratings handicap. Finished second in Cup Runneth Over and Virginia Gold Cup ratings handicaps before losing rider at Radnor in higher-level handicap. Finished fifth in division of Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices. Won 2018 High Hope ratings handicap handily after maiden victory over fences in Radnor maiden claiming hurdle. (150)
Stooshie (Ire). 2013 b. g., Fracas (Ire)—Misty Native (Ire), by Be My Native. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Peter Tonery (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 2-0-1-1, $11,300. Finished third in Far Hills’ 2019 Appleton ratings handicap after second in Iroquois Steeplechase ratings handicap, his U.S. debut. (148)
Set to Music. 2011b. g., Dynaformer—Pussycat Doll, by Real Quiet. Owner: Gill Johnston. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Skylar McKenna. Breeder: Mr. and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson (Ky.). 2019 record: 6-0-0-1, $7,500. 2018 record: 5-1-2-2, $42,600. Finished ninth in 2019 International Gold Cup ratings handicap after seventh in Saratoga allowance hurdle and fourth in Shawan Downs ratings handicap. Finished third in 2019 Middleburg Spring allowance hurdle and fourth in Radnor handicap before fifth in Colonial Downs ratings handicap. (140)