Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike, winner of last year’s $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup, returns to W. Burling Cocks Race Course on Saturday for a shot at a second consecutive victory in the featured timber race of the 88th annual Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia.
First post time for the six-race program is 1:30 p.m. Also on the card is the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) over hurdles.
Mystic Strike finished second by a nose in last year’s Radnor Hunt Cup but was elevated to the winner’s circle after sustaining interference in the stretch. Mark Beecher, who was aboard Mystic Strike last year, now trains and rides him.
The Smart Strike gelding did not start again last year after his Radnor victory. Now a nine-year-old, he began the current season with a third-place finish in the My Lady’s Manor and was second in the Winterthur Bowl on May 6.
He will face stiff competition as he seeks back-to-back wins in the 3 1/4-mile Radnor Hunt Cup. Irv Naylor, last year’s leading timber owner, will field Super Saturday and Top Man Michael.
Trained by Kathy Neilson, Super Saturday won the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 21 and finished third in the Virginia Gold Cup two weeks later. Gerard Galligan has a return call.
Top Man Michael, trained by Cyril Murphy, finished third in the Middleburg Hunt Cup and will be ridden by Darren Nagle.
Neilson also will saddle Sycamore Run Farms’ Pured It, who is coming back on six days rest after closing stoutly to be second in the Willowdale Steeplechase last Sunday. Eddie Keating has a return riding call.
Also coming out of the Willowdale Steeplechase is Armata Stables’ Grand Manan, who was leading when he stumbled midway through the 3 1/2-mile race and lost his rider. Willie McCarthy takes over the mount for trainer Billy Meister.
Completing the field is Gordonsdale Farm’s Canyon Road, who is making his first start of the year for trainer Christopher Kolb. Now nine, he finished fifth in last year’s Radnor Hunt Cup and most recently finished 10th in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase last September. Kieran Norris will ride.
Here is the field for the $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup in post-position order.
Mystic Strike. 2009 b. h., Smart Strike—Mystic Rhythms, by Citidancer. Owner: Upland Partners. Trainer: Mark Beecher. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Peter Vegso Racing (Fla.). 2018 record: 2-0-1-1, $10,200. 2017 record: 2-2-0-0, $27,000. 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. Finished second in 2018 Winterthur Bowl after third in My Lady’s Manor. Barely beaten and then placed first in 2017 Radnor Hunt Cup. Won 2017 debut in Grand National’s Western Run Plate. In only 2016 start and first run over fences, won a Winterthur allowance timber race.
Pured It. 2009 b. g., Purim—Judiths Humor, by Hennessy. Owner: Sycamore Run Farms. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Eddie Keating. Breeder: Ashleigh Stud, Frank Ramos, and Jackie Ramos (Ky.) 2018 record: 2-0-1-0, $7,050. 2016 record: 2-1-0-0, $10,200. Closed powerfully to finish second in 2018 Willowdale Steeplechase. Missed the 2017 season and returned with fourth in John D. Schapiro Memorial amateur apprentice timber allowance at 2018 My Lady’s Manor. In first timber start and first jumps start in almost two years, won High Hope’s 2016 Jay Trump maiden hurdle by 10 1/4 lengths.
Top Man Michael (Ire). 2009 b. g., Antonius Plus—Top Brex, by Top Ville. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: John Egan (Ire). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,200. 2017 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2016 record: 3-1-0-1, $19,000. Set pace and tired to finish fifth in 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup. In only 2017 start, won Winterthur Bowl for second consecutive year. Won 2016 Winterthur Bowl in his first start over timber, then was fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup and third in Callaway timber allowance race.
Canyon Road. 2009 ch. g., Service Stripe—Observe, by Patton. Owner: Gordonsdale Farm. Trainer: Christopher Kolb. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Gordonsdale Farm (W.Va.) 2017 record: 4-0-1-0, $6,600. 2016 record: 5-2-0-1, $25,250. Finished fifth in 2017 Radnor Hunt Cup before 10th in Shawan’s Legacy Chase. Opened 2017 season with second in Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was pulled up in Virginia Gold Cup. Finished fourth in Virginia Fall’s 2016 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup before winning timber allowance at Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2018: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 5-0-3-0, $28,500. 2016 record: 4-3-0-0, $82,950. Pulled up in 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then lost his rider while leading in the Willowdale Steeplechase. Finished second in 2017 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup and International Gold Cup. Finished fourth in 2017 My Lady’s Manor, then was unplaced in Virginia Gold Cup after setting most of pace. Closed 2016 season with back-to-back front-running victories in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup and International Gold Cup.
Super Saturday. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Any Given Saturday—Lady Aloma, by Cozzene. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Walton Breeders (Ky.) 2018 record: 2-1-0-1, $28,000. 2017 record: 6-0-1-1, $13,400. 2016 record: 5-0-1-0, $4,550. Won 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was third in the Virginia Gold Cup. Finished second in 2017 New Jersey Hunt Cup and third in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance after fourth in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Finished fourth in the 2017 Grand National, then fell at fourth fence of Maryland Hunt Cup and was fifth in Willowdale Steeplechase.