Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike missed winning the $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup by the narrowest of noses on the racecourse, and the eight-year-old by Smart Strike was declared with the winner on the disqualification of Ebanour, who had reached the finish line first on Saturday.
Armata Stables’ Wildcatter, who had won the 2015 Radnor Hunt Cup on a disqualification, finished third, and early pacesetter Lemony Bay was fourth.
Sean McDermott, riding Bruton Street-US’s Lemony Bay, set a slow pace for the first mile and a half of the 3 1/4-mile Radnor Hunt Cup, with Kings Apollo following in second, while Irv Naylor’s two-time Virginia Gold Cup winner Ebanour and Mystic Strike were toward the back of the field.
Ebanour’s jockey, Gus Dahl, moved after the race’s midpoint to break up the slow pace. The move put him on the lead with a mile to run, and he opened a clear lead on his opponents heading into the final turn.
Mark Beecher, aboard Mystic Strike, followed the leader. “When Ebanour picked up the pace, I went with him,” he said.
Mystic Strike began his move on the final turn and closed on the inside of Ebanour. At the last, Ebanour moved toward the inside and Mystic Strike as they jumped the fence together. “It was pretty tight,” said Beecher, a former champion timber jockey. “He came over and tapped me.”
Mystic Strike regained his stride and went head to head with Ebanour to the finish line, with Ebanour prevailing by the narrowest of margins on a head bob.
The Radnor stewards immediately began an inquiry, and Beecher claimed foul against Dahl and Ebanour. After reviewing the patrol video, the stewards declared Mystic Strike the winner, with Ebanour demoted to second.
Mystic Strike is trained by Ricky Hendriks, who took over from Todd McKenna, currently under suspension. “He came off the trailer, and he was ready to go,” Hendriks said. In his only 2017 start, Mystic Strike had won the Western Run Plate at the Grand National on April 22.
Ebanour and Lemony Bay had finished first and second, respectively, in the Virginia Gold Cup on May 6.