Rosbrian Farm’s Officer Sydney, a handicap winner in his only 2017 start, heads a highly competitive field for Saturday’s $30,000 Georgia Cup, the featured race of the inaugural Georgia Steeplechase at Kingston Downs in Rome.
First post time for the Atlanta region’s gala welcome to spring is 1:30 p.m.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Irish-bred Officer Sydney was imported in mid-2016 and made no impression in his two Stateside starts. In his sole performance last year, he made a strong late move and won Virginia Fall’s Randolph Rouse Memorial Handicap by five lengths.
Assigned the 158-pound highweight in the two-mile Georgia Cup, a rating handicap, Officer Sydney will be ridden by Ross Geraghty, who has been aboard him for all his U.S. starts.
Second in last year’s trainer standings by wins, Hendriks also will saddle Wendy Hendriks’ Any Given Royal, a maiden hurdle winner at the 2017 Aiken Spring meet. Michael Mitchell will ride.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard already has four hurdle winners in the young National Steeplechase Association racing season, and one of them was KMSN Stable’s Able Archer, who ran away with Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup, also a ratings handicap, by more than 10 lengths. Able Archer, who carries 156 pounds, will be stepping up in class in the Georgia Cup and will be ridden again by Kieran Norris, 2016’s champion jockey by wins.
Jack Fisher, the champion trainer for the past six years, will saddle Gillian Johnston’s With Rhythm, a maiden winner over the course last year. Sean McDermott has the mount.
Jack Doyle, 2015’s leading jockey by purse earnings, will be aboard The Fields Stable’s Barnacle Bill, an import from Ireland who broke through for a maiden score over hurdles at last fall’s International Gold Cup in Virginia. Barnacle Bill is trained by Elizabeth Voss, who finished second to Fisher by purse earnings last year.
Completing the field is Beverly R. Steinman’s Perfect Union, who most recently finished fifth in the Appleton. Trained by Doug Fout, Perfect Union will be ridden by Barry Foley.
Here is the field for the $30,000 Georgia Cup in post-position order after the scratch of Kremlin. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses after their profiles.
Able Archer. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Eskendereya—Fareena, by Point Given. Owner: KMSN Stable. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Spirit Lake Enterprises (Pa.) 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2017 NSA record: 5-1-2-0, $19,200. 2016 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $1,500. Opened 2018 with win in Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup, a ratings handicap. Finished second in a 2017 Montpelier handicap and Virginia Fall’s Bon Nouvel Handicap. Won a 2017 Middleburg Spring maiden claimer and then fell at fifth fence in Radnor ratings handicap. (117)
Perfect Union. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Purim—Blue Northern, by Top Account. Owner: Beverly Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Nelson E. Clemmons (Ky.). 2017 record: 3-0-0-1, $6,750. 2016 record: 5-1-0-0, $17,650. Finished fourth in Far Hills’ 2017 Appleton Stakes and third and fourth in ratings handicaps at Middleburg Spring and Iroquois, respectively. Won 2016 High Hope ratings handicap by 12 lengths. Three-year-old champion of 2014 after winning Far Hills’ Gladstone. (114)
With Rhythm. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Thewayyouare—Rhythm and Rhyme, by Unbridled’ Song. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Rhythm and Rhyme Syndicate (Ky.) 2017 record 3-1-0-0, $15,900. 2016 NSA record: 2-0-1-0, $10,250. Won 2017 Atlanta Steeplechase maiden hurdle after sixth in Carolina Cup maiden. Fell in Iroquois allowance hurdle. On flat, had two wins in France and one at Gulfstream Park. (116)
Barnacle Bill (Ire). 2012 gr. or ro g., Big Bad Bob—Katch Me Katie, by Danehill. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Irish National Stud (Ire). Toiled in the maiden hurdle ranks in 2017 and after two close seconds broke through for a front-running victory at the International Gold Cup. (116)
Any Given Royal. 2009 b. g., Any Given Saturday—Really Royal, by Unreal Zeal. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Ben Lengacher (Ky.) 2017 NSA record: 7-2-0-1, $39,750. 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $900. Scored handy maiden victory at 2017 Aiken Spring, then won Tryon Block House flat race. Finished fourth in two Saratoga allowance hurdles. Closed season with third in Charleston allowance hurdle. Debuted over fences with sixth at 2016 Colonial Cup. (115)
Officer Sydney (Ire). 2012 b. g., Lawman—Morena Park (GB), by Pivotal. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Catesby W. Clay (Ire). 2017 record: 1-1-0-0, $21,000. 2016 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $750. In only 2017 start, won Virginia Fall’s Randolph D. Rouse Memorial. Unplaced in two 2016 ratings handicaps after arrival in U.S. (119)