While the primary storyline for Sunday’s 86th running of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in Unionville is Curve of Stones’ attempt to win his third straight timber stake in less than one month, there is a fascinating sidebar that will no doubt have the entire American steeplechase community riveted to the live stream.
Entered in the fourth race, the first division of the Athenian Idol flat race at 1 ⅜ miles, is Hudson River Farm’s 2019 Eclipse Award winning jumper Winston C. The six-year-old hasn’t run since finishing fourth as the odds-on favorite in the Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont Park in September 2019, and is using the race as a prep for a European campaign.
A full field of 12 is expected for the featured $25,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, which will be run at four miles. The Hunt Cup is one of five races on the card, which also includes one maiden and one allowance timber race, and two flat training events. Rebecca Shepherd’s Curve of Stones comes into the Hunt Cup off of two straight wins in timber stakes, a narrow score in the $25,000 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg on Oct. 10, and a 7-length tally last Saturday in the $25,000 International Gold Cup at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va.
The nine-year-old gray son of Arch, trained by David Bourke and ridden by Barry Foley, will face familiar foes in the Hunt Cup including Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike, who won last year’s Pennsylvania Hunt Cup and finished a neck behind Curve of Stones at Middleburg a few weeks ago, and Charlie Fenwick’s Royal Ruse, who finished third at Middleburg. Also in the field is Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday, who finished fourth at Middleburg and second to Curve of Stones in the International Gold Cup. Other entrants include Frank Bonsal’s Stand Down, winner of the 2018 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup; Armata Stable’s Grand Manan, who finished second in that race; Kinross Farm’s Just Wait and See, who took the 2019 Willowdale Steeplechase; and Michael Smith’s Le Chevalier, who has finished in the money in nine consecutive timber stakes dating back to 2017.
“He (Winston) was bought as a horse that could run in the champion hurdle at Cheltenham, so we thought why not send him back over and take a chance?” Brion said. “He will be leaving with five other Sheppard jumpers on November 24, and his tentative first race will be at Punchestown on Dec 31, if all goes to plan. Our long-term goal is Cheltenham.”
The horses that are expected to accompany Winston C and see action overseas are French Light, Clondaw Camp, Fancy Pance, Baltimore Bucko, and Francois.
The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Races can be watched live on the NSA Network at www.nationalsteeplechase.com. For the past ten years the proceeds from the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Races have gone to benefit the Chester County Food Bank. This year, due to Covid-19, the meet will run without spectators, however the partnership between the races and the Chester County Food Bank remains strong. The pandemic has brought the issue of food insecurity to the forefront more than ever before. Please consider visiting the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s website (PAHuntCup.org) to donate what you can to benefit the Chester County Food Bank. Together we can make a difference for those who need it most.
The first post time is 1p.m. Eastern Standard Time. If you choose to watch the races via the live stream, you can print out the program by going to the NSA web site and clicking on the link for the overnights:
The live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory, Charleston’s The Post and Courier, Bruton Street-US, and the Virginia Equine Alliance.