This weekend’s National Steeplechase Association stop takes the jumpers to the picturesque Brandywine Valley in Chester County, Pa., for the 90th edition of the Radnor Hunt Races.
Six races and $90,000 in purses are on the line on Saturday’s card that features hurdle contests for maidens, claimers, and handicap horses, and an open event for timber specialists.
The co-featured $20,000 National Hunt Cup, at 2 3/8 miles over hurdles, will be contested as a handicap for horses rated at 115 or lower. Three of the seven entries are exiting last Saturday’s Willowdale Races; two are coming off of wins. Sanna Neilson and John Huganir’s He’ll Do, ridden by Parker Hendriks, was a 2 ¾-length winner of a handicap for horses rated at 110 or less, while Kathy Neilson’s Mighty Mark steps up after taking a claiming hurdle for apprentice riders (Skylar McKenna) by the same margin. Holwood Stable’s Decisive Triumph was fifth in He’ll Do’s race.
Three others, Sanna Neilson’s Ebullience, DASH Stable’s Prayer Hope, and Gill Johnston’s Emerald Rocket, are coming out of the same handicap at the Queens Cup on April 24. Kate and Bernie Dalton’s mare Down Royal was a standout that day, but Prayer Hope, ridden by Graham Watters and trained by Jack Fisher, was clearly second best, finishing far ahead of the third-place horse.
Also in the field are Johnston’s Amnicalola, unraced since winning the $50,000 Iris Coggins Memorial Stakes at Fair Hill two years ago, also for trainer Fisher, and Silverton Hill’s Working Class, a seven-year-old veteran of 29 European starts and a dozen in-the-money finishes, making his U.S. debut for trainer Leslie Young. Tom Garner has the mount.
In the $20,000 Radnor Hunt Cup over timber, Upland Partner’s multiple stakes winner Mystic Strike, fresh off a score in the Middleburg Hunt Cup for jockey Tom Garner and trainer Todd McKenna, takes on Straylight Racing’s steeplethon star, Invocation, winner of the Alfred Hunt, also at Middleburg, for Sean McDermott and Mark Beecher. Armata Stable’s Goodoldtimes was third to Riverdee Stable’s Include It in a timber allowance at Willowdale, while Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable’s hard-knocking Storm Team, a stakes winner over hurdles, finished second over timber to Tantivy Racing’s Motivational at the Queens Cup, his seasonal bow. Billy Meister’s Spoiler Alert, who broke his maiden three years ago and has had only three starts since, rounds out the field.
Newcomers compete in maiden hurdle
The opener at Radnor, the $20,000 Milfern Cup maiden hurdle at 2 ⅛ miles, has drawn a field of eight, with two newcomers to steeplechasing and the NSA circuit.
Swim, a four-year-old son of English Channel out of the A.P. Indy mare Nashindy, makes his hurdle debut for KMSN Stable and trainer Keri Brion. The Kentucky-bred gelding ran only once before, at Presque Isle Downs last October, finishing ninth.
Irv Naylor’s Turbo Drive, a four-year-old New York-bred, made 16 starts on the NYRA circuit, earning more than $200,000 and finishing second in the black type New York Stallion Stakes at Saratoga last summer. Jamie Bargary has the mount for the first-time jumper for trainer Cyril Murphy.
The full list of entries can be found here: nationalsteeplechase.com/entries
Post time for Radnor Races is 1:30 p.m. Attendance is limited and race-day walk-ins are not permitted. Mask wearing and social distancing will be in effect, and the rules also require guests to remain within their “party pod” during the event. If you are not attending the races in person, be sure to watch the live stream via the NSA’s website. The NSA will broadcast a recap show, Jump Racing USA, featuring replays, commentary and interviews, on its web site on Monday evening at 7 p.m. and on demand after that. The live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory, the Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase Foundation, Charleston’s Post & Courier, and the Virginia Equine Alliance.