Leading trainer Jack Fisher scored a back-to-back stakes double at the 86th annual Radnor Hunt Races on Saturday when Edith Dixon’s homebred Schoodic charged home to a one-length victory in the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3).
Irv Naylor’s Charminster, two weeks removed from his victory in the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at the Virginia Hunt Cup, finished second, and Naylor’s Able Deputy was third, 1 1/2 lengths farther back.
Atlanta Hall’s millionaire Royal Bench set the pace and finished fourth, with Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming fifth.
Ridden by Paddy Young, who broke out of a season-long slump, homebred Schoodic ran the National Hunt Cup’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:51.60 on turf rated as good.
One race before the National Hunt Cup, Fisher saddled Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stables’ Straight to It for a victory in the Radnor Hunt Cup over timber.
The National Hunt Cup reversed the top finishing order of the Semmes, in which Schoodic closed ground to finish 3 3/4 lengths behind Charminster.
Schoodic had not won since Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes in 2014, but he nonetheless had earned more than $180,000 lifetime, mostly over fences, and had purse earnings of $58,000 last year.
Fisher never lost faith. “He’s been second a lot,” the jump sport’s leading trainer said. “I’ve always liked what he’s done. He may have liked the softer ground.”
The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau, last year’s National Hunt Cup winner, favors firmer ground and was scratched from this year’s edition a few hours before the race, held on a brisk afternoon with intermittent light rain. The scratch permitted Jack Doyle, who had been named to ride the two-time Grade 1 winner, to reunite with Charminster, his Semmes mount.
Royal Bench, the globe-trotting flat stakes winner who won his first two starts over fences , went to the front immediately in company with Charminster and set a solid pace for more than two miles. He weakened in the stretch, leaving the late running to Charminster and the charging Schoodic, who pulled clear in the final yards.
Young, the reigning champion jockey, celebrated his 2016 breakthrough win with a double when he rode Naylor’s Jamarjo to victory in the James M. Moran Jr. Ratings Handicap in the following race.