It didn’t take long for Harry Beswick to make an impression. The 25-year-old Englishman won the featured $35,000 Carolina Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., on Saturday aboard Keystone Thoroughbreds’ Noah and the Ark. It was Beswick’s very first National Steeplechase Association mount. Not to be outdone, Irish rider Jamie Bargary, 26, who began competing on the circuit less than a month ago, earned his first victory in the States in a maiden hurdle with Hurricana Farm’s Mini P who came up big in his initial try over jumps.
With a large crowd estimated at 20,000 — no doubt the biggest since spectators were allowed to once again attend the races — Noah and the Ark led a cavalry charge over the last fence to overtake Mark Buyck’s Show Court, who captured The Cup in 2017, and Silverton Hill’s Bodes Well to take the 86th running of the historic race.
Trained by Todd McKenna, Noah and the Ark was making only his third U.S. start following a successful career in Europe where the seven-year-old Irish-bred son of Vinnie Roe was a four-time winner.
Afterwards, McKenna said, “I never plan on winning anything, but I knew Noah would be tough. He’s a speedy horse, as we finally had a chance to witness. Anytime you win a feature in front of a crowd this size you’d have to say it’s significant. Not sure where we go from here. I’m not a fan of running horses at the flat track but I might not have a choice.”
Bodes Well, with Gerard Galligan up, led the 2 3/8-mile race early on and held the lead until just over the last fence, and beginning the long haul to the wire. After a mile and a half, Noah and the Ark was in eighth and advanced to sixth place with an eighth of a mile to go. At the final fence, he altered course to the inside, slipped through quickly, and drew away by three lengths. Twelve-year-old Show Court, in his best performance since 2018 under rider/trainer Arch Kingsley, was six lengths clear of Bodes Well.
In other action:
The first of six races on the card was a $10,000 maiden claimer run at 2 ⅛ miles, the same distance as the other maiden hurdles on the card. In it, Peggy Steinman’s Be Somebody, a seven-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic, enjoyed his first win in a dozen tries over jumps for trainer Doug Fout and jockey Barry Foley. At the wire, the chestnut with the big blaze was a length and a quarter ahead of Gigi Lazenby’s Step to the Bar and Bernie Dalton.
In the $15,000 filly and mare maiden special hurdle, South Branch Equine’s Paddy Wears Prada, with Sean McDermott in the irons, prevailed by two lengths over Gigi Lazenby’s Tap Dance Star. The lovely gray daughter of Paddy O’Prado began her career last June for trainer Mark Beecher and owner Anne Kinsley. She stalked leader Flammetta until the latter fell at the eleventh fence, after which she found herself in the clear.
The third race, an open maiden with a purse of $20,000, went to jockey Jamie Bargary and Hurricana Farm’s Mini P, an Irish-bred six-year-old trained by Arch Kingsley making his NSA debut. After racing in the UK at Newbury and Ascot race courses in 2018, Mini P, came stateside and ran on the NYRA circuit five times, winning a maiden special at Aqueduct in the fall of that year. On Saturday, Mini P took the lead after a mile, controlled the pace, and repelled a bid by Ballybristol Farm’s Silver Crescent and Fearnought Farm’s Princeville to score by three-quarters of a length.
Bruton Street-US’ Ziggle Pops, a newcomer with a funny-sounding name, proved all business in the fourth, taking that $20,000 maiden race by 6 3/4 lengths in his second NSA start for trainer Jack Fisher and jockey Graham Watters. Debra Kachel’s Better Tapit, ridden by Tom Garner, maintained a substantial lead for much of the going. With one fence left, the four-year-old British-bred son of Zoffany rallied as did Edition Farm’s Riendo, running one-two. But with a big jump over the last, Ziggle Pops accelerated to a narrow lead and drew off convincingly with plenty left in the tank. In his U.S. debut over hurdles at Middleburg earlier this month, Ziggle Pops finished third.
Arch Kingsley, who was the meet’s leading trainer based on his horses’ overall finishes, also won as a rider aboard Richard Colton’s Seeking Albert in the finale, a training flat race. Unraced since finishing a close second to the mighty Snap Decision in a maiden hurdle at Monmouth Park on July 4, 2019, Seeking Albert rallied past Bob La Penta’s highly regarded Fast Car, with Connor Hankin, by 3 3/4 lengths. Fast Car, a winner at Saratoga and Great Meadow in 2020, had been idle since a second start last summer at the Spa. The Ontario-bred seven-year-old son of Einstein has won more than $100,000 in a 24-race career, 22 of which came on the flat.
Going into next weekend’s Virginia Gold Cup and Winterthur Races, jockey Graham Watters has eight victories, leading Eddie Keating by one. Among trainers, Jack Fisher has five, one more than Kathy Neilson.
Full results can be found here: nationalsteeplechase.com/results/
The NSA’s recap show, Jump Racing USA, is available on demand for the remainder of the week on the NSA website.