The 2018 steeplechase racing season concludes Sunday with the Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry, and two major championships will be at stake in its four hurdle races.
First post time will be 1 p.m. at the course in Hollywood, S.C. In addition to the four hurdle races, which offer $100,000 in purses, the program will conclude with a flat race over the Stono Ferry course.
The titles on the line are champion trainer and champion jockey, both by wins. Jack Fisher, the National Steeplechase Association’s champion trainer for the last six years, has a one-race advantage over Ricky Hendriks, 21 wins to 20.
Both are all in for the Charleston finale, with Fisher dropping seven contenders into the entry box and Hendriks with six entries.
The jockey battle between reigning champion Darren Nagle and Jack Doyle is deadlocked at 16 wins apiece. Both top riders have mounts in all four hurdle races.
The battles may well come down to the afternoon’s featured race, a $30,000 ratings handicap that drew an oversubscribed field of 14, with 12 permitted to start on the Stono Ferry turf course.
Fisher will have two contenders, Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stable’s Storm Team and Gillian Johnston’s With Rhythm. Storm Team won a maiden hurdle at the Foxfield Fall meet in September and was second in an allowance flat race at the Steeplechase at Callaway this past weekend. With Rhythm is unplaced in three starts this year. Fisher did not name a jockey for either.
Hendriks has three contenders for the 2 1/4-mile race over National Fences: Eve Ledyard’s Go for the Basil, Rosbrian Farm’s Barhanpour, and also-eligible Sail Ahoy, also owned by Rosbrian. Ross Geraghty will be aboard Barhanpour, a claiming winner at the Aiken Fall Steeplechase on Oct. 27 after being claimed from Fisher’s barn from a maiden-claiming victory at the Foxfield Fall meet.
Bernie Dalton was named aboard Go Get the Basil, who has two second-place finishes in entry-level allowance hurdles this fall at Shawan Downs and the International Gold Cup.
Carrying the rating handicap’s 158-pound highweight is Straylight Racing’s Invocation, winner of a ratings handicap at the Far Hills Races on Oct. 20. Sean McDermott has a repeat ride.
Nagle, who often racks up wins in the fall season, will be aboard Irv Naylor’s Warp Factor, who unseated the reigning champion at Shawan Downs on Sept. 29. Nagle was in the irons for trainer Cyril Murphy when Warp Factor won an Iroquois Steeplechase maiden hurdle in May.
Doyle will be aboard Robert A. Kinsley’s Aardwolf for trainer Elizabeth Voss. Bred in Kentucky by the powerful Darley operation, Aardwolf will be making his first U.S. start after a successful handicap career in England.
Aardwolf will be second in the weights at 155 pounds with Thomas Hulfish’s Swellelegent, who won a Monmouth Park handicap hurdle in August for trainer Neil Morris. Most recently fifth in a division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 20, Swellelegent will be ridden by Michael Mitchell.
Team Ollie’s multiple handicap winner Orchestra Leader shares a 119 rating with Aardwolf and Swellelegent but gets a five-pound break in the weights with apprentice jockey Keri Brion in the saddle. Trained by Jimmy Day, Orchestra Leader most recently was pulled up in the Far Hills handicap won by Invocation.
Here is the field for the $30,000 featured ratings handicap hurdle. The horses’ ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Aydoun (Ire). 2013 ch. g., Mastercraftsman—Alaya (Ire), by Ela-Mana-Mou (Ire). Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: The Aga Khan’s Studs (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. In first U.S. start, finished seventh in 2018 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Well beaten in his final overseas start, a handicap hurdle at Galway on Aug. 1. (114)
With Rhythm. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Thewayyouare—Rhythm and Rhyme, by Unbridled’s Song. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Rhythm and Rhyme Syndicate (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-0-0-0, $1,500. 2017 record 3-1-0-0, $15,900. Finished fourth in 2018 Georgia Steeplechase ratings handicap and then did not break in Shawan Downs allowance and was pulled up in Far Hills ratings handicap. 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. (114)
Oskar Denarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Authorized (Ire)—Elizabethan Age, by King’s Best. Owner: Apple Equipment LLC. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: River Downs Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Eased in his first U.S. start, 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Finished third in Callaway flat allowance. Unplaced in Uttoxeter hurdle before export. Had three straight wins this spring at Southwell, Worcester, and Newton Abbot. (116)
Go Get the Basil. 2010 ch. g., Andromeda’s Hero—Images in Jade, by Jade Hunter. Owner: Eve Ledyard. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: John T. Esposito and Anthony J. Lo Grippo (N.Y.). 2018 7-1-3-0, $41,600. 2017 record: 2-0-1-0, $5,500. Posted second-place finishes in Shawan and International Gold Cup allowance hurdles after fifth in 2018 Saratoga allowance hurdle. Finished second in 2018 Aiken Spring maiden hurdle and then won at Georgia Steeplechase. (117)
Storm Team. 2014 ch. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—Stormy Dixie, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Colts Neck Stables (Ky.). 2018 record: 5-1-1-2, $30,120. Won a maiden hurdle at 2018 Foxfield Fall and was second in Callaway flat race. Finished third in Monmouth Park maiden hurdle after being pulled up in Radnor maiden hurdle. (116)
Aardwolf. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Cape Cross (Ire)—Desert Gazelle, by Smart Strike. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Darley (Ky.). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Making first start in U.S. after successful run in modest-level allowance hurdles in England. Final overseas start was third in Worcester allowance hurdle. (119)
Barhanpour (Fr). 2013 dk. b. or br. g., Raven’s Pass—Balankiya (Ire), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: The Aga Khan’s Stud (Fr). 2018 NSA record: 6-1-0-1, $19,900. Claimed from victory in 2018 Foxfield Fall maiden claiming hurdle and then won Aiken Fall claimer. (111).
Orchestra Leader. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew. Owner: Team Ollie. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Keri Brion. Breeder: Strategy Bloodstock (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 4-0-0-1, $5,000. 2017 record: 5-3-0-0, $54,500. Pulled up in 2018 Far Hills ratings handicap after third in strong Iroquois ratings handicap. Began 2018 with fourth in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial, a race he won in 2015 and 2017 and was second in 2016. Won Foxfield Fall optional allowance hurdle and was claimed to complete 2017 season. (119)
Castle Hill. 2012 b. g., Munnings—Push My Luck, by Press Card. Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders: William and Anne Pape (Pa.). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 1-0-1-0, $13,500. Finished eighth in allowance hurdle at 2018 International Gold Cup. In only 2017 start, finished second in Carolina Cup. Won 2016 Shawan maiden hurdle and finished third in Foxbrook Champion (114)
Warp Factor (Ire). 2013 b. g., The Carbon Unit—Storminateacup (Ire), by Galileo (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Thistle Bloodstock (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $24,000. In U.S. debut, won a 2018 Virginia Gold Cup maiden hurdle and then unseated jockey in Shawan Downs allowance hurdle. (116)
Swellelegent. 2012 ch. g., Pure Prize—Latania, by Polish Numbers. Owner: Thomas Hulfish III. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Mrs. Arturo Peralta Ramos (Ky.) 2018 record: 6-2-1-0, $58,750. 2017 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $15,000. Finished fifth in 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division after second in 2018 High Hope ratings handicap. Held on for a nose victory in handicap hurdle at Monmouth Park, then was fifth in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Tired and was pulled up in Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. Won 2017 Montpelier maiden hurdle. (119)
Invocation (Fr). 2013 dk. b. g., Intense Focus—Fabiola, by Medicean. Owner: Straylight Racing. Trainer: William Santoro. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: E.A.R.L. Elevage Des Loges (Fr). 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $30,000. 2017 record: 3-2-1-0, $58,500. 2016 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $20,000. In only previous 2018 start, won Far Hills ratings handicap hurdle in first start for trainer. Won 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle. Drew away to a 16 1/2-length win in a 2017 Radnor ratings handicap after second in Queen’s Cup ratings handicap. Won a 2016 Colonial Cup allowance hurdle by 18 lengths after third in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes, his U.S. debut. Maiden on flat in England but frequently in the money. (122)
Sail Ahoy. 2013 b. g., Bernardini—Matlacha Pass, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2018 record: 4-1–0, $20,550. 2017 NSA record: No starts. Finished fifth in 2018 Shawan Downs allowance hurdle before sixth in similar race at International Gold Cup. Won his first start over fences at 2018 Carolina Cup before being pulled up in Iroquois allowance hurdle. Competed at top flat meets and won a Monmouth Park optional claimer in June 2017. (114)
Bobabout (Ire). 2013 b. g., Big Bad Bob—Chaperoned (Ire), by High Chaparral (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: John Harrington (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-1-0, $9,000. 2017 NSA 1-0-0-0, $0. Finished second in 2018 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), then was pulled up in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. In first U.S. start, finished seventh in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Won Punchestown handicap in April 2017 for breeder-trainer and then had two seconds before sixth at Tipperary in late June. (120)