Two-time winner Twill Do will be attempting to retire the Maryland Hunt Cup trophy when he headlines a jam-packed field for the 117th running of storied timber classic on Saturday, April 27, in Glyndon.
The field for the Hunt Cup, which carries a $75,000 purse, also includes Battle Op, who finished a close second to Twill Do in last year’s Hunt Cup, and 2011 timber champion Bon Caddo. The field will face the starter for the challenging four-mile run over 22 post-and-rail fences at 4 p.m.
The large number of entries reflects a large and highly competitive group of timber horses this spring. In his only 2013 start, Twill Do finished seventh in the Grand National at Butler on April 20. But his prior form has not been a flawless guide to his performance on the testing Hunt Cup course. He finished fourth in the Grand National before his victories in 2010 and 2012.
James Stierhoff, who has ridden Twill Do to his two Hunt Cup wins, will again be in the saddle. Billy Meister, who trains Twill Do, will have three other starters in the Hunt Cup. For owner Mrs. William D. Class Jr., he will send out And the Eagle Flys, who was pulled up in the Grand National, and Voler Bar Nuit, placed second in the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial.
NoGo Stable’s Bug Eyed Willy was placed fourth in the Murray after the first two finishers were disqualified. James Slater will ride And the Eagle Flys, Suzanne Stettinius will be aboard Bug Eyed Willy, and Meister named himself on Voler Bar Nuit.
Jack Fisher, 2012’s champion trainer and top timber trainer, has taken over the preparation of Northwoods Stable’s Battle Op, who began the 2013 season with a third in the Grand National. Battle Op finished second by three-quarters of a length in last year’s Hunt Cup. Northwoods also has a chance to retire the Hunt Cup trophy with a victory after its Bug River won in 2004 and 2006. Fisher also will saddle Jeremy Batoff’s Prospectors Strike, who finished second in the John D. Schapiro Memorial at My Lady’s Manor on April 13. Connor Hankin rides Battle Op, and Justin Batoff will ride his brother’s Prospectors Strike.
Merrifield Farm’s Bon Caddo will be looking to improve on a third-place finish in last year’s Hunt Cup. Trained by Bruce Fenwick, Bon Caddo opened the season with a third-place finish in the My Lady’s Manor, first race of the Maryland timber triple crown. Michael Ennis has the mount.
Trainer Blythe Miller Davies, who rode Private Attack to a runaway victory in 2011, will saddle three Hunt Cup starters. Welcome Here Farm’s Fort Henry finished fourth in the Grand National, Gerry Brewster’s Brands Hatch was sixth, and Brewster’s Catch the Echo was third in the Murray. Ivan Dowling has the call on Fort Henry, Jackson Roberts will be on Brands Hatch, and Jeb Hannum will handle Catch the Echo.
Kinross Farm and trainer Neil Morris will be represented by Sand Box Rules and supplemental entry Woodmont. Sand Box Rules, fourth in the My Lady’s Manor, will be ridden by Diana Gillam, and Martin Rohan will ride Woodmont.
Trainer Richard Valentine will saddle Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Professor Maxwell and Lucy Stable’s Justpourit. Professor Maxwell, fourth in last year’s Hunt Cup, will be ridden by Mark Beecher, and George Hundt will be aboard Justpourit, who finished fifth in the Grand National.
Completing the field are FOXY Stable’s Guts for Garters and Frank Martin’s Subprime Lending, the race’s second supplemental entry. Guts for Garters finished first in the Murray but was disqualified for going off course. Jody Petty again will ride for trainer Sanna Hendriks. Subprime Lending, placed fourth in the Murray, will be ridden by trainer Chip Miller.