Taking advantage of front-runner Across the Sky’s refusal in the late stages of the 114th Maryland Hunt Cup on Saturday, April 24, Lucy A. Goelet’s Twill Do edged away late from Private Attack to secure a five-length victory in the final contest of Maryland’s storied timber-racing triple.
The victory was the fourth Hunt Cup success for veteran trainer and amateur jockey William Meister, who had ridden the Maryland-bred Yarrow Brae gelding to a fourth-place finish in the Grand National a week earlier. He sustained a broken pelvis in a subsequent race at the Butler, Md., course and handed the reins to James Stierhoff.
As expected, Grand National victor Across the Sky set the pace for the four-mile race over 22 post-and-rail fences and led by a wide margin approaching the final obstacles. He was jumping well but pulled himself up at the 20th fence. Jockey Fritz Boniface, who then steered the eight-year-old Valley Crossing gelding off the Glyndon course, said he believed Across the Sky had tired.
Twill Do and Private Attack, who had been closest to the leader, battled over the final three fences before Twill Do gained control after the last fence. The ten-year-old ran the four-mile distance in 8:48. Battle Op finished third in a field of 11 starters.
Meister has a long history with the Hunt Cup. He rode his first winner, Freeman’s Hill, in 1988, and he was the jockey for The Hard Word in 1990. He both trained and rode Hello Hal to a Hunt Cup victory in 1996.
Nationbuilder wins Queen’s Cup
In other action on a busy weekend of National Steeplechase Association-sanctioned racing, Danielle Hodsdon rode Mary Ann Houghland’s Nationbuilder to a 1 1/2-length victory in the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC Hurdle, featured contest of the 15th annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase in Mineral Springs, N.C.
Carrington Racing Stable’s Here Comes Art, with overseas jockey Jimmy McCarthy aboard, was second, and You the Man finished third. Nationbuilder ran the 2 1/4 miles of the Queen’s Cup in 4:21 2/5 on turf rated as good.
Hodsdon, champion jockey in 2006 and the earnings leader last year when she was the regular rider for Eclipse Award champion Mixed Up, rode Nationbuilder for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who also trains Mixed Up.
Sunshine Numbers wins Georgia Cup
Sunshine Numbers shone brightest in the $30,000 RBC Wealth Management Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase, where Bernie Dalton rode Mrs. George Sensor’s Polish Numbers gelding to a 1 1/2-length victory.
Trained by Arch Kingsley, the reigning New York-bred steeplechase champion had opened the season with a fourth-place finish in the $75,000 Carolina First Carolina Cup (Gr. 2) on March 27.
Finishing second was Dictina’s Boy, ridden by Ross Geraghty, and Sermon of Love took third. Sunshine Numbers ran the Georgia Cup’s two miles over National Fences in 3:54 1/5 on yielding turf.
Ptarmigan romps in Daniel Van Clief Memorial
Magalen O. Bryant’s Ptarmigan kicked off the 2010 Sport of Kings Filly & Mare Division with a 14 1/4-length romp in the $25,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial, the featured race of the Foxfield Spring Races at Charlottesville, Va.
Trained by Doug Fout and ridden by Jeff Murphy, the lightly raced four-year-old Unbridled Jet filly ran the Van Clief’s 2 1/8 miles over National Fences in 4:20 3/5 on firm turf.
William Pape’s The Manner Born finished second, and Octoraro Stables’ Jellyberry held third.
Ptarmigan had opened the current season with a 10 3/4-length victory in the $15,000 Stoneybrook Cup for maidens at the Stoneybrook Races in Raeford, N.C., on April 3.