Two’s Company, the reigning timber champion, will be the horse to beat in a highly competitive edition of the Iroquois Steeplechase’s featured timber race, the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial, on Saturday at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Bruton Street-US’s Irish-bred secured the title with fall victories in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase and Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup.
In his only 2017 start, he fell on landing at the last fence of the Middleburg Hunt Cup while seeking a second straight win in that timber race. Sean McDermott will ride in the three-mile Mason Houghland.
The Mason Houghland field also contains two past winners. Armata Stables’ Cornhusker, the 2014 and 2015 winner, is coming back on six days rest in pursuit of a third victory. The British-bred veteran won the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 22 and was second in the Winterthur Bowl on Sunday. Mark Beecher will ride.
Four Virginia Gents’ Worried Man, the 2013 winner, will be saddled by Doug Fout. He lost his rider at the Middleburg Spring meet in his first start since May 2014. Reigning champion jockey Kieran Norris will ride.
Fisher, jump racing’s champion trainer for the past five years, also entered Syros, who is owned by Chattanooga horsewoman Gil Johnston. The Dynaformer gelding won the C. P. and Edith Wills DuBose allowance timber race at the Carolina Cup on April 1 and then was third in the Queen’s Cup timber allowance four weeks later.
Leading owner Irv Naylor will be represented by Henry San, winner of the Queen’s Cup race near Charlotte, N.C. Darren Nagle will ride for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Completing the field is Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Class Cherokee, winner of Foxfield Spring’s Grover Vandevender maiden timber race in his debut over post-and-rail fences. Franklin native Gus Dahl will ride for trainer Richard Valentine.
Here are the field for the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial.
Class Cherokee. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Cherokee Boy—Class Excells, by Class Secret. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Mede Cahaba Stable and Stud (Va). 2017 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. 2016 record: 4-0-0-1, $13,050. 2015 record; 4-1-0-0, $17,500. Won his timber debut in Foxfield Spring’s Grover Vandevender Memorial maiden race. Finished third in 2016 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then sixth in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase and fourth in Far Hills ratings handicap.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2017 record: 2-1-1-0, $22,500. 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $4,500. 2015 record: 4-2-0-0, $66,250. Ran a confident race in the 2017 Middleburg Hunt Cup and won by 5 3/4 lengths, then finished second in the Winterthur Bowl. Finished fourth in 2016 International Gold Cup after seventh in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Won 2014 and 2015 Mason Houghland Memorial.
Henry San (Ire). 2007 ch. g., Exceed and Excell (Aus)—Esclava, by Nureyev. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Mrs. M. C. Sweeney (Ire). 2017 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2016 record: 2-1-0-0, $9,000. Won his 2017 opener in the Queen’s Cup allowance timber race. Front-runner scored maiden timber win at Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last November.
Two’s Company (Ire). 2009 b. g., Soviet Star—Gaye Lady, by Pistolet Bleu (Ire). Owner: Bruton Street-U.S. Trainer Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeders: M. W. and Mrs. M. Doran (Ire). 2017 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2016 record: 6-4-2-0, $103,200. 2015 record: 4-1-1-0, $12,600. Timber champion 2016. Fell in late stages of 2017 Middleburg Hunt Cup. Opened 2016 with victories in Middleburg Hunt Cup and Carolina Cup’s C. P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup, then closed for second in Virginia Gold Cup. Won 2016 Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs and Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup before second in International Gold Cup.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Hadden Frost. Breeders: Jon and Sarah Kelly (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-1-0-1, $14,000. 2016 record: 5-0-1-1, $11,400. 2015 record: 7-1-1-1, $81,750. In 2017 debut, won Carolina Cup’s C. P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup, then was third in Queen’s Cup timber allowance.
Worried Man. 2007 b. g., Dynaformer—Mystic Lady, by Thunder Gulch. Owner: Four Virginia Gents. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Lee Lewis (Ky.) 2017 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2016 record: No starts. In first start in almost three years, lost his rider in Middleburg Spring’s Alfred M. Hunt Steeplechase. Won 2013 Mason Houghland Memorial.