Hunt Cup, Foxfield mark stellar Saturday

Withoutmoreado © Douglas Lees

By Tod Marks

This weekend promises to be a bonanza for jump racing fans with a pair of showcase National Steeplechase Association meets. In Glyndon, nine horses are expected to face the starter in the 127th Maryland Hunt Cup, America’s oldest, longest, and most challenging timber race. Meanwhile hurdlers will take center stage at Foxfield in Charlottesville, Va., where $260,000 in purses are on the line in a seven-race card highlighted by two stakes worth a combined $125,000.

At four miles over 22 post-and-rail fences — some nearly five-feet tall — the Maryland Hunt Cup – the third and final leg of the Maryland Timber Triple series over a three-week span – is a unique test of jumping skill and stamina. In keeping with tradition, the $100,000 race is restricted to amateur riders. Neither winner of the first two legs of the series will run in the Hunt Cup. But two previous winners, including the defending champion, are in the field.

Last year, Armata Stable’s Vintage Vinnie, who was seeking his third straight Hunt Cup win, towered over the field. But after leading for 18 fences, he tired and was pulled up, losing his aura of invincibility. When Vintage Vinnie faltered, it opened the door for Irv Naylor’s Withoutmoreado, who took over under Conor Tierney and roared to the wire 10 ¾ lengths ahead of the only other finisher, Charlie Fenwick’s Royal Ruse. 

Vintage Vinnie prepped for the Hunt Cup with a non-threatening second in an allowance contest at the My Lady’s Manor races two weeks ago. One of four Hunt Cup entries trained by Joe Davies, Vintage Vinnie will be ridden by Teddy Davies, the trainer’s son. Withoutmoreado, trained by Kathy Neilson and again ridden by Tierney, lost his rider after the eighth fence in the second leg of the series, the Grand National, on April 20. Royal Ruse, who experienced a career moment when taking the 2023 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, has had two preps this spring for the big race, finishing second in an allowance event at Cheshire in March and fourth in the My Lady’s Manor stakes, the first leg of the series. Elizabeth Scully rides for trainer Sanna Neilson.

Also taking aim at the past champs are seven additional foes, four of whom have attempted to win the great race before. Kinross Farm’s Blackhall, a maiden trained by Joe Davies, finished fifth in 2022 and fell at the 16th fence last year; he’ll be ridden by Charlie Marshall. Armata Stables’ Goodoldtimes, who captured the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in 2021, has a third in two previous tries. He’s one of two Mark Beecher trainees, and will be ridden by Dan Nevin. Lucy Goelet’s Rocket Star Red, Beecher’s other entry, is seeking his first win after finishing second and third in three attempts. Brett Owings has the mount. Upland Partners’ Shootist, trained by Todd McKenna, made his Hunt Cup debut last year, but tired and pulled up at the 18th fence. Freddie Procter will be aboard.

The prospective field includes two first-timers as well. Armata Stables’ Mr. Fine Threads, a lightly raced 11-year-old who has made just 11 career starts, has a maiden and allowance victory in his past three outings. If there’s a wild card it’s Meriebelle Stable’s Wagner, an NSA newcomer who runs for Blythe Miller Davies. Coming off of a 17-race career in the UK, the Irish-bred nine-year-old, came from off the pace to break his maiden over timber in his very first try at the My Lady’s Manor races. A week later at the Grand National races, he set the pace early but jumped the wrong fence on the second circuit and pulled up after leaving the course. Eric Poretz is the rider.

Gates open at 11 a.m. Post Time is 4 p.m. For full entries, including owners, trainers, and riders, click here. You can access full past performance information at

At Foxfield

Home to presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as the University of Virginia, the city of Charlottesville will host the new-and-improved Spring meet on Saturday.

The Foxfield card consists of seven races worth a record $260,000 – $80,000 more than last year’s event. The meet is anchored by the $75,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial Sport of Kings novice stakes at 2 ⅛ miles, the distance of all hurdle races over the course. The race has gotten a $15,000 purse bump over 2023. Foxfield will also host a new stakes race, the $50,000 Good Night Shirt Sport of Kings Handicap Hurdle for horses rated at 130 or less. The race is named, of course, for Virginia horseman Sonny Via’s Hall of Fame star, who won six straight Grade 1 stakes among his 13 NSA triumphs and ranks second in all-time earnings.

The rest of the card features four hurdles races – a $15,000 maiden claimer; $30,000 maiden special weights contest; two handicaps, a $35,000 race for horses rated at 115 or less and a $30,000 event for those rated at 110 or less; and a $20,000 maiden race over timber at 3 miles.

Post time is 12:30 p.m. For full entries, click here.

If you can’t make it to the races, you can watch the live stream via the NSA web site at