Kiser tops busy week for jumpers 

Caramelised on his way to winning the Carolina Cup Hurdle Stakes. ©Tod Marks

By Tod Marks

The National Steeplechase Association’s summer season continues this week with four hurdle races, three from Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., and the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser novice stakes at Saratoga.

At Saratoga on Wednesday, a highly competitive field of eight is expected to face NYRA starter Hector Soler in the Kiser, at 2 1/16th miles.

Leading trainer Leslie Young saddles Sharon Sheppard and Gil Johnston’s Caramelised (ridden by Robbie Dunne) and Potter Group USA and Yorton Racing’s Solomoon (Corey McGivern). Caramelised, a five-year-old British-bred, made a sensational U.S. debut in the Carolina Cup, coming from behind with a powerful late kick after the final fence to overtake stakes winner Welshman. In his only other 2023 start, he weakened to finish a distant third to Freddy Flintshire in the Queen’s Cup in April. Solomoon, a four-year-old also bred in Great Britain, has one weight-for-age hurdle victory in four career starts. He was pulled up in his only NSA start, a 120 handicap at the Iroquois races. “He is a lovely little horse who has been training well,” Young said of Solomoon. “We thought we’d give him a shot in the novice and see if we can pick up a piece of it.”

Arch Kingsley also saddles a duo in the Kiser, Hurricana Farm’s Merry Maker (Graham Watters) and Richard Colton and Stella Thayer’s Barbados (Stephen Mulqueen). Stepping up in class, Merry Maker, a lightly raced six-year-old Irish-bred, is two-for-four lifetime and is coming off an impressive score in a very tough allowance field at the Virginia Gold Cup Races in May. Barbados, a seven-year-old Irish-bred, broke his maiden at Iroquois, then took a shot in the $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup at two miles on the turf in his next start in June, finishing eighth of 13 at 60-1. He’s been installed as the mild 3-1 favorite for the Kiser.

Capall Syndicate Racing and USA Steeplechase’s Restitution (Parker Hendriks) makes his NSA debut for trainer Keri Brion. A five-year-old French-bred son of the peerless Frankel, Restitution has four wins (three in handicap hurdle races) in 18 starts in England. He has finished in the top three 11 times. Restitution carries top weight of 159 pounds, giving away three to 15 pounds to the rest of the field.

“He’s a very nice horse for the USA steeplechase Club plus a new owner that is prominent in Willie Mullins’ yard, along with others in the Cahill racing syndicate,” said Brion. “He’s a really nice horse and obviously has to carry top weight, which isn’t ideal but he’s going great and I expect him to run well. This is a stepping stone to hopefully bigger things.”

Irv Naylor’s new acquisition from Europe, McTigue, paid immediate dividends when he was the lucky beneficiary of a mistake by Michael Smith’s Hoffman in the $50,000 Speedy Smithwick Memorial Stakes at Great Meadow in May. Hoffman, who romped by 20 lengths, missed a beacon and was disqualified, the victory awarded to McTigue, who was eight lengths clear of his nearest adversary. Barry Foley, winner of the recent Grade 1 AP Smithwick at the Spa, has the mount for trainer Cyril Murphy.

Hall of Fame conditioner Jack Fisher will be represented in the Kiser by Riverdee Stable and Ten Strike Racing’s Awakened (Tom Garner), a regally bred six-year-old by Curlin out of the Phipps-bred mare Daydreaming. A winner of an allowance hurdle in May at Radnor, Awakened has tried novice stakes competition once before, at Far Hills last October, where he finished sixth.

Completing the field is Armata Stable’s Realist (Harry Bewsick), champion three-year-old of 2021, who is on the comeback trail after an injury had him on the sidelines for more than a year and a half. Trainer Ricky Hendriks gave Realist a prep on the flat at Winterthur in May, where he ran a good second. In his first try over hurdles since his 28-length romp in the Gladstone stakes at Far Hills in October 2021, Realist finished seventh to Awakened at Radnor.

NYRA races are broadcast live on Fox2 TV, with replays available on NYRA website, You can also live stream via the NSA website, Post time for the Kiser is 1:10 p.m.

And at Colonial Downs…

With the forecast calling for extremely hot weather, the July 28 races were postponed and the two steeplechase events rescheduled, one added to the upcoming Aug. 4 card, the other to the Aug. 11 card.

As a result, this Friday there will be three races instead of the usual two: an open $40,000 maiden special weights hurdle, a $30,000 110 ratings handicap, and $40,000 filly and mare maiden special weights hurdle. All three races are at 2 ¼ miles.

The revised post times are 11:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 12:45 p.m. For full entries, click here:

You can watch the races via live stream from the National Steeplechase Association home page,

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