Awakened, Elusive Exclusive shine in Radnor features
by Tod Marks
The two-month National Steeplechase Association spring season came to an end on Saturday with a card of mostly close finishes in the 92nd Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa.
In the featured $30,000 National Hunt Cup, contested at 2 3/8 miles as an allowance race this year, Riverdee Stable’s Awakened and Jamie Bargary took charge heading to the final fence and drew clear of South Branch Equine’s Who’s Counting, trained and ridden by Sean McDermott, by 4 3/4 lengths. The $18,000 winning purse was enough to secure second place among NSA owners for Riverdee Stable, just behind leading owner Irv Naylor. For winning trainer Jack Fisher, the victory was his 10th of the season, which puts him in second in the standings.
Though only three horses went postward in the $20,000 Radnor Hunt Cup, at 3 1/4 miles over timber, a mere neck separated the top two finishers as Boudinot Farms’ Elusive Exclusive, with Freddie Procter, nipped The Hundred Acre Field’s Cracker Factory (Jamie Bargary).
The victory was one of two on the five-race card for trainer Leslie Young, who ended the spring with a remarkable 21 wins, to lead the standings by a wide margin.
For Elusive Exclusive, it was his third score in six NSA starts following a lengthy career in his native Ireland. It was also the nine-year-old’s first trip to the post in a year.
The race had additional drama when the third horse, Great Road, with Eric Poretz, prematurely headed for the finish line with an additional lap of the course remaining, thus turning the Hunt Cup into a two-horse race.
Noble Stables’ Total Joy, a first-time NSA starter for trainer Young, began the day with a thrilling neck victory over Irv Naylor’s Gold Charm in the $25,000 Milfern Cup maiden special weights hurdle at 2 1/8 miles.
Ridden by Mark Watts, Total Joy sat in third in the eight-horse field for the first mile and a half, was sent to the lead entering the stretch, then relinquished it to Gold Charm, ridden by Barry Foley. Even though Watts had to deal with a lost left stirrup, Total Joy regained the advantage with a late surge.
Greg Hawkins’ Webb, a five-year-old New York-bred son of English Channel, earned his first victory over jumps with a front-running score under apprentice Mell Boucher in the $25,000 Thompson Memorial maiden special weights hurdle at 2 1/8 miles.
Trained by Hall of Famer Janet Elliot – who campaigned Webb’s dam, The Grey Express, also owned by Hawkins – Webb opened up a fast lead of as much as a dozen lengths and faced a stiff challenge at the final fence from Runnymoore Racing’s Fit For A King and Mark Watts. But Fit For A King was a faller after which Webb had to withstand a spirited bid by Northwoods Stable’s Look North and Jamie Bargary, who was three-quarters of a length short of the winner.
Fresh off a 16-race career on the flat, Donald Reuwer’s Brown Delivers, with Jamie Bargary in the saddle, assumed the lead on the second time around the course and repelled a furious rally by Irv Naylor’s Westerland, with Gerard Galligan, in the finale, a $10,000 maiden starter hurdle, to score by 2 3/4 lengths. Joe Davies was the winning trainer, and the victory was enough for Bargary to be named the meet’s leading jockey. Bargary had a total of two wins and two seconds on the five race card.