That’s a wrap
The National Steeplechase Spring season came to a close on a sweltering Saturday in Malvern, Pa., with a five-race card dominated by the Leslie Young stable and Leipers Fork Steeplechasers.
By Tod Marks
It was a long and brutally hot day at the Radnor Hunt Races in the beautiful Brandywine Valley of Chester County, Pa., on Saturday, but it was equally hot for other reasons as leading trainer Leslie Young and her team captured the two features and the finale.
Over the past three weekends, Young has racked up 11 victories to catapult her to the lead in the trainer standings with 21, and earnings, with $434,550. The summer season begins at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., on July 11, and at Saratoga on July 17.
In the co-featured $20,000 Radnor Hunt Cup open timber, which was reduced in distance from 3 ¼ miles to 3 miles due to concerns over the heat, a compact field got even smaller as Bogey’s Image and Storm Team scratched, leaving just three horses to face the starter. With no one to pressure the pace, Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Tomgarrow and jockey Freddie Procter broke on top and were never headed, opening up over Charlie Fenwick’s Royal Ruse, who gamely stalked the eight-year-old Irish-bred chestnut, but proved no match. Four Virginia Gents’ First Friday, the other starter, was pulled up after a mile. The margin of victory was 16 lengths and gave Tomgarrow his second timber win of the season (the other being the My Lady’s Manor), and his eighth top-two finish in nine starts dating back to November 2020.
For jockey Freddie Procter, a newcomer to the NSA, it capped an unforgettable Spring in which the 23-year-old, an amateur rider in the UK, won his first race on his first mount and never looked back. Overall, Procter has amassed 10 wins in 21 starts, with five seconds and a third. He trails only Parker Hendriks, who has a dozen victories, in the standings.
Click HERE for a link to the complete standings.
In the other marquee race of the day, the $30,000 National Hunt Cup, a handicap over hurdles for horses rated at 120 or less, Young and Leipers Fork Steeplechasers made a second trip to the winner’s circle, this time with Court Ruler and jockey Harrison Beswick. Court Ruler, who earlier in the spring captured a 115 handicap at the Carolina Cup Races, took aim at the leader, William Russell’s Animal Kingston, in deep stretch to get up in the final strides for the one-length tally.
Young made it three straight when Ballybristol Farm’s galloping gray, Cause For Pardon, with Tom Garner aboard, rallied on the final bend with two jumps to go, and stormed to a 13-length win in a maiden hurdle. It was the 50th career start for the veteran Kentucky-bred son of Creative Cause, and his first over jumps in 13 tries.
The day began with a $25,000 maiden special weights hurdle, with a win at first-asking by Grey Giant, a four-year-old New York-bred making his initial start over jumps after 13 trips to the post at Pimlico, Parx, Laurel, Penn National, Colonial Downs, and Aqueduct. Trained by Joe Davies for owner Gerry Brewster, Grey Giant and jockey Teddy Davies rated no closer than fourth for the first mile and a half, then moved into contention with two fences to go, and edged clear of Parish Delight in a determined stretch drive to score by a length and a half.
Completing the card was a $10,000 maiden claimer in which another veteran flat runner found success in his newfound second career. Pennsylvania-bred Brevard Place, owned by Pathfinder Racing and trained by Neil Morris, made 15 starts – mostly at Penn National – between 2017 and 2019, his final effort coming in September 2019. The Quality Road gelding resurfaced for the first time, after a 32-month layoff, at Willowdale earlier this month. In his steeplechase debut, Brevard Place was in contention when he slipped and fell on the final turn. On Saturday, luck was in Brevard Place’s favor, as he stalked in second, gained the lead at the last fence, and handily drew clear of Bruton Street-US’ Agravain by more than four lengths. Gerard Galligan had the mount.
You can view the complete results HERE.