The jumpers head to Charleston on penultimate NSA weekend

Kyogo at Far Hills . © Tod Marks

By Tod Marks

Since the Colonial Cup ended its run in 2018, the National Steeplechase Association has concluded its season with the Steeplechase of Charleston, a meet that’s played a key role in the race for leading trainer, jockey, and three-year-old.

Though the schedule’s changed, and Aiken will mark the end of the calendar on Nov. 18, Charleston remains a player in determining year-end honors when the five-race card gets underway at Stono Ferry Race Course in Hollywood, S.C. on Sunday.

Highlighting the $100,000 card is the $35,000 Alston Cup Sport of Kings stakes for three-year-olds. It’s a race that will determine the top sophomore. Four horses are expected to face the starter headed by Meadow Run Farm’s Kyogo, recent winner of the $50,000 Gladstone at Far Hills. Formerly trained by Gordon Elliott and now handled by Ricky Hendriks, Kyogo took the Gladstone by three-quarters of a length over Atlantic Friends Racing’s Our Boy Wes, who is not entered. Nor is Southpaw Mike, who finished five lengths behind the winner in third.

The Alston Cup has attracted two runners exiting the Gladstone. Runnymoore Racing’s Irish-bred Clifton Down, trained by leading conditioner Leslie Young, who already has locked up her second straight crown, was a distant fourth in the Gladstone. Before that, he was a maiden winner in France where he made five other starts in maiden, allowance, and handicap competition. KMSN Stable’s Lightning Ridge, trained by Keri Brion, broke his maiden in his first NSA start at Shawan Downs in September, then led for the first mile and a half in the Gladstone before tiring and being pulled up. The wild card in the race is Del Rio Racing’s Get Khozy, also trained by Ricky Hendriks. A veteran of eight starts on the flat (without a win), all at Gulfstream Park, the Florida-bred son of Khozan made his NSA debut in a training-flat race at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last Sunday, and outkicked a pair of rivals in deep stretch to score by a neck.

The undercard includes a $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle; a $30,000 maiden special weights hurdle; a $20,000 hurdle for horses rated at 110 or less; and a training flat contest. Except for the handicap, the hurdle races will be run at 2 1/16 miles. The handicap is at 2 ⅜ miles.

With nine hurdle races remaining at Charleston and Aiken, Graham Watters has a two-race advantage in the standings (18 to 16) over Harry Beswick in the contest for leading rider. Beswick has four mounts at Charleston to Watters’ three.

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Post time is 1 p.m., and the races will be streamed live via the The live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory.

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