The National Steeplechase Association’s timber championship will be on the line Saturday in the $75,000 International Gold Cup, the timber feature of the 36th annual International Gold Cup meet.
Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu, the Virginia Gold Cup winner and undefeated over the last two racing seasons, currently leads the timber standings, and he will be challenged by Dolly Fisher’s Schoodic, the recent Genesee Valley Hunt Cup winner, in a six-horse field for the 3½-mile International Gold Cup.
The $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) is the hurdle co-feature of the International Gold Cup, and 2018 Eclipse Award winner Zanjabeel returns to the races in a field of eight. Also on the seven-race program at the Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va., is the $40,000 Steeplethon over a course of mixed obstacles.
A French-bred nine-year-old, Andi’amu is undefeated in three starts this year for trainer Leslie Young, and he tops the timber earnings list with $102,000. After winning the Middleburg Hunt Cup, he toured the Great Meadow course in the Virginia Gold Cup on May 4 and won by three lengths.
He prepared for the International Gold Cup with an easy victory in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library and Museum Cup on Oct. 12. Jack Doyle, currently tied for the lead in the jockey standings, will ride Andi’amu.
Schoodic enters the International Gold Cup from a one-length victory in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup on Oct. 12. The nine-year-old Tiznow gelding won his first three timber starts, including the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial in May, and has 2019 earnings of $64,500. Hadden Frost has a return call for champion trainer Jack Fisher, the owner’s son.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered Hudson River Farms’ Codrington College, who dealt Schoodic his only defeat over timber, a neck decision in Shawan Downs’ Brown Advisory Legacy Chase on Sept. 28. Darren Nagle, the reigning champion jockey, will ride.
The pace very likely will be set by Armata Stables’ Grand Manan, who won the 2016 edition of the International Gold Cup on the front end. Trained by Billy Meister, the 10-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding most recently finished third in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup, 7¾ lengths behind Schoodic.
Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday will take another shot at Andi’amu after finishing 7¼ lengths behind him when second in the National Sporting Library. Trainer Kathy Neilson named Gerard Galligan to ride the 10-year-old Any Given Saturday gelding, who finished third in the Virginia Gold Cup.
Completing the field is Rebecca Shepherd’s Curve of Stones, a Virginia-bred maiden winner over timber at the Virginia Fall meet. Paul O’Neill will ride for trainer David Bourke.
Here is the field for the $75,000 International Gold Cup in post-position order.
Super Saturday. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Any Given Saturday—Lady Aloma, by Cozzene. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Walton Breeders (Ky.) 2019 record: 4-0-1-1, $18,400. 2018 record: 6-1-2-1, $51,800. 2017 record: 6-0-1-1, $13,400. Finished second in Virginia Fall’s 2019 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup. Finished third in 2019 Virginia Gold Cup, then fell in Radnor Hunt Cup. Finished fifth in Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished second in 2018 International Gold Cup and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after fifth in National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Won 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was third in the Virginia Gold Cup and fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup.
Andi’amu (Fr). 2010 b. g., Walk In The Park—Sainte Parfaite, by Septieme Ciel. Owner: Ballybristol Farm. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Therese Bouche (Fr). 2019 record: 3-3-0-0, $102,000. 2018 record: 2-2-0-0, $36,000. Easily won Virginia Fall’s 2019 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup. Won the 2019 Virginia Gold Cup by three lengths and Middleburg Hunt Cup by 5¾ lengths. Won Middleburg Spring’s 2018 Alfred M. Hunt steeplethon, then added Virginia Gold Cup’s Steeplethon Stakes. Finished second in 2017 Noel Laing Handicap and third in 2017 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).
Curve of Stones 2011 gr. or ro. g., Arch—Exceptionally, by El Prado (Ire). Owner: Sarah Rebecca Shepherd. Trainer: David M. Bourke. Jockey: Paul O’Neill. Breeder: Audley Farm (Va.) 2019 record: 4-1-0-0, $1,200. 2018 record: 3-0-0-0, $2,100. 2017 record: 8-0-0-1, $18,100. Won timber maiden at 2019 Virginia Fall meet. Made change to steeplethons in 2019 and finished fifth at Middleburg Spring and fourth at the Virginia Gold Cup. Finished sixth in 2018 Far Hills ratings handicap. Began 2018 with fifth in Shawan Downs rating handicap and was eighth in Virginia Fall ratings handicap. Finished third in 2017 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2).
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Dolly Fisher. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Hadden Frost. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2019 record: 5-4-1-0, $64,500. 2018 record: 6-0-1-2, $35,800. Won the 2019 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Opened his timber career in 2019 with three straight victories, including 16¾-length romp in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial and an open-length win in Fair Hill novice timber, then was second in Shawan Downs’ Brown Advisory Legacy Chase. Was a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed over hurdles.
Codrington College (Ire). 2010 ch. g., Duke of Marmalade—A.P. Easy, by A.P. Indy. Owner: Hudson River Farms. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Laundry Cottage Stud Farm (Ire). 2019 record: 3-1-0-2, $18,500. 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. Won Shawan Downs’ 2019 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase. Finished third in Grand National’s 2019 Western Run Plate and in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial. Won his timber debut at 2018 Queen’s Cup.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Hadden Frost. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2019 record: 5-0-1-2, $7,300. 2018: 4-0-0-1, $6,200. Finished third in Shawan’s 2019 Legacy Chase and Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. after distant second in Willowdale timber allowance. Led and was pulled up in 2019 My Lady’s Manor and Middleburg Hunt Cup. Closed 2016 season with back-to-back front-running victories in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup and International Gold Cup.