From Denmark with speed

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In 2009, Denmark-based owner Morten Buskop brought General Ledger to America and nearly upset the Grand National while settling for second in this country’s richest jump race. This year, Buskop brought a new horse – Percussionist – and got the money.



The Irish-bred 9-year-old charged around the final turn to wrest control from Slip Away before the last fence and drew off through the stretch to score by 7 lengths in the $250,000 Grade I hurdle at the Far Hills Races in Far Hills, N.J. Saturday. Lead Us Not claimed third in the 12-horse field. Ridden by JP O’Farrell, Percussionist covered the  2 5/8 miles in 5:00 2/5.

The moment was not lost on Buskop.

"I said I was devastated when they interviewed me after the race, but I think I used the wrong word," he said. "I’m so happy. It’s such a feeling. He did it. He did it."

Overwhelmed would have been more appropriate. Buskop bought Percussionist from the yard of big-time English jump trainer Howard Johnson in May, took him home to Denmark and went to work with Far Hills in mind. The son of Sadler’s Wells won twice including the Norway Champion Hurdle in late September and the Grand National became a real target.

Percussionist arrived less than a week ago, spent a few days at a local farm, schooled over the American hurdles Thursday and ran like a star Saturday. Preemptive Strike set the early pace and was closely followed by Slip Away with Class Bopper third in the early going. Percussionist dropped well back early, crept into contention down the backside and aimed at the leader entering the turn. Fourth in the English Derby as a 3-year-old back in 2004, the winner called on his back class late and powered home with a powerful leap at the last fence.

The winner earned $150,000 to pad his lifetime bankroll past $700,000 on 11 wins from 39 career starts (8-for-21 over jumps).

In other action at Far Hills, Mary Ann Houghland’s Nationbuilder nipped All Together in a tight photo finish of the $100,000 Foxbrook Novice for trainer Jonathan Sheppard and jockey Brian Crowley. All Together led over the last fence, and looked like a winner everywhere except on the photo finish camera. Call You In Ten finished third.

Sheppard won a $25,000 maiden hurdle with homebred One Giant Step. The 4-year-old powered past Fog Island and away from runner-up Good Request in the stretch. Danielle Hodsdon rode the winner, a half-brother to Three Carat and Sparkled.

Jennifer  Pitts’ Green Velvet made quick work of the opener, the $50,000 Peapack for fillies and mares. Trained by Jazz Napravnik and ridden by Ross Geraghty, the 5-year-old came into the race as a maiden and led for every step. Moon Dolly finished second with Farah T Salute (also trained by Napravnik) finished third.

Mede Cahaba Stable’s Class Skip (Richard Boucher) won the $25,000 Gladstone for 3-year-olds. Trained by Lilith Boucher, the son of Skip Away outran Peace Fire and Dr. Wheat late to give owner, trainer and jockey their second win in the race over the past two years. Dr. Wheat was disqualified after an incident at the start, where he interfered with Demonstrative and dislodged jockey Matt McCarron. Union Army was moved from fourth to third.

Irv Naylor’s timber veteran Patriot’s Path won his second stakes of the month when he drew off in the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup for trainer Desmond Fogarty and jockey Darren Nagle. G’day G’day finished second with Haddix third.

In the ST Handicapping Challenge, Joe doubled on the day with One Giant Step and Class Skip,  while Sean singled with One Giant Step. Sean still leads with 51 wins. Joe is second with 45 and Brian third with 36.