Jump Picks & Preview for April 15

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Maryland Hunt Cup winner Vintage Vinnie heads for the finish at the Manor last year. Tod Marks photo

Now we’re talking. The fledgling steeplechase season finds third gear with two meets Saturday. As much as we don’t really like double meets, these co-exist just fine with hurdlers headed to Tryon, N.C., for the Block House meet and the timber horses aiming for My Lady’s Manor in Monkton, Md. Next week is more of the same with Middleburg (headlined by Snap Decision’s return in the Temple Gwathmey) and the Grand National.

If you’re going racing, or even if you aren’t, take a moment to remember Pauline Hutchinson, who passed away Easter Sunday in England. The wife of international jump-racing fan Richard, Pauline was a fixture at numerous racing days in the United States and abroad. The TIHR team will always remember her words of encouragement, her positive attitude (no matter the weather or the result) and her organizational skills when we took some Americans to England as part of a short-lived Steeplechase Times international travel venture. Richard and family, we’re thinking of you. Here’s to nothing but winners.

Last week’s three races at Old Dominion produced winners for Tom (Fits The Jill and Hoffman) and Sean (Fits The Jill). That puts Sean in the lead with eight winners, to seven each for Joe and Tom.

My Lady’s Manor. Four timber races test the meandering, rolling, hill-climbing course where no fence is jumped twice and the emphasis somehow lands on speed, stamina and jumping ability. Post time is 1:30 p.m. Firm turf might be already limiting some timber fields, but there will be plenty of competition.

First race. $50,000 My Lady’s Manor timber stakes going 3 miles. First run in 1909, the Manor has hosted some of the sport’s best – Winton, Pine Pep, Jay Trump, Mountain Dew (who never won but was second four times), Landing Party, Jacko and so on. Sam Son Of A Gun won four in a row in the 1980s. Ironfist won three straight in the 2000s. Von Csadek doubled in 1989 and 1990. Lately, it’s been the launching pad of back-to-back Maryland Hunt Cup wins by Vintage Vinnie. He won the Manor itself in 2021, then blitzed the 4-mile Hunt Cup two weeks later. Last year, The Irish-bred snuck into the apprentice race and won, then blitzed the Hunt Cup again. He returns at age 14 for Armata Stable, trainer Joe Davies and jockey Teddy Davies. The jockey is a freshman at the University of Delaware and we did not see him in line with the other party animals at the Deer Park Tavern last night. Vintage Vinnie will need his track shoes as last year’s Manor winner Tomgarrow turns up. He’s been very good since making the conversion from hurdling in 2020 with four wins and four seconds in nine tries for the Leslie Young barn. Mystic Strike makes his fifth start in the Manor – he was third in 2018, won in 2019, slipped on the turn in 2021 and was second last year. Second at Cheshire for trainer Todd McKenna in March, the Smart Strike gelding (whose flat trainers included Phil Gleaves, David Jacobson, Linda Gaudet, Dane Kobiskie and Kieron Magee) seeks his 15th lifetime win. Goodoldtimes, an Armata runner trained by Alicia Murphy, completes the quartet off a win at Green Spring Valley Point-to-Point.

  • Joe: Vintage Vinnie, Tomgarrow, Mystic Strike.
  • Tom: Vintage Vinnie, Tomgarrow, Mystic Strike.
  • Sean: Tomgarrow, Vintage Vinnie, Mystic Strike. 

Second race. $20,000 maiden timber going 3 miles. Another four-horse field. Cause For Pardon, second at Cheshire and at Shawan Downs last fall after winning two hurdle starts, looks tough.

  • Joe: Cause For Pardon, Brooklyn Speights, To Be Or Not To Be.
  • Tom: Cause For Pardon, To Be Or Not To Be, Brooklyn Speights.
  • Sean: Cause For Pardon, To Be Or Not To Be, Fashion Line.

Third race. $20,000 maiden timber going 3 miles. Five tackle this one, topped by Mr. Fine Threads (who won at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last but was disqualified for a medication positive). Recent hurdle converts Family Tree (a winner at Green Spring), Quality Choice and Stolen Shoes (a winner at Brandywine) look to graduate early. Adjutant has run well enough to win this.

  • Joe: Mr. Fine Threads, Family Tree, Stolen Shoes.
  • Tom: Mr. Fine Threads, Adjutant, Family Tree.
  • Sean: Mr. Fine Threads, Quality Choice, Stolen Shoes. 

Fourth race. $15,000 allowance timber for apprentice jockeys going 3 miles. Six try to avoid the stakes horses in the Manor and opt for this, which is no easy spot. Awesome Adrian and Royal Ruse are capable and experienced. Master Seville has won three. Mercoeur took them a long way in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last year.

  • Joe: Master Seville, Royal Ruse, Mercoeur.
  • Tom: Royal Ruse, Mercoeur, Master Seville.
  • Sean: Royal Ruse, Master Seville, Awesome Adrian. 

Tryon Block House Races in Columbus, N.C. Post time is 1:30 for the five-race card at the Green Creek Race Course that is part of the Trying Riding and Hunt Club among the world-class equestrian facilities in the area.

First race. $20,000 maiden claiming hurdle  going 2 miles. You want form or not? Six show up for this. Bless Bless (third at Warrenton Point-to-Point) and Whisky Warrior (sixth at Old Dominion) make their jump debuts. Tiger To Remember has yet to finish in two starts. Greylover was fourth in his debut, but pulled up the next time. World Of Fools lost by 50 lengths at Aiken. Merkaba did the same in October.

  • Joe: Greylover, Bless Bless, Whisky Warrior.
  • Tom: Whisky Warrior, Greylover, World Of Fools.
  • Sean: Bless Bless, Greylover, Whisky Warrior. 

Second race. $30,000 maiden hurdle going 2 miles. Six show up for this one. Questions, we’ve got questions. Can Beat Le Bon settle and save anything for the end? How good is Agitare and can he settle too? If those two hook up early, it may be the fastest 2 miles in history. Can Talk Or Listen move forward for the run April 1 at Camden? Do Eye Of Gunfighter’s seven prior jump starts count for anything?

  • Joe: Beat Le Bon, Agitare, Carl Timothy.
  • Tom: Beat Le Bon, Agitare, Eagerly.
  • Sean: Beat Le Bon, Agitare, Stop Or Listen.

Third race. $20,000 claiming hurdle (NW2) going 2 miles. The old “two for the price” condition returns and gets four runners. Seizing The Dream waives the price since it’s his first start since November and he ran for the price then. He won that and figures to be OK here too, even if he gives away some experience. Three O One won in 2021 and has been close three times since. Richard Boucher takes over from daughter Mell as the jockey. Top Brass’ two races here last fall were good. Small field, decent race.

  • Joe: Top Brass, Seizing The Dream, Three O One.
  • Tom: Seizing The Dream, Top Brass, Three O One.
  • Sean: Seizing The Dream, Top Brass, Three O One.

Fourth race. $30,000 Handicap hurdle (120) going 2 miles. Nine come here from all angles – Molly Fantasy, Gordon’s Jet and Animal Kingston are proven, experienced horses. Jimmy P, Potus, Uco Valley, Lumberjack and Topic Changer are on the way up off recent maiden wins. Tease And Seize is better than he looks on paper.

• Joe: Gordon’s Jet, Tease And Seize, Molly Fantasy.
• Tom: Molly Fantasy, Potus, Gordon’s Jet.
• Sean: Uco Valley, Potus, Molly Fantasy.

Fifth race. Training flat going 1 1/2 miles. Three runners turn up for this. L’Or des Roses will be worth watching. French-bred import won twice over hurdles in Ireland. Dante’s Fire makes his debut for new trainer Neil Morris. Circus, third in a handicap hurdle at Colonial last year, gets back to work.

  • Joe: Dante’s Fire, L’Or des Roses, Circus.
  • Tom: Dante’s Fire, Circus, L’Or des Roses.
  • Sean: Dante’s Fire, Circus, L’Or Des Roses.

Both meets will be part of the NSA website livestream.