GLYNDON, Md.--A strong field of 10 is entered in the $60,000 Maryland Hunt Cup on Saturday, April 24, and off his past performances, Bruton Street-US' Drift Society, who will be ridden by Connor Hankin and is trained by Jack Fisher, looks like the horse to beat.
Over the 4 mile course of 4- to 5-foot, very solid timber fences, the first thing is just to get around the course.
Of the 10 entries for this year's race, only three horses, Jeffery G, Joshua G and Drift Society, have jumped around the daunting courses.
Irv Naylor's Jeffery G, trained by Jason Cole, was fourth in the 2019 Hunt Cup, and he finished fifth in this year's Grand National, but he has run 16 starts and has never won or placed second.
He'll be ridden by Forrest Kelly.
Armata Stable's Joshua G, trained by Kathy Neilson, finished fourth in 2015, didn't finish in 2016 and 2017, then was second in 2018 and third in 2019.
Skylar McKenna will have her first trip around the Hunt Cup on Joshua G this year.
Drift Society has run four times in the Hunt Cup, placing third in 2016, second in 2017, third in 2018 and second again in 2019, three of those times to Senior Senator, so he certainly is capable of jumping around the Hunt Cup course.
Hankin rode Drift Society in the 2016 Hunt Cup, before he went in the Marines, and Fisher has both ridden and trained a Maryland Hunt Cup winner in Revelstoke, who won in 1994.
"It's a wide open race," said Fisher, who will be at this season's first big sanctioned hurdle and timber race meet, the Queens Cup i Charlotte, N.C.., where he has eight horses entered in five of the six races.
THERE ARE strong challengers in the remaining seven first time starters, including Michael A. Smith's Le Chevalier, a hard-knocking campaigner who just scored an impressive victory in the Grand National on April 17.
Le Chevalier, who has hit the board in 50 percent of the 33 races he has run in, is trained by Julie Gomena and will be ridden by McLane Hendriks, who also rode him in the Grand National.
Joe Davies organizes his racing stable and schedule around the Hunt Cup, and this year he will saddle Armata Stable's Vintage Vinnie (Ire), who will be ridden by Dan Nevin, an Irish jockey who recently rode Scorpion's Revenge, trained by Keri Brion, to win in Ireland.
Vintage Vinnie has jumped around the Aintree Grand National course. albeit not in the Grand National itself, so big fences shouldn't bother him, and he is coming off winning the My Lady's Manor on April 10.
Charlie Fenwick's Royal Ruse, trained by Sanna Nelilon. will be ridden by Chris Gracie, and he finished second to Le Chevalier in the Grand National.
Fisher has a second starter in Bruton Street-US' Preseli Rock (Ire), who will be ridden by Hadden Frost.
Preseli Rock finished second in My Lady's Manor.
Lucy A. Goelet's Rocket Star Red, trained by Mark Beecher, will be ridden by Brett Owings, and he finished second in the Allowance race at the Grand National.
Naylor's Hooded, trained by Cyril Murphy, doesn't have a rider named on him yet, and he most recently finished fourth in the Allowance race at the Grand National.
Kiplin Hall's Sideling Hill, trained by Willy Dowling, will be ridden by Eric Poretz, and he finished third in the Maiden race at My Lady's Manor.