Reprinted from National Steeplechase Association website – by Don Clippinger
The reigning timber champion and the current leader in the timber standings will square off Saturday in the $90,000 International Gold Cup, the fall’s richest race over post-and-rail fences.
The richest-ever running of the International Gold Cup highlights an action-filled 10-race program that also includes the $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) over hurdles.
Including also-eligible horses, the International Gold Cup program attracted 120 entries. First post time is noon at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains. Pari-mutuel wagering under supervision of the Virginia Racing Commission will be offered on all races.
Two’s Company, owned by Bruton Street-US, is angling to run away with the 2016 timber championship after winning four times, finishing second in his only other start this year, and banking $87,000.
Trainer Jack Fisher named Sean McDermott for a return engagement on Two’s Company. In his most recent start, the Irish-bred pulled away to a dominant victory in the $40,000 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at the Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 8. He also won the Middleburg Hunt Cup and was second in the Virginia Gold Cup in the spring.
Finishing second in the National Sporting Library was Michael Wharton’s Grinding Speed, who will be shooting for a record fourth win in the International Gold Cup. His win in last year’s International Gold Cup, after a second in the Virginia Fall stakes, assured him the timber title.
Winless so far this season, Alicia Murphy-trained Grinding Speed again will be ridden by Mark Beecher.
Looking to pull an upset of the top two established timber contenders is Donald Reuwer Jr.’s Grand Manan, who scored easy wins in two most recent starts, the Willowdale Steeplechase in May and the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup earlier this month.
Trainer Billy Meister named Darren Nagle for a return ride on the Giant’s Causeway gelding. Grand Manan likes to go out to the lead early and is the probable pacesetter for the International Gold Cup.
Coming into the International Gold Cup from unplaced finishes in the National Sporting Library are Peter and Sarah Jay’s Prime Prospector, who was fifth, and Armata Stables’ Cornhusker, the seventh finisher. Paddy Young rides Prime Prospector for Todd Wyatt, and Murphy named Kieran Norris to ride Cornhusker.
Completing the field is Irv Naylor’s Almarmooq, who was seventh in the My Lady’s Manor and fell in the Maryland Hunt Cup. Gerard Galligan will ride for trainer Kathy Neilson.
Here is the field for the $90,000 International Gold Cup at 3 1/2 miles.
Two’s Company (Ire). 2009 b. g., Soviet Star—Gaye Lady, by Pistolet Bleu (Ire). Owner: Bruton Street-U.S. Trainer Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeders: M. W. and Mrs. M. Doran (Ire). 2016 record: 5-4-1-0, $87,000. 2015 record: 4-1-1-0, $12,600. Opened 2016 with victories in Carolina Cup’s C. P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup and Middleburg Hunt Cup, then closed for second in Virginia Gold Cup. Won 2016 Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs and Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup.
Grinding Speed. 2006 gr. or ro. g., Grindstone—Cozelia, by Cozzene. Owner: Michael T. Wharton. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeders: Alan S., Mark T., Mitchell A., and Madeline R. Kline, et al. (Md.) 2016 record: 4-0-1-0, $12,350. 2015 record: 5-3-1-0, $124,550. 2014 record: 5-1-1-2, $46,350. Finished second in 2016 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at Virginia Fall. Finished sixth in 2016 Virginia Gold Cup and My Lady’s Manor, races he won the previous year, then was fourth in Shawan’s Legacy Chase. Clinched 2015 timber title with stylish victory in International Gold Cup, his third win in richest fall timber race. Also won his second Virginia Gold Cup in 2015.
Prime Prospector. 2008 b. g., Seeking the Gold—Remember Love, by A.P. Indy. Owner: Peter and Sarah Jay. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Woodford Thoroughbreds (Ky.) 2016 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,600. 2015 record: 2-1-0-1, $7,500. Finished fifth in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Finished fifth in Willowdale Steeplechase after finishing fifth and placed fourth in the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial. Won maiden victory over timber at 2015 Willowdale Steeplechase.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Donald Reuwer Jr. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2016 record: 3-2-0-0, $25,950. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $31,050. 2014 record: No starts. Finished in dead heat for 2016 Willowdale Steeplechase win after fifth in My Lady’s Manor. Won Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Closed 2015 campaign with runaway victory in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance. In first start in more than two years, won Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial Novice Timber by seven lengths, then was sixth in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 4-2-0-0, $66,250. 2014 record: 5-2-1-0, $50,300. Finished last of seven in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Ended 2014 and 2015 seasons with second-place finishes in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished sixth in 2015 New Jersey Hunt Cup after winning Iroquois’ Mason Houghland Memorial for the second straight year. Won 2015 Middleburg Hunt Cup after sixth-place finish in My Lady’s Manor.
Almarmooq. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer–Tuscoga, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Stone Farm (Ky.). 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 4-1-0-0, $23,250. 2014 record: 6-1-3-0, $23,400. Finished seventh in 2016 My Lady’s Manor, then fell in Maryland Hunt Cup. Won 2015 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished sixth in Willowdale Steeplechase after late fall in Maryland Hunt Cup. Finished distant fourth in Grand National. Capped busy 2014 fall season with victory in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s Arthur O. Choate Jr. timber allowance.