The following piece was written by Don Clippinger and appeared at www.nationalsteeplechase.com. Wagering will be available on Saturday’s combined steeplechase and flat card at Great Meadow itself (both manned teller stations and self bet terminals available), at the four Virginia Bets OTBs and nationally via www.XpressBet.com.
In pursuit of consecutive timber championships, Doc Cebu will face four opponents on Saturday when he attempts a second straight victory in the $75,000 International Gold Cup, the featured timber race of the 35th annual International Gold Cup meet at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va.
The 80th International Gold Cup will be complemented by the $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial, a Grade 2 hurdle stakes and the $40,000 Steeplethon on an eight-race program offering $370,000 in purses.
First post time is noon, and pari-mutuel wagering will be offered on all races. For the first time, the International Gold Cup program will be available on the popular Xpressbet wagering platform.
Owned by Charles Fenwick, Michael Hankin, and Charles Noell, Doc Cebu sealed his 2017 timber championship with an 11-length romp in the International Gold Cup. This year’s edition of the 3 1/2-mile race is a must-win proposition for the eight-year-old Hard Spun gelding.
He already has won three timber races this year—the Willowdale Steeplechase, the Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs, and most recently the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup—but he needs the International Gold Cup’s $45,000 first-place purse to overtake timber leader Senior Senator, who earned $90,000 in eight days with victories in the Grand National and Maryland Hunt Cup.
Trainer Jack Fisher named Hadden Frost for a return ride on Doc Cebu, whose 2018 earnings total $57,000.
While Doc Cebu will be an overwhelming favorite, he will face some formidable competitors, three of whom started in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup on Oct. 13.
Michael A. Smith’s Le Chevalier, trained by Julie Gomena, won the National Sporting Library by 4 1/2 lengths after second-place finishes in the Virginia Gold Cup and the Middleburg Hunt Cup. Jack Doyle, currently atop the jockey standings, has the mount.
Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday won the Middleburg Hunt Cup, a race in which Doc Cebu finished third. Trained by Kathy Neilson, Super Saturday finished fifth in the Virginia Fall race and will be ridden by Gerard Galligan.
Kiplin Hall’s Rodriguez finished third in last year’s International Gold Cup and was sixth in both the Legacy Chase and National Sporting Library. Trainer Willie Dowling named Mark Beecher to ride.
Frank A. Bonsal’s Stand Down, who sustained his first career defeat when third in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup, will try to get back on the winning track. The six-year-old won his first two starts in the spring for trainer Joseph Davies.
Here is the field for the International Gold Cup in post-position order.
Stand Down (Ire). 2012 b. g., Yeats (Ire)—Quadrennial, by Un Desperado. Owner: Frank Bonsal Jr. Trainer: Joseph G. Davies. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Mrs. E. Costelloe (Ire). 2018 record: 3-2-0-1, $21,200. Sustained first career defeat when third in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Won first two career starts by open lengths, beginning with 2018 Grand National timber allowance and then Willowdale allowance timber.
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.) 2018 record: 4-1-0-1, $31,100. 2017 record: 6-0-1-1, $13,400. 2016 record: 5-0-1-0, $4,550. Finished fifth in 2018 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Won 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was third in the Virginia Gold Cup and fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup. Finished second in 2017 New Jersey Hunt Cup and third in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance.
Rodriguez (Ire). 2007 dk. b. or br. g., High Chaparral (Ire)—Sofia Aurora, by Chief Honcho. Owner: Kiplin Hall. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Michael G. Daly (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,950. 2017 record: 5-1-0-2, $27,000. 2016 record: 3-1-1-0, $12,700. Finished sixth in Shawan Downs’ 2018 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase and National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at Virginia Fall. Won Shawan’s 2017 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase, then was fourth in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library and Museum Cup and third in International Gold Cup.
Le Chevalier. 2009 g. or ro. g., Broken Vow—Orellana, by With Approval. Owner: Michael A. Smith. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Haras du Mezeray (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-1-2-0, $47,400. 2017 record: 1-0-0-1, $3,000. 2016 record: 5-2-1-0, $49,250. Won 2018 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup after second in Virginia Gold Cup and Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished third in the 2017 My Lady’s Manor. Won the 2016 New Jersey Hunt Cup by 11 lengths.
Doc Cebu. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Berga, by Jade Hunter. Owners: Charles C. Fenwick Jr., Michael Hankin, and Charles Noell. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Hadden Frost. Breeder: Graceville Breeding (Ky.) 2018 record: 4-3-0-1, $57,000. 2017 record: 5-4-1-0, $96,600. 2016 record: 2-2-0-0, $21,000. Timber champion, 2017. Won Shawan Downs’ 2018 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase by 3 1/2 lengths and scored a second victory in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup by seven lengths. Won Willowdale Steeplechase for a second straight year in 2018 after third in Middleburg Hunt Cup. Clinched 2017 timber championship with 11-length victory in International Gold Cup after 11 1/4-length score in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup.