By Don Clippinger, National Steeplechase Association
DASH Stable’s Ice It, winner of the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase in his most recent start, attempt to keep his winning streak alive in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for American Steeplechasing’s rising stars on Saturday.
Trained by Jack Fisher, the 2015 three-year- old champion bounced back to win the $75,000 Queen’s Cup on April 29 after a lackluster sixth-place finish in the $75,000 Carolina Cup four weeks earlier. Sean McDermott has the mount on the silvery Tapit gelding.
Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, the Carolina Cup victor, finished second in the Queen’s Cup and will be attempting to go one up on his rival. Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., Show Court will be ridden by Willie McCarthy.
Jeffrey S. Amling’s and Merriebelle Stable’s My Afleet will be making a fleet turnaround from his victory in the Virginia Gold Cup’s allowance hurdle on May 6. Trainer Mark Beecher tapped 2016 champion jockey Kieran Norris to ride.
Another newcomer with two wins under his belt is Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, who won a Carolina Cup maiden hurdle and added an allowance score at the Tryon Block House meet on April 15. Ross Geraghty has the mount for trainer Ricky Hendriks.
Five-time champion jockey Paddy Young will be aboard James S. Carter’s Macnicholson for trainer Jimmy Day. The Irish-bred import lost his rider in the Carolina Cup, his U.S. debut.
Here is the field for the $100,000 Marcellus Frost. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Miguel Grau. 2010 b. g., City Zip—Zuri Ridge, by Cox’s Ridge. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Shane Crimin. Breeder: Sea Horse Breeders (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-0- 0-0, $3,750. 2016 record: 6-1- 1-2, $50,850. 2015 record: 6-1- 1-1, $34,200. Opened 2017 with seventh in Carolina Cup, then was fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished second in Belmont’s 2016 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was third in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won Suffolk Downs ratings handicap by 9 3/4 lengths, then finished fifth in Saratoga overnight handicap. (121)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Srprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2017 record: 2-2- 0-0, $36,000. 2016 NSA record: 3-0- 2-0, $13,200. Won maiden hurdle at 2017 Aiken Spring easily and won allowance hurdle at Tryon Block House. (123)
Laser Light (Ire). 2011 b. g., Kutub—Sioux Falls (Ire), by Monashee Mountain. Owner: Tantivy Racing LLC. Trainer: Ted Thompson. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Clongiffin Stud (Ire). 2017 NSA record: No starts. In final start in England, won a Kempton allowance hurdle. In six career starts in England, won three and never off the board.
Macnicholson (Ire). 2009 b. g., Definite Article (GB)—Heroic Performer, by Royal Applause (GB). Owner: James S. Carter. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: D. Shine (Ire). 2017 record: 1-0- 0-0, $0. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Lost rider in his first U.S. start, 2017 Carolina Cup. Finished third in a steeplechase allowance at Gowell in January. Looking for first victory since August 2015. (133)
My Afleet. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Afleet Alex—My Own Story, by Lasting Approval. Owners: Jeffrey S. Amling and Merriebelle Stable. Trainer: Mark Beecher. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders. Jeffrey S. Amling and Charles Noell. 2017 record: 2-2- 0-0, $45,000. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Made a successful jumps debut with 34 1/2-length victory in 2017 Tryon Block House maiden hurdle, then won Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Stakes winner on flat finished second in Saratoga’s John’s Call Stakes in final flat start. (116)
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2017 record: 2-1- 1-0, $58,500. 2016 NSA record: 1-0- 0-0, $0. Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths, then finished second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished seventh in Colonial Cup ratings handicap after debut 10th in International Gold Cup flat race. Won maiden over hurdles in Ireland in late 2015. (123)
Royal Caviar (Ire). 2008 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Blackwater Babe, by Arctic Lord. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Kevin Fox (Ire). 2017 NSA record: No starts. Finished distant fourth in Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeplechase at 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-1- 0-0, $47,250. 2016 record: 5-1- 3-0, $68,250. 2015 record: 3-1- 0-0, $18,600. Won 2017 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after sixth in Carolina Cup. Won 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle impressively, then second in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase. Finished sixth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes before seconds in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year- old championship. (126)