By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
There were a few unexpected faces in the winner's circle at the 79th running of the Radnor Hunt Races, May 16th.
Going into the featured $75,000 National Hunt Cup for Grade II Novice horses, The Price of Love (owned by William Pape) and Dictina's Boy (Riverdee Stable and Thomas McCarron owners) were expected to be the main rivals for the Cup as they were in the Georgia Cup April 25, where they went head and head to the wire.
Instead, the race was dominated by Darren Nagle on Irvin S. Naylor's Tax Ruling. Tax Ruling has run twice this year, winning at Strawberry Hill April 11, but falling at the final fence on his last outing April 25.
Nagle took Tax Ruling out front early and ran away from the field throughout the race. He jumped alone all the way, and was never really challenged, finishing the 2 3/8 mile hurdle course in 4:45 with a winning margin of 12 lengths.
Jockey Padge Whelan pulled up Dictina's Boy after the first lap of the course, while The Price of Love stayed well positioned in the pack and made a strong run in the stretch, moving up to finish third behind Robert Walsh on Terpsichorean.
Radnor Hunt Cup
In the $40,000 Radnor Hunt Cup over timber, even trainer Sanna Hendriks was surprised to have her entry Irish Prince win. Hendriks also had Radio Flyer entered in the race (both owned by Augustin Stables) and gave that ride to Jody Petty. "I wasn't even going to run the other horse," Hendriks said on her way to the trophy presentation. "I didn't know what he'd do on this track."
Jockey Xavier Aizpuru was available for the race and took the ride for Hendriks. Irish Prince was winless in four starts last year, and finished fourth and second in his two outings this year, both times with Petty aboard.
Jacob Roberts set the pace for the race on Major Price (owned and trained by Alicia Murphy), distancing the field. It was not until the turn for the final straight that Major Price started to tire and the field came within reach of him. At that point, the race was up for grabs, with Irish Prince fighting to the top in a long stretch run followed by Jake Chalfin on Uppercut and Conrad Somers on J. Alfred Prufrock, while Major Price hung on for fourth.
"He's had a hard time regaining his form. It was a great effort," Hendriks said of Irish Prince. "He was jumping away and he did great."
Aizpuru had a second winner later in the day with Duke of Earl, (owned by Mrs. Henry Stern and trained by Jack Fisher) in the James M. Moran, Jr. Steeplechase. Duke of Earl lead throughout the race, finishing ahead of Bow Strada and Sweep Domino. Radnor is a good track for Duke of Earl who won there last year as well.
Nagel also had a second winning ride at Radnor, piloting Arcadius, (owned by Hudson River Farms and trained by Jonathan Sheppard) in the Vita C. Thompson Memorial Steeplechase.
Arcadius was not a factor in the race until the final straight, when he was the end of a three-horse group chasing down leader Great Gusto. Arcadius made up strides on a good final jump and ran down the leader in an exciting finish.
Other winners for the day included El Viaje (owned by Sondra Bender and ridden by Padge Whelan) in the Milfern Cup; and So Amazing (Owned by Randleston Farm and ridden by Liam McVicar) in the Henry Collins Steeplechase.