All of the inside scoop on Virginia's biggest day of Steeplechase racing -- the Virginia Gold Cup. Hey, 50,000 of your closest friends can't be wrong! Do you have your tickets yet?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Foyle Upsets $50,000 International Gold Cup

FOYLE (Douglas Lees Photo)
Merriefield Farm’s Foyle defied his betting odds paying his backers $25.20 for a $2 win waqer and won the $50,000 International Gold Cup by three-quarters of a length at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va., on Saturday, Oct. 19. Kieran Norris was in the saddle for trainer Bruce Fenwick.

Straight to It, owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, finished second, and Irv Naylor’s Tax Ruling took third. Foyle, who had been beaten more than 40 lengths by Tax Ruling in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase on Sept. 28, bounced back with a stellar performance in the fall season’s richest timber race.

Foyle made a strong outside move in the stretch to gain his first win since his maiden victory at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last year. He ran the International Gold Cup’s 3 1/2 miles in 7:21.60 on turf rated as good.

COMPLETE ORDER OF FINISH: 1) Foyle (rider Kieran Norris, owner  Merriefield Farm, trainer H. Bruce Fenwick) $30,000; 2) Straight To It (Mark Beecher, Sheila J. Williams and Andre W. Brewste, Jack Fisher) $9,000; 3) Tax Ruling (James Slater, Irvin S. Naylor, William S. Meister) $5,000; 4) Worried Man (Gustav Dahl, Harold A. Via, Jr., Jack Fisher) $2,500; 5) Aero (Martin Rohan, Alfred C. Griffin, Jr., Doug Fout) $2,000

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pictures Of The Day

Runners take a look at the first fence at Cheltenham racecourse on October 18, 2013 in Cheltenham, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Ciaran Gethings riding Oscar Davy (L) fall at the last in The Fie & Country North Cotswolds Amateur Riders' Handicap Steeple Chase at Cheltenham racecourse on October 18, 2013 in Cheltenham, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Joe Tizzard riding Third Intention clear the last to win The Cheltenham Annual Members Novices' Steeple Chase at Cheltenham racecourse on October 18, 2013 in Cheltenham, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tax Ruling, Six Others Via For $50,000 International Gold Cup

The National Steeplechase Association’s 2013 timber championship will be at stake in the $50,000 International Gold Cup, the richest timber race of the NSA’s fall championship season, on Saturday, Oct. 19.

The feature contest of the 30th annual International Gold Cup meet drew a field of seven, and three starters have a chance to claim the prestigious title.

Undoubtedly the most intriguing member of the field is leading owner Irvin S. Naylor’s Tax Ruling, who was second in the Eclipse Award voting in 2011 after two Grade 1 victories over hurdles.

The 10-year-old Dynaformer gelding made a successful transition to timber racing this past spring and tuned for the International Gold Cup with a victory in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase, a timber allowance race on Sept. 28.

Leading timber trainer William Meister named James Slater to ride Tax Ruling, who has $30,000 in earnings from two victories and one second-place finish this year. The International Gold Cup’s $30,000 first-place purse would move him past Grinding Speed, the Virginia Gold Cup winner who leads the timber standings with $46,200.

Tax Ruling is fourth in the timber standings, immediately behind Harold A. “Sonny” Via’s Worried Man, who finished seventh in the Legacy Chase. Most of his earnings came in an upset victory in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial on May 11. Jack Fisher, last year’s champion trainer, named Gus Dahl to ride.

Also in the mix for the championship is Fisher-trained Straight to It, who is owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster. Straight to It, the 2012 New Jersey Hunt Cup winner, finished second in the Legacy Chase, three-quarters of a length behind Tax Ruling. Mark Beecher, who has won the last two editions of the International Gold Cup, will ride.

The Old Dominion banner is carried Alfred C. Griffin Jr.’s Virginia-bred Aero will be looking for a trip to the winner’s enclosure after two second-place finishes in the International Gold Cup in the past two years. The timber veteran tuned with a third-place finish in the Legacy Chase, his first start of the year. Trainer Doug Fout named Martin Rohan to ride.

Kinross Farm’s Old Timer will be ridden by Christopher Read in the 3 1/2-mile International Gold Cup. Trained by Neil Morris, Old Timer led by seven lengths at the last fence of the Virginia Fall Races’ National Sporting Museum Chronicle Cup on Oct. 5 but was overtaken and finished second.

Bruce Fenwick tapped Kieran Norris to ride Merriefield Farm’s Foyle, who was tenth in the Legacy Chase. George Hundt Jr. will be aboard Lucy Stable’s Justpourit, who will be making his first start for trainer Julie Gomena. Justpourit most recently finished second in the Willowdale Steeplechase in Pennsylvania on May 12.

To see the full card, click here

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Saturday's International Gold Cup To Feature WiFi Wagering

( Photo)
( Saturday’s steeplechase races at Great Meadow will offer pari-mutuel betting in the palms of spectators’ hands.

For the first time, bettors will use smartphones and tablets to wager on horses in six races at the 76th running of the 
International Gold Cup.

The Virginia Gold Cup races in May made history, with the debut of legalized gambling
 at Great Meadow. But, the process moved slowly, as betters lined up for their turns at 20 electronic kiosks.
It took the average bettor about five minutes per wager, according to Gold Cup Executive Director Diane Jones.

Still, spectators stayed in line and wagered a total of $81,000.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Mrs. Jones said last week. She and others hoped the “handle” would hit $50,000 on May 4.

Early in the year, they planned to have a wireless network and betting via mobile devices. But, the logistical challenges — including a change in the county zoning ordinance — took more time.

Race officials have invested about $80,000 in the secure Wi-Fi network at Great Meadow, which has antenna on the public address system speaker poles, Gold Cup association Chairman William H. Allison explained.

The use of mobile devices should make wagering on the ponies easier and faster Saturday.

To use the system, a bettor must buy a card encoded with a personal identification number and preloaded with $20, $50 or $100.

Bettors may buy cards — with cash only — from roving sales representatives at Great Meadow or, in advance, at the Gold Cup office, which accepts credit cards. (Great Meadow also will have ATMS.)

Logging on to the Gold Cup network at Great Meadow, a bettor will enter his or her PIN to begin the process. Then, the bettor picks the race, the horse(s), the wager and the type of bet.

The system automatically will deduct wagers from the bettor’s account and credit winnings to it. Bettors may claim winnings or unused funds on their cards at Great Meadow kiosks or at the Gold Cup office for up to one year.

But, one must present his or her card to collect.

“We in the steeplechase racing world think this is going to help the sport grow,” Dr. Allison said.

If pari-mutuel at Great Meadow grows, he envisions larger pursues, with more money available to owners of Virginia-bred horses.

Horse racing everywhere has struggled with changing demographics, the recession and competition from casinos and lotteries.

Racing supports hope technology can help turn the tide.

“Gold Cup has taken the first step,” said veteran horseman Mike Pearson, who serves as a consultant to the association. “It has made Virginia breeds preferred (for entry slots) in all races.”

Making more prize money available to Virginia horses could help revive the state’s breeding industry, Mr. Pearson said.

But, it will take a methodical process, with betting from mobile devices as an important development.

“You can’t imagine how much work has gone into this,” Dr. Allison said.
Because the Virginia Gold Cup and International Gold Cup have come under Virginia Racing Commission purview, security and protocol around the course have tightened considerably. Only those with appropriate credentials have access to the jockey, paddock and stable, for example.

The commission requires the measures to ensure nobody could unduly influence the outcome of a race.

Saturday’s races will use 
FastBet Mobile, a platform developed by United Tote, a pari-mutuel contractor affiliated with Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The system will update odds in real time, as bets get placed. 

The secure network at Great Meadow allows access only to FastBet. Spectators won’t be able to use the network for other browsing.

Any Wi-Fi enabled device — smartphones, tablets and laptops — will work with the system.

United Tote also will have five tents with kiosks at Saturday’s races for those who want to wager that way. Those tents also will provide payouts for those who want to cash in their cards.

Pictures Of The Day

Runners make their way towards the back straight at Huntingdon racecourse on October 15, 2013 in Huntingdon, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Andrew Tinkler riding Makari clear the last to win The 1st Security Solutions Handicap Hurdle Race at Huntingdon racecourse on October 15, 2013 in Huntingdon, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Tony McCoy riding Oscar Fortune clears the last to win The 32Red Casino Novices' Hurdle Race at Huntingdon racecourse on October 15, 2013 in Huntingdon, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Picture Of The Day

Runners clear a flight of hurdles at Exeter racecourse on October 10, 2013 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Not To Wear

Well, it's fast approaching that time when one needs to select the perfect International Gold Cup outfit.

Have at it, and good luck.

Oh...and don't choose one of these looks. Just sayin'.
Fashion (?) is presented at the Maid In Love show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Istanbul 2014 presented by American Express on October 7, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images Europe)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Move Over Jack Russells, Here Comes The Sheep

. (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images Europe)
A tradition at Gold Cup has long been the wildly popular Jack Russell races.  Popular at horse events around the Piedmont, these feisty little competitors have made it all the way to Washington D.C. for the International Horse Show and New York for the David Letterman Show.

Now, it would be great fun to see the terriers “herd” these future lamb chops over said hurdles, fact is sheep racing is exclusively done in unnamed parts of the Midwestern U.S. of A and in a place called Masham.  Not to be confused with “Mash ‘Em.” Masham is in Northern England in Yorkshire and they celebrate the woolly critters for two day in late September.

Maybe next year.

In fact, now that the Gold Cup has legal pari-mutuel wagering, maybe one could place a couple quid on the outcome of sheep v. terriers?  Just a thought…

For more information on the legal wagering that will take place at the International Gold Cup races, click here.

Pictures Of The Day

McLane Henriks rode Thermostat to victory in the amateur highweight timber race for the second straight year  at the Virginia Fall Races October 6, 2013 at Glenwood Park near Middleburg, VA. (Douglas Lees photo)
Irvin S. Naylor's The Editor (Jeff Murphy) won the allowance timber race at the Virginia Fall Races October 5, 2013 at Glenwood Park near Middleburg, VA. (Douglas Lees photo)
This image that was processed using digital filters, shows a fashionable crowd attending the $6.5 million Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe G1 at Longchamp racecourse near Paris on October 06, 2013. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
French Jockey Thierry Jarnet riding Treve celebrates after winning the $6.5 million Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe horse race at the Longchamp race track, outside Paris, France, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. Race favorite Orfevre finished a distant second, followed by Intello and Kizuna in the world’s richest turf contest.(AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Sara E. Collette's Wahoo (Darren Nagle) won the maiden hurdle race for horses owned and trained in Virginia at the Virginia Fall Races Saturday, October 5 at Glenwood Park near Middelburg, VA. (Douglas Lees Photo)