Merriefield Farm’s Foyle, the reigning timber champion, will make his 2014 debut against a crowded field of competitors in Maryland’s historic Grand National, the second jewel of the Free State’s timber triple crown, on Saturday, April 19. The $30,000 Grand National kicks off a three-race program at 3:15 p.m. at the Butler course.
|FOYLE (L) (Douglas Lees Photo)|
Trained by Bruce Fenwick, Foyle took the 2013 timber title with a late-season surge that included victories in the International Gold Cup and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. In the spring, he was placed first in the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial timber allowance after the first two finishers went off-course. James Slater again will ride the nine-year-old gelding.
The Grand National also attracted several of the timber competitors who finished behind Foyle in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Arcadia Stable’s Delta Park battled Foyle through the stretch and finished second by a half-length. Trainer Jack Fisher named Conner Hankin to ride.
Finishing third, another 1 1/4 length back, was Holston Hall’s Hot Rize, who will be ridden by trainer Russell Haynes in the 3 1/4-mile Grand National. Also in the Grand National field is Rosbrian Farm’s More Fascination, who finished a distant fourth in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup on Nov. 3. Mark Beecher has a return call on More Fascination for trainer Tara Elmore.
Lucy Goelet’s Twill Do, a two-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner, will be looking for his first success in the Grand National. He finished fourth in the 2012 Grand National before winning his second Hunt Cup. Last year, Twill Do finished seventh in the Grand National before a fourth in the Hunt Cup.
He is trained by Billy Meister, who also trains And the Eagle Flys, the 2012 Grand National winner who was entered for a shot at a second victory. And the Eagle Flys was pulled up in last year’s Grand National. Meister will ride And the Eagle Flys, and James Stierhoff will be aboard Twill Do. Meister also entered Irv Naylor’s Gorgeous Charger, who will be ridden by K. Fritz Boniface.