LAUREL -- Maryland steeplechase star Von Csadek, who is campaigning in England, was coughing at Wantage, Berkshire, yesterday, but it was considered only a minor setback.
The jumper appears to be on course for the King George VI Stakes Dec. 26. That is Boxing Day in England, traditional day for the race at Kempton.
The coughing will keep Von Csadek from running in a minor race at Cheltenham tomorrow. He is 2-for-3 since arriving in England Aug. 12.
It would seem logical that Von Csadek is in England for the Grand National at Aintree. That was the object of Jay Trump, who left Maryland in 1964 and won the Grand National, and with Ben Nevis II, who won the 1980 running of the world's toughest steeplechase event.
Doug Worrall says only "maybe," however. Worrall, a former steeplechase rider, is the father of Patrick Worrall, 18, the rider of Von Csadek. Doug's wife, Margaret Worrall, owns the jumper with her uncle, Herb Sheppard of Towson.
"The horse is in England for a winter of racing," Doug Worrall said. "We don't have any major goal, but it should either be the Grand National or the Cheltenham Gold Cup. We just haven't made up our mind, and probably won't until later."
The Grand National is on the first Saturday in April, and the Gold Cup on the second Saturday in March.
Doug Worrall got a call in Glyndon yesterday, saying that Von Csadek had been coughing and would not run tomorrow.
"I was flying over, anyway," he said, "so I'll be there for the weekend and we'll decide where to start next."
The most important prep for the Grand National or the Gold Cup is the King George VI, which attracts the nation's top jumpers.
Von Csadek, 8, became a star in Maryland steeplechasing at 6. He had raced on the flat and over hurdles, but when he began racing over timber, the gelding became sensational.
Since Doug Worrall put him on timber, he has raced 16 times and lost only four.
Two of his losses came in the Maryland Hunt Cup. The jumper failed to finish at Glyndon in 1989 and 1990. He got to the 21st fence at Glyndon this year before losing his rider. A week later, he won the Virginia Gold Cup by 20 lengths.
In England, he won handily at Uttoxeter, and then won almost as easily at Worcester.
Von Csadek could have carried 144 pounds at Worcester, but Patrick could get down to only 153, so the gelding wound up with nine extra pounds.
The Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury was to be a big race for the Maryland horse, but Von Csadek ran a dull eighth, beaten by 20 lengths. His handlers said he didn't run his race.
The Hennessy was loaded with top horses, including Mr. Frisk, who captured the English Grand National last year. Mr. Frisk finished behind Von Csadek at Newbury.
Von Csadek came out of the Hennessy in good shape, leaving the horse's handlers puzzled. "They have a description of his jumping in the Gold Cup," Worrall said. "He was jumping so high. They say he was ballooning. We're just chalking it up as a bad race."
Von Csadek has earned more than $150,000 in jumping races in the United States, and $12,000 in England. The Worralls paid $2,500 for him in a deal with Dr. Chuck Stancer, a Maryland veterinarian and racehorse owner.
Henrietta Knight is the trainer at Wantage.