Even best shiver at Hunt Cup's timbers

April 24, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Only two horses running in the Maryland Hunt Cup today have completed the treacherous four-mile course over 22 timber fences.

They are Pleasant Sea, runner-up last year to the now retired Von Csadek, and Snow Maker, third-place finisher in 1992 who has recovered from a bout with Lyme disease to return for another try.

An undefeated newcomer, Revelstoke, owned by Dolly Fisher and ridden by her son, Jack, is expected to furnish some stiff opposition as well as BFD Racing Stable's Sea Speed, winner of the Butler Grand National last week.

Deep going and some spots of standing water on the course could make this year's running more difficult and may result in a couple of late scratches.

As of yesterday, a field of 11 jumpers was set to start in the 97th renewal of the race, held at Worthington Farm near Hunt Valley. Twelve horses had entered, but Uncle Merlin, the 1989 winner, was scratched after he aggravated an old injury earlier this week.

Liz McKnight, Pleasant Sea's jockey, is one of four riders -- the others are Billy Meister, Sanna Neilson and John Bosley -- in the race who have previously won it.

"Even though I've been around the course with this horse, the Hunt Cup is not your normal race," McKnight said. "Someone could fall in front of you or your horse could slip. That's what happened to Tong [the Turney McKnight-owned dual winner that fell in 1985]. He slipped going into the fifth fence and he was the best jumper in the world. There is a lot of uncertainty. I assume that's why there are 11 [horses] in there."

It is McKnight's fourth Hunt Cup attempt. She won on her husband's Tong in 1986, fell with Pleasant Sea at the 18th fence in 1991 and finished second with the horse last year.

"Pleasant Sea is a come-from-behind horse and that means I have to work my way through 10 other horses," McKnight said.

Snow Maker, at 13 the oldest horse in the race, was diagnosed as having Lyme disease in early March.

"Fortunately we caught it in the early stages," said owner Chick Owens. "Usually when he jumps a fence, he pricks his ears and is real eager. But he had a complete personality change and had become lethargic. That's what tipped us off that something was wrong. Our veterinarian took a blood test and discovered the Lyme disease. We treated him for seven days with antibiotics and he recovered."


What: 97th running of four-mile steeplechase contested over 22 jumps, mostly post- and rail-timber fences

Where: Worthington Farm at Tufton Avenue near Hunt Valley in Baltimore County

Post time: 4 p.m. today

Prospective field: The favorites in today's 11-horse lineup are Pleasant Sea, runner-up last year, and Revelstoke, who makes his Hunt Cup debut after an unbeaten eight-race timber career. The lineup (jockeys in parentheses): Body Music (Bruce Fenwick), Nick The Plumber (John McKenna, Jr.), Florida Law (Michael Traurig), Snow Maker (Joseph Delozier III), Oval Office (Joe Gillet), Pleasant Sea (Liz McKnight), Sea Speed (Billy Meister), Ballybranogue (C. J. Meister III), Ivory Poacher (Sanna Neilson), Revelstoke (Jack Fisher) and Bold Seven (John Bosley).

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