Young Dubliner, 14, still a staying power

Frisky vet jumps at chance to defend G. National title

Horse Racing

April 19, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The ravages of time have not yet caught up to the aptly named Young Dubliner.

While most of his thoroughbred peers of 14 years have been retired from running and jumping and are turned out to an idyllic life in the pasture, Young Dubliner keeps right on going.

"He probably thinks he's about 6 because he tries to run off like a child," trainer Katherine Neilson said. "When you get on him to gallop, he's ready to go."

At lucky 13, the Irish-bred gelding had a very good year. He won the prestigious Maryland Hunt Cup and went on to clinch the National Steeplechase Association timber championship with a runner-up finish over yielding turf in Camden, S.C., late last season.

Today, Young Dubliner will begin defense of his title at the 101st running of the Grand National Steeplechase in Butler, the second leg of Maryland's Big Three timber events.

There will be plenty of elite company for the champion with 2000 Hunt Cup winner Swayo, Jack Fisher trainee Kanawha, Taking Advantage, Make Me A Champ and the Tom Voss entry of Wood Whistle and Sam Sullivan listed among the entries.

Since the long winter here pushed back the competitive season for many jumpers, the Grand National will represent a coming-out party. Although several are expected to scratch by race time - especially with the course figuring to be soft - a full field will vie for the lion's share of the $30,000 stakes purse.

Young Dubliner, who is based in South Carolina, was third to Sam Sullivan at the Elkridge-Harford Point to Point Challenge, a race in which he was sixth in 2002.

"We hope to be improving a little," said Neilson. "I hope we're getting better as we age. He's an old man and we choose his spots [races to run]. We're definitely pointing to the Hunt Cup. This is a pretty good race, but next week is the most important one."

Unlike in the United States, horses are not rushed into competition at the tender age of 2. That may partially account for Young Dubliner's staying power.

Neilson does not expect him "to set the world on fire" in a race in which he was the runner-up to Sam Sullivan last spring. "I just hope he gets along well, has a good jumping trip and is ready for the Hunt Cup."

Irish jockey Brian Moran rode Young Dubliner deftly last season but, after an accident in which he suffered multiple fractures, he is no longer riding.

The mount on Young Dubliner will go to Charlie Fenwick III, Neilson's cousin who nearly upset Sam Sullivan while aboard Secret Impression in the My Lady's Manor stakes and won a smaller event with Askim last Saturday.

Today's big question revolves around the entry of trainer Voss, the NSA champion three straight years. Will he run either the consistent Sam Sullivan or the sometimes ornery Wood Whistle or send out the two of them?

"Blair [Waterman] is a very good jockey, but she can't ride both of them," said Neilson.

Post time for the Grand National is 3:15 p.m. with the $15,000 Benjamin H. Murray Memorial and a training flat race to follow.

At a glance

What:Grand National Steeplechase.

When:Today, gates open at noon, first post 3:15 p.m.

Where:Butler Road, Butler.

Directions:From the Beltway, take Falls Road north about 10 miles to Butler Road. Turn left and go about a mile.

Tickets:None will be sold at the gate. Must have been purchased in advance at John Brown's Store on Falls Road or Valley Motors.

Beneficiary:Held in conjunction with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Steeplechase

The Grand National

Purse $30,000, stakes, about 3 1/4 mi. over timber

PP Horse Jockey Trainer

1 Ivorgorian Lampton Smithwick

2 Holzmann Hambleton Boucher

3 Rosbrian Meister Randall

4a Wood Whistle Waterman Voss

5 Taking Advantage Bosley Murphy

6 Young Dubliner Fenwick III Neilson

7a Sam Sullivan Waterman Voss

8 Narrow River Robertson Robertson

9 Ocean Liner Cocks Cocks

10 Kanawha Clancy Fisher

11 Will Prevail Brewster Smith

12 Swayo Davies Stewart

13 Make Me A Champ No rider Miller

14 Bruno Castelli Lyons Lyons

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