Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2024

Miles Ahead Adds Another Win In The Genesee Valley Hunt Cup


The timber star finds greener pastures in New York.

Trainer Neil Morris came to Geneseo, N.Y., on Oct. 13 looking for good footing and another win for Kinross Farm’s undefeated Miles Ahead. He found both at the Genesee Valley Hunt Races, along with the bonus of winning the maiden timber with Kinross Farm’s Noblest.

Miles Ahead (Unaccounted For—Joy Valentine) set a track record in the 2006 Virginia Gold Cup and rested on his laurels during the 2007 spring season.
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The timber star finds greener pastures in New York.

Trainer Neil Morris came to Geneseo, N.Y., on Oct. 13 looking for good footing and another win for Kinross Farm’s undefeated Miles Ahead. He found both at the Genesee Valley Hunt Races, along with the bonus of winning the maiden timber with Kinross Farm’s Noblest.

Miles Ahead (Unaccounted For—Joy Valentine) set a track record in the 2006 Virginia Gold Cup and rested on his laurels during the 2007 spring season.

Morris had been aiming the 10-year-old bay gelding for the International Gold Cup (Va.) on Oct. 20, but was concerned about hard ground because of the drought in Virginia. When Morris got reports that Geneseo had better footing and green grass, he shifted his sights to New York.

Five horses went to the post for the 31⁄2-mile $25,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup, but the first trip around the track took its toll, with Irv Naylor’s Earmark (James Slater) and Gail McGuire’s Wee Highland Star (Niall Saville) dropping their jockeys and Northern Thinking (Robert Walsh) taking a tumble.

“It was just bad racing luck for those guys. Northern Thinking, who could have been my main competition, is a seasoned horse and he just had a bad fence,” Read said. All were unhurt.

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For the last 11⁄2 miles, Miles Ahead’s only company was Irv Naylor’s Stars Out Tonight (James Fahey). The two took their time until two fences from home when Desmond Fogarty’s trainee challenged his elite rival, but Miles Ahead had plenty left and galloped home ears pricked.

Read described his winner as “One of the best timber horses in a long time.”

Plans now are to continue foxhunting Miles Ahead and aim him for the Virginia Gold Cup next May for a shot at his third win there.

Morris had not intended for Noblest (Read) to take the lead in his first timber race ever, but it was thrust upon him and had a happy ending in the 3-mile maiden timber.

“My plan was to stay in back, but the horse in front refused the first fence and I ended up alone on the front,” Read said. “I slowed him down as much as I could to get round well. It wasn’t what we had planned
but he made the best of it, and I had a lot of horse at the end.”

The 8-year-old dark bay gelding (Deputy Minister—Plenty Of Grace), “has always been a timber horse in the making,” Morris said. “We were just waiting on him to mature, but he’s quite a nice horse. At the second to last fence here, he changed gears and was nicely over the last. He’s got some class.” Noblest won the amateur highweight 3-mile hurdle race at Iroqouis (Tenn.) in May.

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The 3-mile novice timber race kept the crowd on their feet. Two Katherine McKenna trainees, Stone Valley Farm’s Ice Bullet (Anne Hambelton) and Perry Bolton’s Haddix (Jake Chalfon), headed to the course with Irv Naylor’s Ice Is Nice (James Fahey), trained by Fogarty.

The three ran and jumped together all the way to the last of the 16 fences, and then it was a foot-race down the stretch with Ice Bullet, Haddix, and Ice Is Nice finishing in that order with less than a length between them.

Two local sisters battled for the win in the flat race. Arielle Donnan, 17, went to the front of the eight-horse field with her father Greg’s experienced timber horse Very Crafty (Crafty Prospector—Notice Me). Devon Donnan, 19, was on Eric Myer’s Red Band (Mesapotamia—Rustic Rose) for the first time, and cruised behind her sister until the turn for home when she saw an inside line and zipped past.

Very Crafty tried to regain the advantage, and the two chestnuts thrilled the crowd gunning for the finish with Jeremy Gillam’s Drenching Rain (Diana Gillam) and Ed Schatzel’s Road Race (Alice Taylor) close behind. But Devon’s strategy worked and Red Band finished 1⁄2 length in front.

Myer bred and raised Red Band, who is a fourth generation offspring from a mare that Myer rescued in the late ’60s. The 6-year-old gelding had been racing at Charles Town (W.V.), but Myer thought a turf track might be more to his liking.

The biggest upsets of the day were in the pony races, where mother-daughter Cinnamon and Spicy, both nearly undefeated in their long racing careers, each finished second by a neck. In the small pony 1⁄4-mile, Ingrid Donnan on her Chester edged out Cinnamon (Brenna Donegan), and in the large pony 1⁄2-mile, Bryce Wetherbee’s Carmy, trained by Lila Weaver, held off Spicy (Gibson Donnan).

Becky Glass

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