One of the few remaining Eclipse Award races left to be decided, champion steeplechaser, figures to be settled Saturday in the $100,000 Colonial Cup (G1), held at the Springdale Racecourse near Camden, South Carolina.
Division leader Bob Le Beau will be seeking his third top-level win of the year after recent victories in the New York Turf Writers Cup (G1) and Lonesome Glory (G1). Also hero of the National Hunt Cup (G3) earlier this term, the eight-year-old can clinch championship honors with a win or stronger showing than several of his opponents.
Dawalan, who finished third behind Bob Le Beau in the Lonesome Glory in his U.S. debut, rebounded to take the Grand National (G1), a race Bob Le Beau did not compete in. A victory by Dawalan in the Colonial Cup would tie things up in the head-to-head battle between the two, secure the season’s money title and likely tilt championship honors in his direction.
A longer shot to grab the title with a win is Demonstrative, last year’s champion steeplechaser. Although he won the Iroquois (G1) on season debut, the veteran was well off form in the Turf Writers Cup and Grand National. Demonstrative has finished fifth and third in the last two editions of the Colonial Cup.
There are no shortage of able jumpers capable of upsetting the aforementioned trio. Grade 1 veteran Gustavian recently returned from a 1 1/2-year layoff to finish second in the Ferguson Memorial (G3), a race won by Diplomat, and could move forward in his second start back. Alajmal has fared poorly this year, but did capture this event by 3 1/2 lengths in 2013.
The most serious threats to Bob Le Beau and Dawalan may come from European imports Rawnaq and The Nephew, both of whom are making their second starts stateside. Rawnaq finished a length behind Dawalan in the Grand National following his arrival from Ireland, while The Nephew captured a $35,000 handicap on the Grand National undercard at Far Hills.
(Photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)