Ben Nevis II was as high yesterday as the mountain in Scotland he was named for, winning his second consecutive Maryland Hunt Cup by eight lengths over Perfect Cast and setting a record in the 82nd renewal of America's toughest timber steeplechase.
In third place before a crowd of close to 10,000 at the Snow Hill course was Moon Meeting, 20 Lengths behind Perfect Cast. Handsome Daddy was the last survivors, another 10 lengths back. Navy Davy went to his seated rider Don Yovanovich. Hammurabi II and Dunguaire were late scratches.
It was the 12th consecutive victory for the Casmiri chestnut since owner Redmond Stewart Jr. brought him over from England in 1974. It also was the first back-to-back victory in the four-mile, 22 jump classic since Jay Trump in 1963-64.
"That pressure (from Perfect Cast) made Ben work today," said rider Charles Fenwick Jr., and the result was a time of 8:33 3/5 seconds, almost nine seconds better than landing Party's 1971 record run of 8:42.
Fenwick, 30, the Glyndon investment broker who doubles as one of the most successful steeplechase trainers in the country, put his horse on top immedidately. Turney McKnight on Perfect Cast hung in with the leader, running anywhere from ahalf to four lengths behind over the first 18 fences.
McKnight, who had felt his mare might have a change after her fine performance at My Lady's Manor two weeks ago, said "you can't beat him (Ben Nevis II) if you let him set his own pace."