John Bosley IV put Our Steeplejack and his riding career on the right track this afternoon, winning the 89th running of the $15,000 Maryland Hunt Cup, America's toughest steeplechase race.
Our Steeplejack, a 10-year-old chestnut gelding, went to the front at the first of 22 stout timber fences and led the field of nine over the next four jumps. Dickson Stroud Jr., aboard his wife's Bewley's Hill, stepped out in front at the fifth jump and continued the lead over the next fence before Our Steeplejack came back to the front at the seventh fence, setting an unusually fast pace for the four miles.
Irish-bred Cancottage, a three-time Hunt Cup winner, with Joy Carrier up, went to the top at the 12th fence but couldn't hold on. Stroud returned Bewley's Hill to the front at the 19th fence and it looked as if he was heading for his second consecutive victory at Worthington Valley. But not far behind and off the pace was Our Steeplejack.
After they cleared the final fence, Bosley pushed the gelding to the front and drove him hard over the finish line to win by half a length over Bewley's Hill in 8:47. Another length back for third was Cancottage.
Carrier claimed Bosley had unfairly crowded her at the sixth fence, the first foul lodged in a Hunt Cup race in recent memory. But judges let stand Bosley's ride.
"He got in a couple of close ones," said Bosley when asked if his gelding had difficulty at the tall fences. "But basically he jumped really well. Dickson (Stroud) got me over the 20th fence but I knew I had more horse. You can never go wrong with waiting if you've got more horse under you."