McDynamo, Hirapour Meet Again In Colonial Cup

(Edited press release)
Steeplechase champions McDynamo and Hirapour will meet for the sixth time in Sunday's Colonial Cup, the final grade I steeplechase of the 2006 season. They top a field of eight entered for the $150,000 race, which heads an eight-race card at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C. Post time for the first race is 11:45 a.m.

McDynamo and Hirapour combined have won the last three runnings – McDynamo in 2003 and 2005, Hirapour in 2004. McDynamo set the course record in 2003, and Hirapour broke it in 2004. Last year, they squared off in the race to decide the Eclipse Award and Michael Moran's McDynamo emphatically claimed it with a 2 1/2-length win over Eldon Farm's Hirapour, who lost several lengths with a jumping mistake on the backside.

This year, McDynamo stands as the clear favorite after two powerful wins this fall, which included a fourth consecutive triumph in the Breeders' Cup Grand National (NSA-I) Oct. 28. That win pushed the 9-year-old son of Dynaformer to the top of the National Steeplechase Association earnings list with more than $1 million. Hirapour, scratched from the Breeders' Cup due to soft turf, looked just as good in his lone win this year, the A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-II) at Saratoga in August but struggled home fifth in the New York Turf Writers Cup (NSA-I), also at Saratoga, and has not run over jumps since. The 10-year-old Irish bred missed some training with an ankle injury.

The two combatants have not met this year, but are plenty familiar with each other. In five prior starts, McDynamo owns three wins and Hirapour two.

The NSA's leading earner title will be between Mixed Up ($197,580 so far) and McDynamo ($195,000). Even with the $90,000 Colonial Cup payday, Hirapour can't win, but he could make a case for the Eclipse Award. Sur La Tete won two grade I races (one over McDynamo) in the spring, then went to the sidelines. McDynamo dominated the Breeders' Cup, but a loss to Hirapour in their only meeting this year wouldn't help his case.

Last year, McDynamo went wire-to-wire in a paceless Colonial Cup but that shouldn't be the case this year as the field includes some potential early pace in the form of Moneytrain, plus the speedy Chivite and Mixed Up.

"Last year we put him on the front end and it worked for him," said McDynamo's jockey, Jody Petty. "This year we put him in both times, and that worked for him. He doesn't have to be anywhere. Last year there were no front runners, this year there are definite front runners. That's one of the cool things about him – we can make the race happen for him rather than feeling like the race has to set up for him."

Conversely, Hirapour needs the proper race scenario to use his sprinter's speed late in the race.

"I need McDynamo to get pressured a little bit, but I also need my horse to settle and if that happens we have as good a chance as anybody," said jockey Matt McCarron. "My horse has to relax, find his rhythm and comfort level and then come with his run."

The Colonial Cup field in post position order (with trainer, jockey). All horses carry 156 pounds except 4-year-old Class Vantage who will carry 146:

1. Mixed Up (Jonathan Sheppard, Danielle Hodsdon)
2. McDynamo (Sanna Hendriks, Jody Petty)
3. Hirapour (Doug Fout, Matt McCarron)
4. Chivite (Bruce Miller, Paddy Young)
5. Class Vantage (Lilith Boucher, Richard Boucher)
6. Challenge (Doug Fout, Xavier Aizpuru)
7. Mon Villez (Bruce Miller, Chip Miller)
8. Moneytrain (Jonathan Sheppard, James Slater)