Randleston Farm's Top Of The Bill accelerated over the final two fences to catch rival The Next Man in the stretch and win Saturday's $75,000 Mellon Bank National Hunt Cup (NSA-II) at the Radnor Hunt Races.The third leg of the Steeplechase Triple Crown lured seven runners, including first stage winner Top Of The Bill and the runner-up that day The Next Man. Trained in Virginia by Jimmy Day and ridden by Carl Rafter, the winner scored by 1 1/2 lengths while covering the 2 3/8 miles and 16 fences in 4:35.66. The Next Man (Rob Massey) finished second with Ginz (Cyril Murphy) third. Top Of The Bill earned $45,000 and stamped himself as the best novice hurdler out in 2006.
Bred in Kentucky, Top Of The Bill won once on the flat for his breeder Gainsborough Farm before being purchased by Day as a steeplechase prospect. The 5-year-old son of Lear Fan won his first steeplechase start last fall and then came out with the Carolina Cup victory April 1. In the Triple Crown's second leg, Top Of The Bill finished second to South Of Fifty, but was disqualified and placed last for interfering with The Next Man on the backside.The victory moved Top Of The Bill past $100,000 in steeplechase earnings (including three wins in five starts). Day said Top Of The Bill would point for Saratoga this summer.