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Homeracing

Rawnaq faces seven in Grand National at Far Hills

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 12th, 2016

Rawnaq, the dominant hurdler in the spring when registering back-to-back wins in the Temple Gwathmey (G3) and Iroquois (G1), begins a late-season push for divisional honors Saturday in the $350,000 Grand National (G1) at Far Hills, New Jersey.

The most lucrative jumping event on the American calendar, the Grand National is contested at 2 5/8 miles.

Rawnaq has experience over this layout, having finished a length behind eventual champion Dawalan in the 2015 Grand National in his U.S. debut. He went on to finish second to the same rival in the Colonial Cup (G1), but has won both starts this year.

Best by 15 lengths over Scorpiancer in the Temple Gwathmey at Middleburg, Virginia, Rawnaq's advantage was a more narrow neck after leading all the way in the three-mile Iroquois in Nashville on May 14.

Scorpiancer appears to be the main domestic-trained threat. After his second in the Temple Gwathmey, he ran fourth in the Iroquois and later placed in the A.P. Smithwick (G1) and New York Turf Writers Cup (G1). He finally broke through with his first win of the year in the Lonesome Glory (G1) as the odds-on choice.

Andi'amu, beaten badly in the Temple Gwathmey in a sub-par effort, exits a second-place finish in the Turf Writers Cup and might also contend, while graded veterans Parker's Project and Martini Brother both return off layoffs of more than a year.

Novice stakes winners Tempt Me Alex and British invaders Sharp Rise and Days of Heaven are also among the field of eight.

The Grand National will be available for viewing on the Far Hills website, farhillsrace.org, and on the National Steeplechase Association website, nationalsteeplechase.com. The streaming will begin shortly before the first race at 1 p.m. (EDT) and will continue through the last of seven scheduled races.

(Photo courtesy of Iroquois Steeplechase)

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