Off to the Races!

3:46:00 PM

Warm weather and clear sunny skies brought out thousands of people to the Loudoun Hunt’s 50th annual Loudoun Hunt Point to Point races held at the historic Oatlands Plantation near Leesburg, Virginia Sunday, April 20, 2016.  The Loudoun races are one of the highlights of the Virginia spring racing season and the Virginia social scene, drawing crowds that enjoy watching thrilling thoroughbred racing and those that have no interest in the races but rather the tailgating parties they were invited to.

The first recorded point to point, or steeplechase, was held in Ireland around 1750.  Two gentlemen foxhunters challenged each other to a 4.5 mile cross-country race between the steeples of two churches, hence the reason they are called steeplechases.  They would jump over hedges, ditches and stone walls along the way. Centuries later the first point to point race was held at Oatlands Plantation in 1966.       

The day began with the 2nd Annual Mrs. George C. Everhart Memorial Invitational Side Saddle Race.  Historically side saddle was seen as the only “proper” way for a lady to ride a horse remained a popular until the 1930’s when jumping became a popular equestrian sport for women.   Thanks in part to television shows such as Downton Abbey it is now gaining popularity across the United States again by equestrians who celebrate it as a return to a traditional and elegant form of horseback riding.

The riders participating in the two side saddle exhibition races did not disappoint fans.  The exhibition featured two races – a two-mile jumping division with 6 jumps and a 1-mile flat race.  Susan Oakes, a world record setting rider from Ireland, won the jumping division and Cathi Grove won the 1 mile flat race.

Between the exhibition race and the start of the point to point races, crowds were delighted by the horses and hounds of the Loudoun Fairfax Hunt.

 The Loudoun Point to Point races feature some of the most challenging courses in Virginia, drawing riders from across the country and around the world.  On Sunday the riders competed in a total of 7 races – three hurdle, two timber, and two flat.  The races test the boldness and speed of both horse and rider between two points.

 Confirming the challenging nature of the race course, only three of the seven riders of the 4.5 mile Eustice Cup open timber race, finished the race.  Zanclus, the winner of the race, remains undefeated, winning all 3 of his starts.   

The complete race results are as follows:

  • Fort Henry, ridden by Susan Oakes, won the 2 mile Mrs. George C. Everhart Memorial Invitational Side Saddle Race jumping race. Fort Henry is owner and trained by Stephanie Boyer.
  • Figure It Out, ridden by Cathi Groves, won the 1 mile Mrs. George C. Everhart Memorial Invitational Side Saddle Race jumping race. Figure It Out is owned and trained by Christina Mulqueen. Reddington, ridden by Robin Somers-Strom, crossed the finish line first but was disqualified for going off course.
  • Easy Exit, ridden by Kieran Norris, won the first 2.4-mile Trisept Challenge Maiden Hurdle.  Easy Exit is owned by Clorevia Farm and trained by Doug Fout. 
  • Reporter, ridden by Sean McDermott, won the second 2.4-mile Trisept Challenge Maiden Hurdle. Easy Exit is owned by Beverly R. Steinman and trained by Doug Fout.
  • Orchestra Leader, ridden by Sean McDermott, won the 2.4 mile Wells Fargo/Land Trust of Virginia open hurdle race.  Orchestra is owned by S. Bruce Smart Jr. and trained by Jimmy Day.
  • Duc de Savoie, ridden by Mark Beecher, won the 3-mile Audi of America Inc. novice timber race. Duc de Savoie is owned by Wits End Stable LLC and trained by William Dowling.
  • Zanclus, ridden by Kieran Norris, won the 3.5-mile William Corcoran Eustis Cup open timber race.   Zanclus is owned by Sara E. Collette and trained by Neil R. Morris.
  • Classical Art, ridden by Darren Nagle, won the Dale Lumber Company 1.75-mile open flat race. Classical Art is owned by Calvin Houghland and trained by F. Bruce Miller.
  • Gumper, ridden by Teresa Croce, won the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Virginia bred/sired flat race.  Gumper is owned by Quest Realty and trained by Susan S. Cooney.
To view all the photographs I took of the days events, please visit my website.

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