Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Warrenton Kicks Off Virginia Point-to-Point Season

 warrenton18.jimmy emily mcvicar.lees
Bruce Smart's Officer's Oath, winner of the Virginia Bred/Sired Flat Race, is untacked by trainer Jimmy Day, Emily Mackay-Smith Day, and jockey Liam McVicar. /  Douglas Lees photo

Warrenton Hunt opened the Virginia Point-to-Point Season on the first hospitable Saturday in the month of March this year. It was a spring-like day everywhere except at the Airlie Racecourse, where it snowed!

It was St. Patrick’s Day, and a good day for the Irish at that, with trainer Jimmy Day winning one Hurdle and two Flat races and two Irish horses winning the Open Timber and the Foxhunter Timber Races.

Schooling Moses, the Mulish Field Hunter

moses.brunnen.cropMoses discovered it was futile to resist.

Fresh Start Farm, both a name and sometimes a working philosophy, is a farm I rent where I maintain my horses as well as boarders.  My boarding is limited to retired or laid up horses since I do not want the liability associated with riders on the property. Or the owners, to be perfectly honest. Riding around the farm myself is enough of a liability.

The problem with boarding retired horses is that eventually you lose them to the infirmities of old age. This is what happened to my friend Jan’s big imported Rhinelander gelding Christmas Eve of 2015. JW had been with us for seven years or so before he passed away. The following spring, Jan mentioned that with JW gone she would like to get a rescue. A mule.

Mo Baptiste and Fifty Grand Win Virginia 2017 Field Hunter Championship Baptiste and Fifty Grand representing the Piedmont Fox Hounds negotiate a seven-board coop during the individual test on their way to winning the Virginia Fied Hunter Championship. / Catherine Summers photo

Mo Baptiste’s handsome bay Thoroughbred, Fifty Grand, has played the role of bridesmaid for years. He was Reserve Champion to Virginia Field Hunter Champions in 2012 and again in 2015. This year he was, finally, the bride. And the Champion.

Reserve Champion honors go to Marilyn Ware, Deep Run Hunt. The annual Virginia Field Hunter Championship is noted for the quality of the competing horses. The Masters of every Virginia hunt receive an annual invitation to nominate up to two horse and rider combinations which have been hunting regularly with that hunt. Chosen by the Masters, twenty-one riders from eleven hunts competed. They were:

Murphy Sweeps Open Jump Races at Old Dominion

Featuring the photographs of Douglas Lees hurdleEasy Exit and Jeff Murphy (left) are Open Hurdle winners over Del Bando and Liam McVicar. / Douglas Lees photo,

Six jump races—three hurdle and three timber—and two flat races completed an eight-race card at the Old Dominion Point-to-Point at Ben Venue Farm in Virginia on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Jeff Murphy swept both the Open Races—Hurdles and Timber.

In the Open Hurdles, Murphy rode Easy Exit to an easy win by a seven-length margin for trainer Doug Fout. This was Fout’s first of two wins for the day.

Randy Rouse, 100, Sets New American Record at Orange County

orangecountyptp.hishi soar.leesHishi Soar, owned and trained by Randy Rouse wins the Locust Hill Open Hurdle Race with Gerard Galligan in the irons. / Douglas Lees photo

In May, last year, at age ninety-nine, Randy Rouse, MFH of the Loudoun Fairfax Hunt (VA), saddled his Hishi Soar, put Gerard Galligan up, and won the featured race at Foxfield in Charlottesville—the sanctioned $25,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. That feat made Rouse the oldest American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

Last Saturday, April 2, 2017, Rouse, brought Hishi Soar to the Orange County Point-to-Point Races at Locust Hill Farm, put Galligan up again, and won the Open Hurdle Race in a five-horse field. That feat, by our reckoning, makes Mr. Rouse the first one-hundred-year-old American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

Piedmont Races Draw Strong Entries

Featuring the Photos of Douglas Lees

piedmontptp17.murphy.leesJeff Murphy on Secret Soul. "If at first...try, try, again."  / Douglas Lees photo

Race-goers at Piedmont enjoyed a warm, sunny day at the Salem Racecourse in Upperville, Virginia on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Entries were strong for the seven-race card consisting of four timber races and two flat races. So much so that one timber race and two flat races were split into two divisions each.

Jeff Murphy scored a hat trick in the first race, Maiden Timber, winning as rider, owner, and trainer. His horse, Secret Soul, delighted his syndicate, but it was a multi-stage struggle to get to the winner’s circle. Secret Soul opened a comfortable lead on the eight-horse field, but lost a lot of ground midway through as the result of a loose horse. Secret Soul got his rhythm back and regained the lead, but turning for home he was passed by Going For It and Hill Tie. Both those horses went off course by jumping the fence at the finish line and were disqualified. So it was Secret Soul, saved again!