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:
Kathleen O’Keefe has been named Joint-Master of the Casanova Hunt. Many feel her appointment to be a natural progression for this accomplished horsewoman. O’Keefe takes the reins of one of Virginia’s oldest foxhunting clubs, expanding a lifelong love affair with horse and field sports.
O’Keefe, fifty-four and a native of Stephens City, Virginia, started riding when she was six months old in a wicker basket saddle, she says. A fourth-generation foxhunter, her late father, grandparents and great-grandfather were riders, and she grew up foxhunting with her grandmother at the Blue Ridge Hunt in Clarke County, Virginia. “I am especially proud of my father, Peter Drinkwater,” O’Keefe says, noting he won the Virginia Field Hunter Championship twice, a feat O’Keefe repeated in 2000 with her Thoroughbred field hunter Lord Hugh.
Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse—Master of Foxhounds, retired champion race rider, Thoroughbred trainer, musician, and national steeplechase icon, died early Friday, April 7, 2017 at age one-hundred.
He was the oldest trainer in North American Thoroughbred history to saddle a winner, ever. He was ninety-nine last April when his Hishi Soar won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring Races. This season, at age one hundred, just one week before his death, he sent Hishi Soar to the starting line again and won the Open Hurdle Race at the Orange County Point-to-Point in Virginia.
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.
As we approach the 2017/2018 season, Foxhunting Life makes its annual report on the recent moves of eight huntsmen across the North American hunting countries.
Hugh Robards’ decision to hang up his hunting horn after fifty-five seasons in hunt service got Round One underway. Fully half of those seasons, and certainly the most visible, Robards spent in Ireland’s challenging ditch-and-bank country as huntsman for the County Limerick Foxhounds. There, he provided world-class sport for Master Lord Daresbury (whom he succeeded as huntsman), the hard riding members, and a constant stream of hunting visitors from around the globe.
For the last three seasons, Robards has carried the horn for the Middleburg Hunt (VA). As difficult as his personal retirement decision must have been, the Middleburg Masters and members paid Robards such a stirring tribute at their Hunt Ball that he had to have felt the sincere respect and affection in which he was held, notwithstanding his short tenure there. The members made certain that the ball revolved about him with mounted photographs of his career, the showing of a specially produced video, and speeches—sincere and well-earned, to recognize an illustrious career.