The turf was good, the day cloudy and cool, and, for a few moments of variety, a snow shower floated down upon the Old Dominion Point-to-Point Races at Ben Venue Farm, Virginia, on Saturday, April 9, 2016. The eight-race card included hurdle, timber, and flat races, most of them well-entered.
Noble Stables’ Kingofalldiamonds won the Open Hurdle race for the second consecutive year over the Old Dominion course. It was trainer Neil Morris’s second win of the day, and the horse’s second win in as many races this season. (Kingofalldiamonds won the Open Flat race at the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point last month.) Jacob Roberts was in the irons for both outings this season as well as for last year’s hurdle win—this day substantially repeating his winning strategy from the earlier flat race. Roberts allowed Daybreak Stables’ Manacor to set the pace and, with three fences remaining, took over the race and won by four-and-a-half lengths going away.
A foxhunter and conservationist with an impressive background in foreign affairs is seeking the Republican nomination for Virginia's Fifth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Joe Whited, thirty-six, has mounted a campaign for the Republican nomination, one of four vying for the seat being vacated by Representative Robert Hurt (R). Whited wears the colors of the Old Dominion Hounds (VA) and helps run the club's annual point-to-point. His first race, however, will be purely political—the Republican primary in April.
Virginia’s Fifth District is the Commonwealth’s largest. The pie-shaped wedge includes much of Virginia hunt country, including territory of Piedmont, Orange County, Warrenton, Casanova, Old Dominion, Rappahannock, Thornton Hill-Fort Valley, Bull Run, Keswick, Farmington, Deep Run, Oak Ridge, Stonewall, Bedford, and Red Oak in Virginia, just north of Sedgefield and Red Mountain in North Carolina.
Foxhunting remained pure in much of rural Virginia even as the coyote population was increasing up and down the eastern coastal states. Why much of Virginia’s hunting country was ignored by coyotes is a question for another time, but there’s no doubt that canis latrans has discovered its earlier mistake and, for the last several years, has made substantial property acquisitions in the Old Dominion.
Virginia hunts are handling the situation in various ways—some considering coyote as riot, some adding the coyote to its list of bona fide quarry. For hunts in the latter category, with staff still relatively inexperienced in hunting the coyote, new questions arise for their hound breeding programs.
Betsy Smith asks whether a hound’s nose for coyote scenting should be any different than a hound’s nose for fox scenting. For a pack that hunts both coyote and fox, are there any breeding considerations when it comes to nose?
As a followup question, Betsy asks if there are other more important hound attributes than nose to consider and breed for.
We went to our Panel of Experts and asked two experienced huntsmen, C. Martin Wood, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL) and Marion Thorne, MFH, Genesee Valley Hunt (NY), to answer Betsy’s questions for the benefit of their less coyote-savvy friends in Virginia. Although Marty hunts in Florida, and Marion hunts in New York state, it’s uncanny how similarly they feel about what they need in their packs.
The Junior North American Field Hunter Championship competition that began modestly twelve years ago between a handful of geographically-close Virginia hunts continues to expand in scope. This year’s competition involved juniors from twenty-seven hunts located across six MFHA Districts.
The program is succeeding because it’s purpose rises above just competition. Founders Douglas Wise, MFH, Old Dominion Hounds and Iona Pillion from the Blue Ridge Hunt had a larger dream: bring children to new hunting countries and open their eyes to the fact that these playgrounds don’t just happen to be there for them by chance, but have been nurtured and conserved for the perpetuation of wildlife, open space, and for those who treasure the natural world.
“We want these kids to know what a conservation easement is,” said Marion Chungo, one of the organizers.
The Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point Races were run on Saturday, April 4, 2015, at Ben Venue Farm, Ben Venue, Virginia.
Controlled Neglect, owned by Ann Braxton Jones-Lynch and trained by Jimmy Day, nailed down his second win of the Virginia point-to-point season in the Amateur/Novice Rider Hurdle series by two lengths over Acela. The second place Acela, trained by Eva Smithwick, won last week’s Novice Flat Race at Orange County. Acela set the early pace in the four-horse field, with Controlled Neglect keeping in close touch. The pair jumped the last fence together, and Controlled Neglect took over from there. Brendan Brooks was in the irons for both the Old Dominion and the Blue Ridge wins.
Hopefully, before the season ends, we'll see a match-up between two-time winner Controlled Neglect and Greg Ryan’s veteran hurdler, Spy in the Sky, winner of last week’s Amateur/Novice Rider Race at Orange County.