Featuring the Photos of Douglas Lees
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!
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.
In 2014, Peter Walsh, ex-steeplechase jock, served as Field Master and hunted with both the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Orange County Hounds, neighboring packs in Virginia. He was hunting five days a week and working as Farm Manager for Milton Sender, a field member of both packs. In the off-season, he played golf avidly.
Today, Peter Walsh is still hunting with both packs, still managing the farm, and still playing golf avidly. It would almost seem as if nothing had changed...except that between then and now, Peter lost his right arm.
Huntsman Spencer Allen has gone through a rocky time in the past couple of years. He’s been forced to consider other options for his future, but he knows in his heart what he loves the most—working with and hunting foxhounds. And this is why he’s so happy to be in Monticello, Florida at Marty and Daphne Wood’s unparalleled establishment as huntsman for the Live Oak Hounds.
After serving six years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq, Allen began as an amateur whipper-in at the Bull Run Hunt (VA). Two seasons later he turned professional and moved to the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA), serving four seasons as first whipper-in to huntsman Richard Roberts. Allen found himself working with a talented and attractive whipper-in, Rachel Gray, who also happened to be the daughter of the previous huntsman, Butch Gray. Spencer and Rachel were married, and in 2010 Spencer was named huntsman at Piedmont. He hunted the Piedmont hounds for five seasons, showing excellent sport, but trouble followed.
Foxhounds weren’t the only newsmakers at the Virginia Foxhound Show. A few people were worth noting as well!
Three individuals were introduced for induction into the Huntsmen’s Room of the Museum of Hounds and Hunting in ceremonies on Saturday evening. Before dinner under the tent, Jake Carle, ex-MFH, spoke eloquently, reverently, and at the right times humorously about the three men who have hunted hounds with distinction for many years: C. Martin Wood, III, MFH, Live Oak Hounds (FL), G. Marvin Beeman, MFH, Arapaho Hunt (CO), and the late Jim Atkins who hunted hounds for the Piedmont Fox Hounds, Old Dominion Hounds, and the Warrenton Hunt, all in Virginia.
Last year was the boys’ year. This year the Crossbred female, Fort Leavenworth Vixen 2013, evened the score with her littermate Valor by winning the Grand Championship at the Central States Hound Show.
Vixen is a speckled, mostly white tricolor by Brazos Valley Baxter ‘08 out of Fort Leavenworth Piper ‘07. American and Crossbred bloodlines are predominantly from Fort Leavenworth Hunt (KS), Brazos Valley Hounds (TX), and the Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA). The most recent contribution of pure English blood to this lovely Crossbred was from the Arapahoe Hunt kennels (CO), three generations back.
Stephanie Wilcox Carter, MFH and huntsman of the Fort Leavenworth pack describes Vixen as conformationally correct, happy, and unflappable.