It is hard to believe now, but at the start of the 2017 hunting season I was actually lamenting the difficulties of leaving a hunt I had been with for fifteen years and joining another. Even at the time, I realized it was a small issue in the scheme of things that can happen in life. Making new friends and riding across some breathtaking new country quickly proved to me that I had made the right decision.
That season started out well. I was hunting regularly, and in October, Karen and I traveled with the Last Chance Hounds to the Moore County Hounds Hark Forward Foxhound Performance Trials in North Carolina. By January, however, hunting was the last thing on my mind. And I never did get out after that.
The 2018 Penn-Marydel Foxhound Show was held on Saturday, May 12, 2018, in Fair Hill, Maryland. In spite of a rather bleak weather forecast for the afternoon, the rain held off, and we finished up well ahead of the evening storms for this, our sixty-fourth foxhound show.
Well over one hundred hounds were entered from eight packs: Andrews Bridge Foxhounds (PA), Golden’s Bridge Hounds (NY), Kimberton Hunt (PA), Lewisville Hunt, Marlborough Hunt (MD), Mt. Carmel Foxhounds, Red Oak Foxhounds (VA), and Snickersville Hunt (VA).
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:
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!
March 12, 2016 saw the sixty-seventh running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races going off on the hunt’s normally scheduled weekend for the first time in four years, the three previous race meetings having been postponed because of winter weather conditions. With the weather and the footing close to ideal for horses and spectators alike, the meet, usually the third in the series, also served as the kick-off for the 2016 Virginia point-to-point season.
Jimmy Day-trained entries won two of the three hurdle races: Amateur/Novice Rider with Bruce Smart’s Dai Bando and the Open Hurdle with Daybreak Stables’ Manacor. In the Maiden Hurdle Race, Day's horse, Zol Zayne had to settle for second place, as he did last year in the same race. The Maiden Hurdle was won by Celtic Venture Stable’s Prima Facie, trained by Eve Smithwick, MFH and huntsman of the Snickersville Hounds (VA). Jeff Murphy held Prima Facie to the pace he wanted and patiently stalked the leader much as he rode the same race last year on winner Bedizen. Murphy took the lead from Hardly Patient on the final turn, accelerated to the last fence, and flew it cleanly for a convincing win.