The Hill at The Hill was overflowing with racing fans during Saturday’s Rappahannock Hunt Point-to-Point. The racetrack near Culpeper featured a return to action for the Virginia steeplechase circuit after a year-long absence due to the pandemic.
Maryland apprentice Elizabeth Scully teamed up with two winners, leading owner-trainer Forrest Kelly’s Fletched to a narrow open woods title big title win. Scully also won with Casey Pinkard’s Seville Diva in a well-timed return score on the grass.
Middleburg-based trainer Neil Morris saddled Will Russell’s Animal Kinston (Graham Watters up) to win the other turf race. “The Rappahannock course was in great shape,” Morris said. “The race entries were light, but the races were competitive and the finishes were exciting.
“It was a full and lively crowd of spectators and hookers,” and the horses and riders were delighted with the opportunity to race at the start of the season, he added.
The Virginia Steeplechase Association Annual Awards Night was held on Friday, March 4 in Upperville. Irv Naylor was named primary owner, Leslie Young head trainer. Lead runner Tom Garner said winning the International Gold Cup in October was “his biggest win of the year”.
Warrenton photographer Douglas Lees received the Francis Thornton Greene Award for his lifelong support of Virginia Obstacle Course.
Full race results and full VSA 2021 standings are at centralentryoffice.com.
The National Steeplechase Association has a full list of 16 races scheduled for this spring – including three in Virginia. This is the maximum since the 2019 pre-pandemic season.
There are 82 runs worth $2.33 million at meets in seven states. The season opens March 26 at the all-new Aiken course and location in South Carolina, and concludes at another new course, the revamped Fair Hill Races in Maryland on May 28.
Two competitions offer purses exceeding $300,000 – the Virginia Gold Cup is the biggest this spring – $390,000, with the Nashville Iroquois in second place with $360,000. The April 30 Maryland Hunt Cup and May 7 Virginia Gold Cup wood stakes are worth $100,000.
A full condition book, weekly entries and results and a link to live video broadcasts of the races are available at nationalsteeplechase.com.