All of the inside scoop on Virginia's biggest day of Steeplechase racing -- the Virginia Gold Cup. Hey, 50,000 of your closest friends can't be wrong! Do you have your tickets yet?

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The International Gold Cup, the second-biggest race/party on the Virginia circuit, is just a day and change over two weeks away on Saturday October 15.

The surest sign that the second jewel in the Gold Cup crown is imminent is the simple fact that the Washington Nationals (80-81) season ended last night (again) and (again) we don’t have to get bogged down in playoff baseball.  The Orioles, who were worse at 69-93, also obliged us by not being a post season distraction.

The Redskins are off to a 2-1 start, and since they don’t play on Saturday’s they never interfere with the International Gold Cup.  The Skins are better than last year but far from great.  Unfortunately, the offensive coordinator (Kyle Shanahan) thinks the quarterback (Rex Grossman) is better than he is (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning).  The only problem with Rex Grossman is that he’s…well, Rex Grossman.  The Skins play the Eagles the Sunday after the Gold Cup. Hopefully by then, Michael Vick will have injured his throwing hand as well...

There is, of course, college football on International Gold Cup Saturday, but quite frankly, nobody within a two hour drive looks worthy of a trip.  Virginia will be hosting Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets are undefeated and averaging something like 1,000 yards of offense per game…that’s gonna be ugly.  Speaking of ugly, Maryland and their crazy unis will host Clemson and that doesn’t look good for the Terps.  The Hokies, while generally more than two hours away, will be down in Winston-Salem, NC playing Wake Forest.

James Madison will be hosting Villanova.  That will probably be a fun game, but not as much fun at the International Gold Cup.  Georgetown is at D.C. rival Howard. Go ahead and yawn, it’s OK.  George Mason is unlikely to field a football team between now and then. 

So, get your tickets and your tailgate organized and come out and enjoy the International Gold Cup.  It’s the Virginia Gold Cup’s hot little sister.  You’re gonna love it!



Donald McCain was a cab driver and a car salesman.  He trained a few horses behind the car lot in Southport, England and it turns out he was pretty good at it.

The man that came to be known as “Mr. Aintree” won Europe’s most famous race – the English Grand National at Aintree – four times with two different horses. He also played a major role in reviving the famous race when there was much talk of the old racecourse closing back in the 1970s.

The story goes that one of his “drive for hire” customers, Noel Le Mare, was a wealthy business man and McCain was a good enough salesman to convince Le Mare to buy a racehorse that he would train on the beaches near his garage and stable.

From the Doncaster Sales, the new battery of owner and trainer purchased Red Rum who would eventually (and quite famously) win the Grand National three times and finish second twice more.

Like the Kentucky Derby or the Virginia Gold Cup, winning the prestigious but dangerous and overcrowded Grand National one time is a major accomplishment, but winning it multiple times is spectacular feat.  

To put it in perspective, Red Rum was in the same class as Saluter (who won six Gold Cups), but as taxing as the Gold Cup may be, the English Grand National run over four miles and 30 very scary fences including the imfamous  Becher's BrookThe Chair, and the Canal Turn, is considered the toughest test in horse racing. (Words we would have never written were Nick Arundel still alive to argue the point!)

Red Rum was retired after being injured on the eve of the big race in 1978, but McCain continued to pursue another win.

"Rummy", as he was known to millions, didn’t retire quietly, he appeared at supermarket openings and guest starred on TV.  He died in 1995 at age 30 and is buried at Aintree quite near the finish line.

It took McCain 27 years to return to the Grand National’s winner’s enclosure, but he found his way there with a record-equaling fourth victory in 2004 with Amberleigh House.

After his son took up training and also won this year’s Grand National with Ballabriggs, the senior McCain opined, "He can train this boy, but he doesn't drink and he doesn't party - can he really be my son?"

Contemporary press reports suggest Mrs. McCain was not amused.

McCain died of cancer September 19 at the age of 80.

To read his obit skillfully written (as usual) by T. Rees Shapiro of the Washington Post, click here


Eilidh Grant rode Simon Hobson's Forest Bell to a front running victory in the Virginia Bred or Sired Flat Race at the Foxfield Races on Sunday, September 25, 2011. (Susan M. Carter Photo)
LazenbyBanksMaddenStable's (not a misprint!) Hue of Crimson (Jeff Murphy - right) won the maiden hurdle race at Foxfield. Randleston Farm's Autumn Riches (Paddy Young) was third. (Susan M. Carter Photo)
West Australian trainer Neville Parnham walks his four-year-old Playing God during a Flemington Stable Media Call at Flemington Racecourse on September 29, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. This Sunday the Victoria Racing Club will hold the Melbourne Cup Carnival Preview Day, featuring the Group 1 $502,500 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes.  (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Tuatha De Danann Stable's Red Dirt Girl (Robbie Walsh) broke her maiden in the filly & mare hurdle race at Foxfield. (Susan M. Carter Photo)

Dale K. Thiel's Sir Dynamite (Paddy Young - right) won the maiden claiming hurdle race at Foxfield last Sunday in Charlottesville.  (Susan M. Carter Photo)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Runners at Newmarket racecourse after a race on September 24, 2011 in Newmarket, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


(Richard Clay Photo)
Virginia Gold Cup Director of Racing Dr. Al Griffin, MFH of Warrenton, VA by way of the University of Virginia, won the Open Timber race at the Blue Ridge Races last weekend at the Woodley Farm racecourse in Berryville, VA.

The good doctor won with a six-year-old Virginia-bred named Aero.  Trained by Virginian Doug Fout (The Plains, VA) and ridden by Jeff Murphy (Millwood, VA), Aero was close to the pace early on and then gained control before the last fence winning off by 3 ½ lengths.

Aero enjoys international connections being by Northern Spur (IRE), out of Best Victory (FR) by Cadoudal (FR).  "IRE" as in Ireland and "FR" as in France, but you probably figured that out already.

Aero was bred by the Eldon Farm Racing Stable LLC which is located in Charlottesville, VA not far from what students and alums call “The University.”  

We are looking forward to seeing a large delegation of Wahoos on Saturday, October 15 at the International Gold Cup.

To get  your tickets, click here


Eventual winner, Virginia-bred Researcher (Virginia Tech Foundation) (fourth from right) stalks the pace the first time by during the non-wagering exhibition race at Colonial Downs on Sunday.  Stablemate Saint Dynaformer (third from right) was second and Gustavian (trailing) was third.  (Frank Petramalo Photo)
Lake Placid (red silks) and Paddy Young on their way to winning the $15,000 Open Claiming Hurdle at Colonial Downs on Sunday, September 18, 2011. (Photo by Frank Petramalo/VHBPA)

Felix de Giles riding Grandads Horse (L) clear the last to win The Stone Group Anniversary Novices' Hurdle Race at Uttoxeter racecourse on September 07, 2011 in Uttoxeter, England. (Getty Images)

Friday, September 16, 2011


Richard Hughes riding Chilworth Lad win the Dubai Duty Free Cup at Newbury racecourse on September 16, 2011 in Newbury, EnglandRichard Hughes riding Chilworth Lad win the Dubai Duty Free Cup at Newbury racecourse on September 16, 2011 in Newbury, England.  (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


HE'S A CONNIVER (r) (Douglas Lees Photo)
EMO Stables He’s A Conniver, the winner of the 2010 International Gold Cup, will be running this Saturday in a flat race going 1 ½ miles on the turf at Colonial Downs in New Kent, VA.

Starting as one of the favorites, He’s A Conniver caused a major pile up at the second fence of this spring’s Virginia Gold Cup when he crashed and took out two other horses.  No major injuries were suffered.

His main competition will come from Virginia-bred Researcher.  Researcher’s connections are well known to those who follow jump racing closely as he is owned by Zohar and Lisa Ben-Dov’s Kinross Farm and trained by Neil Morris.

The seven-year-old gelding was bred by the Virginia Tech Foundation at the M.A.R.E. Center in Middleburg, Virginia.  Researcher has won over $1.3 million during his six year racing career.  He won the $100,000 Queens County Handicap Gr.III at Aqueduct in 2008 and won the $500,000 Charles Town Classic in 2009 and the $1 million renewal of the same race in 2010.  He has not raced since finishing fourth in a stakes on the Preakness undercard last May.

He’s A Conniver has won $125,480, winning the majority of it in 2009 and 2010 while racing over jumps.  After his big crash in this spring’s Virginia Gold Cup, he ran one more time a week later but tired badly.  This will be his first outing since then.

The card at Colonial on Saturday will also feature a steeplechase race and ten harness races.

To see the overnight, click here.

To see the Equibase entries, click here


Again, it's not about steeplechase racing, but it does involve horses and jumps...


German equestrian Marco Kutscher jumps over a hurdle on Cornet Obolensky during the European Show Jumping Championship in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Jochen Luebke/EPA)

Monday, September 12, 2011


Fed Ex Field 9/11/2011
Both college football and the NFL are underway and the Nats are once again solidly below .500, so that must mean...drum roll, please...

The International Gold Cup is coming!

Saturday, October 15, 2011.

Don't miss it!