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?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Twill Do Wins Another Maryland Hunt Cup

TWILL DO (center) (The Baltimore Sun by Patrick Smith)
From the National Steeplechase Association:

Lucy Goelet’s Twill Do charged to the lead in the stretch of the $75,000 Maryland Hunt Cup and overtook a game Battle Op to score his second victory in the Maryland timber classic on Saturday, April 28. Northwoods Stable’s Battle Op finished seven lengths clear of Bon Caddo, the 2011 timber champion who came home third in the 116th edition of the Hunt Cup.

Twill Do, who had been winless since winning the Hunt Cup by five lengths in 2010, was reserved toward the back of the field early by jockey James Stierhoff, who also had ridden him in the 2010 race and was reunited with the 12-year-old Yarrow Brae gelding for a fourth-place finish in the Grand National a week earlier. As the field thinned out over the tall post-and-rail fences in Glyndon, Twill Do advanced to the front and had a clear lead heading toward the final fence. 

But Battle Op made a strong move under Connor Hankin and seized the lead over the final fence. But Twill Do refused to give up and fought back to take back the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile. The two leaders continued to battle to the finish line, with Battle Op closing the margin slightly in the final strides.

Merriefield Farm’s Bon Caddo, ridden by English jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, was followed to the finish line by Professor Maxwell, Fort Henry, and Prospectors Strike.

To read more from the Baltimore Sun, click here

Watch the HCP Sports video of the Hunt Cup here.

Tune in tomorrow for more photos by our favorite Eclipse Award winning photographer Douglas Lees.

Let The Countdown Begin!

It's Virginia Gold Cup, hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, picnic, tail gate, dry cleaners, designated driver, etc.

Let's get moving people.  The weather watch starts today and it looks like classic first Saturday in May weather. Don't forget the SUNSCREEN.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Not To Wear

(Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
OK, it’s crunch time.  The countdown reads NINE days until the Virginia Gold Cup.  Most of you either know what you are going to where or you have narrowed it down.  That said, rookie’s are always perched on the edge of the fashion cliff just one short step from a Gold Cup fashion faux paux.

That’s why we occasionally remind you ‘what not to wear,’ that, and sometimes we come across crazy fashion photos we feel compelled to share.
(Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
These two ‘what not to wear’ photos come from the “Alternative Fashion Week” held in London at the Old Spitalfields Market.

No offense, Brits, but if it involves “spital,” we’re out. Just sayin’.
(Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images)

Soon we'll discuss further the "dos and don'ts" of tailgaiting.

And The Eagle Flys Wins Grand National

From the National Steeplechase Association: Mrs. William D. Class Jr.’s And the Eagle Flys set all the pace in the $30,000 Grand National and easily held off 2011 winner Private Attack to win by three lengths at the Butler, Md., race course on Saturday, April 21.

Ridden by trainer William Meister, And the Eagle Flys went out to the lead at the start of the 3 1/4-mile race over timber fences and established a lead over Sportsmans Hall’s Private Attack, ridden by Patrick Worrall. Rosbrian Farm’s More Fascination finished third in a field of six. And the Eagle Flys ran the Grand National distance in 6:09 on ground rated as hard.

A 10-year-old Double Honor gelding, And the Eagle Flys was making his first sanctioned start since finishing a distant second behind Private Attack in the 2011 Maryland Hunt Cup.

 To read more from Steeplechase Times, click here

Look, Horses!

(Capital Club Gold Cup Photo)
We first ran this post in 2007, and it remains true to this day so take note people!

(Revised for 2012) LOOK, HORSES!

“Damn it, you’re gonna watch a race!” So says the Director of Racing, Don Yovanovich. He may have said more than “damn,” but this is, for the most part, a family blog.

Here’s how this goes. Everybody has said, “I went to the Gold Cup and I never saw a horse.”

Har-Har. It’s an old joke. Let it go.

There are wide cross sections of groups at the Gold Cup with various levels of interest. There is the "horsey" set that actually cares what happens. Usually because they know somebody involved with one of the horses or, better yet, they know one of the horses. Then there’s the “non-horsey” set who simply finds the racing action fascinating. 

Then there is the “interested to be polite” group. They pay attention to the races so as not to offend their host or hostess. After that you have the “modestly interested” set who will watch a race if they happen to be looking in the right direction when the race starts. And, finally, there is the “don’t care” group. 

Hey, you “don’t care” people, we’re talking to YOU!

(Isabel J. Kurek)
Fact is there are six races with total purses of $200,000. The Gold Cup is now run for a purse of $75,000. That’s real money.

People spend a large part of their lives looking for the “right horse” that can jump 23 big immovable obstacles while running four miles. The horses can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000. Trainers spend years and years honing their skills to condition these horses properly, and the jockeys basically risk life and limb.

So could you just look out there for one race? Just one…C’mon, stop socializing and smell the roses…er, uh…we mean, the horses.

Pictures Of The Day

Rosbrian Farm’s Virginia-bred Mecklenburg with Mark Beecher up (right) clear the last fence alongside Guts For Garters and Brooks Durkee onb their way to winning the 47th Benjamin H. Murray Memorial Saturday at the Grand National Races in Butler, MD. (Douglas Lees Photo)
William Carson riding Jane Lachatte (R) win The Investec Investment Handicap Stakes at Epsom racecourse on April 25, 2012 in Epsom, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Runners sprint down the hills towards the finish in The Investec Specialist Bank Handicap Stakes at Epsom racecourse on April 25, 2012 in Epsom, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Local boy looks to do good...Bodemeister, who was born and raised in Berryville, VA, won the $1 million Arkansas Derby in his last start and is a likely favorite for the upcoming Kentucky Derby.  Here, Bodemeister and exercise rider Peter Hutton tune up on the track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, April 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Picture Of The Day

Two participants in the Itzehoe Dachshund Race in Itzehoe, Germany.  The dogs compete for the “Golden Sausage of Itzehoe” during the traditional annual event. (Carsten Rehder/EPA)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

(NASA Photo)

Pictures Of The Day

Jockey Glen Boss riding Stratcombe wins race eight the Visvanathan Memorial Plate during 7-Eleven Pink Ribbon Day at Caulfield Racecourse on April 21, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Hamish Blair/Getty Images AsiaPac)
Members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery ride during an inspection in Hyde Park in preparation for 2012 State Ceremonial on April 19, 2012 in London, England. The King's Troop, based in Wellington Barracks in central London, will take part in several ceremonial roles in 2012 including the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Trooping the Colour and the London 2012 Olympics. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images Europe)
Tom Queally riding Noble Mission win The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes (Div 1) at Newbury racecourse on April 21, 2012 in Newbury, England.
(Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Jim Crowley riding Moonstone Magic (L) win The Dubai Duty Free Stakes at Newbury racecourse on April 21, 2012 in Newbury, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Queen Elizabeth II shelters from the rain with racing manager John Warren at Newbury racecourse on April 21, 2012 in Newbury, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Runners leave the stalls at Newbury racecourse on April 21, 2012 in Newbury, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Down under the rail, down under.  Jockey Damian Lane riding Rue Maple rides clear to win race three the Story Landscaping Handicap during 7-Eleven Pink Ribbon Day at Caulfield Racecourse on April 21, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Saddle bronc rider Ad Bugenig rides Against All Odds at the Red Bluff Round-Up in California.  (Matt Cohen/

Friday, April 20, 2012

Picture Of The Day

Runners pull up after finishing at Newmarket racecourse on April 18, 2012 in Newmarket, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Incomplete Wins My Lady's Manor

From the National Steeplechase Association:

Robert A. Kinsley’s Incomplete won his second My Lady’s Manor when he drew away to a 3 3/4-length victory in the $30,000 kick-off race of the historic Maryland timber-racing series on Saturday, April 14, in Monkton.

Trained nearby by Ann D. Stewart, Incomplete followed the early pace of Scuba Steve and Fort Henry for more than two miles of the three-mile race and attacked the leaders along with South Monarch, the 2010 My Lady’s Manor winner.

Incomplete responded for jockey Joey Elliott and held off three-time champion timber horse Bubble Economy, who finished second. Bon Caddo, the 2011 My Lady’s Manor winner and champion timber horse, finished third, 2 1/4 lengths farther back and a nose ahead of South Monarch. Incomplete, winner of the 2009 My Lady’s Manor, ran the three miles in 5:58.
THE FINISH - INCOMPLETE (yellow and green silks) (Douglas Lees Photo)
“I’m so pleased. I can hardly believe it,” Stewart said. Incomplete prepared well through the spring, she said, and Elliott allowed Incomplete to run comfortably over the Monkton race course on firm ground. “He did what the horse wanted to do,” said Stewart, who also trained 2008 Maryland Hunt Cup winner Askim.

The My Lady’s Manor was the third strong race in a row for Incomplete, an 11-year-old Press Card gelding who was bred in Maryland. He was impressive in winning the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow Racecourse in The Plains, Va., last Oct. 15 and came back a week later to finish second to Delta Park in the New Jersey Hunt Cup at Far Hills, N.J.

Stewart indicated that she planned to return Incomplete to Great Meadow on May 5 for the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup.

To read more from Steeplechase Times, click here
(Douglas Lees Photo)

And A Pheasant Good Evening... you too!
(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Now, we love a good hat, but this one seems just a bit aves for our taste...
Here, a model walks the runway at the Steven Tyler & Andy Hilfiger Host Andrew Charles' Fashion Show at Macy's Sherman Oaks in Sherman Oaks, California last week.

Space Shuttle Flies Over VGC Office

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Yesterday, the space shuttle Discovery was teathered to the back of a modified 747 jumbo jet and flown from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport.
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The shuttle’s rout took it past the Washington Monument and the Warrenton, VA home office of the Virginia Gold Cup Association.

Pictures Of The Day

In this handout image provided by Racetech, the official photofinish shows grey horse Neptune Collonges, ridden by Daryl Jacob, edging a nose past Sunnyhillboy, ridden by Richie McLernon, as they cross the finish line of the John Smith's Grand National Steeple Chase at Aintree racecourse on April 14, 2012 in Liverpool, England. Neptune Collonges was the first grey horse to win the Grand National race since 1961. (Getty Images)
Paul Nicholls (R) parades his 2012 Grand National winner Neptune Collonges through the village with head lad Clifford Baker (L) and owner John Hales (2R) in Ditcheat on April 15, 2012 in Ditcheat, England. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Mary Fleming Finlay's Hey Doctor (Jacob Roberts) won the open timber race at the Loudoun Hunt Point-to-Point on Sunday.  (Susan M. Carter Photo)

Saturday, April 14, 2012


NEPTUNE COLLONGES (Andrew Yates/Getty Images)

Neptune Collonges, an unfancied 33-1 shot, won a thrilling renewal of the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on Saturday near Liverpool, England.

Heavily-backed 8-1 joint-favorite Seabass led over the final fence under Katie Walsh, but tired on the run to the Elbow and it was Sunnyhillboy who took up the running under Richie McLernon.

Sunnyhillboy looked to have the race in the bag when two lengths clear with just 100 yards left to run, but Neptune Collonges, under a determined Daryl Jacob, gradually closed in and grabbed the verdict by a nose right on the finish line in one of the closest finishes in the history of the race.

Seabass held on for third, five lengths adrift, with Cappa Bleu fourth.
(Andrew Yates/Getty Images)
(Andrew Yates/Getty Images)

Hats From Cheltenham

We will have more crowd shots and fashion notes from Aintree as we get geared up for the U.S. spring steeplechase which, of course, comes to a massive crescendo the first Saturday in May with the 87th running of the Virginia Gold Cup.

For now, here are some hats and what not from the Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race in the world with a $10 million purse.  The Dubai World Cup was held late last month in...we...Dubai, UAE. 

Pictures Of The Day

It’s Grand National day in Liverpool.  England’s most famous/infamous (depending on your point of view) steeplechase race is today at Aintree.  The race is over 4.5 miles and bunch of big scary jumps.  (Andrew Yates/Getty Images)
We told you the jumps were big and scary. (Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
And, yes, this is where they recycle their Christmas trees...(Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sign Of The Times

Hey, it is, what it is...
(Elsa/Getty Images)
It’s April and you can set your calendar by what seems like the Caps annual playoff swoon.  After underperforming all year, the local club lost in OT to Boston in their playoff opener squandering a huge game by their inexperienced goal tender.

So, what’s our point?


April, NHL playoffs.  Down go Caps, do  you have your Virginia Gold Cup tickets, clothes, transportation, tailgate, party plan, etc. etc.

Seriously, the count down is at 21 days, and, as bad as we are at math, that’s three weeks.
And...just in case the Caps rally, most playoff hockey is at night...

For more info go to or check us out on Facebook

Picture Of The Day

Unowaitimeen and Samantha Drake (C) jump over the water jump during teh Fox Hunters Steeplechase duirng the first day of the Grand National meet at Aintree.  (Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tailgaiting 101

You know there has to be a story behind this. It couldn’t just be as simple as somebody showed up one day with a picnic basket and a jug of wine and the tailgate was born. Nope. Not so fast.
Actually, according to, tailgating dates back to the very first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869, when fans traveled to the game by carriage, grilling sausages and burgers at the "tail end" of the horse.

Today tailgating is a part of most athletic events, especially college football. Now the folks at Yale say it all began there in 1904. Their story says there was a train made up of private railcars that brought fans to a Yale game. The train stopped at the station and the fans had to walk the distance to the stadium. When they arrived at the stadium, they were hungry and thirsty. So the idea was born to bring along a picnic hamper of food for the next game. And so Tailgating was born. This story has been verified as absolute truth hundreds of times by…well, you know, Yale.

And so folks showed up to eat before and after the game. Then some genius invented lights. Sweet move for the tailgaters! The towering electric lamps and night football games brought about the practice of hosting all day football parties at fans’ homes where they would congregate and leisurely hop from house-to-house as the evening kickoff approached. 

Night games were a critical social development since they allowed for men and women to dress up. Women commonly wore their best dresses adorned with team-colored corsages while men frequently donned coats, ties and the now-forgotten, but once-popular derbies and fedoras. Is any of this starting to remind you of the Gold Cup?

These festive pre-game jaunts continued unabated for 40 years or more until daytime college football on television pre-empted the house parties that were previously the norm. The alternative to not house partying was simple to the legions of football fans that had been weaned on pre-game football parties: Take the party to the stadium!

Now when people started steeplechasing out in the middle of a field on a sunny day it only made sense to have a picnic. Since one needed a car to reach said field and since the card of eight races or so made time for lunch and a snack, the tailgate was a natural fit.

We like to think of the Gold Cup as the biggest tailgate in Virginia. Maybe in the U.S., but we’d get some argument from the Gators and Bulldogs who say the Florida-
Georgia football game in Jacksonville is the world’s largest. 

Ok, their fans show up and start the party on Wednesday for a Saturday game. 

They win.

But the Gold Cup is still a great tailgate and here’s a few ways to go about it.

BASIC TAILGATE: The main beauty of the tailgate is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. The starter model is the basic tailgate. All you need is a car, a bucket of chicken and a cooler. Chairs and a boom box are optional. Food, drink, transportation. 


MODERATELY SOPHISTICATED: The moderately sophisticated tailgate is the trickiest. You want it to look really nice, but not too nice so people won’t think you are trying too hard to be cool. Basically, some simple decorations will do. 

A nice table cloth and some pretty flowers are a must. But the critical element is good food. Don’t forget the staples – ham biscuits, deviled eggs, fried chicken and some type of sweets. Try not to be tempted to utilize a theme.

SOPHISTICATED: This is where you pull out all the stops. You literally decorate the tailgate utilizing a theme. You plan the props, the decorations, the flowers and the food to the nth degree. You labor over this for weeks. A labor of love, of course. You have the finest booze, fancy champagne, imported beer, fancy hors d'oeuvres, catered lunch – the works. Then you enter the Tailgate contest and win a great prize! Finally, there’s the:

FREELOADER: Just show up looking good and wearing your best smile. Amble up, linger, and hopefully since we are still in the South per se, some polite host, hostess or guest will offer you something thinking you know the other host, hostess or guest(s). 

There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of good ‘ole Southern hospitality. You will get a chance to return the favor next year, unless you become a professional freeloader. 
Of course, there are about 1,000 variations on these four themes, so come on out and get your tailgate on!