Monthly Archives: April 2024

Scenes From The April 6th Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point

Originally posted on Nationalsteeplechase.com on 4/8/24, written by Tod Marks

Photos courtesy of Douglas Lees

Three races, three different winning combinations score at Virginia Point to Point

With substantial purse money on the line, Saturday’s Old Dominion Hounds Point to Point in Washington, Va., attracted some budding maiden and veteran timber talent. And by day’s end trainers Doug Fout, Sean McDermott, and Parker Hendriks had their first winners of the young season while leading 2023 rider Graham Watters notched his initial score. McDermott and Hendriks, who also do double duty as jockeys, also had winners on the card. For McDermott it was his first of the year, while Hendriks earned his NSA-leading fourth.

Here’s a recap of the three-race, $80,000 card at Ben Venue Farm:

Late surge propels Hold Hard to open maiden hurdle victory

Rolling Tide’s Hold Hard came on with a burst in deep stretch to overtake Runnymoore Racing’s Clifton Down and land the $30,000 opener by a half length.

Hold Hard ridden by Parker Hendriks won the $30,000 Ben Venue Maiden Hurdle race at Old Dominion

With Parker Hendriks riding for trainer Doug Fout, Hold Hard sat in second in the field of 10 for most of the 2-mile race, never more than about four lengths behind Clifton Down and jockey Jamie Bargary. Clifton Down still maintained a comfortable advantage heading over the 11th and final fence, and that’s when Hendriks quickly swung to his inside, moved alongside Clifton Down and edged clear in the final strides.  Irv Naylor’s Travesuras, under Gerard Galligan, was well-placed throughout and snatched the show spot.

The Irish-bred five-year-old winner was making only his fifth career start and fourth over jumps since launching his career last August.

Love Saga out finishes Camcha to take filly & mare hurdle

Ivy Hill Stable’s Love Saga had the lead, relinquished it, and fought back to repel Greg Hawkins’ Camcha in the $30,000 filly & mare hurdle, also at 2 miles over 11 fences.

$30,000 Filly and Mare Maiden hurdle race winner Love Saga ridden bt Sean McDermott on the way to the winners circle

Trained and ridden by Sean McDermott, Love Saga, a Maryland-bred five-year-old, was making just her third start over jumps. As soon as the flag dropped, Camcha and jockey Gerard Galligan burst to the front, with Potter Group USA and Ashwell Stable’s Fox in the Park, and Love Saga in close pursuit.

There was little change in position until the beginning of the second circuit around the course when McDermott nudged his mount to the front. At about the same time, Camcha hooked the leader and as the two battled, Rolling Tide’s Easy Squeeze made her move. It was still anyone’s race at the second to last fence and as the field moved over the final jump, Easy Squeeze, with Parker Hendriks, made a bold bid for the lead on the outside, briefly taking charge until falling.  Love Saga, on the far inside, avoided traffic, as did Camcha and the two dueled to the wire with Love Saga scoring by a length. Michael Smith’s Split in Two (Jamie Bargary) was third. Both horse and rider were up after the spill.

Watters, Lap of the Gods takes timber allowance

Parker Hendriks, who captured the first of three NSA sanctioned contests at Ben Venue, then missed a golden chance when his mount fell on the lead at the last fence in the second race, lost the opportunity to make it two for three when he had to take off his Lap of the Gods, who put in a late run to take the $20,000 timber finale at 3 miles.

Lap Of Gods ridden by Graham Watters winner of the $20,000 Leeds Don Timber race

But Lap of the Gods, who Hendriks also trains for owner Stewart Strawbridge, was in good hands under two-time leading NSA rider Graham Watters.

Leeds Don winner #2 Lap of Gods ridden by Graham Watters, jumping over a fence

Sitting patiently in second (of four starters) behind Armata Stable’s Fashion Line (Conor Tierney) early in the event over 18 wooden fences, Watters and Lap of the Gods eased back to third behind Irv Naylor’s Family Tree (Harry Beswick) as the quartet began the second circuit of the course. Still running easily alongside Stooshie, a second Naylor runner, Lap of the Gods and the two others remained in striking distance of Fashion Line, a three-time winner in 2023, whose lead began to shrink the third time around the undulating course.

Lap Of Gods connections rider Graham Watters and trainer Parker Hendriks after race

The lead evaporated entirely when Fashion Line bobbled and lost his rider just past the 14th fence, giving Family Tree a one-length advantage over Lap of the Gods, who was looming ominously on the outside. Lap of the Gods had all the momentum heading to the final fence, when he accelerated and extended his advantage to 5 3/4 lengths at the wire. Stooshie was third.

The Leeds Don $20,000 Timber race winner is on the left #2 Lap of Gods ridden by Graham Watters jumping over a fence next to 2nd place finisher #3 Family Tree ridden by Harrison Beswick

The evening after the races, Tierney reported he was doing well and plans to ride next weekend. 

Sam Cockburn after winning Foxhunter part of combined race
Open hurdle winner Outperform ridden by Gerard Galligan
Restricted Young Adult flat winner Auction Kingdom with rider Connor Reddy in the winners circle
Novice Rider Flat race winner Artistic Choice ridden by Brian Barry
Virginia Bred, Sired, or Certified Flat race won by Graham Watters on Mission North
Maiden Hurdle 1st Division winner #3 Moonshine Time ridden by Mell Boucher
2nd Division Maiden Hurdle race at Old Dominion winner Auchincruive ridden by Andrew Burke leaping over a fence
1st division maiden hurdle race winner Moonshine Time ridden by Mell Boucher approaching the winners circle
2nd Division Maiden Hurdle race last fence left to right: #2–Auchincruize(Andrew Burke Ott, up)–1st; #10–Doesnt Sting(Graham Watter, up)–2nd; #5–Tiz A Giant(Whitney Schweizer, up)-2nd.
The Old Dominion Hunt Cup Amateur and Novice Rider and Foxhunters Timber winner Keys Discount ridden by Sam Cockburn
Left to right: #3–Post War(Zach Miller, up)–2nd; #1–Overdrawn(Virginia Korrell, up)–1st in the Amateur and Novice Rider Timber race

Virginia Gold Cup Saturday, May 4


Register HERE for the Virginia Gold Cup

Saturday, May 4, 2024 • 11 am

Great Meadow Race Course, The Plains, Virginia

The VTA and VHBPA invite you to join your friends and fellow horsemen for the International Gold Cup in the Horseman’s Tent* on Members Hill.

Food Service Opens at Noon • Cash-only Bar Available

Tickets are $50/person, available to VTA and VAHPBA members. Purchase up to FOUR tickets for the Members Hill passes; includes lunch and parking passes .

Please register by Thursday, April 25, 2024.

For more information contact Christy Jenkins at christy.jenkins@easterassociates.com.

*The Owners Tent and VTA Tent are combined again. Owners who have a horse(s) entered that day will receive credentials from the Gold Cup office for free admission to the tent.

Secretariat Dedication Ceremony Attracts Hundreds of Appreciative Fans

March 30 was a monumental day for Ashland, Virginia and for horse racing from near and far! The town has proclaimed it “Secretariat Day” to celebrate the birthday of the legendary Triple Crown champion and to hold the long-awaited dedication ceremony for the stunning bronze statue “Secretariat Racing Into History” by sculptor Jocelyn Russell.

A formal dedication and ribbon-cutting took place at the Reynolds Family Plaza at Randolph-Macon College in downtown Ashland. This was the first and only monument of Secretariat in Virginia, his birth state. He was born on March 30, 1970 at Meadow Stable, which was founded by Christopher Chenery, who grew up in Ashland.

At 21 feet long and 11.5 feet tall, the monument depicts a larger-than-life Secretariat at a full run, ridden by jockey Ron Turcotte. The saddlecloth shows the number two for Secretariat’s post position in the 1973 Belmont, his most memorable race. The 3,800-pound artwork garnered national publicity last summer during its 5,000-mile tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown. The Secretariat For Virginia Committee with the non-profit Ashland Museum raised the funds for the project.

“Secretariat Racing Into History represents my family history coming full circle, in more ways than one,” said Kate Chenery Tweedy, chair of SECVA. “Like my grandfather Chris Chenery and my mother Penny overcoming their challenges with Meadow Stable, our team displayed an unwavering determination to get the job done. We are extremely grateful for such a rewarding collaboration with the Ashland community, the Commonwealth of Virginia, generous donors, and loyal fans from near and far. This glorious monument will stand as an emblem of excellence and inspiration that honors a matchless legacy.”

As a tribute to Secretariat’s Virginia roots and his still-unbroken track records in the 1973 Triple Crown, the majestic sculpture will be standing on a base containing portions of sand from the original training track at Meadow Stable and from the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

Here are additional pictures from Big Red’s celebration Ashland:

Wayne Dementi, publisher of Secretariat’s Meadow, welcomed statue donors to a luncheon before the ribbon cutting.
 Members of the Second Zion Baptist Church Gospel Choir sing “Oh Happy Day”, a song featured in the Secretariat movie.
Virginia Racing Commission Chair Stephanie Nixon, who owns Ashland-based Horseshoe Hill Farm, was all smiles at the dedication ceremony.
Kate Chenery Tweedy posed for countless pictures after the ribbon cutting.
Jocelyn Russell’s magnificent bronze attracted hundreds of picture takers.
Memories from an era of greatness.
Sculptor Jocelyn Russell’s journey of creating the Secretariat bronze came to a perfect conclusion on March 30th.
Aidan Turnage-Barney of the Virginia Equine Alliance promoted upcoming racing events to festival attendees.
Leeanne Meadows Ladin, co-author of Secretariat’s Meadow, is a key part of the Secretariat for Virginia team.

Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Recap

The Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point took place on March 30th, at the Woodley Farm in Berryville, VA The card was made up of eight races, ranging from a mile to three miles around the track. This meet is important to local fans of the sport who get to come out in the Northern Virginia area and see one of the first racing events of the year.

The day of racing was highlighted by two new $15,000 races for Amateur or Apprentice riders. These races were sponsored and Sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association (NSA).

The spring PTP season continues at Ben Venue Farm in Washington, VA on April 6 (Old Dominion Hounds), Morven Park in Leesburg April 21 (Loudoun Hunt) and Glenwood Park in Middleburg April 28 (Middleburg Hunt).

Photos courtesy of Douglas Lees

Trainer Leslie Young talking to rider Freddie Procter after Novice Timber race
Novice Rider Flat Race Winner Auction Kingdom (American Flag Silks) ridden by Conner Reddy
2nd Division Maiden Hurdle Race Winner Honeymooner ridden by Andrew Burke with Trainer Todd McKenna
Graham Buston, Blue Ridge Huntsman
$15,000 NSA sanctioned Amateur or Apprentice Rider Timber Race Winner Bob’s Bar ridden by Andrew Burke
Huntsman Graham Buston with Blue Ridge Hounds
Stick Pony Races
Trainer Mark Beecher congratulates Dan Nevin on his win on Decisive Triumph in the NSA sanctioned Amateur or Apprentice Rider Hurdle
Decisive Triumph and his groom walking to the winner’s circle
Virginia Bred and Sired flat race winner E.P.Milton ridden by Conor Tierney in the winner’s circle with connections including trainer Susan Cooney
Race Chairman Jeffrey LeHew, MFH
1st Division Maiden Hurdle winner Exuma ridden by Dan Nevin