March will probably unfold true to nature with its usual fickle combination of lion and lamb, temperatures up and down, but only Mother Nature knows whether we’re in for more of the white stuff… No worries — racing over hurdles and timber means that spring’s just around the corner. Time to start planning your tailgate celebrations with family, friends and business associates, because nothing beats a point-to-point (PTP) or meet to shake off the winter blahs.
Blue Ridge Hunt kicks off the Virginia Point-to-point season on March 12 at Woodley Farm; post time for the first race is noon. Warrenton Hunt is up next at the Airlie Racecourse, Warrenton, on March 19, with the first race going under starter’s orders at 12:30. The Piedmont Foxhounds will run its annual PTP on the following Saturday, March 26, at the Salem racecourse, Upperville. Orange County takes place on Sunday, April 3, at Locust Hill Farm, Middleburg, post time is 1 p.m., followed by Old Dominion, April 9, at Ben Venue.
Oatlands Plantation, Leesburg, sets the stage on Sunday, April 17, for Loudoun Hunt’s PTP, post time is 12 sharp, but check the schedule for when the 2nd annual Ladies Sidesaddle Race goes under starter’s orders. You don’t miss the competitive elegance of the ladies stampeding to be first across the finish line. In fact, make plans to arrive early, because traffic’s often backed up on Route 15 as the course crosses the main driveway and vehicles are held until the race is over.
Point-to-points are great party settings with unbelievable ambience — people, horses, action over timber and hurdles and on the flat. Be prepared for Mother Nature to throw a hissy fit by making sure that you and your guests dress for the elements and pack along everything you think you don’t need. If it’s sunny and mild, bring umbrellas and rain gear, extra fleeces, sweaters, extra socks and waterproof cozy footwear. Sometimes, when you’re dressed for cold, wet and/or dreary, by early afternoon you find you’re sweating buckets, wishing for that lightweight windbreaker. Ladies, sport your Dubarry boots etc and leave the high heels at home or in the car. When in doubt, ask experienced racegoers.
For all sorts of PTP and racing information: www.centralentryoffice.com
The National Steeplechase Association’s 2016 schedule of sanctioned meets gets off to a good start on March 26 at the Aiken Spring Races, Aiken, SC. The NSA meet attracts a good representation of horses trained up and down the East Coast, including several from the Middleburg area. Aiken, about 8 hours south by car, appeals to everyone, not just horse enthusiasts, with plenty to enjoy in the way of food, art, history, culture, golf, and horse sports.
The Camden Cup follows on April 3, in Camden S.C. If you feel like following the steeplechase circuit, check out the schedule on the NSA website. Also, start making your plans for the Middleburg Spring Races on April 23, post time 1:30 p.m., and the Middleburg Hunt Point-to-point on Saturday, May 1, first race at 1 p.m. – both at historic Glenwood Park, Middleburg.
For more NSA information: www.nationalsteeplechase.com