Thundering hooves, fancy parties, lavish tailgate spreads, more than 45,000 fans and spectacular fall scenery will all be part of the upcoming 80th running of the International Gold Cup on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. (5089 Old Tavern Rd., The Plains, Va., 20198). It is the largest steeplechase event in the mid-Atlantic and one of the largest in the country—and one of the few to feature sanctioned pari-mutuel wagering.

The first International Gold Cup was held in 1930 at Grasslands Downs, Tennessee the King of Spain provided a spectacularly beautiful gold trophy.  Although the race meet moved to Virginia in 1984, winners of the International Gold Cup are still awarded the same magnificent trophy.

“The Virginia and International Gold Cup are currently the only venue in Virginia with live pari-mutuel on-site wagering,” explained William Allison, president of the Virginia Gold Cup Association, “We are excited to feature betting for our fall races again.  It has been a big success and added a lot of fun for our attendees.”

The International Gold Cup is well-attended by Washington’s diplomatic community including ambassadors and representatives from many nations. The event provides a unique venue for social entertaining and a great place to network in the midst of spectacular fall scenery. The first race will be run at noon.

Gates open for the event on October 28 at 10 a.m. with the first of eight races starting at noon. Early arrival is encouraged. General admission car passes are $75 and are available online (www.vagoldcup.com), as well as at many area Harris Teeter stores (see website for info). For information contact the Virginia Gold Cup Association at 540-347-1215 or visit the web.  Advance purchase of tickets is recommended.  Children 12 years of age and under are admitted free with an adult.  To get there from Washington, D.C. take I-66 west to Exit 31 (Route 245 south) and follow signs into Great Meadow, only 50 minutes from Washington, D.C.

For ticket outlets and other information, go to www.vagoldcup.com.