We spent a couple of hours this afternoon at the 65th running of the Blue Ridge Hunt point-to-point races. If you are thinking that all sounds very equestrian, then you would be right. There is a great deal of horse country around Winchester – you might remember our trip to Middleburg to watch the hunt parade in early December – and many people in the surrounding counties own, train and race horses.
Point-to-point or steeplechase races, are for hunting horses and amateur riders and involve racing over fences.
Most of the spectators had paid to do what is known here in the United States as tailgating. That means parking your, usually, big vehicle in a prime viewing spot and hosting a mini party from out of the boot – or trunk as we call it in these parts. Groups of suitably horsey attired folk had chairs and tables set up alongside their cars, laden with food, drink and even beautiful flower arrangements!
Olive did an excellent job of consulting the program and telling us the names of each horse and rider. She particularly enjoyed matching up the descriptions of the color and patterns worn by each jockey as each horse made its way into the arena. “Oooo look that’s Zoe with the blue top that has a pink V on it and a blue and pink riding hat”. (Zoe went on to win her race which brought great delight to the girls!)
It was lots of fun and the girls found it very exciting, especially when two riders fell at the first jump. There was even a blow by blow commentary via loudspeaker and the traditional bugle call to announce the start of each race…
If it hadn’t been for the cold we would have stayed for all the races…might have to return next year for a spot of tailgating!