Friday, April 25, 2014

The Maryland Hunt Cup

As many denizens of the area know, it’s Hunt Cup Weekend here in the Valleys. imageThis race has a long and storied history and is central to the lives of a lot of people in these parts.

From Wikipedia:

The Maryland Hunt Cup was established in 1894, as a contest between two hunts, The Elkridge Fox Hunting Club and the Green Spring Fox Hunting Club, to determine the relative merits of the local hunting horses. In the first running of the race, the riders and owners had to come from either of the two hunt clubs. A year later the race was opened up to horses owned and ridden by members of any recognized Hunt Club in Maryland. In 1903 this was further expanded to horses owned and ridden by members of any Hunt Club in North America. Nowadays there are no restrictions on where the horse and rider are from. Throughout its history, the Maryland Hunt Cup has been limited to amateur jockeys.imageIn the late 1970s women were allowed to ride in the race for the first time. The first female amateur jockey to win the race was Joy Slater on Cancottage in 1981. To prove this was no fluke, Slater and Cancottage repeated in 1982. Since then, other female riders to win this race include Blythe Miller and Anne Moran.

In 1922, a permanent location for the Maryland Hunt Cup was established, in Worthington Valley, where it remains to this day. Prior to this date, the race was run at a variety of locations.imageThe Maryland Hunt Cup is a timber race, which is a steeplechase run over solid timber fences. This form of steeple-chasing is unique to America. The timber fences mimic the hunt country over which many of these horses are prepared. The Maryland Hunt Cup is part of a series of timber races run in Maryland in the Spring, which also includes My Lady's Manor (second Saturday in April), and the Grand National (third Saturday in April). The Maryland Hunt Cup is known for the size of its timber fences, some of which are close to 5 feet tall. imageThe third fence (4 feet and six inches) and sixteenth fence (4 feet and ten inches) are particularly challenging.

Of course, a big part of the day is the picnic and tailgate party before the race. It’s very competitive as to who has the most beautiful flowers, and the best-looking food. image

The day wouldn’t be complete without a cocktail or two, preferably a Southside from Mr. Lee’s coveted recipe, in an inherited silver julep cup.image

Stop by and see us as you’re on your way up Greenspring Avenue! We’ll be open.

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