A Sporting Weekend With a Little History In Its Past
With an ingenious creative approach for a beautiful country weekend of equestrian events, the Piedmont Fox Hounds is hosting a sporting weekend from March 24-26 that includes fox chasing, social events, point-to-point racing and hunter pairs in the renowned Piedmont Hunt Country.
The weekend kicks off on Friday, March 24 with a hunt over Mellon country with a tailgate breakfast to follow and cocktails and music that evening at Buchanan Hall in Upperville. The Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point will be Saturday, March 25 at Salem racecourse in Upperville at 12:30 p.m. followed on Sunday, March 26 with the Piedmont Fox Hounds Hunter Pairs at Clifton at 9 a.m. Stabling and guest accommodations are available.
What some may not realize is that this event has a deep and rich history. On March 11, 1939, the very first Rokeby Challenge Bowl was held at the estate of Paul Mellon in Upperville. It was the last of three point-to-point races sponsored that day by the Piedmont Hunt.
Soberside, a 10-year-old gelding belonging to Harry Worcester Smith and ridden by his son, Crompton Smith, was the only horse that finished the 4 1/2 mile course. There were a dozen initial entries, with all but four scratched for “The Race for Gentlemen.” The early leader, Wrackspike, owned by Hubert Phipps and ridden by Harris Burklin, fell at the last fence.
According to an account of the race in The Washington Post, “hail, rain and ice, with a biting east wind, did not dampen the ardor of the 2,000 or more spectators who braved the weather to see the races.”
The four judges that day were a Who’s Who of legendary steeplechase figures, including Dr. A.C. Randolph, MFH of the Piedmont Hunt; D.C. Sands, MFH of the Middleburg Hunt; Fletcher Harper, MFH of the Orange County Hunt and W.G. Fletcher, president of the Piedmont Hunt.
Among the prominent owners with horses entered in three races included Paul Mellon, Mrs. John Hay Whitney, Mrs. Howard Linn and Mrs. George Greenhalgh.