Besides capturing the featured Gold Cup race, rider Paddy Young also scored Saturday with steeplethon winner The Whacker.
Young, riding for owner Robert Kinsley and champion trainer Tom Voss, said the second-season jumper was “a bit surprised” with the variety of fences he found on the unique course that combines timber, brush, a stone wall, open ditch, 100-foot long water splash and more.
“But he got into a rhythm as the race progressed,” Young added.
At the wire, local favorite Swimming River, owned by Indian Run Farm in Flint Hill, got within a half-length, but The Whacker prevailed for a $12,000 payday.
Indian Run was within a half-length of joining fellow Flint Hill ‘chase owners Julia Thieriot and Charley and Susan Strittmatters’ Clorevia Farm for a unique triple play at Great Meadow.
Thieriot’s Fantastic Foe (Carl Rafter) easily handled a tough bunch to win the allowance hurdle, while Clorevia’s Star For Tina (Xavier Aizpuru) won the maiden claimer to close the day.
Thieriot and the Strittmatters are next-door neighbors just across the Fauquier-Rappahannock line; Indian Run is just down the road.
Perhaps the most “local” winner of all, though was Commodore Bob in the maiden hurdle.
Ridden by Willie Dowling, the 6-year-old gutted out the score over Class Century (Carl Rafter) to win for owner Nick Arundel, who created the Great Meadow racecourse in the early 1980s to provide a permanent home for the Virginia Gold Cup, which lost its course when Broadview near downtown Warrenton was sold for development.
At Sunday’s rescheduled Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point in Berryville, Ben Garner handled a pair of winners, taking the maiden turf with first-time starter It’s a School Night for owner Kinross Farm, and the allowance turf with Gregg Ryan’s Three Bridge Road. The English native is based in The Plains. — Betsy Burke Parker