One of the nation’s largest steeplechase races celebrates its 88th anniversary this year on Saturday, May 4. The exciting news for this year is the approval of pari-mutuel betting on the races. The Virginia Gold Cup (and the International Gold Cup in October) are now the only two steeplechase events in Virginia to offer pari-mutuel betting.
Approximately 50,000 people in their race-day finest will gather at Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia to socialize and watch some of the finest horses in the world compete over hurdles, timber and on the flat. Held every year on the first Saturday in May (the same day as the Kentucky Derby), the Virginia Gold Cup enjoys a spectacular setting in the heart of Virginia horse country with the Blue Ridge Mountains serving as the backdrop.
This event has become a long-standing tradition and is attended by national celebrities, local VIPs, Washington, DC politicians as well as visitors from around the world. Characterized by lavish tailgate spreads, sleek thoroughbreds and exciting hoof-pounding competition, steeplechase racing is said to combine the best of fast-action sports with a refined social setting. This is one of the Washington, D.C. region’s largest and oldest outdoor events.
The 88th Annual Running of the Virginia Gold Cup will take place on May 4 at Great Meadow in The Plains. Gates open at 10 a.m. with pre-race entertainment starting at 11:15 a.m. including the Jack Russell Terrier Races. The first of seven horse races, including the Junior Field Master Chase gets underway at 1:15 pm. General admission car passes are $85 (allows entry of car and up to 6 occupants). Tickets are available at area Harris Teeter stores and discounted with a Harris Teeter VIC card.
A long-standing Virginia tradition, the Junior Field Master Chase gives young riders a chance to demonstrate their riding skills before large race crowds, an experience especially important to riders who may be planning to make race riding a career. A tailgate competition will determine the day’s most gracious hosts; the hat competition will reveal the day’s most fashionable!
Great Meadow is located just 45 minutes west of Washington, DC and is in close proximity to Dulles International Airport. To get there from Washington, DC, take I-66 west to The Plains exit. Turn left at the end of the ramp onto The Plains Road (Route 245 south), follow signs to Great Meadow which will be on your left. Call 540-347-2612 for additional information or visit the website at www.vagoldcup.com.