By Betsy Burke Parker
Special to the Rappahannock News
The 47th annual Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point, one of the nation’s premier steeplechase races, is slated for Saturday, April 6.
Steeplechase horsemen consider the event the unofficial “pre-Gold-Cup Gold Cup,” a meet strategically-timed as preparation for the May 4 Virginia Gold Cup in The Plains.
Post time is 12 p.m. for the first of eight races over hurdles, over timber and on the turf.
One of seven point-to-points on the Virginia spring circuit, Old Dominion joins a new Virginia Steeplechase Association program paying a lucrative “runners reward” to Virginia-based horses. In addition, meet leading trainer and jockey earn a $1,000 bonus, and a Virginia-bred turf race offers a $2,000 purse.
The event is held at historic Ben Venue Farm, one of Rappahannock County’s most picturesque and widely-known ante-bellum estates. All railside parking spaces, tailgate spots and general admission seating have a commanding, hillside view of the mile-long turf oval.
The event, a fundraiser for the local Old Dominion Hounds, is also a major bookend of the region’s social calendar, knitting sport on the course with sport on the rail.
In addition to the eight horse races, there will be a hat contest, a tailgate contest and stick pony races for the kids. There will be a beer-garden and wine tasting tents from local wineries.
ODH also hosts a hunter pace — a timed pairs event, on Sunday. Hunter pace admission is free.
Ticket options for Saturday’s steeplechase range from $25 general admission to $100 reserved tailgate spaces.
Parking and admission details: olddominionhounds.weebly.com or call/text 540-270-7353.