The best hounds on the continent came together to compete over Memorial Day weekend, but at the end of the Virginia Foxhound Show, two from Tennessee took home the top trophies. Dr. Marvin Beeman, MFH, named Hillsboro Hounds' (TN) English bitch, Walnut, Grand Champion of Show, and placed her Crossbred kennelmate, Starlight, in the reserve spot before a cheering crown on the lawn at Morven Park. The previous evening, Millbrook Hunt (NY) huntsman Donald Philhower received the Ian Milne Award in recognition of his service as a mentor to fellow hunt staff.

As always, the weekend brought together numerous organizations that support the hunting community. The MFHA board met, graduated the 2018 Professional Development Program class, sponsored the horn blowing contest and presented the Ian Milne Award. The Museum of Hounds and Hunting, North America opened "The Year of the Hound: Showcasing the Hunts of Virginia," an exhibition and sale of recent works depicting all 25 mounted packs in the Commonwealth. And the Virginia Foxhound Club hosted the traditional dinner below the mansion house and the show itself.

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Team Hillsboro celebrates Walnut's victory. Photo by Liz Callar.

For just the second time in the show's 71 years, one hunt claimed the top two spots. Huntsman John Gray's Walnut '17 (Hillsboro William '13 x their Sable '13) was selected best in the English ring by judge Tessa Jackson, MFH, Chastleton, Moreton, in Marsh (UK), and Champion of Show judge Dr. Marvin Beeman, MFH, Arapahoe Hunt (CO) affirmed her pick in the competitive final lineup. Best Crossbred and Reserve Grand Champion Hillsboro Starlight '17 is by Midland Striker '15, also a successful competitor on the boards, out of Warwickshire Daylight '12.

The top American hound was Orange County Kermit '15 (Potomac Kadillac '12 x Orange County Pernod '11) and the top Penn-Marydel was Moore County Damsel '14 (Golden's Bridge Dan '02 x Glenmore Vivian '10). 

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Saber, another outstanding performance and show hound from Midland. Photo by Liz Callar.

The penultimate class of the day was the Performance Hound championship, which saw the beautiful perpetual cup given in honor of Benjamin Hardaway presented for the first time in his memory. Among the several hounds shown who had placed in the top ten in sanctioned performance trials, Midland Saber '15 (Midland Rocket '11 x their Stunning '11) was named top hound.

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Golden's Bridge huntsman Codie Hayes spoke to PDP participants about Penn-Marydels on Saturday and won this class on Sunday. Photo by Liz Callar.

The new class of Professional Development Program participants rotated through the rings as apprentice judges, learning the finer points of evaluating conformation. They were prepared by live presentations the day before covering the different breeds' suitability for different country. Moderated by PDP coordinator, Andrew Barclay, the huntsmen who displayed hounds and answered questions included Jordan Hicks of Piedmont (VA), Codie Hayes of Golden's Bridge (NY), Steve Farrin of Amwell Valley (NJ), Ken George of Midland (GA), John Gray of Hillsboro (TN) and Richard Roberts of Middleburg (VA).

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Princess Anne huntsman Martyn Blackmore and Morton. Members Michael Maddocks and Cynthia Long-Porter assisted in the ring. Photo courtesy of Princess Anne Hunt.

Huntsman Martyn Blackmore brought hounds to Morven Park for Princess Anne Hunt's (VA) first appearance at the show in nearly two decades. Their Hillsboro Morton '12 (Heythrop Partner '09 x North Cotswold Moonstone '07) was named Best English Stallion Hound, and his daughter Midnight, out of Hillsboro Sadie '13, won the Single English Bitch - Unentered Class. Junior Savannah Long placed fourth in her Junior Handler division in her show debut and Master Edward Mitchell served as Ring Steward in the Penn-Marydel ring.

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Andrew Barclay. Photo by Liz Callar.

Andrew Barclay, a 2015 inductee to the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, North America's Huntsmen's Room in recognition of his decades of exemplary service at Green Spring Valley (MD), busily kept an eye on the newest Professional Development Program participants as they shadowed judges in all five rings. To read more about this experience, as well as the following days' kennel tours, please read our related article here.

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MFHA Executive Director David Twiggs, Brian Kiely, Ashley Hubbard, and Adrian Smith. M. Drum photo.

Once again, Potomac Hunt (MD) huntsman Brian Kiely proved dominant in the horn blowing contest, with Adrian Smith of Metamora (MI) and Ashley Hubbard of Green Spring Valley (MD) close behind, out of a large field of 16 entries.

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MFHA President Tony Leahy congratulates Donald Philhower. M. Drum photo.

Just before the huntsmen lined up to contest the horn blowing, a large dinner crowd listened attentively as Fred Berry, MFH Sedgefield Hunt (NC), spoke about the significance of the Ian Milne Award and his personal recollections of Milne, as Brenda Milne looked on. Presented to a professional huntsman who not only models excellence in his work, but also encourages and educates others, the Ian Milne Award is an honor and reflection of the highest regard from other professional staff. Codie Hayes helped Berry announce Donald Philhower as this year's selection to thunderous applause from the audience.

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The MFHA thanked Judith Craw and Epp Wilson, MFH, Belle Meade Hunt (GA) for their outstanding volunteerism in support of the Hark Forward initiative. M. Drum photo.

For complete show results, please visit the Virginia Foxhound Club website.

To view video of the Ian Milne Award presentation, please visit our Facebook page.

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