Willowdale Side Saddle Steeplechase Qualifies Riders for UK's Dianas of the Chase

The inaugural running of the Miss Nancy Nicholas Memorial Side Saddle Race at Willowdale Steeplechase, held on May 14 in Pennsylvania, was the third in the spring season of side saddle races under the umbrella of the Side Saddle Chase Foundation. Miss Nic, as she was known, was an avid and brave side saddle rider who was a familiar face in many a hunt field, and no terrain or obstacle would hold her back when hounds were running! We were thrilled to run this race in her honor, and we believe she would have approved of all eight riders and their horses who lined up to start.


All smiles after completing the stiff course. Image courtesy of Middleburg Photo.

The amazing two mile course included ten 3' timber fences, most of which had been built specifically for this event, thanks to the generosity of Dixon Stroud, founder of the Willowdale Steeplechase and board member of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds (PA). All the ladies who raced at Willowdale also hunt regularly, and came from as far as St. Louis, MO as well as Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The top three finishers also qualified for the famous Dianas of the Chase, a prestigious side saddle race held annually in Leicestershire, England, at the beginning of December.


Mrs. Hannum, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and race namesake Miss Nancy Nicholas. Photo by Ed Thomas, from "Scarlet on Scarlet" by Prue Osborn.

McCradys, owned and trained by Lauren Schock and ridden by Julie Nafe, was the winner. Fort Henry, under owner/trainer Stephanie Dowling, finished second, and Sarah Martin guided her El Pegaso to third. Full results included: 4th - In Todd We Trust, 5th - Galon Hapus, 6th - Madame Bellvedere, 7th - Little Lady, 8th - Patrick.

A hotly-contested Best Turned Out award was won by Little Lady and Amy Magee, who also won Best Conditioned non-Thoroughbred. Best Conditioned Thoroughbred went to Sarah Martin's El Pegaso.


Don Cagle helps saddle third place finisher and Best Conditioned Thoroughbred, the aptly-named El Pegaso, Sarah Martin up. Photo courtesy of Sarah Martin.

Many thanks to all at Willowdale for allowing us to run over their beautiful and challenging course, and a huge thank you to all prize donors and volunteers who assisted in making this such a huge success and crowd pleaser. Side saddle racing is definitely a growing phenomenon! Both Cheshire and Loudoun Point to Point meets included races aside on their cards, and next weekend another contest is scheduled at the Potomac Hunt Races (MD).

Contributor Kristie Brabosky is chair of the racing committee at the Side Saddle Chase Foundation. She is also co-chair, with Jock Hannum, of the Cheshire Point to Point, and takes the third flight in the hunt field at Cheshire.


Hats, Hounds and Horns: Red Rock Parades at Pebble Beach

May 6, Derby Day in Monterey, California, was celebrated in a big way, with generous supporters of the Monterey Symphony attending a gala auction, banquet and equine exhibition. “Derby Day & More” took place at the world famous Pebble Beach Equestrian Center. After cheering on the Kentucky Derby runners, the bedecked attendees, attired in fabulous hats and dashing sport coats, stepped outside to view an entertaining equestrian exhibition showcasing many disciplines including dressage and jumping. Reno's Red Rock Hounds (NV),led by joint Masters Lynn Lloyd and Angela Murray, returned this year to support the charity once more by presenting their enthusiastic pack.

Belle Meade Hosts Popular Foxhound Performance Trials

Belle Meade Hunt (GA) welcomed hounds from five other packs at their annual Foxhound Performance Trials on January 20-21. Sam Clifton, Green Spring Valley Hounds (MD) huntsman, carried the horn through two days of challenging weather conditions. Bull Run Hunt (VA) proved victorious, with their Spree earning top scores from the judges. Mounted and unmounted guests who traveled to Thomson, Georgia for the event enjoyed Belle Meade's famous hospitality in the clubhouse, as well as myriad options for staying close to the action in the field.

Mounted Guard Unit, Including 4th Generation Foxhunter, Participates in Inaugural Parade

On January 20th, the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. featured numerous military and mounted organizations. Bennett Opitz, a fourth-generation foxhunter, rode as part of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. This historic unit, now part of the Pennsylvania National Guard, has ties to sporting clubs and reflects the centuries-old connection between members of the military and riding to hounds. Opitz said, "To be able to represent the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry in the Inaugural Parade was an incredible honor and validation for all the hard work that the men of this unit commit to."

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