Wind and Mud Compete at Potomac Hunt Races

Wind and Mud Compete at Potomac Hunt Races

Annual event attracts a crowd.

Racing to the finish are #10 kiss my sass ridden by Abigail Murphy, #5 Splash ridden by Brooke Leatherman and #6 Jigsaw ridden by Colin Smith.

Racing to the finish are #10 kiss my sass ridden by Abigail Murphy, #5 Splash ridden by Brooke Leatherman and #6 Jigsaw ridden by Colin Smith. Photo by Chesley Hurdle

If you enjoy mud, incessant wind, scattered clouds and a 58-degree, May 15, temperature you would have loved the 64th annual running of the Potomac Hunt Races last Sunday at the Kiplinger’s “Bittersweet” field, Poolesvile.

Knight and Anne Kiplinger continued his family’s tradition of hosting the event, come rain or shine, and also continue the tradition of presenting the trophy to the winner of the first race, a mile flat event won by Achsah O’Donovan’s “West Is Best.” Knight’s father, Austin, who presented the first race trophy for many years, died last November only three weeks after appearing as the Grand Marshal in the annual Potomac Day parade, wearing formal fox hunting attire, as he was requested to do.

Despite the 15 days of rain prior to the 2016 Potomac Hunt race, the constant wind during the previous day and again during the event helped dry out the field, eliminating most cars and vans from getting stuck, although there were tractors in evidence to help those who might.

The wet fields however may have played a part in the numerous number of “scratches” in the program, leaving the two featured races, the $7,500 Open Timber and the Open Hurdle with few entries. It was only a three horse race in the Open Timber, three miles and a quarter over fences. However, the crowd, estimated at only half of the 2,000 there in last year’s 90-degree heat roared with excitement as the three entries, Vicki and Skip Crawford’s “Touchdowntony,” Gus Dahl in the saddle; Isabelle Bosley, riding “Tis Relevant” and Barry Foley on “Duc De Savoie” raced toward the finish so close together a king-sized blanket could have covered them.

The Crawford’s “Touchdowntony” was declared winner by a half length over “Tiz Relevant.”

The old adage, turn about is fair play, was evident. It was recorded in the 2015 same event, “Tiz Relevant” won “by a whisker,” ahead of “Touchdowntony.”

On the co-featured Preakness Open Hurdle race only one of the original five entries, Randolph Rouse’s “Hishi Soar” was not scratched. It was apparent the other entries, those not on the printed program, were offered as a kind gesture to fill out the race program, accommodating the late scratches.

Ninety-nine-year old Randy Rouse was there to see his horse easily gain a half-mile lead in front of the two other entries and maintained it to the finish line with jockey Barry Foley astride. “Alvitude,” with jockey Mike Woodson up and “I’ve Gotta Dance” with Isabelle Bosley astride, placed second an third. They ran seemingly as a pair around the two-mile course.

Following the race, Rouse welcomed many friends who came from the sidelines to congratulate him on the win and say how happy they were to see him looking well and weathering the chilly wind while sitting in a golf-like cart. The well-known popular Virginia fox hunter will be 100 years old on Dec. 30. The U.S. Postal Service had better prepare for an

onslaught of birthday cards.

During the half-hour break between each of the seven races, including the pony event, there were hundreds of tailgate parties in action where thousands of deviled eggs and fried chicken legs were included. Bob Hanson, who recently celebrated his 92nd birthday, prepared his own tailgate feast for his guests as he has in many past years. Also among those hosting tailgates on the rail were Camille and Fritz Finley, her parents Skip and Vicki Crawford, “Junior” Magassy, Luttie Semmes, and Denise and Rex Reed, all providing for friends and relatives on one side of the course while on the opposite side jt.MFH Beverley Bosselmann and her husband, Rainer, held forth with four tailgate spaces. They traditionally sponsor the pony race event in honor of their son, the late Cpl. Kirk Bosselmann.

Devereaux Raskauskas, Kaja and Bubba Farnsworth the Dan Crowleys, and truly hundreds of others lined up on both inside and outside rails for open air dining and watching the races.

At least there was one person not totally concentrating on the races. Kevin Dickerson of Poolesville took a few minutes to get down on his knees, yes, in the mud, and propose to Morgan Fields, also of Poolesville. Morgan later said, while showing off a lovely engagement ring to friends, “I have been coming to these races for 23 years.” She didn’t have to add that this experience was a first. When asked when was the wedding date she replied, “I have no idea.” Obviously they didn’t take the time just then to sort that out. There were races to be seen.

Ladies hats were also seen. Everywhere. They weren’t worn for style, but to keep the hair from blowing in all directions and to hopefully add a little bit of warmth. Scarves and wool jackets were in abundance especially for those riding in the tractor driven-vehicle operated by Andy Marchwicki. He circled the entire course throughout the afternoon, primarily with youngsters on board.

The two weeks of rainy weather may have caused a muddy race course but it surely didn’t prevent a day of good racing. It came straight from the horses’ mouth, “It was a good day.”