BOSTON, Va--The Rappahannock Hunt Point-to-Point, returning to steeplechasing for the first time in 12 years, begins the Virginia circuit on Saturday, March 7.
Entries include two national champion owners, two champion trainers and two former national champion riders.
G1 hurdle winner Swansea Mile, owned by George Mahoney's Rosbrian Farm, trained by Ricky Hendriks and ridden by Archie MacAuley, makes his timber debut in the first race, the 2 1/2 mile Maiden Timber, and Cheltenham Festival winner Veneer of Charm, also owned by Rosbrian, opens his 2020 season in the 1 1/4 mile Open Flat race underSara Gartland..
Timber stakes winner Kings Apollo, owned and trained by Sanna Neilson and ridden by her son Parker Hendriks, opens his season in the 1 1/4 mile Maiden Flat race.
RAPPAHANNOCK has an all-new course, with farm owner, steeplechase horseman and foxhunter Larry Levy putting in a mile-long oval and timber course at The Hill.
Levy improved the established turf through extensive earthwork and drain tiles.
“The racecourse is way back on the farm,” Levy said. “It’s almost a mile of driveway to get back there. It’s real pretty, and that was the perfect place for a course. It’s a natural bowl, with great viewing and parking, and a good, lightly rolling course for the horses. But we were gonna have a problem if it’d rained a lot on race day. But I think we’re looking good.”
The Rappahannock races ran from 1970 to 1999 at Thornton Hill Farm in Sperryville., in 2000 at Brandywine Park south of Culpeper, and from 2001-2008 at the old Bleu Rock Inn course near little Washington.
Rappahannock joint-master Oliver Brown said the club abandoned the meet after 2008 after several weather cancellations and the pending sale of the Bleu Rock Inn.
“I’d always missed the Rappahannock races,” Levy said of his idea to renew the historic meet. “Like a lot of people in this area, I looked forward to it every year. I wanted to do something good for the hunt, and for the horsemen. It’s hard to have racehorses around here when the hunt clubs keep canceling their races. I offered it to Oliver, and it mushroomed.”
Levy has long used his “back field” as one of his gallops for his racehorses
“I knew it rode well,” he said. “I had trainer Doug Fout come down and consult me, and trainer Richard Valentine helped re-design the homestretch turn. Oliver Brown set the conditions. The Rappahannock Hunt handled publicity and ticket sales. Everybody’s real excited about it.”