The spring series of Point to Point races in Northern Virginia kicks off Saturday March 16th with the Warrenton Hunt, which is held at the Airlie Race Course in Warrenton. The slate will continue every weekend thru April 28th.
Point to Point races are local affairs, put on by fox-hunting clubs to raise money for the hounds and to maintain hunting territory. They usually do not offer purses to winners. Sanctioned meets, like the Virginia Gold Cup and others, are more prestigious because they offer sizeable purses and because they draw the fastest steeplechase horses from the mid-Atlantic region. In both Point to Points and sanctioned meets, horses run over timber and hurdles.
The Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) will fund a new starter reward program for the spring Point to Point races, with the goal of increasing participation in the series.
Every time a Virginia-owned or Virginia-trained horse makes a start in any Point to Point race, the owner will receive a $200 starter reward. The bonus is designed to increase steeplechase participation at all levels, from owner-rider divisions to open hurdle and timber divisions.
“The VEA recognizes that the Point to Point circuits are a vital element of steeplechase racing and we want to do everything we can to promote and support the Point to Points in Virginia,” said VEA Executive Director Jeb Hannum. “The Point to Points are an important first step for many horses as well as giving young riders an opportunity before going to the sanctioned meets. We hope the Reward Program will encourage new owners and broader participation this year.”
Sites for the spring events, in order, are at Warrenton (Warrenton Hunt), Upperville (Piedmont Fox Hounds), Middleburg (Orange County Hounds), Ben Venue (Old Dominion Hounds), Leesburg (Loudoun Hunt), Berryville (Blue Ridge Hunt) and again in Middleburg (Middleburg Hunt). More specific details are available at www.vasteeplechase.com and at www.centralentryoffice.com.
The VEA will also give $25,000 to each of five National Steeplechase Association (NSA)-sanctioned meets in the Commonwealth and donate $10,000 to the Virginia Point to Point Foundation. Included are the spring and fall race meets at both Glenwood Park in Middleburg and the Foxfield race meets in Albemarle County along with the November race meet at Montpelier in the Town of Orange.