Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point

Posted: March 20, 2014

The Winchester Star

Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point, which had to be postponed from the original March 8 date because of snow, will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at Woodley Farm, 800 Briggs Road, Berryville. Tailgating begins at 11 a.m. General admission is $20 per carload.

Berryville — Organizers of the 65th running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point are hopeful that neither snow nor sleet will keep the races from going ahead Sunday.

The rescheduled amateur horse races, which had to be postponed from the original March 8 date because of snow, will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at Woodley Farm, 800 Briggs Road, Berryville, said Brian Ferrell, co-chair of the event and one of the joint masters of the Blue Ridge Hunt.

“We pushed to the third week in March not expecting snow and here we are trying to pull these races off,” said Ferrell of Berryville. “It’s a constant struggle with the weather.”

Tailgating begins at 11 a.m. General admission is $20 per carload.

A few changes had to be made to the event because of the postponement, including going from 10 races down to six, Ferrell said.

Organizers decided not to hold any timber races because the Blue Ridge event comes a day after Saturday’s Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point in Upperville, he said. “We don't want to step on anybody’s toes when they are having timber races the day before over the mountain.”

Rather than taking away from the event, focusing on three hurdle and three flat races might even pick up the pace, said Peter Hitchen, event co-chair and a member of the Blue Ridge Hunt.

“Hurdle racing tends to be faster, so it should be a lot more fun watching just hurdle and flat races,” said Hitchen, of Berryville. “Timber races tend to take a little longer to run because they are longer races.”

Finding a time to reschedule a race isn’t easy, because the Point-to-Point season is packed, Ferrell said. The Hunter Pairs Pace, which is usually held the day after the Blue Ridge Point-to-Point, will now be held May 4 at Woodley Farm.

This year’s race also won’t have a junior field master’s chase, but there is a young adult flat race for ages 15 to 18. Organizers are trying to generate more interest in getting “young people interested in real racing,” Ferrell said.

Putting the races together this week will be a last-minute affair, he said. He will retrieve certain course materials from the Piedmont races after they finish, and they will be put up Sunday at Woodley Farm.

The course drains well because of all the limestone rock in Clarke County, he said. With a couple of warm days, organizers hope the snow will melt and the ground dry sufficiently for the races to run safely for the horses and riders. Until then, they are staying off the grass.

“The ground is not frozen underneath so if we were to drive anything on the course right now, we would create ruts,” he said. “We are staying off it until the very last minute when we go to put the hurdles up.”

Spectators will still have the same great view on the hillside overlooking the whole course, Hitchen said. People are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, and coolers to enjoy a nice picnic atmosphere.

“I think it is one of the most beautiful places in Northern Virginia, and it is a very nice venue for people to come out Sunday and spend the day in Clarke County,” he said.

Tailgating in the parking lot overlooking the races is $150.

The Blue Ridge Hunt Pony Club will sell programs to benefit their group.

The Blue Ridge Hunt puts on the races as a fundraiser to subsidize the upkeep of the group’s hounds, which are kept at a kennel in Millwood.

To reach Woodley, take U.S. 340 south from Berryville, turn left on Briggs Road at Old Chapel, and follow the signs.

Information

The 65th running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point will begin at 1 p.m Sunday with at Woodley Farm near Berryville. General admission is $20 per car. For reserved parking, contact Jenny Irwin at 202-664-4664. For more information, visit blueridgehunt.org.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com