OUTDOOR PURSUITS Photo by Isabel Kurek, Courtesy of VA Gold Cup
VIRGINIANS CELEBRATE A 250-YEAR-OLD TIME-HONORED TRADITION
Photo by Richard Clay, Courtesy of VA Gold Cup
WORDS BY ABBY MEREDITH
Virginia Every fall and spring, Virginians don their Sunday Best or Country Casual to witness a timeless equestrian spectacle: the steeplechase. Outfitted in broad brimmed hats and pearls, women parade pastel dresses onto the fields of steeplechase races. Women arm-in-arm with men dressed in seersucker suits and bowties flood the fields at Foxfield Races, Montpelier Hunt Races, and the Virginia Gold Cup each year. Although Virginia has a long tradition of hosting steeplechase races, the history of the race dates back to 18thcentury Ireland. Legend has it, two Irishmen were debating the relative merits of their horses, and decided to put their banter to the test by racing one another. Where should they race? Off in the distance, they spotted the steeple of a church and deemed that the finish line, thus giving birth to a 250-year-old tradition, the steeplechase.