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Norm Fine's Blog

Sporting Photographer Janet Hitchen

janet hitchen3.leesDouglas Lees photoPopular and widely-respected photographer Janet Hitchen (neé Goldberg) died at her home near Millwood, Virginia on Tuesday evening, March 24, 2015. She was seventy-one.

Brilliant at her art, she has, over the last few decades, recorded a magnificent visual historical record of people and events in the world of field sport in and around Virginia. This writer hopes that her collection of negatives and digital image files will be preserved in her name, in the custody of a capable and responsible archivist, for the benefit of sporting researchers and writers of the future.

Janet was my go-to photographer from the early 1990s on, whenever I needed an image for Covertside. When I published the first full-color foxhunting calendar for the American Foxhound Club in 1998, she was the first photographer I called. Two of her photos were included in that inaugural calendar, and her photos have graced the pages and covers of Covertside and our Foxhunting Life Calendars ever since.

Horses

Trainer Teddy Mulligan Returns, Wins at Blue Ridge

brh15.mulligan.getaway.kleckTrainer Teddy Mulligan marked his return to the racecourse with a win in the first race. / Nancy Kleck photoThe sixty-sixth running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races were held at Woodley Farm on Sunday, March 22, 2015. This was the second year in a row that the Blue Ridge race meet had to be postponed due to the weather.

Trainer Teddy Mulligan returned to the racecourse after a year’s absence, saddling his first horse for the first race since his leave-taking and scoring his first win. Bedizen and Zol Zayne, the one-two horses, pulled away from the field of four in the Maiden Hurdle Race with less than a quarter mile to run. Turning for home, Bedizen with Jeff Murphy up took the lead and drew away for a convincing win.

In the remaining two hurdle races—Amateur/Novice Rider and Open Races—trainer Jimmy Day and his rider Brendan Brooks dominated the Winner’s Circle with Controlled Neglect, owned by Ann Braxton Jones-Lynch, and Manacor, owned by a Daybreak Stables syndicate.

Horses

Dakota Slew Retires Rokeby Bowl at Piedmont

open timber2.dakota slew.walsh.leesAt the finish of the Open Timber Race it's Dakota Slew (Robbie Walsh up) 1st, Dr. Alex (Teddy Zimmerman up) 2nd. / Douglas Lees photo

Dakota Slew and Dr. Alex battled for the lead throughout most of the Open Timber race, even jumping the last fence abreast, but at the wire it was Dakota Slew by a length. It was Dakota Slew’s third win in this race under rider Robbie Walsh, thus retiring the Rokeby Bowl for owner Maggie Bryant. Trained by Richard Valentine, Dakota Slew is one of six horses that tied for Leading Timber Horse in Virginia in 2014.

The Valentine-Walsh team scored their second win of the day in the Open Flat Race with Clark Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run taking the lead from Preachers Pulpit with less than a half-mile to run and winning easily. Kisser N Run was the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion, and last season's winner of the Atlanta Steeplechase’s Georgia Cup.

Remembrance

Captain Tom Morgan, MFH, Dies in Ireland at 94

Captain Tom Morgan presents the South Tyrone Foxhounds Hon Whip Paul Kinane and huntsman Ryan Carvill for Beauty winner of the Isaac Bell TrophyCaptain Tom Morgan (in wheelchair) presents the Isaac Bell Perpetual Challenge Cup at the 2015 National Irish Masters of Foxhounds Show. / Noel Mullins photo

Captain Thomas Morgan, MFH, died peacefully at his home, Hunters Lodge, Bishopstown , Lismore, Ireland on Sunday, March 15, 2015 at age ninety-four.

Captain Morgan worked closely with Ikey Bell, father of the Modern English Foxhound, and with Ben Hardaway, MFH of the Midland Foxhounds (GA), to create the Hardaway Crossbred. The Captain was Joint-Master, with his wife Elsie, of the West Waterford Foxhounds (IRE) from 1953 to 1989. For more on this iconic triumvirate of hound breeders, read “The Hardaway-Morgan-Bell Connection.” Here is Noel Mullins' tribute to this outstanding soldier/sportsman:

Captain Tom Morgan, MFH, was a gentleman, wise, widely read, passionate about horses and hounds, and a diplomat who had a wonderful relationship with neighbours and landowners across the hunting country. He welcomed visitors to his very traditional home with his lovely, gentle Welsh accent, and they seldom left without the customary cup of tea and talk of hunting and horse breeding.

Art

Country Pursuits: The Mellon Collections

country pursuits.cormackCountry Pursuits: British, American and French Sporting Art from the Mellon Collections in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, by Malcolm Cormack, Published by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in association with the University of Virginia Press, 2007, 474 pages, illustrated, $62.00What a debt we all owe the late philanthropist Paul Mellon, whose love of horses and horse sports was expressed through the fabulous art collections that he so generously shared with us.

The Eclipse Award-winning breeder saddled legendary Thoroughbreds Sea Hero, Arts and Letters, and Mill Reef, just to name a few. His first British art purchase, in 1936, was a painting of a racehorse, "Pumpkin with a Stable-lad" by George Stubbs, said to be his favorite painting by one of his favorite artists. Pumpkin won sixteen out of his twenty-four races at Newmarket turf in the late 1770s and was described as an excellent runner.

“It was my very first purchase of a painting,” Mellon recalled later, “and could be said to be the impetus toward my later, some might say gluttonous, forays into the sporting art field.”

That Stubbs painting was donated to his alma mater, Yale, but the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was another lucky recipient of Mellon’s “gluttonous” obsession with sporting art. Mellon’s donations are explored in Country Pursuits: British, American and French Sporting Art from the Mellon Collections in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Malcom Cormack. Cormack was the Paul Mellon Curator at the VMFA in 1991 until his retirement in 2004. He also once served as the Curator of Paintings at the Yale Center of British Art established by Mellon.

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