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Murphy Sweeps Open Jump Races at Old Dominion

Featuring the photographs of Douglas Lees

odhptp17.open hurdleEasy Exit and Jeff Murphy (left) are Open Hurdle winners over Del Bando and Liam McVicar. / Douglas Lees photo,

Six jump races—three hurdle and three timber—and two flat races completed an eight-race card at the Old Dominion Point-to-Point at Ben Venue Farm in Virginia on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Jeff Murphy swept both the Open Races—Hurdles and Timber.

In the Open Hurdles, Murphy rode Easy Exit to an easy win by a seven-length margin for trainer Doug Fout. This was Fout’s first of two wins for the day.

Randy Rouse, 100, Sets New American Record at Orange County

orangecountyptp.hishi soar.leesHishi Soar, owned and trained by Randy Rouse wins the Locust Hill Open Hurdle Race with Gerard Galligan in the irons. / Douglas Lees photo

In May, last year, at age ninety-nine, Randy Rouse, MFH of the Loudoun Fairfax Hunt (VA), saddled his Hishi Soar, put Gerard Galligan up, and won the featured race at Foxfield in Charlottesville—the sanctioned $25,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. That feat made Rouse the oldest American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

Last Saturday, April 2, 2017, Rouse, brought Hishi Soar to the Orange County Point-to-Point Races at Locust Hill Farm, put Galligan up again, and won the Open Hurdle Race in a five-horse field. That feat, by our reckoning, makes Mr. Rouse the first one-hundred-year-old American ever to train a Thoroughbred winner.

Piedmont Races Draw Strong Entries

Featuring the Photos of Douglas Lees

piedmontptp17.murphy.leesJeff Murphy on Secret Soul. "If at first...try, try, again."  / Douglas Lees photo

Race-goers at Piedmont enjoyed a warm, sunny day at the Salem Racecourse in Upperville, Virginia on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Entries were strong for the seven-race card consisting of four timber races and two flat races. So much so that one timber race and two flat races were split into two divisions each.

Jeff Murphy scored a hat trick in the first race, Maiden Timber, winning as rider, owner, and trainer. His horse, Secret Soul, delighted his syndicate, but it was a multi-stage struggle to get to the winner’s circle. Secret Soul opened a comfortable lead on the eight-horse field, but lost a lot of ground midway through as the result of a loose horse. Secret Soul got his rhythm back and regained the lead, but turning for home he was passed by Going For It and Hill Tie. Both those horses went off course by jumping the fence at the finish line and were disqualified. So it was Secret Soul, saved again!

Warrenton Hunt Kicks Off Virginia’s Race Season

Featuring the photos of Douglas Lees

warrenton17.fall colorsFall Colors (Amber Hodyka up) and Slaney Rock (Erin Swope up) neck and neck in the Amateur/Novice Rider Hurdle Race.

Point-to-Point Racing in Virginia finally got its start on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at Airlie Racecourse with the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point. (The Blue Ridge Races, scheduled for the previous Saturday, were postponed because of weather until Sunday, April 23.)

Of the ten races carded, nine went into the books, entries being on the light side. The trainer/rider team of Neil Morris and Kieran Norris—last season’s leading trainer and rider respectively in Virginia—were certainly consistent. No appearances in the winners circle, but placing second three times: Open Hurdle, Maiden Hurdle, and Virginia Bred/Sired Flat Race.

100 Horses in History

Book Review by Norman Fine

100 horses in history.stewart100 Horses in History: True Stories of Horses Who Shaped Our World, Gayle Stewart, Blood Horse, LLC (2015), large format, flexible cover, illustrated, color, 168 pages, available from the author and Amazon.How insipid would be the history of man were it not for the horse. By magnifying our feeble efforts with its speed, strength, and endurance, horses have injected color and romance into our very lives and amplified man’s physical impact on the history of the world.

Pegasus Award-winning writer Gayle Stewart tells the stories of one hundred special horses, which she has organized into eight categories: Trailblazers; Movies, Music, and Timeless Tales; War; Racing; Celebrities; Heros and Heroines; Show Stars; and Legend and Lore.

Do you know about Old Billy, most likely a Cleveland Bay cross? He went to work on the river bank at the age of two or three, and worked for fifty-six years to provide the power for the hoist that loaded and unloaded heavy goods from river barges. He lived another three years in retirement before dying at the age of sixty-two.

Sergeant Reckless: A Beloved Fellow Marine

sgt reckless memorialNew Memorial to Marine Staff Sergeant Reckless is dedicated in ceremonies at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California, on October 26, 2016.

Of the many images still stuck in Harold Wadley’s head from his combat tour in the Korean War, there’s one scene he’ll never forget: the silhouette of a 13.1-hand pack horse, Corporal Reckless, climbing the steep ridge with recoilless rifle ammunition strapped to her back for the Marines as incoming fire and return fire exploded around her. Then he’d see her picking her way back down, alone, carrying wounded marines. One day, during the Battle of Outpost Vegas, she made fifty-one trips, mostly alone, covering thirty-five miles.

Reckless was separated from her youthful owner during the Korean War and became one of the Marine Corps’ greatest heroes. In 1997, when Life Magazine published a special Collectors Edition titled “Celebrating Our Heroes,” the story of Reckless was included alongside the stories of other heroes such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa.