Kathleen O’Keefe has been named Joint-Master of the Casanova Hunt. Many feel her appointment to be a natural progression for this accomplished horsewoman. O’Keefe takes the reins of one of Virginia’s oldest foxhunting clubs, expanding a lifelong love affair with horse and field sports.
O’Keefe, fifty-four and a native of Stephens City, Virginia, started riding when she was six months old in a wicker basket saddle, she says. A fourth-generation foxhunter, her late father, grandparents and great-grandfather were riders, and she grew up foxhunting with her grandmother at the Blue Ridge Hunt in Clarke County, Virginia. “I am especially proud of my father, Peter Drinkwater,” O’Keefe says, noting he won the Virginia Field Hunter Championship twice, a feat O’Keefe repeated in 2000 with her Thoroughbred field hunter Lord Hugh.
Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse—Master of Foxhounds, retired champion race rider, Thoroughbred trainer, musician, and national steeplechase icon, died early Friday, April 7, 2017 at age one-hundred.
He was the oldest trainer in North American Thoroughbred history to saddle a winner, ever. He was ninety-nine last April when his Hishi Soar won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring Races. This season, at age one hundred, just one week before his death, he sent Hishi Soar to the starting line again and won the Open Hurdle Race at the Orange County Point-to-Point in Virginia.
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.
As we approach the 2017/2018 season, Foxhunting Life makes its annual report on the recent moves of eight huntsmen across the North American hunting countries.
Hugh Robards’ decision to hang up his hunting horn after fifty-five seasons in hunt service got Round One underway. Fully half of those seasons, and certainly the most visible, Robards spent in Ireland’s challenging ditch-and-bank country as huntsman for the County Limerick Foxhounds. There, he provided world-class sport for Master Lord Daresbury (whom he succeeded as huntsman), the hard riding members, and a constant stream of hunting visitors from around the globe.
For the last three seasons, Robards has carried the horn for the Middleburg Hunt (VA). As difficult as his personal retirement decision must have been, the Middleburg Masters and members paid Robards such a stirring tribute at their Hunt Ball that he had to have felt the sincere respect and affection in which he was held, notwithstanding his short tenure there. The members made certain that the ball revolved about him with mounted photographs of his career, the showing of a specially produced video, and speeches—sincere and well-earned, to recognize an illustrious career.
Loudoun Fairfax Hunt Master Randy Rouse has donated a well-known Middleburg, Virginia property to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The transaction was completed on Thursday, December 29, the day after Randy celebrated his one hundredth birthday.
“I can take a tax writeoff,” Randy said to The Fauquier Times. “At my age, I’ve got to start thinking about the future.”
Rouse has been a successful real estate developer in Northern Virginia, a longtime Master of the Fairfax Hunt, winning amateur steeplechase rider, and president of the National Steeplechase Association.
The property, the Middleburg Training Center, was originally built by Paul Mellon as a training facility for his racehorses. It boasts a 7/8-mile track, multiple barns, paddocks, tack rooms, offices, grooms’ quarters, and house.
In 1975, a group of local horsemen purchased the facility. Over the years the track surface has resounded to the hoof beats of many good horses, among them Hoist the Flag and Spectacular Bid. Randy Rouse bought the training center in 2006 for four million dollars, but its usage has declined over the years, and, though it’s been on the market recently, there have been no takers.
The non-profit Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), plans to continue current operations—eighty horses are now stabled there—and will renovate barns and add more fencing. As many as ninety Thoroughbreds could be retired on the property, according to Lenny Hale, TRF president and CEO.
For more details, click to read the complete article by Vicky Moon and Leonard Shapiro.
Posted December 31, 2016