Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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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!

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brh16.prima facie.smithwick.murphy.leesMaiden Hurdle winner Prima Facie and rider Jeff Murphy (center) keep in touch with the field the first time around. / Douglas Lees photo

March 12, 2016 saw the sixty-seventh running of the Blue Ridge Hunt Point-to-Point Races going off on the hunt’s normally scheduled weekend for the first time in four years, the three previous race meetings having been postponed because of winter weather conditions. With the weather and the footing close to ideal for horses and spectators alike, the meet, usually the third in the series, also served as the kick-off for the 2016 Virginia point-to-point season.

Jimmy Day-trained entries won two of the three hurdle races: Amateur/Novice Rider with Bruce Smart’s Dai Bando and the Open Hurdle with Daybreak Stables’ Manacor. In the Maiden Hurdle Race, Day's horse, Zol Zayne had to settle for second place, as he did last year in the same race. The Maiden Hurdle was won by Celtic Venture Stable’s Prima Facie, trained by Eve Smithwick, MFH and huntsman of the Snickersville Hounds (VA). Jeff Murphy held Prima Facie to the pace he wanted and patiently stalked the leader much as he rode the same race last year on winner Bedizen. Murphy took the lead from Hardly Patient on the final turn, accelerated to the last fence, and flew it cleanly for a convincing win.

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och15.amnov hurdle.leesAmateur/Novice Rider Hurdle Race (l-r): Special Guy (Ben Swope up) was second by a length to winner Spy In The Sky and Gregg Ryan, MFH.  /  Douglas Lees photo

The Orange County Hounds Point-to-Point Races were held on Locust Hill Farm, Middleburg, Virginia, on Sunday, March 29, 2015, perhaps the nicest spring day for racegoers yet this season.

Gregg Ryan, MFH of the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Snickersville Hounds in Virginia, marked his return to the racecourse by winning the Amateur Novice Rider Hurdle Race on his veteran, Spy In The Sky. Ryan allowed Ben Swope on Special Guy to set the pace for much of the race, before pulling away with five furlongs to go. Special Guy, as he did at Warrenton, made a late rush, but not enough.

Spy In The Sky is trained by Eva Smithwick, Gregg’s Joint-Master at Snickersville. Trained in years past by Jimmy Day, Spy in the Sky won the $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Handicap at Saratoga in 2012, returning long odds of 25-1 to the lucky ticket holders there.

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och15.amnov hurdle.leesAmateur/Novice Rider Hurdle Race (l-r): Special Guy (Ben Swope up) was second by a length to winner Spy In The Sky and Gregg Ryan, MFH.  /  Douglas Lees photo

The Orange County Hounds Point-to-Point Races were held on Locust Hill Farm, Middleburg, Virginia, on Sunday, March 29, 2015, perhaps the nicest spring day for racegoers yet this season.

Gregg Ryan, MFH of the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Snickersville Hounds in Virginia, marked his return to the racecourse by winning the Amateur Novice Rider Hurdle Race on his veteran, Spy In The Sky. Ryan allowed Ben Swope on Special Guy to set the pace for much of the race, before pulling away with five furlongs to go. Special Guy, as he did at Warrenton, made a late rush, but not enough.

Spy In The Sky is trained by Eva Smithwick, Gregg’s Joint-Master at Snickersville. Trained in years past by Jimmy Day, Spy in the Sky won the $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Handicap at Saratoga in 2012, returning long odds of 25-1 to the lucky ticket holders there.

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vaughn clatterbuck.kleckVaughn Clatterbuck signals a view for the Blue Ridge hounds across his Bartley Farm // Nancy Kleck photo Vaughn Clatterbuck, who whipped-in to twelve Virginia huntsmen, died at home on his cattle farm in Millwood, Virginia at age seventy-six on September 24, 2014 after a lengthy illness. Among those huntsmen to whom Vaughn whipped-in are the late Bay Cockburn, MFH and huntsman of the Loudoun West Hunt, and the late huntsman Jim Atkins. Vaughn later served as Field Master for the Snickersville Hounds in Middleburg, always showing his field a good time, no matter the scenting conditions.

In 1968, after his father sold the family farm, Vaughn partnered with his cousin to start Bonded Carriers, Inc., which grew into the largest independent trucking company in West Virginia. The company was a real family operation involving a sibling, several cousins, his daughter and his son. Bonded employed well over a hundred employees and served customers up and down the East Coast.

In 2008, after forty years of operation, the company was sold on account of Vaughn’s ill health. He retired to his farm, where he raised Hereford and black baldy cattle. His Clarke County farm was a regular and popular fixture for the Blue Ridge Hunt, and Vaughn was usually seen waving from his ATV while watching hounds. He was mowing pasture fields the week before he died.

Vaughn was a strong horseman and a knowledgeable whipper-in. Because he loved his foxhunting so, he was always a joy to be with in the field. His wife Wendell Hawken Clatterbuck is a brilliant poet, whom this writer has had the honor to publish several times, both in Covertside and in Foxhunting Life.

A service of Thanksgiving for Vaughn’s life will be held on Saturday, September 27 at 3:00 pm at Christ Church, Millwood. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Christ Church, PO Box 153, Millwood, VA 22646 for the Clatterbuck Scholarship Fund for underprivileged children, or to the Ability Fitness Center, c/o Jared Blaney, 11111 Sunrise valley Drive, Reston, VA 20190 for a special needs facility.

Posted September 25, 2014