UP AND OVER
Horses and riders clear an obstacle at the Arthur O. Choate Jr., Memorial Timber race at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Races. The winner was Jeff Murphy on Canyon Road, No. 3 on the right above.
The steeplechasing season for the region wrapped up Sunday with the 82nd running of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup races. A perfect event for a sunny autumn Sunday, race-goers were treated to a great view of top racing action.
Steeplechasing and the PA Hunt Cup are Chester County traditions that retain many of the trappings of a bygone era. As a part of the festivities, there is a parade of hounds from the Cheshire Hunt, and a carriage parade with antique vehicles dating back to the 1800s.
Just as in the early days of the race, drivers and passengers on the carriages gathered in a prime vantage point and watched the races from atop the vehicles.
“We love coming to the Hunt Cup every year and I love being a guest of Jamie O’Rourke,” said Martha Barbone of Oxford who was a passenger on the four-inhand carriage driven to the races by Jamie O’Rourke of Unionville. “It’s magic. It’s just wonderful. These horses are terrific and we have a wonderful time.”
Between races, spectators enjoyed tailgating like any other sports fans, with food, drink, and festivities among friends whether the celebration was from the back of an antique carriage or an SUV.
The purse for the PA Hunt Cup totals $35,000, making the four mile race a major feature for local racing.
This year’s winner was Ebanour, owned by Irvin S. Naylor, trained by Cyril Murphy and ridden by Darren Nagel. “He was very good he’s there when you need him. He was picking up very well up the straight,” Nagel commented on his way to the trophy
This was Nagel’s first race on Ebanour. The horse won the Virginia Gold Cup this spring with jockey Gus Dahl, but Dahl was injured in a fall from Ebanour during the Genessee Hunt cup on Oct. 8.
The Hunt Cup was one of three sanctioned jumping races at the meet along with a flat race, pony races for junior riders and a new addition this year, a sidesaddle race.
Eight side-saddle riders, (including one male) took part in the race that saw them galloping cross-country as ladies might have raced in the early 20th century. While it was not a tightly contested race, it was still a crowd favorite, with cheers going up for each of the riders as they headed down the stretch.
Taking home the trophy was Exton rider Mary Musheno on Lucky to Have Him, owned by Lara Lamparski. “It’s a good high afterward, but it’s terrifying while you’re doing it,” Musheno said following the race.
Musheno was actually the second finisher, with Meredith Johnson completing the course first on Skittles, but she was disqualified for interference at a jump.
Proceeds from the Hunt Cup benefit the Chester County Food Bank, the Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County and S.A.V.E. (Safety, Agriculture, Village and Environment).
Carriage drivers and their passengers parked for a good view of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Sunday.