Your Complete Guide to This Year’s Steeplechase Season in the Main Line Region

Race season is here! Get ready for some of the best equestrian action in the Main Line region with our complete guide.

46th Annual Point-to-Point at Winterthur

Sunday, May 5, 2024

10:30 a.m.

Gates open.
Marketplace: Shop for hats, clothing, jewelry, accessories and more.
Winterthur Hunt: Enjoy special activities, crafts and contests hosted by community organizations.
Keystone Region Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club Antique Auto Display

11:45 a.m.

Delaware State Police Pipes and Drums

Noon

Alison Hershbell Pony Races

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12:30 p.m.

Parade of River Hills Foxhounds

1 p.m.

George A. “Frolic” Weymouth Antique Carriage Parade

1:30 p.m.

Tailgate Picnic Competition Presentation
Stick Horse Races (ages 4 and under)

1:50 p.m.

National Anthem sung by Rebecca Gasperetti

46th Annual Point-to-Point at Winterthur
Photo by Tisa Della-Volpe

2 p.m.

First race: Isabella du Pont Sharp Memorial Maiden Timber Race ($20,000 purse)

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2:15 p.m.

Stick Horse Races (ages 5–7)

2:30 p.m.

Second race: Winterthur Bowl Open Timber Stakes ($25,000 purse)

2:45 p.m.

Stick Horse Races (ages 8–10)

3 p.m.

Third race: Vicmead Plate Amateur Apprentice Timber Race in honor of Louis “Paddy” Neilson III ($15,000 purse)

3:30 p.m.

Fourth race: Middletown Cup Amateur Training Flat Race

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3:45 p.m.

Presentation of the Greta Brown Layton Trophy

4 p.m.

Gates close

Schedule subject to change. 5101 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware. Visit winterthur.org/ptp.

Point-to-Point at Winterthur

The Race

For more than 40 years, Delaware has celebrated its own version of the Kentucky Derby each May. Winterthur’s largest single-day fundraiser, Point-to-Point supports maintenance and preservation of the garden and estate. The annual event was spearheaded in 1978 by Greta “Greets” Layton, who grew up around horses and steeplechasing. Searching for a way to utilize the nearly 1,000 acres of the estate, the trustees decided to present a day of racing in the tradition of the 18th and 19th centuries. Drawing on the knowledge of Russell B. Jones Jr., Louis “Paddy” Neilson III and other local horsemen, Layton launched the organizational effort. The first weekend in May seemed an ideal time for the race, as it didn’t conflict with other area equestrian events that already featured prominently in sporting and social calendars. It also rounded out a series of race meets hosted by the Delaware Valley Point-to-Point Association.

A gazebo in the gardens at Winterthur.
A gazebo in the gardens at Winterthur. Courtesy of Winterthur.

Winterthur tractors cut a course through a former cow pasture, and 7,000 spectators—mostly horsemen and their families and friends—witnessed the first running on May 6, 1979. Today, Point-to-Point is a Winterthur tradition known for its lavish tailgate picnics, high-stepping carriage horses and stylish spectators. In the early years, winners of the five races were awarded trophies modeled after notable pieces of silver in the Winterthur collection. Races were named after people and organizations familiar to Winterthur supporters and area residents: the Isabella du Pont Sharp Memorial, the Vicmead Plate, the Middletown Cup, the Winterthur Bowl and the Crowninshield Plate. In honor of Greets Layton, a trophy is awarded to the owner, trainer or rider who accumulates the most points.

In 2006, the Delaware Legislature passed a law that allowed Winterthur to offer cash purses, and Point-to-Point became sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. The course is a challenging one, with a total of eight fences that are jumped 17 times, covering just over three miles.

The Beneficiary

Located just six miles outside Wilmington, Delaware, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library encompasses a former grand du Pont estate set amid the quintessential Brandywine Valley landscape, 60 acres of world-class gardens and a stunning mansion featuring the most significant collection of American decorative arts in the world. Proceeds from Point-to-Point support environmental and land stewardship initiatives to care for, preserve and protect the Winterthur Garden and the woodlands, meadows and wetland habitats that surround it—nearly 1,000 acres of conserved land. From the mid-19th century to the late 1960s, Winterthur was home to three generations of the du Pont family. The museum was founded by collector and horticulturalist Henry Francis du Pont in what had been his childhood home, which he expanded to its current size of 175 rooms displaying furniture, home accessories and works of art made or used in America from 1640 to 1860.

Du Pont also designed the Winterthur Garden. With its harmonious color and successive blooms year-round, it’s one of the oldest existing naturalistic gardens in North America. The Winterthur Library, an independent research library with a world-class collection, is dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of artistic, cultural, social and intellectual history of the Americas in a global context from the 17th to the 20th centuries. In partnership with the University of Delaware, Winterthur also offers two graduate programs focused on the study of art conservation and American material culture.

Winterthur hosts films, musical performances, lectures and other programs. Among its popular family programs are annual events like June’s Enchanted Summer Day and October’s Truck and Tractor Day. Winterthur also hosts its summertime Artisan Market, featuring the region’s talented craftspeople, and the Delaware Antiques Show, a top-ranked weekend-long fall event. The annual Yuletide Tour in the mansion is a beloved Brandywine Valley holiday tradition, featuring spectacular displays celebrating the Winterthur collections and history.

Visit winterthur.org.


31st Running of the Willowdale Steeplechase

31st Running of the Willowdale Steeplechase
Photo courtesy of Willowdale Steeplechase

Saturday, May 11, 2024

10 a.m.

Gates open
Welcome and announcements

10:30 a.m.

Jack Russell Terrier Races

11:30 a.m.

Pony Races

Noon

Judging begins for Tailgate, Hat and Best-Dressed Contests

12:45 p.m.

National Anthem

1 p.m.

First race: Apprentice Rider Hurdle: Liam Magee SOTA Apprentice Rider Race (12:30 p.m. paddock time)

1:30 p.m.

Second race: Maiden Claiming Hurdle: The Folly (1 p.m. paddock time)

2 p.m.

Third race: Ratings Handicap Hurdle: The Rose Tree Cup (1:30 p.m. paddock time)

2:30 p.m.

Fourth race: Amateur Timber Stakes: The Buttonwood/Sycamore Farms Willowdale Steeplechase Stakes (2 p.m. paddock time)

3 p.m.

Fifth race: Maiden Timber: The Landhope Cup (2:30 p.m. paddock time)

3:30 p.m.

Sixth race: Amateur Apprentice Timber: Memorial Foxhunter’s Chase (3 p.m. paddock time)

5:30 p.m.

Gates close

Schedule subject to change. 101 E. Street Road, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Visit willowdale.org.

Willowdale Steeplechase

The Race

The Willowdale Steeplechase will be “Racing for Life” on the second Saturday in May at its spectacularly beautiful racecourse on Street Road in Kennett Square with six exciting steeplechase races. Since its inception in 1993, the event has raised over $1.3 million for local charities.

Race founder W.B. Dixon Stroud Jr.—who’d competed at the highest levels in steeplechase and polo—decided it was time to have a top-notch steeplechase event in the heart of Chester County’s Cheshire Hunt Country. Combining his love for the sport and his commitment to the community, Stroud enlisted the help of many others for the inaugural running of the Willowdale Steeplechase in 1993.

The event features a world-class course incorporating timber fences, natural hedges and two water jumps. For the 31st running, Willowdale welcomes back the Pony Races, the Jack Russell Terrier Races, the antique car exhibit, boutique shopping, food vendors, and the fun and educational Kid’s Alley. There’s something for everyone at Willowdale.

Family and friends can pack their picnics, put on their best hats and race outfits, and enjoy the fun of the tailgate, hat and best-dressed competitions. As a special perk this year, on Mother’s Day only, you can present your Willowdale ticket at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library and receive the discounted group rate.

The options are many for anyone looking to enjoy the races, whether it’s general admission, tailgate parking or Private Party Paddocks.

The Willowdale Steeplechase is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Kennett Square. Their mission is to raise funds for the Stroud Water Research Center. Their donation assists in the center’s work to support and sustain life on the planet through clean water research.

The Beneficiaries

Seventy-five years ago, Dr. Ruth Patrick, an intrepid researcher and original #girlboss, published a study that changed how our natural resources are protected. A trailblazer in the world of freshwater science, she explored the Conestoga River to understand how clean rivers work and how polluted rivers can recover.

With Dick and Joan Stroud, Patrick established Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale, Pennsylvania, in 1967. Fast forward to today, and her legacy is thriving through the interdisciplinary, large-scale and innovative science conducted on freshwater systems by the team of researchers and professionals at the Stroud Center.

From specimen-collecting trips into the woods to her pioneering work with diatoms (a type of single-celled algae), Patrick has always had innate curiosity and drive. She graduated from college in 1929, earning her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Virginia. She completed her PhD in 1934, when only 15% of PhDs were awarded to women.

From 1933 to 1940, Patrick worked as a volunteer and an unpaid researcher at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, as they would not permit women on their payroll. Despite obvious obstacles, she became a leading expert in the world of algal research. When the U.S. Navy captured a German submarine, she helped identify the location of the formerly undiscovered submarine base in the West Indies by identifying the algal samples collected from the sub.

Dr. Ruth Patrick at work.
Dr. Ruth Patrick at work. Courtesy of Stroud Water Research Center.

In Pennsylvania, Patrick established practices that are still used to monitor and restore freshwater streams and rivers. Known as the Patrick Principle, inventories of a range of local properties and inhabitants are used to determine stream health. Patrick and her team provided data from the Conestoga River to show how lower pollution levels resulted in a higher diversity of stream organisms. Monitoring the biodiversity of aquatic life over time is now a fundamental practice for environmental management.

A force until the end, Patrick commuted to Avondale’s Stroud Center from Philadelphia at 100 years of age, asking any scientist she met in the hall, “What have you learned today?” She was actively engaged with the research team at the Stroud Center until 2013, when she passed away at age 105.

Her legacy lives on through the research and work at the Stroud Center, where scientists continue to use a wide range of expertise to explore fundamental questions of how streams change over time.

Visit stroudcenter.org/restoration.

From the beginning, there was something quite special about Coco Chanel 23—and it wasn’t just that the filly was born with a 45-degree twist to her muzzle. The Standardbred newborn had a vibrant energy, a sweetness and a strength. Clinically known as Wry nose, her facial deviation made it difficult for her to nurse no matter how many times she tried. But she kept trying. With one nostril completely closed, she struggled to breathe but still found it within herself to nuzzle her dam, Coco, and cheerfully greet the humans who’d assisted in her birth.

Still, it was clear the filly couldn’t live a comfortable life without major medical intervention. And even if that went well, it was extremely unlikely that she’d be able live up to her potential as an equine athlete.

But that didn’t matter to her owner, Matt Morrison of Morrison Racing. He didn’t want to euthanize the filly—and his teenage daughter agreed. “There was a fight in her,” Morrison says. “She didn’t know she was abnormal. She just knew she needed to feed and was persistent. Without that fighting spirit, she probably wouldn’t have survived that first weekend.”

The Morrisons gave the filly a nickname: Wry Not. Armed with her steely tenacity, she was sent to the large animal hospital at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s (Penn Vet) New Bolton Center, where a multidisciplinary team of clinical specialists were prepping to give her a shot at a long, healthy life.

Wry Not with her mother, Coco.
Wry Not with her mother, Coco. Courtesy of New Bolton Center.

Wry nose isn’t common. The New Bolton Center’s Dr. Kyla Ortved and Dr. Jose Garcia-Lopez had each seen, at most, three cases. “It was a severe deviation—the most extreme that I’d ever seen,” Garcia-Lopez says. “Where it was bent also made surgery more complicated.”

Before undergoing the complex and technically demanding reconstructive procedure, the filly was stabilized by an internal medicine team led by Dr. Michelle Abraham. “In order to be considered a good surgical candidate, it was important to ensure that Wry Not was in excellent systemic health,” Abraham says.

Prior to surgeons plotting the best way forward, they took a scan of the filly’s muzzle using the New Bolton Center’s OmniTom, a mobile CT scanner that delivers high-quality point-of-care imaging. They also collected some blood from Coco for a transfusion that Wry Not would eventually need to make it through the procedure successfully. “There wasn’t much room for error,” says Garcia-Lopez. “There was a lot of measuring and careful cutting.”

Three hours would pass before the operation was complete. Post-surgery, Wry Not’s care team was delighted to find the filly able to nurse normally and nibble hay. “A case like this is very much a team effort,” Ortved notes.

Taking into account Wry Not’s one-of-a-kind look, Ortved and the team fondly joke that she’s a foal only a mother could love.

“And a surgeon,” Garcia-Lopez adds.

Visit vet.upenn.edu/veterinary-hospitals/NBC-hospital.


93rd Radnor Hunt Races

93rd Radnor Hunt Races
Courtesy of Radnor Hunt Races

Saturday, May 18, 2024

9 a.m.

Gates open

11 a.m.

Pony Races

Noon

The Katherine W. Illoway Invitational Sidesaddle Race

Noon – 2 p.m.

Picnic Tailgate Competition

1 p.m.

Color Guard and National Anthem

1:30 p.m.

First race: The Milfern Cup

2:05 p.m.

Second race: The Thompson Memorial Steeplechase

2:25 p.m.

Carriage Parade

2:50 p.m.

Third race: The Radnor Hunt Cup

3:05 p.m.

Presentation of the Charles Wayne (Skip) Achuff Jr. Annual Memorial Stalwart of Steeplechase Award

3:30 p.m.

Fourth race: The National Hunt Cup

3:45 p.m.

Parade of the Radnor Hunt Foxhounds

4:10 p.m.

Fifth race: The Henry Collins

Schedule subject to change. 826 Providence Road, Malvern, Pennsylvania. Visit radnorhuntraces.org.

Radnor Hunt Races

The Race

The Radnor Hunt Races are a time-honored tradition in Chester County dating back to 1930. As one of the oldest regional steeplechases, the event is an annual rite of spring held on the third Saturday in May, with professional jockeys and thoroughbred horses competing in five jump races for their chance at valuable purses. This exciting and fun-filled day also features the best in themed-tailgate parties, hats and fashion, as well as the much-beloved parade of foxhounds and antique carriages.

With roots that go back over 250 years to Ireland and England, steeplechase has a rich history and tradition in the Mid-Atlantic region. The beautiful pastoral landscapes that make up this region mimic the ideal conditions of the sport’s origins abroad, while also highlighting and reflecting the area’s longstanding land conservation efforts.

Many of the annual steeplechase events that take place in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware—including the Radnor Hunt Races—are run on lands permanently protected by the Brandywine Conservancy and its conservation partners. This legacy of protecting open space has allowed the sport of steeplechase racing to flourish in this region.

The Beneficiary

The races are held each year on the grounds of the Radnor Hunt. Founded in Radnor, Pennsylvania, in 1883, Radnor Hunt is the oldest continuously active fox hunt in the United States, recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America. For 140 years, Radnor Hunt has been the center of an active and loyal sporting community. While the connection between open space preservation and steeplechase racing has always been part of Radnor Hunt’s heritage, it wasn’t until the fundraising partnership with the Brandywine Conservancy began that the event became associated with “Racing for Open Space.” The two organizations joined forces over 40 years ago in a partnership spearheaded by the late Mrs. J. Maxwell “Betty” Moran and the Conservancy’s late cofounder, George A. “Frolic” Weymouth, that has since raised over $5.5 million for the Conservancy’s open space and clean-water programs.

Brandywine Creek
Brandywine Creek

As the sole beneficiary of the Radnor Hunt Races, the nationally accredited Brandywine Conservancy is a leader in protecting water resources and preserving the breathtaking landscapes, rich history and active farmland in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. Through these efforts, the Conservancy works closely with private landowners who wish to see their lands protected forever and also provides innovative land use and environmental planning services to communities, municipalities and other governmental agencies. Since 1967, the organization has facilitated the permanent protection of over 70,200 acres of open space—including the Radnor Hunt racecourse itself and surrounding lands—and holds more than 510 conservation and agricultural easements.

A cornerstone of the Conservancy’s work involves efforts to improve environmental sustainability. With this focus in mind, the Conservancy recently launched a new Climate Resiliency Initiative designed to help local municipalities and landowners proactively address climate change. The Initiative targets two types of action—climate mitigation (direct, tangible efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) and climate adaptation (planning for resilience against the impacts of climate change)—and brings together the Conservancy’s cross-departmental expertise in technical assistance, funding, education, planning and project implementation. It’s one of the many ways the Conservancy engages its community to make impactful changes throughout the region, along with continuous efforts to improve and safeguard water quality, land protection, outdoor recreation and historic preservation.

Based in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the Conservancy is one of two programs that make up the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art, which preserves and promotes the natural and cultural connections between the area’s beautiful landscape, historic sites and important artists. The other program, the Brandywine Museum of Art, features a renowned collection of historic and contemporary works of American art, housed in a 19th-century mill building with a dramatic steel and glass addition overlooking the banks of the Brandywine Creek. The museum engages visitors of all ages through a robust array of special exhibitions and programs. Together, the two programs unite the inspiring experiences of art and nature, enhancing the quality of life in its community and among its diverse audiences.

Visit brandywine.org/conservancy.

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