Katherine Neilson, last year’s Leading Trainer in the Delaware Valley Point-to-Point Association Races, is pulling out some of her big guns in defense of her title as she plans to compete at least five horses, including three that are prepping for the Maryland Hunt Cup, in the series.
Points are awarded in 11 categories in the three Delaware Valley meets, Cheshire Foxhounds on March 26, Brandywine Hills on April 2 and Fair Hill on April 16. The season begins March 19 with the Foxhall Farms Team race, which also awards a half point to each horse that competes in the fast time race and one point each to the three winning riders in that race.
Horses must compete in at least two meets of the four Delaware Valley events to receive points in Small, Medium and Large Ponies, Heavyweight, Novice, Open, Foxhunter and Overall Championships, and trainers and riders win points towards Leading Trainer, Leading Rider and Leading Lady Rider.
“I have Joshua G going in the Ladies race at Cheshire,” said Neilson. “Jennie Brannigan is going to ride him. Then maybe he’ll go to Fair Hill. He’s in training to run in the Maryland Hunt Cup.”
Joshua G was fourth in the Maryland Hunt Cup in 2015 and fell at the fourth fence in last year’s Hunt Cup.
“Then I have Super Saturday going to Brandywine,” Neilson said. “He’ll go to the Grand National. We’ll see what he does there. If he skips around the Grand National course, he’ll go to the Maryland Hunt Cup.”
“Pured will also go to Brandywine,” said Neilson. “He was second in the non-winners of two race at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last fall. He’ll go to the Grand National in the non-winners of two race.”
“I ALSO have a couple of maiden timber horses, including All of the Above, who was stakes placed on the flat,” said Neilson. “He’s been eventing. Another maiden is Rideaway,, who was also a stakes horse on the flat.”
“We’ve been hunting all these horses all winter,” said Neilson. “All except Super Saturday. I hunted him once, and it was too exciting. I didn’t hunt him again.”
Sarah Shaffer, who was the Delaware Valley Leading Rider and Leading Lady Rider last year, rode most of Neilson’s horses last year, but she has turned professional and will be concentrating on her professional career this year.
Neilson saddled last year’s Heavyweight Champion and Overall Champion, Heroic Royal, but she said that she since sold him as an event horse.
Neilson’s daughter, Nina McKenna, rode her Fionna to win the Medium Pony Championship, and she’s returning to defend her title this year after hunting Fionna all winter.
Skylar McKenna will go in the Junior Field Master Chases at Cheshire and Fair Hill, and Max McKenna will make his racing debut on Emmy Loo in the Small Pony Races.
THE FOXHALL Farm Cup Team Chase, located at 247 Lamborntown Rd., in West Grove, opens The Delaware Valley series on March 19.
Teams of three riders compete in fast and averaged time chases over a flagged course of about four miles.
Cheshire Foxhounds Point-to-Point is Sunday, March 26 at Plantation Field on Route 82 in Unionville and includes Small, Medium and Large Pony races, a Junior Fieldmaster Chase and Side Saddle, Heavyweight, Novice Open, Lady’s and Owner-Rider Foxhunter’s races.
Brandywine Hills is Sunday, April 2 at the Myrick Conservation Center on Route 842 in Unionville, with Small Medium, Large and Lead Line Pony races and Ladies, Heavyweight, Novice, Open and Owner-Rider Foxhunter’s races.
Fair Hill is Sunday, April 16 at the race course in Fair Hill, Md., and includes Small, Medium, Large and Lead Line Pony races, a Junior Field Master’s Chase and Training Flat, Amateur Flat, Ladies, Heavyweight, Novice, Open and Owner-Rider Foxhunter’s races.
Horses, riders and trainers receive five points for a win, three for second, two for third, one for fourth and ½ for starting a race.
Open, Heavyweight and Novice races count towards the Overall Championship.