Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Montpelier Hunt Races

Montpelier in Orange, Va was the life long home of James Madison, the fourth president of the U.S. and principal author of the U.S. Constitution. Madison was raised in Montpelier and lived there after his marriage to Dolley. Today, Montpelier hosts the annual Montpelier Hunt races the first Saturday in November.

The grounds cover 2,650 acres but the races are held right in front of the mansion.


Many of the vendor and sponsor tents had elegant displays. The Steeplechase Times tent had a table set with foxhunting dishes and antique jockey silks on the walls.

Tailgating at the races runs the range from pickup truck spreads

to antique cars.

Horse racing fans come in all sizes.

The first race is a flat race on the dirt, uncommon for steeplechase meets in the U.S. It was won by Amazin Sun and Carl Rafter. This was Carl's first race back after an injury earlier in the fall at Thornton Hill.

Amazin Sun and Carl Rafter Steeplechase horse racing

Tizsilk and Paddy Young, on the left, won the Constitution Hurdle to stretch Paddy's lead over Danielle Hodsdon in the leading jockey race to two.

Tizsilk and Paddy Young steeplechase horse racing

An outrider waits between races.

Decoy Daddy and Jeff Murphy, both born in Ireland, easily won the main race of the day, the Noel Laing Stakes race. This is the only steeplechase race in the U.S. run over natural brush.

Decoy Daddy and Jeff Murphy steeplechase racing

Montpelier ends the steeplechase circuit in Virginia for the year and the horses are headed home for the winter.

steeplechase horse race


  1. Wonderful photos of horses, riders and spectators. The view of Montpelier, the table setting and vintage Jaguar add to the classic atmosphere.

  2. Thanks, Mari. It's a lovely event and not as hectic as Gold Cup.