Last Saturday I drove out to the splendor of Hunt Valley to observe the Maryland Grand National Steeplechase race. I had been gifted with a ticket, so I persuaded a fellow Realtor friend to give up an afternoon of showing houses to take in the races while we enjoyed a picnic.
Steeplechasing (as it is called) has a long history in Baltimore County. Steeplechase races originated from competitions between various fox hunting clubs in the third quarter of the 19th century. As the photo shows, this group takes their heritage seriously replete with costume and pagentry.
The race grounds are in fact part of a large family estate. The horses run a course that takes them around the large family house, at times disappearing from view as the announcer broadcasts the updates. This shot was taken just after the race, and you can see the winner "And the Eagle Flys" horse #1 owned by Mrs. William D. Class Jr.
It is a remarkable course unlike Pimlico our famed Maryland race track where the Preakness is run each May as part of the triple crown, this course is covered in rolling hills. The grass under foot it thick, it would be easy to lose balance. Combine that terrain with having to jump over fences and you've got a real challenge.
As a first time participant, I was a bit unsure of how to navigate the event. Its an insiders event. There are generations of families gathered to tailgate among luxury cars. Beyond the tailgating private tents are set up by luxury businesses to entertain well-heeled clients. Many people like to take a close look at the horses before the race by meeting up at the paddock, which is also a private entry ticketed area. If you are going to this event to mingle, you'll want to wear sunblock lotion and a nice strand of pearls. Interestingly you won't see many fancy hats (which I was expecting) you'll be better off with some oversize sunglasses and shoes that can navigate the bumpy terrain.
Ultimately we decided to grab our picnic an hike up to an area that overlooked the course where more casual observers were set up to watch the race. We brought our own chairs and found the views of the valley breathtaking. My Realtor friend happens to own a restaurant with her husband so she supplied a feast worthy lunch of fancy sandwiches and sparkling lemonade.
Hunt Valley is approximately 10 miles outside the city limits and its a splendid world unto itself. It was a big dose of fresh air and sunshine, the perfect way to enjoy an April afternoon. The Maryland Steeplechase calender runs each year from March - September with the bulk of the races taking place in April and May. Here is a link to the website where you can learn more information and purchase tickets: http://www.marylandsteeplechasing.com/main/mgn/datetime.htm
Broker / Owner Guerilla Realty and
Vice President Tranzon Fox Auctions
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