The Brandywine Valley Association Point-to-Point Race
(click each photo for an alternate one)
This past weekend, Kate’s parents invited me and my parents to come to the Brandywine Valley Association’s Point-to-Point race, a series of three-mile races over open country from, well, point A to point B. The race is observed from a tower, and an announcer calls the horse’s progress to the crowd below, which streams from hedgerow to hedgerow to watch the pack thundering past. It was one hell of a lot of fun, not least of which since I remembered to pack a bow tie, and had a great time wandering around taking slugs from a silver flask and generally trying to act like a toff.
There were Corgis and handlebar mustaches in abundance, and there were engraved silver cups and plates presented as prizes to the winners. Hamburgers and hot dogs were served from under a striped awning. Every twenty minutes, a new post parade would begin, as the horses were led up and down in front of the tower, then ridden slowly off to be shown the first jump. Suddenly, all the spectators would stream towards the start, the announcer would begin his fast-paced droning over the PA system, and two minutes later the horses and riders would burst out of the woods, fly over a fence, and thunder across the finish line. Kate said that it’s like watching crew racing — you only get to see the competition for a few fleeting seconds as the racers pass by you, so you have to know who you’re rooting for well ahead of time.
The competitors were followed by a carefully restored 1954 Jeep CJ40 with a red flag mounted on the back. Three men and a black springer spaniel were on board, staring importantly through binoculars over the folded-down windshield into the middle distance. Each time the riders thundered past, the jeep would roar to life and dash to another spot chosen for maximum visibility. That is, I think it was for maximum visibility of the spotters’ jeep by the spectators — note the way that the race official in the fedora and camel-hair coat clenches the roll bar in a wide, Pattonesque grasp. Of the four on board the jeep, the spaniel was the most dedicated to the jeep’s mission. Fifteen minutes after each race was over and the officials had climbed out, the dog would still be poised on the passenger’s seat, staring straight ahead with an air of deep and noble concentration. “Look at me, I’m an IMPORTANT dog, in an IMPORTANT jeep! Look at the INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT task that I am discharging here!!”
Needless to say, I was incredibly jealous.