Many may be focused on the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes at this time of year, but one cannot overlook Maryland’s Hunt Cup, known as the most demanding event in timber racing.
The race originated in May of 1894, when Elkridge Fox Hunting Club challenged members of Green Spring Valley Hunt Club to a timber race. They wanted no commercial activity or spectators as it was simply a battle between two clubs, but it has grown into much more today. The environment for the Hunt Club is a fun environment for family and friends to enjoy food, drinks and great company while watching timber racing’s most grueling event. Timber racing is also known as America’s version of steeplechase.
Worthington Valley, home of the Maryland Hunt Cup, is stretched upon the abundant countryside, as the course consists of four miles of terrain. If you think four miles sounds challenging for these horses and their jockeys, on top of this grueling course are 22 fences used for jumps. These jumps average up to five feet in height and are often placed on various areas of the course. The Maryland Hunt Cup is an annual tradition many spectators and fans come out to every year, carried on through generations in their families.
Louis “Paddy” Neilson III, a legendary jockey and trainer whose timber racing ancestry dates back to 1875 and has also won the Maryland Hunt Cup three times, stated in a video broadcasted by 60 Minutes, “There’s just some magic about the power of that animal underneath you. And then when you ask him for everything he’s got the last quarter of a mile, it is a marvelous feeling.”
There is a grand prize of $100,000 for the winner of the 121st Maryland Hunt Cup, taking place on the last Saturday of April every year. The race begins at 4:00 p.m. For more information on parking passes, jockeys and more, please visit marylandhuntcup.com.