Racing to welcome steeplechase

Harwood: Roedown Farm is buzzing with preparations for Sunday's Marlborough Hunt Races.

April 08, 2005|By Molly Knight | Molly Knight,SUN STAFF

Under the blue skies and brilliant sunshine that broke earlier this week, the picture-perfect farm came to life - and not a moment too soon.

Just days before the anticipated arrival of more than 150 horses and 5,000 spectators, the rain ceased, the grass dried up and last-minute preparations began at Roedown Farm in Harwood for the 31st Marlborough Hunt Races to be held Sunday.

"We're just trying to do as much as we can before it starts raining again," said Jason Cole, 33, who prepares the course for the steeplechase.

With the help of three volunteers from the Marlborough Hunt Club, Cole spent the day mending fences, setting out markers for the 1-mile course and filling the occasional groundhog hole.

By midday, the rolling green hills of Roedown - a thoroughbred farm - were dotted with orange flags and wooden fences in preparation for the event, the second leg of the Maryland Governor's Cup series.

Since its founding, the Marlborough Races have become a tradition that draws spectators from all over the state and from Virginia and Pennsylvania.

"It's a rite of spring passage," said Christy Clagett, co-chairwoman of the races and the niece of Jeanne and Hal C.B. Clagett, owners of Roedown Farm. "It's a very festive event."

The steeplechase competition - in which thoroughbreds leap over a series of fences - will feature 10 races. They will include 2-mile courses over hurdles, nonjumping runs and races over 4-foot-high fences.

This year, Clagett said the audience has at least one big event to look forward to: the John M. Begg Memorial Race. Scheduled for 4:30 p.m., the 3-mile, open-timber race will feature two well-known competitors: Swayo, a Maryland Hunt Cup champion, and Joe At Six, a Gold Cup winner.

And for the first time, the lineup will include a competition for ages 3 to 7: Five riders will race less than a mile. Clagett also promises new food vendors and shopping booths.

If you go

The 31st annual Marlborough Hunt Races at Roedown will be held Sunday at Roedown Farm in Harwood.

Gates open: 10 a.m.

First of 10 scheduled races: Noon (Rain or shine).

General admission: $5 per person (children younger than 6 free).

Parking: $10.

Call 410-798-8275 or visit www.marlboroughhuntraces.com.

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