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A Race To The Finish With Charles Owen & Co

Charles Owen & Co recently sponsored at NAPPA. The Northern Area Point to Point Association Finals in Leesburg, Virginia, America.

The meeting is the final for a wide variety of race types, including a Junior Horse Fieldmaster's Chase. This involves the 'jockeys' aged approximately thirteen or fourteen years old, having to follow a Fieldmaster over a course of jumps for about two miles. They are not allowed to pass the Fieldmaster at any time. But once the Field has jumped the last fence, they race to the finish line about a quarter of a mile away. The aim of the NAPPA races is to teach children the most basic concepts of race riding and the importance of having ridden a well judged enough race to still have 'fuel in the tank' for a finish. The 2003 Junior Fieldmaster Chase was aptly led by Chris Gracie who won the Maryland Hunt Cup this year at the grand age of 16!

The proceeds of the meeting are given to NAPPA and put towards Educational Seminars across America. Youngsters are taught how to Race Ride at Schooling Sessions by Professionals on made horses at different tracks and barns. Chris Gracie is obviously one who has benefitted from the scheme, being the youngest ever victor of the Maryland Hunt Cup 2003. Charles Owen believes that by investing in the education of tomorrows riders throughout the disciplines they are helping to safeguard the future of the sport.

The Highlight of the day was 'The Beat Up Cup' invented by Rob Banner. Jr. to raise further funds and showcase some Legends who began as Amateur Race Riders. Six heavier, slightly rotund and older ex-jockeys were invited to participate for a mere $1,000 Entry Fee. Leading Owners, Trainers and Captains of Industry volunteered themselves. If they won they got their Entry Fee back. The race was reduced in length to just over half a mile to save the horses backs from too much damage and the jockeys from themselves. Peter Walsh, the official starter was astounded at the lack of manners and the abundance of foul play in evidence. He was later heard to comment that 'Age has not improved the character of these men'! Nick Arundel, Director of Great Meadows Equestrian Centre, was the ultimate victor on Man O'War and promptly headed to the Bar, leaving his fellow 'jockeys' trailing in his wake - again.

Plans are already afoot for a re-match next year, and Charles Owen and Company will be sponsoring when again the meeting coincides with the Virginia Hound Show and a Reception of Hunting Dignataries at Morven Park, providing an attentitive and rapt audience for the day's sport ahead.


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