Page 64 - The Hunt - Spring/Summer 2023
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For more than 40 years, Delaware has celebrated its own version of the Kentucky Derby each May. Winterthur’s largest single-day fundraiser, Point-to-Point supports maintenance and preservation of the garden and estate. The annual event was spearheaded in 1978 by Greta “Greets” Layton, who grew up around horses and steeplechasing. Searching for a way to utilize the nearly 1,000 acres of the estate, the trustees decided to present a day of racing in the tradition of the 18th and 19th centuries. Drawing on the knowledge of Russell B. Jones Jr., Louis “Paddy” Neilson III and other local horsemen, Layton launched the organizational effort. The first weekend in May seemed an ideal time for the race, as it didn’t conflict with other area equestrian events that already featured prominently in sporting and social calendars. It also rounded out a series of race meets hosted by the Delaware Valley Point-to-Point Association.
Winterthur tractors cut a course through a former cow pasture. and 7,000 spectators, mostly horsemen and their families and friends, saw the first running on May 6, 1979. Today, Point-to-Point at Winterthur is known for its lavish tailgate picnics, high-stepping carriage horses,
and stylish spectators. In the early years, winners of the five races were awarded trophies modeled after notable pieces of silver in the Winterthur collection. Races were named after people and organizations familiar to Winterthur supporters and
area residents: the Isabella du Pont
Sharp Memorial, the Vicmead Plate, the Middletown Cup, the Winterthur Bowl, and the Crowninshield Plate. In honor of Greets Layton, a trophy is awarded to the owner, trainer or rider who accumulates the most points.
In 2006, the Delaware Legislature passed a law that allowed Winterthur
to offer cash purses, and Point-to-Point became sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. The course is
a challenging one, with a total of eight fences that are jumped 17 times, covering approximately three and 1/8 miles.
Located on beautiful Kennett Pike outside Wilmington, Delaware, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library encompasses nearly 1,000 acres of quintessential Brandywine Valley landscape, 60 acres
of world-class gardens, and a stunning mansion featuring the most significant collection of American decorative arts in the world. From the mid-18th century to the late 1960s, Winterthur was home to three generations of the du Pont family. The museum was founded by collector and horticulturalist Henry Francis du Pont in what had been his childhood home, which he expanded to its current size of 175 rooms displaying furniture, home accessories, and works of art made or used in America from 1640 to 1860.
Du Pont also designed the 60-acre Winterthur Garden. With its harmonious color and successive blooms year-round, it’s one of the oldest existing naturalistic gardens in North America. The Winterthur Library, an independent research library with a world-class collection, is dedicated to the understanding and the appreciation of artistic, cultural, social and intellectual history of the Americas in a global context from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
In partnership with the University of Delaware, Winterthur also offers two graduate programs focused on the
study of art conservation and American material culture.
Winterthur hosts films, musical performances, lectures and other programs. Among its popular family programs are annual events like June’s Enchanted Summer Day and October’s Truck and Tractor Day. Winterthur also hosts the summertime Artisan Market, featuring the region’s talented craftspeople, and the Delaware Antiques Show, a top-ranked weekend-long fall event.
The Yuletide Tour, a beloved Brandywine Valley holiday tradition, depicts American holiday celebrations of the past, along with the customs of the du Ponts.
The museum store offers unique home décor, gifts, jewelry, books and more, all celebrating Winterthur’s collections, indoors and out.
Winterthur Garden
This is a major year for the Willowdale Steeplechase as it celebrates the
30th anniversary of a long-beloved Chester County event. Willowdale will be “Racing for Life” on the second Saturday in May at their spectacularly beautiful race course on Street Road in Kennett Square. As always, they will feature six exciting steeplechase races—and this year, there are new opportunities for spectator tailgating
and viewing.
Since its inception in 1993, the event
has raised over $1.3 million for local charities. Race founder W.B. Dixon Stroud Jr.—who’d competed at the highest levels in steeplechase and polo—decided it was time to have a top-notch steeplechase event in the heart of Chester County’s Cheshire Hunt Country. Combining his love for the sport and his commitment to the community, Stroud enlisted the help of many others for the inaugural running
of the Willowdale Steeplechase in 1993.
The event features a world-class course incorporating timber fences, natural hedges and two water jumps. For the
30th running, Willowdale welcomes back the Pony Races, the Jack Russell Terrier Races, the antique car exhibit, boutique shopping, food vendors, and the fun and educational Kid’s Alley. There’s something for everyone at Willowdale.
Family and friends can pack their picnics, put on their best hats and race outfits and enjoy the fun of the tailgate,
hat and best-dressed continued on page 30

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