Brandywine Hills blessed with glorious day to celebrate 75 years
By J. Chambless
John Dean shows off Radnor Hunt's pack of hounds. Radnor Hunt is the presenting sponsor of the Brandywine Hills Point-to-Point. (Photo by Nancy Johnson)
The oldest point-to-point event in the Delaware Valley, the Brandywine Hills Point-to-Point, drew a large crowd on a perfect Sunday afternoon last weekend for the 75th running of the event.
format of the races has changed somewhat over time, one thing hasn’t
changed: Brandywine Hills is a favorite spring outing for families
throughout Chester County.
The races start off with the young future jockeys contesting the pony races. Pony races are not a joke. Some of today’s best jockeys got their start in the pony races.
In the Leadline Pony Race, the youngest riders are mounted on ponies, but are led by an adult in a short dash to the finish line. The winner of this year’s Leadline Pony Race, William Slater, is the son of an accomplished point-to-point jockey who was at the other end of the leadline. In the Large Pony Race, the legendary Mookie Monster loped to the finish with lengths to spare. Owned by Lauren Schock, the aged mare has taught numerous youngsters the ropes of racing over the years. This year, Parker Hendriks was in the irons for the victory.
The Ladies Race, which was reinstated in 2016 after many years, was won by Jennie Brannigan aboard Armata Stables’ Joshua G. Brannigan is also very competitive on the eventing circuit.
Unfortunately, falls of horse and rider are an inherent part of point-to-point racing. The five horses in the Open Timber Race were galloping full out to the last fence when both Guts for Garters and jockey Jody Petty took a scary-looking tumble. The horse had significant bleeding on a front leg and was taken by horse ambulance to New Bolton Center. Apparently, the horse required some stitches, but he and Petty are both OK.
Over the past decade, Brandywine Hills Point-to-Point has raised over $200,000 for the Brandywine Valley Association, now the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, and its programs. For over 70 years, they have organized volunteers for clean-up efforts, worked to improve watersheds, turned red streams blue, and educated children through camp programs and in local districts.