Horse racing, spring fashions and Virginia hospitality highlight D.C.’s premier spring event
THE PLAINS, Va., – One of the nation’s oldest and largest steeplechase events celebrates its 97th anniversary this year on Saturday, May 7, at Great Meadow in The Plains. Last year, the event was held with a limited number of spectators. This year, tailgate packages and hospitality tents are available.
As one of the Washington, D.C. region’s largest and oldest outdoor events, more than 50,000 people come out in their race-day finest to socialize and entertain. The fashion at the event has become as popular with a variety of hats and a fiercely competitive hat contest. Celebrity judges will decide whose hats are the most impressive in the day’s hat contest. There is also an equally competitive tailgate contest with prizes for the top three winners.
The Gold Cup’s long-standing tradition beckons to national celebrities, local VIPs, D.C. politicians as well as visitors from around the world. Characterized by lavish tailgate spreads, sleek thoroughbreds and exciting hoof-pounding competition, many companies have capitalized on what the day has to offer by getting involved with sponsorships, purchasing tents to entertain, and some actually end up doing business there.
Steeplechase and flat racing offer a fast-action sport in a refined social setting and, at the Gold Cup, some of the best horses and jockeys compete over hurdles, timber and on the flat. Held every year on the first Saturday in May, the Virginia Gold Cup enjoys a spectacular setting in the heart of Virginia’s horse country with the Blue Ridge Mountains serving as the backdrop. It is Virginia’s answer to the Kentucky Derby.
The 97th Annual Running of the Virginia Gold Cup will take place on Saturday, May 7 at Great Meadow in The Plains. Gates open at 10 a.m. with pre-race entertainment starting at 12:30 p.m. with the Color Guard presented by St. Andrew’s Society Pipes and Drums and a performance of the National Anthem by Angela Knight. The first of seven horse races will be underway at 1 p.m.
After two years of adjusting the event for Covid, the Gold Cup returns this year with a revised format. Tailgate packages, which now include tents in some areas, and Members Hill tenting options are available. Purchases can be made online at www.vagoldcup.com/va/tickets or by calling 540-347-2612. Attendees must be an invited guest of a tailgate or an invited guest of a hospitality tent. General admission passes will not be offered for this year’s event.
Great Meadow is located just 45 minutes west of Washington, D.C. and is in close proximity to Dulles International Airport. To get there from Washington, D.C., take I-66 west to The Plains exit. Turn left at the end of the ramp onto The Plains Road (Route 245 south), follow signs to Great Meadow which will be on your left. Call 540-347-2612 for additional information or visit the web site at www.vagoldcup.com.
The 2022 Virginia Gold Cup Races are presented by Atlantic Union Bank, Charles Schwab, Virginia Equine Alliance, VHBPA, and the Virginia Thoroughbred Association.
Vicki Bendure, Bendure Communications
Photo: Richard Clay