Even if you don’t turn out in a fancy hat or tie (both are optional), you’ll be hard-pressed not to have fun at one of this area’s most popular horse events: steeplechase racing. The tradition tests the stamina of both horses and jockeys as they race over grass, water and fences.
Steeplechase racing has a long history in northern Virginia. Races are held during the spring and fall, and more than half the area’s 16 steeplechase venues are within easy range of Poplar Springs. You'll find schedules and locations at the Virginia Steeplechase Association website. A genteel form of tailgating has grown up around the races. Let us know and we'll prepare a wine picnic basket so you can join the tailgating tradition. Dressing up is also part of the fun with women in sundresses (weather permitting) and fancy hats, and men in sports coats and ties.
The Virginia Gold Cup, one of the oldest and most prestigious steeplechase races in the country, has called Fauquier County home since 1922. Run in May and now hosted by the Great Meadow Events Center in The Plains, the Gold Cup draws thousands of fans—as does the International Gold Cup, its sister race at Great Meadow each October. Although the scenery is stunning, the races can be grueling. They run rain or shine, and not every horse that enters finishes.