Several years ago, the Green Spring Valley Hounds, Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds and Elkridge Harford Hunt Club agreed to host the Foxhall Team Chase on a rotating basis, moving every two years to a new hunt territory so no one hunt carries the burden of hosting for many years in a row.
The 2023 Foxhall Team Chase returned to the Green Spring Valley with Race Chairs Willie Dowling and Justin Batoff.
With the assistance of Sheila Fisher (MFH) and Jack Fisher, an inviting course was designed to appeal to both steeplechasers and foxhunters alike. Just shy of 4 miles and featuring 26 fences, the course meandered through the heart of Green Spring Valley’s home country, with the start and finish located at Steeplechase owner and Green Spring Valley Hounds member Jay Griswold’s Wits End Farm.
Race organizers were delighted to announce the return of the Full Cry Cup, an optimum time division, which promises to be highly competitive amongst the ranks of the various mid-Atlantic hunts.
Foxhall Farm Cup Team Chase takes a page from the traditional spring hunter pace format, with a couple differences. There’s just one division- fast-time, and three riders per team, not pairs. Teams are sent out one at a time at 3-minute intervals rather than the en masse start from earlier days of the 103-year-old event.
The course is mapped and flagged, carefully tended and safety-checked so that race trainers feel comfortable sending top horses to use Foxhall as an early-season prep race. Some jumps are built into line fences around the pastures of the farms the course crosses. Others are custom installed for the event.
Team members can go in any order they like, changing leaders throughout the four miles and jumping some of the wider fences upsides. A starter gives a countdown for each team, and timers on a judges’ stand record the finish time of the third team member to cross the finish line.
The winners really gallop, without the normal sort of “steadying” at the fences as in the hunt field. Other teams take more time to use the event as a schooling experience, checking back and setting up for each jump before moving on between fences.
A second division, an optimum time division that competes for the Full Cry trophy, runs on some years. Optimum time is the average of all the times throughout the day. Riders in the modern Foxhall ‘chase wear hunt attire.