Page 40 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
P. 40

                Azalea Woods at Winterthur.
to watch the action. More than 1,000 people attended, but it was a far cry from the 20,000 of today. In the early years, five races featured silver trophies modeled after notable pieces of early American silver in the Winterthur collection, instead of a cash purse. The races evoked names and organizations familiar to Winterthur’s supporters and local residents: the
Isabella du Pont Sharp Memorial; the Vicmead Plate; the Middletown Cup;
the Winterthur Bowl; the Crowninshield Plate; and the Greta Brown Layton, a trophy created in honor of Greets Layton, which was awarded to the owner, trainer or rider who accumulated the most points.
A historic change in the event occurred in 2006, when the Delaware Legislature passed a gaming law that allowed Winterthur to pay purse monies to winning owners. The legislation was spearheaded by Duncan Patterson,
the race chair at the time, and allowed Point-to-Point to become sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association, which governs jump racing in North America. Point-to-Point is the second professional sporting event in Delaware.
Among the greAt traditions at Point-to-Point is the carriage parade. One day in 1979, George A. “Frolic” Weymouth and several of his coaching friends gathered for the weekend at his Big Bend farm in Chadds Ford, Pa., deciding to drive over to watch the races. The number of carriages participating rapidly grew to more than
50 and became the signature attraction. Today the George A. “Frolic” Weymouth Carriage Parade—named in honor of the late artist and founder of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art—is the nation’s largest procession of antique horse-drawn carriages.
Point-to-Point is now a highly anticipated event that, for many, signals the beginning of spring and summer outdoor activities. It has also grown as a family event. Canine Capers, the Stick- Pony Races, pony rides and a variety of activities draw a younger audience. Over the years, the number of parking spaces for tailgate picnics has steadily grown, and small tents have become available along the racecourse rail. From the first picnic contest in 1987, both originality and a sense of competition have been strong. Themes are sometimes whimsical, but are most often an elegant evocation of past sporting days.
Several generations of families— including the Pattersons, the Meisters and the Neilsons—have helped organize Point-to-Point, and they also compete
in the races. From 1983 to 1986, Winterthur trustee Anne Jones served
as race coordinator. In recent years she has chaired the Point-to-Point Executive Committee, a position also held by noted horseman and former Winterthur trustee George Strawbridge Jr.
Preparations for Point-to-Point
take place year-round and involve all departments at Winterthur. The course
is cared for with fertilizer, mowing,
jump maintenance and the trimming of hedges and bordering plantings. Race
day sees hundreds of volunteers and staff welcoming participants and spectators, ensuring course safety, offering hospitality to the horse owners and jockeys, and making it a memorable day for everyone— from the general-admission ticket holders to the VIPs who crowd large tents for parties on Corporate Knoll.
Point-to-Point is a celebration of
Winterthur’s long history as a farm
and country place. Through successive generations, much of the racecourse
served as pastureland—at first for sheep, then for dairy cows. Today, motorists enjoy sweeping views of the fields and the racecourse throughout the year. In the first week of May, however, it is transformed into a festive space as one of the Delaware Valley’s premier sporting events, drawing families from around the region.
Willowdale Steeplechase
One of Willowdale’s primary beneficiaries, Stroud Water Research Center has been advancing the knowledge and stewardship of freshwater systems through global research, environmental education and restoration since 1967.
Because of flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided Stroud with a grant to find a way to reduce flooding across the 1,800-acre White Clay Creek watershed by 40 percent. A newly constructed wetland designed to reduce flooding downstream from the creek is showing promise. “We had our first flooding event since the project was finished, and the data looks good,” says Melinda Daniels, Ph.D. “It clearly helped hold some of the water from that flood. Of course, we will need to collect more data to conclusively quantify the wetland’s impact.”
The new wetland was constructed downstream of Spencer Road in Avondale, Pa. The area floods regularly, contributing to hazardous road conditions and bridge and other infrastructure damage.
Daniels is the principal investigator for the project. “This is typical of the entire Brandywine-Christina watershed,” she says. “The local school district will cancel school during big floods because the buses have to cross these bridges— they just wouldn’t be safe to cross. It’s more than an inconvenience. There’s a public safety and economic impact from flooding. It’s a real problem.”
Daniels says the project seeks to reduce flooding and improve the health of aquatic ecosystems by “restoring the hydrology of the watershed without changing the land cover all that much.” continued on page 22

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