THE PLAINS, Va. (WDVM) — The rain didn’t stop nearly 3,000 attendees from coming out to see some of the nation’s top horses and jockeys ride in the Virginia countryside.
The 96th annual Virginia Gold Cup was held at Grand Meadow in Fauquier County. Normally held the first Saturday in May, the date was pushed back to allow COVID-19 restrictions to ease.
But for the jockeys, it’s been months in the making.
“People show up and don’t realize how much goes into it. It’s a lot of jogging the horse all winter, and for the jockeys to have the winter off…we have to be fit to be here,” said Gerard Garrison, jokey.
The race is one of the largest and oldest in the country, with a normal attendance of 60,000 spectators.
The race had to cut down on attendees and normal activities, such as having food vendors on site. Despite the limited capacity, riders are thrilled to have an in person audience, after running without spectators in 2020.
“I’m pretty lucky to be here today. It’s one of Virginia’s top events. At the Gold Cup, they do a great job, and it’s a lovely course to ride around, very fair,” said Garrison.
With stiff competition and tough weather conditions, riders had to adapt to the rain to ensure their horse would make it to the finish line.
“We are going to go a bit slower than usual, because with the rain, the ground will be just a little bit more tiring,” said Garrison. “The horses, you’ll see towards the end of the race, will be getting a little more tired,” said Garrison.
However, the horses, and riders, gave a strong performance, all racing to win thousands of dollars in prizes, and a chance at being the Gold Cup champion.
The event lasted all day with a total of eight races. You can learn more about the Virginia Gold Cup here.