Zeke Ferguson Steeplechase Trophy

In addition to the many trophies that are part of the permanent collection here at the NSLM, our institution also houses several long-term loans from hunts, shows and racing associations. Perpetual trophies that are awarded once a year spend the rest of their time living here. They are on display in our Library so that our visitors, event fans and even past winners can come see them. The Baltimore Museum of Art does something similar – the Woodlawn Vase, awarded to the winner of the Preakness in May, is displayed in their galleries during the rest of the year.

Many of our loan trophies are silver and some are bronze or painted bronze sculptures, like this one.

David L. "Zeke" Ferguson Memorial Trophy, 2007, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Ferguson, Jr.
David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Trophy, 2007, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Ferguson, Jr.

This charming trophy is for the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Stakes race. The owners, John, Jr. and Leah Ferguson, recently took some time to tell me more about the trophy and its namesake. The award is in honor of Zeke Ferguson (1922 – 1994),  a prominent Virginia horseman who fox hunted, played polo and owned both hurdle and timber steeplechase horses. (Hurdle means brush fences and timber means wooden post-and-rail fences.) Zeke’s most accomplished horse was a grey named Leeds Don, who won the Virginia Gold Cup three times in a row (1965 – 1967)! The National Steeplechase Association instituted the memorial stakes race to commemorate Zeke’s many contributions to the sport of steeplechasing and the race was first run in 1998 at Colonial Downs in Richmond. This past year it was relocated to the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow. The 2014 winner was Able Deputy, owned by Irvin Naylor, trained by Cyril Murphy and ridden by Ross Geraghty.

Presentation of the Ferguson Trophy, International Gold Cup, October 25, 2014. Pictured:
Presentation of the Ferguson Trophy, International Gold Cup, October 25, 2014. Pictured left to right: Cyril Murphy, Trainer; Jeanne and Senator John Warner; Diane and Irv Naylor, Owners; Will Allison, Chairman of Gold Cup; Jack Ferguson, Jr. (holding trophy) and Leah Ferguson; and Ross Geraghty, Jockey. Photo by Richard Clay.

The bronze sculpture is by Eve Prime Fout (1929 – 2007), who was an accomplished Virginia horsewoman – on the hunt field and on the track – and was also a painter and sculptor. The Ferguson family commissioned her to create the trophy in 2007.  The horse is a grey like Leeds Don and the jockey’s silks are the garnet and grey colors of Ferguson.

The NSLM collections include a few other works by Eve. Our favorite fox on the wall in front of the Library building is also by her. And several Orange County Hunt trophies feature her bronze sculptures.

Eve Prime Fout, Stalking Fox, 2001, bronze, Gift of the Artist
Eve Prime Fout, Stalking Fox, 2001, bronze, Gift of the Artist

The start of the 2015 steeplechase season is right around the corner. Check out the National Steeplechase Association to find out about upcoming races in Virginia and elsewhere.

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2 Comments

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  1. A wonderful article by Nicole Stribling about a trophy, a sculptor and a horseman, all very special and dear to the members of the Ferguson family. We are honored and proud to have our trophy live between races in a special place like NSLM. We are so lucky to have this awesome facility in our community.

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