“‘The Winnah’ Alligator – Horse of Iron” was the inscription that sporting artist and illustrator Paul Brown chose to describe Alligator, the bay gelding that he noted won not one, not two, not three, but an unbelievable FOUR steeplechases after various jockeys fell and remounted.  The 1928 West Hills Plate, 1929 Maryland Cup, 1930 International Cup at Grasslands, and the Millbrook Hunt Steeplechase are annotated in the lower margin of one of Brown’s illustrations for his book, Ups and Downs (1936). The artist sketched some of Alligator’s gravity-defying crashes and wins for the book as well as his earlier publication, Spills and Thrills (1933), and his captions present entertaining and informative details.

Paul Desmond Brown (American, 1893-1958) The “Winnah,” 1936, pencil on paper, inscribed:  The “Winnah” Alligator – Horse of Iron – | Fell   Millbrook  – and won | ”        Maryland – ”       ” |” Grasslands – ”       ” | ” or Lost Rider at West Hills and won  | Paul Brown ’36. Donated by Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013.

The first race was for the West Hills Plate, the seventh annual meet held on Long Island on November 10, 1928. Brown’s drawing shows jockey Frederic C. Thomas going over the horse’s head at the first fence, swinging underneath its neck, and desperately trying to hold on before losing his grip. “An exhibition of indomitable courage was witnessed here this afternoon,” noted the next day’s article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Paul Desmond Brown (American, 1893-1958) Alligator hit 1st, 1933, pencil and ink on paper, inscribed: Alligator hit 1st – Freddie Thomas started nose dive – caught mounts neck – swung under it – horse stopped – Freddie remounted – and won – West Hills Plate, West Hills 1928. Donated by Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013.

Alligator won the thirty-first running of the Meadow Brook Cup with Lyman Wright up in 1929 without a fall. Brown’s exquisite illustration of the race held on sportsman F. Ambrose Clark’s estate captures a pivotal moment described in an article in the September 29, 1929 The Baltimore Sun: “…Hackenthorpe stayed with his rivals three-quarters of the way, but when the famous stone wall appeared again Hackenthorpe did not have enough left to get over and the race was left to Alligator and Reel Foot.”

Paul Desmond Brown (American, 1893-1958) The Hole in the Wall, 1933, pencil and ink on paper,  inscribed: The Hole in the Wall – Alligator, Reel Foot, Hackenthorpe – Lyman Wright, Bill Streett, Charlie Cushman up – how they drove for the gap in the 12th – Alligator won the race – Reel Foot was 2nd – Hackenthorpe fell Meadow Brook Cup 1929 Donated by Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel,  2013.

Brown did not illustrate Alligator’s famed April 1929 Maryland Hunt Cup win in his books, but the wife of jockey and Meadowbrook Huntsman Charles T. Plumb found it worthy of a poetic tribute:

From out the ruck / Of many a name, / “Alligator” / He raced to fame.

The Maryland Hunt! / The ‘CUP’ the prize: / “They’re off” the cry, / And then, surprise….

At number-two fence, / That timbered rail, / Alligator fell: / “Too bad” they wail.

But ‘blood’ will not tell / In man or beast. / And fame is made /At racing feast….

For quick as a flash / From starting gun, / Alligator’s up…./ And starts to run.

The ‘field’ out there / In front so far: / A hopeless chase / For this great star.

But fence by fence, / By hand and ride, / Alligator / In glorious stride

Picks up the loss / And leads them all / He wins the race: / “Hurrah” they call.

She continued with a description of a repeat performance by Alligator:

Then, once more, this / “Thorobred Crack” / Surprised the fans / At Grasslands track:

Fencing so clean / With jump and stride. / His praises sung / On every side.

But here, again, / This grand horse fell, / Next fence at last, / Pell-mell! Pell-mell!

Then up again / ‘Tis writ as history, / He galloped on / To cheers and victory.

– “Salute to a Great Horseman” by Elaine T. Plumb, The Chronicle, Dec. 31, 1948

Paul Desmond Brown (American, 1893-1958) Dramatic, 1933, pencil and ink on paper, inscribed: Dramatic – I’ll say so – next last fence – Alligator fell – Waverly Star dog tired and went down in the mud too tired to get up – Charlie Plum wiped mud and blood from face – remounted – went on – won. Grasslands 1930. Donated by Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013.

Approximately 8,000 spectators witnessed the running of the grueling first International Cup held at the Grasslands Downs Course, TN, in 1930. Every single one of the seventeen entries either fell or pulled up. Brown’s sketch shows Alligator falling on his front knees going over the 25th jump and Waverly Star slipping.  “Charlie Plum [sic] wiped mud and blood from face – remounted – went on – won,” wrote Brown in the caption describing the nail-biting ending of the race.

2009.21.3 web.jpg
Franklin Brooke Voss, (American, 1880-1953) Alligator, 1929, oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches, Gift of the children of Peter Winants, Sr., 2009

Viewing American sporting artist Franklin Brooke Voss’s serene 1929 portrait of Alligator in light of Paul Brown’s illustrations with the horse’s striking career in mind –  is transformative. This is Alligator, “Horse of Iron,” and one of the most hardcore steeplechase horses that ever lived.

pfeifferClaudia Pfeiffer has been the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Art at the National Sporting Library & Museum since the position was underwritten by the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Foundation in 2012. Her primary focus is the research, design, interpretation, writing, and installation of exhibitions. E-mail Claudia at cpfeiffer@nationalsporting.org


Since 1939, the Piedmont Foxhounds have hosted the Piedmont Point-to-Point races in Upperville, Virginia. The most prestigious race of the meet is the Rokeby Challenge Bowl, which, for decades, has attracted top horses in training for major steeplechase races. From 1939 until his death in 1999, the race and trophy were sponsored by Mr. Paul Mellon, who was a member of Piedmont and an avid supporter of jump racing. The winner of the race received a small trophy to keep and their names were engraved on a large perpetual trophy which they could keep for one year. Those who won the race three times (not necessarily consecutively or with the same horse) retired the trophy and could take it home for keeps. The trophies provided by Mr. Mellon were exquisite examples of silver and were highly sought after prizes.

The Rokeby Bowl, Piedmont Point-to-Point trophy, c. 1720, sterling silver, on wood and silver base, 15 x 10 ⅞ inches, National Sporting Library & Museum, Gift of Mary Gillian Fenwick, 2016

One of the original silver Rokeby Bowl trophies has been generously donated to the NSLM by Mary Gillian “Gill” Fenwick. Mrs. Fenwick retired the Rokeby Bowl after winning the race three consecutive years, in 1961, 1962, and 1963. She was just the third owner to retire the trophy (five more have done so since then). Her winners were piloted by the famous steeplechase jockey Crompton “Tommy” Smith, Jr., all three years. The horses were Bay Barrage (1961), General Tony (1962), and Fluctuate (1963).

Tommy Smith aboard Fluctuate, in the 1963 Rokeby Bowl steeplechase. Tommy Smith (1937-2013) was a five-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner and became famous for winning the British Grand National race in 1965 with Jay Trump.  Photo courtesy of Carol Fenwick. ©Howard Allen Photography, LLC

All three were talented racers. After winning in 1961, Bay Barrage ran again in 1962 with Olympic equestrian Frank Chapot on board. He placed third against his stablemate General Tony. Past Maryland Hunt Cup winner Fluctuate, nicknamed “Chris,” won in 1963 when he was 16 years-young and was rewarded with well-earned retirement.

Gill Fenwick (right) and Tommy Smith (left) accepting the Rokeby Bowl trophies from Mrs. Thomas B. Glascock, Jr. (center) in 1961. Photo courtesy of Carol Fenwick. ©Howard Allen Photography, LLC

The original course was on Mellon’s Rokeby Farm property in Upperville. The race was 4 1/4 miles long, included 22 post and rail fences averaging 3’9″ high, and included two in-and-outs! In 1957, the point-to-point was relocated to the farms of Mrs. J. F. F. Stewart and Dr. and Mrs. A. C. Randolph along Route 50 in Upperville, now known as the Salem Farm course.

Frank Chapot (1932-2016) on Bay Barrage in the 1962 running of the Rokeby Bowl. Chapot, who just recently passed away in 2016, was an Olympic medalist, USET coach, and world-renowned trainer, who also occasionally rode in steeplechases. Photo courtesy of Carol Fenwick. ©Howard Allen Photography, LLC

The trophy itself has more stories to tell. The bowl is almost 300 years old, dating to the year 1720. The plain silver punch bowl is hand-engraved with an image of a horse and jockey and inscribed with the words “Silver Tail’d Betty” and “Banbury Town Plate 1720.”  Town Plates (flat race meetings) were held in towns all over England for centuries. Prior to the establishment of the Jockey Club in the early 1750’s, each meet featured its own set of rules. The town of Banbury is located in Oxfordshire, in Southern England.

Detail of Rokeby Bowl trophy, with engraving of horse and jockey and “Silver Tail’d Bettey”

After Mr. Mellon acquired the bowl, he added a tiered wooden base with sterling silver bands and donated it to Piedmont for the race. The NSLM is grateful to Mrs. Fenwick for gifting this special piece of racing history to the collection. It has traveled a long way since it was first used as a race trophy in 18th century England, then awarded at steeplechase races in 20th century America, and now has a home on display at the NSLM.

The 76th running of the Piedmont Point-to-Point takes place Saturday, March 25th at the Salem Farm course in Upperville, Virginia. For a schedule of all the Spring Steeplechase races, visit the Virginia Steeplechase Association calendar.

The 62nd annual meet of the Virginia Fall Races was held at Glenwood Park, Middleburg, this past Saturday, October 8th. Last year’s race day was perfect, sunny weather, but this year featured lots of rain! That didn’t keep us from enjoying a great day of racing though.

Rainy weather makes for muddy horses and jockeys at the Virginia Fall Races! (Photo by Perry Mathewes)

The Virginia Fall Races features the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship in the morning, and nine races over the rolling turf course in the afternoon. Funds raised from the event benefit Inova Loudoun Hospital. The National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, held since 1955, is run in memory of Fall Races co-founder, Mr. George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., and long-time race supporter, Mr. George L. Ohrstrom, Jr.

The trophies for the day were displayed on a table out of the rain under the announcer’s stand. The NSLM Cup trophy and this year’s keeper trophy bowl, are just left of center.

Saturday’s precipitation made the course footing soft, but it held up fairly well. And, luckily for us, the rain tapered off just in time for our race. This year’s NSLM Cup was won by the Irish-bred Two’s Company, owned by Bruton Street – US, trained by Jack Fisher, and piloted by jockey Sean McDermott. The 7 year-old bay gelding beat six other horses over the long 3 1/4 mile timber course. It was anyone’s race until the tightly packed group was well into their third and final lap of the course. McDermott took the lead with just two fences to go, and won by almost 7 lengths. In second place was the 2015 NSA Timber Horse Champion, Grinding Speed; third was Puller; and fourth was Canyon Road.

Two’s Company and Sean McDermott ahead of Pured It and Gerard Galligan (Photo by Douglas Lees)


Two’s Company and Sean McDermott in the blue and yellow silks of Bruton Street – US (Photo by Douglas Lees)

Two’s Company is having a successful season so far. With the NSLM Cup as his fourth win of the year, the horse is now ranked first in purse winnings for 2016. Bruton Street – US, Fisher, and McDermott are all ranked among the very top owners, trainers, and jockeys in timber racing. And McDermott has appeared in our NSLM Cup photos before – in 2015 he won aboard Straight To It, another horse trained by Jack Fisher.

NSLM Cup Winner’s Circle: (left to right) Jacqueline Ohrstrom, Melanie Mathewes (NSLM Executive Director), Juliana May (NSLM Cup Trophy Donor), Michael and Ann Hankin, Sheila Fisher, and jockey Sean McDermott.

A big thank you to those of you that came out to support the races despite the rainy weather!

Six of the horses from the NSLM Cup lineup (including Two’s Company) have been nominated to compete against each other again in the International Gold Cup on October 22, at Great Meadow in The Plains. Fingers crossed for nicer weather that day!

This is the final post in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. 

Undeterred by his spills the spring and summer of 1900, and against everyone’s advice, Harry entered The Cad in the $10,000, 3 ½ mile Champion Steeplechase at Morris Park, Saturday, October 6, 1900. Ollie Ames met him at the clubhouse that Saturday morning.

“You are not going to run The Cad are you?” Harry recalls Ollie saying. “He’ll break your neck!” Next, Mr. B. F. Clyde of Philadelphia admonished him, “Now, look here, Harry Smith, I have seen you ride a great many times around New York, Philadelphia and Saratoga; I have the greatest admiration for you as a sportsman, in fact I am very fond of you. Now, Please don’t take your life in your hands and ride The Cad today against all those professionals.” It seems Mr. Clyde had his money on another horse; Harry thanked the man and walked away. “Then, about noon,” Harry writes, “a Western Union boy came up and handed me a telegram. It was from Mrs. Smith: ‘Don’t ride, get best professional possible. Signed, ‘Mildred.’”

Harry Worcester Smith in hunting cap. Image ca. 1910, in the Harry Worcester Smith Archive (MC0041), National Sporting Library & Museum.

Harry went to the stable where he found The Cad “munching a light feed of oats, his lovely mane and foretop shining like black seaweed, his coat smooth as satin, his skin so loose you could pick up a handful of it anywhere, every leg as cold as ice, cords and tendons standing out, muscles hard and tucked up just enough to show that he was ready to go the distance… I never thought of not riding.”

Odds were twenty to one against Harry on The Cad. Silas Veitch was the favorite on “Plato.” “There’s an old Arab saying,” Harry writes, “‘The grave of the horseman is always open’ … I am frank to say, that while I don’t worry, I appreciate the chances.” Harry was an amateur running against a field of six professionals. When it came right down to it, who in his right mind would bet on him?

“As there were only seven horses it took only a moment or two to get us in line, and down went the flag!” From start to finish “right at my left was Veitch with Plato.” The course started and ended on a track, but the jumps were on a left-handed circle up and around a water tower on a hilltop. There was a sod-topped stone wall measuring 4’9”, a wide water jump, a Liverpool with a ditch and several 4’6” hedges.

“The Cad was full of running,” Harry writes. “My mind was running apace as to how I could best win and when to make my run.” Halfway through the race, The Cad “sailed” at the water jump “and landed fully two lengths the best of Plato,” but The Cad took the bit and ran straight instead of rounding the next corner, putting Plato four lengths in front. The Cad caught up at the Liverpool and then, at the sod-covered stone wall Harry “saw Plato change his feet and knew instantly he was tired.” Another horse had earlier crashed through one of the hedges, making a hole, and Harry aimed The Cad straight at the hole.

Harry Worcester Smith and The Cad winning the Champion Steeplechase at Morris Park in 1900.

William C. Whitney later said to Harry, “Why, I never saw anything like it! You were running at top speed neck and neck and suddenly like a skyrocket The Cad went to the front and you had six lengths going to that hole in the next jump!” Next jump, he “took off at the edge of the wing and must have cleared twenty feet.” Around the track and the last time over the Liverpool: “All my life I shall remember that jump,” Harry writes. “Knowing that I was going to let him go at it at full speed The Cad seemed to spurn the ground and so perfectly did he time his takeoff that he glided over the far side hedge and seemed to only touch the ground lightly as he landed and went on all in perfect rhythm.” Now it’s a horse race.

Harry was determined not to take any chances over the last three jumps. The Cad was “going like a steam engine, not one sign of tire, so going down at the last jump I steadied [him], shortened his stride and really bucked him over the jump.” Just as he landed, “a wide scarlet nostril flashed close to my knee,” and Veitch was beside him again, then nosed in front. Harry wasn’t worried: “I knew the gameness of my gallant bay, grandson of Lexington.” As they reached the edge of the grandstand for the home stretch on the track, the crowd was going wild, and “I pulled up even with Veitch and The Cad went on to win by three-quarters of a length.”

There was a victory dinner that night at The Waldorf. “I insisted on Wheeler coming,” Harry writes, “even though he was colored.” Harry drank in his success. “As I walked down ‘Peacock Alley’ I could see people nudging each other and hear them saying, ‘There is the gentleman rider who won the big race.’”

The Cad
The Cad

Though he never raced again due to a bowed tendon, The Cad spent the rest of his life as Harry’s favorite hunt horse. “He was one of the most intelligent horses I have ever known,” Harry writes. “I used to wear a blue sapphire scarf pin, and when I stood beside his box he would reach over and pick the pin out of my tie in his teeth…the glint of the stone seemed to magnetize him, but oh, he was so careful about it, he opened his lips away back and would not soil my tie, and then he would hold it in his mouth until I took it away. He was clever as a monkey in undoing the latch of his box and time and time again we would find him loose in the morning, and alas! One morning he stole his way out of the box, then it being warm the door of the kennels was open and out he went, and as he was a hearty feeder, just filled up with apples, and a dose of colic, which we were unable to fight off, carried him away.”

The Cad was one of Harry’s mounts in The Great Hound Match of 1905, the contest between Smith’s American-bred foxhounds and Alexander Henry Higginson’s English hounds in November of that year. But that’s another story.

Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.

This is the third in a series of four guest posts by 2016 Daniels Fellow Martha Wolfe. Martha’s 2016 Fellowship focused on studying The Life of an American Sportsman: Being Reminiscences by Harry Worcerster Smith, an unpublished autobiography. 

I’m not sure that many people would have characterized Harry Worcester Smith as a good-for-nothing “cad;” on the other hand, neither might they have called him a gentleman. He was highly opinionated and he had a temper; he had a wicked sense of humor and he suffered no fool. He was a scalawag, a bit of a braggart, maybe a knave, possibly a scoundrel. It’s perhaps divine providence or poetic justice that his favorite horse, his horse-of-a-lifetime, was named “The Cad.”

Harry Worcester Smith at his writing desk. Possibly in Aiken, SC or Grafton, MA.

The Cad’s given name was The Cid, “but on account of a misspelling in the Stud book entry,” Harry writes in the “Steeplechasing” chapter of his unpublished autobiography, “the gamest thoroughbred I ever threw a leg over went through life carrying the name which means good-for-nothing.” The Cad’s breeding certainly wasn’t good-for-nothing. His equine ancestors included shining stars in America’s Thoroughbred foundation stock: his sire, Uncas, was descended from Lexington, Glencoe, and Tranby. His dam, Parasol, was descended from Mortimer, Virginia, and Nottingham. The extraordinary Tranby is the horse that carried Squire Osbaldeston in early November, 1831, in his outrageous wager to complete a two-hundred mile ride around England’s Newmarket race course in under ten hours. Osbaldeston was allowed an unlimited number of horses to do the job: he brought twenty. Changing mounts fifty times during the Squire’s race against the clock, Tranby was the only horse to complete four of the four-mile laps at racing speed. It’s clear that The Cad’s ancestors had “staying power.”

“The Cad was very high-mettled,” Harry writes of his favorite’s temperament. “When they were trying to break him at the track to start from the barrier, like a gentleman he resisted the whip in the jockey’s hands, the spur on his heels and the bull-whip with which the assistant starter cut him, and it did not take more than two or three mornings for him to get so bad that they decided that they could do nothing with him; so he was shipped back to Genesee and stabled with ‘Jim Sam’s’ string down near the horse show grounds.” Jim Sam was a Wadsworth, of the well-known hunting family in upstate New York’s Genesee Valley where Harry hunted regularly behind Colonel Wadsworth’s hounds. Here, in the broadly gorged valley, is where Harry first laid eyes on The Cad.

The Cad
The Cad

“He was perfectly balanced, with an intelligent head and eyes that spoke and followed you as he looked through the upper door as you walked around…I was so taken with him that when at the end of the hunting season I had a chance to buy him at $150 I jumped at the opportunity.”

Along with his trusted trainer Dolph Wheeler, Harry rode and trained his own string of steeplechasers: “King T.,” “Sacket,” “George Keene” and “The Cad.” “Living in snowy, frost-bound New England,” he writes, “there was only now and then a day through the winter when one could school his hunters or steeplechasers over the walls about Grafton…Many is the day I would push through business, telephone to Wheeler and, if the going was soft, out we’d go no matter how deep the snow was, and so my horses got their schooling.”

“Upon the turf and beneath the turf all men are equal.” This drawing is found in a sample collection of illustrations for Smith’s unpublished autobiography. Smith’s lavender and white silks are depicted in the center.

Harry had his eye on the Championship Meadow Brook Cup Hunter’s race at Brookline in the spring of 1900. His confidence got a big boost while training over the course’s water jump. The Cad was four strides out when his hoof beats startled two workmen who had been cementing the basin on the far side of the jump. The men stood, “and as the jump was quite shallow they were fully three feet higher than the hedge itself, but this was nothing to The Cad. He stood off, cleared the hedge, sailed over the top of one man and landed way into the grass far beyond the edge of the cement.” Later, Harry went back with a measuring tape and found that The Cad had cleared twenty-eight feet.

The race itself started well, but ended badly for Harry. At the fourth hedge The Cad “took the bit in his teeth and literally tore at the next jump. I knew he was going too fast but there was no chance to take a pull and in a second he was too close to the jump and so caught it under his knees,” resulting in a bad fall.

Harry hovered “between life and death” for nearly a week. “The concussion was so bad,” he writes, “that [a few months later] a spot two or three inches square” on the crown of his head turned white. “In addition, on both sides, the tops of my back teeth were cracked off.” His convalescence was long and shook his confidence, but The Cad was uninjured and Wheeler kept him fit through the summer and fall. The upside of his accident was that Boston’s provocative socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner “sent me flowers every day.”

That August Harry entered the Hunter’s Steeplechase at Saratoga. Through no fault of The Cad’s or Harry’s, he fell again and the horse’s reputation grew rank.

Martha_webMartha Wolfe is an independent scholar, author, and three-time John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library & Museum. Her most recent book is The Great Hound Match of 1905, chronicling the hunting competition between A. Henry Higginson and Harry Worcester Smith. Read more about Martha and her research at www.marthawolfe.net.

We’re always amazed at the faith that is placed in our staff here at NSLM. Not only have hundreds of supporters trusted us to preserve their historical treasures, but they also come to us with questions and research projects on varying topics. Often, these queries are as educational to the Librarian as the researcher!

Sometimes, the questions go in the other direction. For example, the image below was found in a drawer in the Library’s Lower Level. There was only a name, no other information:

This photo’s caption only reads, “Nancy Barbara Johnson, Southern Pines, NC, 1943, with ‘Mighty’.”

Naturally, that wasn’t enough to satisfy curiosity. Searches of NSLM materials didn’t reveal very much. It was suspected that Johnson was Nancy’s maiden name, and that any other biographical information would likely refer to her by her married name. To get an answer, we turned to the Facebook group, “Equestrians from ‘Back in the Day,'” a collection of thousands of historical equestrian photo enthusiasts.

Our request for help wasn’t in vain. Within a half hour, many members of the group had pooled genealogical resources to find the connection: Nancy Barbara Johnson had married Gerald B. Webb in 1946. Once that had been established, we knew we could finish the story.

We are often reliant on outside help to identify photos that have no captions. This photo is only identified as Gerald Webb (left) and unknown man (right). There is no date associated with the photo.

We recognized the name Gerald Webb from an earlier reference question. Webb’s archive of photograph albums is housed here at NSLM.

Gerald B. Webb, Jr., was a longtime horseman and foxhunter, the son of Dr. Gerald B. Webb, a noted expert on tuberculosis. His mother, Varena Hayes Webb, was a descendant of Jefferson Davis. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Webb took a job as the managing editor of The Fauquier Democrat. He left that position to found The Middleburg Chronicle (today known as The Chronicle of the Horse and located here at NSLM’s campus) with fellow foxhunter Stacy Lloyd. Webb served as managing editor of the new publication.  First published on September 17, 1937, the new weekly briefly discussed local politics on the front page before devoting the following seven pages to equestrian news. The publication would eventually focus exclusively on equestrian sports and establish itself as a staple equestrian publication.

“Gerald Webb, 1938, at Morven Park” Photograph by Hayes, Alexandria, VA. In the Gerald B. Webb, Jr. Archive, National Sporting Library & Museum.

Unfortunately, Webb would not enjoy the journal’s success for long. On April 19, 1947, Webb was killed while competing in the Fox Hunters Challenge Cup.  His horse crashed while attempting a jump and Webb’s spur caught in his leathers; he was dragged by the horse for half a mile. He never regained consciousness, and died later that evening at the Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. It was just over a year since the announcement of his wedding to Nancy Johnson.

“Fred Wallberg, Dot Smithwick, and Gerry Webb” Photograph by Thomas Neil Darling. In the Gerald B. Webb, Jr. Archive, National Sporting Library & Museum.

Webb’s collection of photograph albums consist of 16 spiral-bound volumes containing photographs of equestrian events throughout the Middleburg area from 1935 to 1941. A few albums date beyond Webb’s death; we presume that the scrapbooks were continued by staff at The Chronicle of the Horse into the 1950s. Based on the help we received from Facebook, it’s clear the photo of Nancy Johnson belongs with the rest of this collection.

Do you know more about the people or places in some of these photographs? Let us know! You can comment here or contact us if you can fill in any blanks. You just might have the key to making sure the whole story is preserved.

This Saturday, October 10th, the Virginia Fall Races will be held at Glenwood Park here in Middleburg.  Glenwood is a fantastic venue – just outside of town, and there are no bad seats to be found!  It’s easy for guests to get close to the action along the courses and at the paddock.

Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, 2011. (Photo courtesy of VA Fall Races)
Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, 2011 (photo courtesy of VA Fall Races)

We here at the NSLM take care of the literature, art, and history of sports like steeplechasing. But we also love to celebrate the sport today. Steeplechases, or jump races, are generally held on grass tracks, often with somewhat hilly terrain, over fences of brush, timber (wood), and sometimes water jumps. The horses are thoroughbreds and many of them got their start racing on the flat. They are generally older and a bit sturdier than their cousins and siblings at the flat racing tracks. And the jockeys don’t have to be the size of Derby winner Victor Espinoza (he’s 5’2″), but instead can be quite tall.

The Fall race meet at Glenwood is a particularly special one. The feature race of the day is the National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, which is held in memory of NSLM founders George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., and George L. Ohrstrom, Jr.

Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 - 1955) by Erik Guide Haupt (American, 1891 - 1984), oil on canvas Gift of the Ohrstrom Family
Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 – 1955)
by Erik Guide Haupt (American, 1891 – 1984), oil on canvas
Gift of the Ohrstrom Family
Thomas S. Buechner (American, 1926 - 2010) Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 - 2005) oil on canvas, 40 x 30 ¼ inches Gift of the Ohrstrom Family, 2003
Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 – 2005), by Thomas S. Buechner (American, 1926 – 2010), oil on canvas
Gift of the Ohrstrom Family, 2003

The Virginia Fall Races were founded not long after the NSLM (founded as the National Sporting Library in 1954). In 1955, George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., who was president of the Orange County Hounds, and Mrs. Theodora A. Randolph, the famous horsewoman and Master of the Piedmont Foxhounds for 40 years, worked together to create a new race meet for Virginia.  Sadly, Mr. Ohrstrom passed away just a month after the first October races. His son, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr., carried on supporting the races and the sport of steeplechasing. Today the Ohrstrom family continues to support the sport and sponsors the NSLM Cup.

The NSLM Cup is a timber race run over a long 3 and 1/4 miles course. The race is open to horses 4 years old and up – and a whopping 17 entries have been nominated to run this year.

National Sporting Library & Museum Cup Elkington & Co., London, 1920, sterling silver Gift of Juliana May, 2014
National Sporting Library & Museum Cup
Elkington & Co., London, 1920, sterling silver
Gift of Juliana May, 2014

The beautiful sterling silver NSLM Cup perpetual trophy will be awarded to the winner, and their names will be engraved on the base. New this year is a gorgeous “keeper” trophy. The owners of the winning horse will receive a stunning sterling silver salver (flat tray with small feet on the bottom) – for keeps! Generously donated by Juliana May, this piece was crafted by English silversmiths William Hutton & Sons, in 1930. It was engraved this year for the 2015 race.

National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, 2015 Winner’s Trophy William Hutton & Sons, Sheffield, England, 1930, sterling silver Gift of Juliana May, 2015
National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, 2015 Winner’s Trophy
William Hutton & Sons, Sheffield, England, 1930, sterling silver
Gift of Juliana May, 2015

Post time for the races is 1 pm. But come to town early and see fox hunters from around the country compete in the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship on the infield. Or come to the NSLM to see great examples of steeplechasing in art – before you go see the real thing!

Cecil Aldin (English, 1870 – 1935) The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine’s Brook, c. 1923 photogravure, 13 x 25 inches Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock, 1996
Cecil Aldin (English, 1870 – 1935)
The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine’s Brook, c. 1923, photogravure
Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock, 1996
Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958) The Last Fence, Pickering, 1934 pencil on paper Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013
Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958)
The Last Fence, Pickering, 1934, pencil on paper
Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013

When you get to Glenwood, come visit us on the rail at spot A23!