5 Things to Love About Fall Horse Races

October 23, 2018 | Ivy Publications

Fall in Virginia means crisp air, colorful leaves and, of course, steeplechase events like the upcoming International Gold Cup Races and the Montpelier Hunt Races. A time-honored tradition, these races bring together Virginians to celebrate equestrianism with old-age style and refinement. These affairs include much more than just cheering on the majestic thoroughbreds and their jockeys. With polished tailgating, dapper fashion and elaborate programming, it is customary for guests to spend the entire day at the races, enjoying the gourmet foods, cheerful company and competitive steeplechase. Scroll on for 5 things we love about these events!

1. The Hats. Carrying on the tradition of the original high-profile horse races in the U.S., which were both social and fashion events requiring full morning dress, today’s races include the donning of lavish hats and fascinators. Both The International Gold Cup Races and the Montpelier Hunt Races host hat contests each year. (Below, bottom right photo by John Nelson Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

2. The Food. Festive tailgating with seasonal decor, overflowing floral arrangements, fine linens and gourmet foods served on silver and crystal are a staple during these events. In fact, both The International Gold Cup Races and the Montpelier Hunt Races host tailgating contests each year, where equestrian fans compete to captivate judges with both mouthwatering and picture-worthy spreads. Once again, Charlottesville Wine & Country will serve as tailgating judges for the Montpelier Hunt Races, and we cannot wait to see all the alluring displays. (Below, top photo by Anna Purdy Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

3. The Fashion. From “Sunday Best” to “Country Chic” attire, Virginia horse races continue to be fashion events. From fall dresses, sport coats and ties, to riding boots, vests and plaid scarves and ponchos, attendees don chic ensembles for a day at the races. These events also include curated vendors for a luxury shopping experience. (Below, top left photo by Richard Clay Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

4. The Drinks. Horse races and cocktails go hand-in-hand, as many larger horse races in the U.S even have their own signature drinks. Virginia races continue this tradition with special drink recipes served at tailgates, and even by incorporating local craft brews and wines. The Mint Julep is the official drink of The International Gold Cup Races, and Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery is the official winery of the Montpelier Hunt Races.

5. The Races. Of course, no day at the races is complete without exciting steeplechases. The proximity to the horses makes for an exhilarating spectator sport where fans watch brightly colored jockeys and their horses race around the bends and over the hills and hedges. Click here to learn more about the history of steeplechase in Virginia. (Below, photos by Richard Clay Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)

This season, you can enjoy the  International Gold Cup Races on Saturday, October 27, at Great Meadow, The Plains and the Montpelier Hunt Races on Saturday, November 3, at James Madison’s Montpelier. You can also learn more about the Montpelier Hunt Races in the brand new Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, Volume Seven and purchase tickets for the event at the newly opened Charlottesville Wine & Country Shop.

(Lead photo by John Nelson Photography, courtesy of The International Gold Cup Races)


From Ivy Publications, publishers of Charlottesville Wine & Country Living, a semi-annual magazine of Life & Style in Jefferson’s Virginia; Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings, an art book celebrating elegant country weddings in Jefferson’s Virginia; CharlottesvilleFamily’s Bloom Magazine, a monthly parenting magazine with a calendar of Charlottesville festivals and events plus stories on education, health and family fun; CharlottesvilleFamily’s Home Magazine, a quarterly flipped edition with CharlottesvilleFamily’s Bloom Magazine that includes all things home, from builders and real estate professionals to insurance, landscaping, utilities and more; the CharlottesvilleFamily Ultimate Go-To Guide and Home Go-To Guide, an annual flip book with everything from daytrip ideas and home tips to directories of family & home services; and the Charlottesville Welcome Book, a guide to attractions like Monticello, vineyards, the University of Virginia as well as a relocation handbook.

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