“This is only for the heartiest, most loyal fans of Gold Cup,” said Tommy Quinn, the Washington lawyer-lobbyist, as he ducked for shelter with friend Lyndley Boor of the USO in the happening Washington Life tent on Member’s Hill.
Last week, a stubborn, aggressive nor’easter pelted Washingtonians with four days of non-stop rain, combined with skin-biting wind and chilly temperatures. It continued into Saturday, dashing hopes of tens of thousands of Gold Cup aficionados who stayed at home out of the unseasonable chill.
Making the event slightly more palatable was the abundance of shrimp, caviar, canapes and premium liquor served in tents by Gold Cup’s official caterer Grand Cuisine, not to mention the space heaters that a few clever souls plugged into their tents.
The fall race was again sponsored by Porsche. Due to inclement weather, the abbreviated race schedule featured only five races, with $175,000 in purses awarded.
The race attracted some of the top jump-race contenders from the United States and Europe, with the signature $50,000 International Gold Cup race won by Irish jockey Jeff Murphy atop “See you at the Event,” a Chilean gelding.
There were concerns in the crowd that the race might not go off, given the slow and steady downpour which did not let up. “Actually the turf was quite good,” Murphy said afterwards. “No mud, no slippage.”
Murphy and the other European jockeys are official members of the International Federation of Amateur Riders (FEGENTRI), with most coming from full-time professional backgrounds as bankers, attorneys, dentists and high-technology executives.
Peter Schwarzenbauer, the new President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, presented the 70-year-old solid gold trophy to Murphy, and to trainer Jack Fisher and owner Arthur W. Arundel. For the first time, the German automotive manufacturer hosted a Sports Car Exhibition of vintage luxury high performance automobiles.
Afterwards, about 200 of the jockeys, trainers, owners and other race enthusiasts piled into a spirited tent celebration of Great Meadow’s 25th year. On hand were Gold Cup Chairman William Allison and his wife Christina, Great Meadow Foundation Chairman Dr. David Snyder, Great Meadow’s President Rob Banner and Great Meadow founder and benefactor, Arthur W. “Nick” Arundel.
The Washington Life Member’s Hill Tent hosted about 50 race-day goers, including the friends of Luke’s Wings, a DC-based organization that provides travel planning services and airplane tickets for the families of wounded warriors currently hospitalized at medical and rehabilitation centers all over the country.
Luke’s Wing Co-founder Fletcher Gill brought along about 20 supporters, including Keri Ann Meislar, Michael Gerrior and Kim McIntyre. Also among attendees were Park Hyatt Hotels’ Ernie Arias, PNC’s Michael Schupter, Eric Behrns, Michael Feldman, Vincent de Croock, Patricia Iinuma, Ashley Etienne, as well as Chip Dent, Stephanie Green, David McCallum, Makeda Saggau-Sackey, Anchyi Wei, Missy and Rob Bartenstein and Washington Life Executive Editor Michael Clements.
Principal tent sponsors were John Hines of Washington and Noe Landini of Landini Brothers Restaurant.
To keep spirits elevated, John Vickers-Smith, a descendant of the founders of Maker’s Mark and the regional marketing ambassador for the fabled Kentucky-based spirits company, showed attendees the proper way to mix and pour about a dozen different variations of the spirit. In 35-degree weather, Vickers-Smith might have been the most popular man there.