The fall steeplechase season begins Saturday with the Fairfax Hunt's annual fall program at Belmont Plantation near Leesburg. The $6,000 Bowman Bowl, a 3-mile timber test, is the feature of the six- race card. Post time is 2 p.m.

Don't forget to bring along a sweater to buffer the chilly sunsets; binoculars for hard-to-see racing along the distant backstretch; and a picnic.

STEEPLECHASING

SATURDAY -- Fairfax Hunt at Belmont Plantation, Leesburg. Six races starting at 2 p.m. General admission $5 for adults; children 11 and under, free. Call 703/759-2651.

SEPTEMBER 29 -- Foxfield Races, Charlottesville, Va. Six races starting at 1 p.m. General admission $4 in advance; $5 race day; plus $3 parking. Call 804/293-8160.

OCTOBER 5-6 -- Middleburg Fall Races in Middleburg, Va. Six races on Saturday starting at 2 p.m.; five races on Sunday starting at 1:30. General admission, $5. Call 703/687-5662.

OCTOBER 12 -- Morven Park, Leesburg, Va. Six races beginning at 2 p.m., featuring the $10,000 Maryland National Bank Steeplechase, a 21/2-mile brush race, and the $5,000 Samuel H. Rogers Memorial, 31/4 miles over timber. General admission $3. Free programs. Call 703/777-2414.

OCTOBER 12 -- Fair Hill Races, Fair Hill, Md. Eight races beginning at 1:30 p.m. Legal pari-mutuel betting. General admission $3. Call 301/398-6565.

OCTOBER 19 -- Great Meadow Races, The Plains, Va. Five races starting at 1:30 featuring the $15,000 International Gold Cup, a 31/4-mile timber race. General admission for a car with up to six passengers is $7 in advance; $10 on race day. Call 703/347-2612.

NOVEMBER 2 -- Montpelier Races, Orange, Va. Five races beginning at 1:30. Admission and parking are free. Due to heavy traffic at past meetings, fans should plan to arrive one to two hours before post time. Call 703/672- 2728 or 703/672-5485.