This sleepy village is famous for three things -- the opening of the point-to-point steeple-chase season, the springlike weather the event brings each year and Randy Rouse.

Rouse, riding Cousin Wes. won the 21st running of the Casanova Cup yesterday by "a distance" over Gus Forbush on Chandler. It was the ninth time in the last 12 runnings of the 2 1/2-mile timber race that the Fairfax Hunt rider has been successful.

It was Rouse's seventh straight victory over the Spring Hill Farm course, but the first time that Cousin Wes has entered the winners' circle at Casanova.

Rouse's earlier victories had been scored with Twin Peaks, Buen Paisano. Free Movement and Quashed. Free Movement won five of the cups.

"He's a very clever horse, he always get himself out of trouble," said Rouse. Halfway through the race it looked as if the 10-year-old chestnut would have to draw on all his cleverness.

A frontrunner in all of his races, Cousin Wes suddenly was challenged midway through the 19-jump course by veteran Harry Wight on Eloping, the 13-year-old Gun Shot gelding which looked as if it had shaken off its history of leg problems.

Wight had closed the gap at the ninth fence to a length, had put Elping's nose in front over the 10th, was head-to-head over the 11th and going into the 12th.

Unfortunately, Eloping hit the top rail hard, slipped on landing and went down. Wight was not injured but Eloping snapped a legat the ankle and was destroyed later.

With Eloping out. Chandler, David Semmes on At The Spa and James Drunegal on Sagitta took up the chase but to no avail, the three finishing in that order behind Cousin Wes.

An estimated crowd of close to 5,000 attended and was treated to a series of close races on grounds described by Virginia Gold Cup winner J. B. Secor as "greasy."