Bel Esprit II, third in both of Virginia's "big three" timber steeplechases run earlier this spring, finally grabbed the ring by winning the Walliam Corcoran Eustis Cup by a length over Boca Bird with a furious closing. Manco Capac missed the place by a head. Sir William was a distant fourth.
A point-to-point crowd of more than 7,000 saw Ross Pearce turn in a "studied" ride on Tom Moffett's 13-year-old gelding, running easily off the flank of Marine Band through the first 19 jumps.
"I had him measured," said Pearce of Monkton, Md. "Even if he hadn't come off I knew we would have taken him."
Marine Band, Harry Wright's Virginia-bred jumper, had finished in front of Bel Esprit II in the Rokeby Bowl and the Middleburg Hunt Cup.
Pearce's measurement was unnecessary because Wight had failed to take two jumps on the first two turns and had been unseated after landing at the 20th jump.
"If I hadn't come off I would have slit my throat anyway," said Wight, a fine amateur rider and winner of this race in 1969, who had helped lay out the course. "How could I have done it?"