Gone is the day when the cry on the point-to-point steeplechase circuit going into the Oatlands meeting was "catch Rouse."
Rouse - Randolph D. Rouse - nine times the winner of the Seven Corners Challenge Trophy, is watching the 1979 action from the sidelines after being injured in a fall on opening day at Casanova.
So five of his fellow riders are going into today's Times-Mirror Cup, co-feature of Oatlands' eight-race card, bunched within 5 1/2 points of each other.
To confuse the issue further, Roy Graham is still undecided whether to send leader Boca Bird postward in the Times-Mirror or to use the veteran jumper in the prestigious four-mile Eustis Cup, a race that the horse won in 1974.
Harry Wight will use Bannecheck in the Times-Mirror, resting Too Far Gone, who is only one-half point behind Boca Bird in the standiings. Last year's winner, Mike dupont, will use Hami, 4 1/2 points behind.
Dupont's Estremadura will face a strong field in the Eustis Cup, including Manco Capac II, the highly touted chaser who began his career in France and has raced infrequently but quite successfully in Virginia.
Chick Owens' High Peak and Randy Waterman's pair of Salvo and Champerty are possible starters during the afternoon.
The program will begin at 1:30 p.m. with the First Colony owner-rider hurdle series race. The Judge Alexander Memorial gentlemen's hurdle race at 2 1/2 miles carries a purse of $1,000, as does the Eustis Cup. All eight races are over jumps and the beautiful rolling Oatlands course is considered one of the most "honest" in Virginia.
Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. The course is located four miles south of Leesburg on Rte. 15.
At Monkton, Md., today, a field of eight is expected for the 69th running of My Lady's Manor timber steeplechase, the first of Maryland's big three in jump racing. Audrey Riker's Perfect Cast is the favorite, with Hurricane Hole the sleeper.