Cousin Wes will miss Belvedere Farm's point-to-point steeplechase course nearly as much as the 5,000 followers who turned out yesterday for the final Potomac Hunt meeting at the big spread off Travallah Road, which has been sold and will be developed for homes.
And so certainly will Cousin Wes' owner, Randy Rouse.
Between the two of them they have managed to win the featured Potomac Cup seven times in the last 17 years. Four of the last five years it has been Wes who has been Rouse's winner, including yesterday's three-length victory over Inns Of Court after a tense three-mile 17-jump battle.
Over a course rated good, but certainly soggy in many spots, David Semmes placed third on No Answer while George Mahoney Jr. was fourth on Score Sheet.
"Please don't tell anyone it was 17 years ago that I won my first race here," said an elated Rouse.
It was the third win of the season for Wes in Seven Corners competition, and by far his toughest test.
"I thought we had them going up that final hill," said Charles (Chick) Owens, owner-rider of Inns Of Court. "But Randy just outrode me going around that turn into the last fence." Owens had won the race here last year aboard High Peak.
Score Sheet set the pace over the first nine jumps but from then on it became a two-horse battle with Cousin Wes and Inns Of Court exchanging the lead.
"It was my horse's first start of the year and I guess he just isn't fit yet," said Owens who came back later to win the Potomac Plate aboard Commissioner Jim and get a quick start toward Maryland's Governor's Cup.