Cultivating, Charles (Chick) Owen's 8-year-old jumper, has won eight times and finished second three times in 11 starts in the First Colony Life Challenge Trophy steeplechase competition over the past three years.

His record is a sparkling one, especially in the world of point-to-point racing, where the hurdle courses are not well-tailored paths to standardized jumps.

The Rappahannock Hunt's meeting Saturday at Thornton Hill Farm outside Sperryville is a case in point. The hurdles course, on which the First Colony will be run, is an uphill, downhill, along-the-side-of-a-mountain course that includes a near U-turn at one point.

Cultivating, the bay son of Herbager-Repoise, will be going after a second consecutive early season victory in the "about-two-mile" owner-rider event.

In 1979, his first year on the Virginia circuit, and last year he managed to win the title despite starting his campaigns late. Previously, Owens had used High Peak in the series and was runner-up to Kevin Palmer's Kool Kake in 1976, won the series in 1977 and was second to Bill Chewning's Blue Nearco in 1978.

Using Cultivating over hurdles and High Peak over timber, Owens became the first rider ever to win Virginia's major series, the First Colony and Seven Corners, in the same season, 1979.

Rappahannock's nine-race card will open with a pair race at 11 a.m. and close with its famous hounds race. The Thornton Hill course is 1 1/2 miles south of Sperryville on Rte. 522.