The Seven Corners Challenge Trophy competition, emblematic of the spring owner-rider, point-to-point championship, moved into its third decade today and it was only fitting that Randy Rouse would win its Rappahannock race, the Ben Venue.
The Fairfax sportsman notched his 50th Seven Corners victory when he rode Cinzano to a 20-lenth victory over last year's winner, Boca Bird. Helix rounded out the finishing field.
"It was hairy out there today," said Rouse, whose antics with the Urguaian speed horse Cinzano is the talk of the sport. A record-setter in South America, Cinzano never jumped until last year and never jumped timber until last week at Casanova.
Today's time, 4:52 over the Thornton Hill course, was the fastest since Rouse's Free Movement covered the 21/2-mile Mountainside Grind in 1976 in 4:50.2. After the eighth jump, when Garden Games lost rider Max Lammers, Cinzano wasn't pressed.
A cold, windy day greeted a crowd of nearly 6,000, a far cry from the 400 who saw the first Seven Corners race over this course on March 3, 1961. Richard Spindle's Volanee Boy won the first of what has become the grandaddy of point-to-point racing.
Behind Rouse's domination of the series stands Arch Kingsley who won 13 victories, eight with his super horse of the 60s, Lenoso. Three riders still active follow on the all-time list; Mike duPont with 12 victories, Harry Wight, 10, and David Semmes, seven.
Cultivating, another sensation of the early season, won his second in a row with a three-length victory over Phil Mill in the owner-rider hurdle race.