"He's a South American horse, he doesn't know what that stuff is," said a snow-coated Randy Rouse as he accepted the Casanova Cup for the 12th time.
For his horse, Cinzano, it was the second year in a row in which he has beaten the field over Casanova's 19 timber fences, and, surprisingly, he is still unbeaten in five Seven Corners Challenge Trophy starts. The horse without credentials (he is not accepted by the Jockey Club or the Steeplechase Association) was a winner four times last year and the winner as the only finisher today.
For 12 fences over Casanova's snow-covered course, Cinzano had competition. Roy (Tennessee) Graham took his reformed hurdles horse, Man of Rhythm, to the front immediately and dared Cinzano to catch him.
Not until the second turn of the 2 1/2-mile course was Cinzano able to gain the lead and he held a one-length margin as they went into the 13th fence.
Graham, who has never won the Casanova Cup in almost 20 years of trying, took off like a snowball as Man of Rhythm clipped the fence and went down. Horse and rider slid almost 20 yards before stopping. The horse was not hurt but the rider suffered a possible fractured collarbone.
A crowd of about 7,000 was on hand at the start of the program but, as the snow came on, many left.
Randy Waterman won three of the first six races. Virginia's leading rider for the past two years had two winners of his own: Superior II in the First Colony Life Hurdles and Amberson Place in the three-mile Spring Hill. He also scored with T. W. Bullit's Handy Hill in the Rogue's Road over hurdles.
Falconridge Farm's Touch Landing scored an upset in winning the Melrose Castle under Luanne Boyer. The 7-year-old chestnut gelding edged Kathy Rengert on Hamid, with last year's ladies champion, Susan Sutula, third on her own Too Far Gone.