Donny Shepherd doubled his riding pleasure this afternoon with a well-paced victory aboard In For A Tag in the soggy Old Dominion Hunt Cup.
The steeplechase victory not only gave Shepherd the lead in the Seven Corners owner-rider series with 14 1/2 points, but was his first winning timber ride in two years.
Bowles Ruler led over the first of 21 fences on the 3 1/4-mile course, but dropped back when In For A Tag took the lead at the second fence. Bowles Ruler's owner, Gary Hawkins, who commutes from Massachusetts to ride on the Virginia circuit, pushed his 14-year-old bay gelding back to the lead at the eighth fence.
In For A Tag challenged at the 12th again but then fell back slightly. The two horses raced within 1 1/2 lengths over the next six jumps, with In For A Tag pulling away at the 20th.
Bowles Ruler slipped at the last fence, dropping Hawkins into the mud, but Hawkins was able to remount and finished a second ahead of Spare Change and rider David Moyes, who finished third. "I was just going too fast," said Hawkins. "I just went at it too hard."
In For A Tag was timed in 7:53 before a rain-drenched crowd of 1,200.