A picture-perfect autumn Sunday in the countryside was the ideal setting for the 77th running of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Races in West Marlborough
Three races over fences, a flat race and the Junior Hunt Cup races drew a good crowd of spectators interested in watching fine horses and having a good time.
SUVs were the most popular way to get onto the course to see the racing action, but one group of spectators arrived to tailgate the old-fashioned way, in a parade of carriages that preceded the sanctioned races.
Cheryl Lamoreux of Cochranville was a passenger on Charlie McWilliams' horse-drawn wagonette, and she has participated as a driver in the past.
"It's a hometown drive," Lamoreux said. "All the whips here today are local drivers, and most of the racers here are local racers and were raising money for local causes."
Another spectator was Dr. M. J. Potter of Chadds Ford, who has been coming to the Hunt Cup for at least 10 years.
"I like seeing all of my neighbors out enjoying the fabulous weather and the great sport of the racing," Potter said.
During the races, Paddy Young rode G'Day G'Day to an exciting win in the $35,000 Hunt Cup for owner Magalen O. Bryant. It was the second win of the day for Young, who also piloted Mussiecoocoo to victory in the Arthur O. Choate memorial timber race.
With 23 wins in 96 starts prior to the Hunt Cup, Young is the leading rider in the 2011 steeplechase standings. He also added to his lead in the rider's money won standings; his pre-race total was $465,720.
"He wasn't tired; he jumped the last like a fresh horse," Young said of G'Day G'Day after completing the four-mile race. "He jumped so well you don't have to put any pressure on him between fences."
The beneficiary of proceeds from the Hunt Cup is the Chester County Food Bank, which had an informational display in the vendors' tent at the races.
"This is one of our main fundraisers; it's a huge help for us," said food bank Executive Director Larry Welsch.
Financial support from the races was welcomed by an organization working to keep pace with growing needs.
"The need is still increasing in the county; we're up about 54 percent from last year," Welsch said. "We're serving about 70,000 people. That's about one in eight people in Chester County who are having trouble having enough food."
In addition to the fundraising, the food bank's presence at the races helped spread the word that the county has people in need of food.
"There is a problem in Chester County, and that is what people don't realize," Welsch said.