Willowdale Steeplechase

Horses kick up a lot of water on rain-soaked fields at the Willowdale Steeplechase Sunday.

EAST MARLBOROUGH—Some Mothers Day traditions go on rain or shine, even outdoors. The 27th running of the Willowdale Steeplechases took place in Sunday’s wind and rain, with a full compliment of volunteers and a small but dedicated flock of spectators.

“It’s a Mothers Day tradition. I’ve been coming for a long time,” said Jess Provinski of Coatesville. “You have to take the punches weather throws at you. The horses are still running so we’re here too.”

Provinski is an employee of Stroud Water Research Center, one of the beneficiaries of the Willowdale Races along with New Bolton Center and Quest Therapeutic Services.

Stroud Water Research Center Director David Arscott was also on hand with his wife his two children and his father. “We did a lot of planning. Actually setting up the tailgate we had to deal with the weather,” he said.

While most of the tailgates were subdued by the weather, some dedicated fans had just as much food, drink and fun as ever.

“We do this rain or shine because we love Willowdale Steeplechase. We come no matter what the weather. If it snowed we’d probably be here,” said Jill Hunt of Kennett Square.

“It’s Willowdale and water this year.”

The races depend on volunteers to make the event run smoothly, and the loyal supporters were there to do their jobs. Barbara Belt coordinates a group of 25 volunteers from New Bolton Center who all turned out for the day. “Everybody’s just determined to get through the day and embrace it for what it is in spite of the weather,” she said. “The sense of community is what I like about this.”

Willowdale revolves around racing, and the day’s events were well contested with three sanctioned races over timber, and three over hurdles. The featured $35,000 Willowdale Steeplechase Stakes was won by Just Wait and See, owned by Kinross Farm, trained by Richard Valentine and ridden to the win by Mark Beecher.

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