Why You Should Attend This Year's Winterthur Point-to-Point Race

By Marni Prichard Manko | April 15, 2015 | Main Line

Celebrate spring at Winterthur Point-to-Point, the Main Line’s answer to the Kentucky Derby.

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The Point-to- Point steeplechase provides Delaware with only its second professional sporting event.

Whether it be at the bucolic Radnor Hunt grounds in Malvern or the countrified equestrian wonderland at the Devon Horse Show, late spring ushers in horsey season on the Main Line. And the third critical prong to the equine trifecta is the Winterthur Point-to-Point race, held on pastoral land once owned by Henry Francis du Pont.

Winterthur Point-to-Point is the Brandywine Valley’s premier steeplechase race. These aren’t weekend warriors going for four-legged joy rides—these are professional jockeys and thoroughbreds who run for their livelihoods. In fact, it’s only the second professional sporting event in Delaware, next to Nascar.

But this isn’t just a horse race, mind you. With more than 15,000 people in attendance, it’s also one of the area’s largest social events of the year. “We have families, college students, young professionals, and empty nesters. It’s an invitation to have a picnic lunch in Mr. du Pont’s garden. The beautiful grounds, rolling countryside, and views from the top of the hill make you feel like you are on top of the world,” says Race Director Jill S. Abbott. “We have local families who started the event 37 years ago who attend as a tradition. Family events are often planned around Point-to-Point knowing they do not want to miss this day.” Irénée du Pont Jr. himself, despite the fact that he’s in his 90s, still attends every year with his family.

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Spectators get into the spirit, staging an equine arrival.

And while the bubbly definitely flows in abundance from the endless high-end tailgates, it’s also a family-friendly affair. There’s an entire section for kids called the Winterthur Hunt. Families visit each stop on the “Hunt” to collect prizes and trinkets, and activities include complimentary children’s manicures, hair-braiding, face-painting, a decorate-your-own retired-horseshoe station, and the beloved stick horse races. Plus, there’s an antique carriage parade, which is the largest and most unique in the country with more than 40 antique carriages and horses, plus Rolls-Royces and Bentleys from the Keystone Region Rolls-Royce Owners Club.

And of course, there’s the fashion, which is on par with what you’d see at polo matches or the Kentucky Derby. Women break out the sundresses, hats, and heels, and the gentlemen have a thing for madras pants, bow ties, and blazers. And make no mistake—since this is the area’s answer to the Derby, it requires hats of a comparable magnitude. Point-to-Point even has an official hat. Last year’s signature piece was a straw and dupioni silk number designed by Debby Bradley of That’s Hats in Chadds Ford and inspired by Winterthur Museum’s early spring gardens and the styles of Downton Abbey.

But all sartorial frivolity aside, without events like this, it would be nearly impossible to maintain these vast grounds and open space. “All equestrian events in the Brandywine Valley and regional area have their own goals, but the one common theme is we all raise funds for community resources,” says Abbott. “This is a community gem for everyone to visit and enjoy. It supports the conservation of a beautiful piece of property given to us by the Henry Francis du Pont family. When you attend, you’re part of something, you’re making history. It’s a win-win—have a fun day in the countryside on beautiful grounds, and keep these community resources viable.” Sunday, May 3, 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE, 302-888-4600

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Categories: Main Line

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