Five things to know about steeplechase races at Winterthur

Organizers of Winterthur’s Point-to-Point are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the steeplechase races this year.  The event is Winterthur’s largest one-day fundraiser. Proceeds benefit the continued maintenance and preservation of the garden and estate at Winterthur.

Here are five things to know about the races, the festivities and children’s activities:

1. There’s more than horse racing.

A lot more, according to race director Jill Abbott, who said the day has become just as much about the tailgating, ceremonies and children’s activities as the racing for many area families.

“It’s a springtime tradition, and so we make sure we have something for everyone to enjoy,” Abbott said.

To that end, along with the day’s race card, the 40th Point-to-Point features a scavenger hunt with 15 locations, a “You Bet!” race raffle, featuring a $500 cash prize, the annual Point-to-Point photo contest, a Point-to-Point trivia contest, stick horse races for children, a River Hills Foxhounds parade, canine capers, and a display of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars sponsored by the Stanley-Laman Group.

A highlight for many guests is the George A. "Frolic" Weymouth Antique Carriage Parade, named in honor of the late artist and founder of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Considered the nation's largest procession of antique horse-drawn carriages, the parade takes place at 1 p.m.

2. For those who love horse racing, there’s plenty of action.

There are four major races throughout the day, with three steeplechase races and a flat race: the Isabella du Pont Sharp Memorial, a maiden timber race with a $15,000 purse, the Winterthur Bowl, an open timber race with an anniversary purse of $40,000, the Vicmead Plate, an amateur highweight timber race with a $15,000 purse, and the Middletown Cup, a flat race.

Races are run at 2, 2:30, 3, and 3:30 p.m.

Steeplechase races are run on a course of approximately three-and-a-half miles, with a total of eight fences that are jumped 17 times.

The races kick off at noon with the Alison Hershbell Pony Races, run in two heats, for small and for large ponies.

3. Eating won’t be a problem.

Along with a variety of food vendors, including Hockessin’s Woodside Creamery, you can also enjoy a lavish lunch at the Hunt Brunch Tent, featuring a catered menu, includes food and beverage, admissions, and programs for $2,000 for a table of 10, $175 per person, $75 for under age 21, and $25 for kids under 12. To reserve seats, contact Abbey Thompson at athomp@winterthur.org.

4. Tailgate simply or in style.

“Tailgating runs the gamut,” Abbot said. “People go all out, sticking with a theme or in full dress, or they just break out a table with some drinks and food.”

This year, food blogger, Food Network host, and Delaware native Skyler Bouchard will make the rounds to select the winner for Best Presented Tailgate contest.

5. Dress for comfort first.

Although plenty of guests show up in their finest spring clothes, Abbott suggests dressing to suit the day’s activities and the weather.

“There can be a lot of walking, and the ground can be uneven sometimes,” she said. “Also it might be hot at the top of the hill and a little chilly when you’re down lower – it can be that drastic.”

A change of shoes, and appropriate “layers” of clothes, are also recommended, Abbott said.

And, don’t forget your sunscreen.