Point-to-Point Celebrates 40 Years

Steeplechase races and elegant tailgating highlight the May 6 family event

For 40 years, the Point-to-Point race on the grounds of Winterthur Museum has evolved into an elegant family-friendly affair with all the pomp and pageantry of an elite horse racing event.

It began in 1979, created in part by the late Greta Layton, who became known as “Lady Point-to-Point.” A member of Winterthur’s board of directors for more than 40 years, Layton combined her love of horses and passion for communicating the museum’s mission to a broad audience through the annual event.

“Point-to-Point is as strong as ever because we have been able to change with the times and needs of the guests, while still keeping our Winterthur mission:  benefitting the continued maintenance and preservation of Winterthur Museum, Garden and Estate,” says Jill Abbott, who has been at the center of the evolution of Point-to-Point for 20 years and this past January became the vice president of Race Directors.

“One historical change occurred 13 years ago when we became a sanctioned race,” Abbott says. “Since then, we have been under the governing body of the National Steeplechase Association, which officiates jump racing in North America.”

The change means the race is officially sanctioned, allowing prize purses to be awarded to race winners. Efforts to attain that status were led by then Race Chairman Duncan Patterson.

“When I was riding in the event 40 years ago, we were racing for silver cups worth maybe $75,” says Patterson, who is president of Patterson-Woods & Associates. “We have grown to where horses and jockeys are racing for almost $75,000.”

The success of Point-to-Point is also due in large part to the beautiful grounds of the Winterthur Estate.

“Winterthur is a 1,000-acre preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands,” says Josh Taylor, managing partner of Mid Atlantic Inc. and current race chairman of Point-to-Point. “Its 60-acre naturalistic garden is among America’s best, and the races are held over a racecourse that winds through these enchanting and magical grounds.”

Adds Anne Jones, chair of the Executive Committee: “Point-to-Point is now firmly established as an annual destination for our loyal patrons and always draws a capacity crowd. Winterthur is delighted to share its beautiful property with the community.”

The event includes numerous activities and unique displays throughout the day, including antique automobiles, an antique carriage parade, and an agility dog competition, as well as pony rides and face painting for the kids. Food is available at hospitality tents, or patrons can bring their food and compete in the Best Tailgate Competition.

The Point-to-Point event takes place Sunday, May 6, with gates opening at 10:30 a.m. at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington. For information on the various ticket prices and admission options, visit winterthur.org.

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