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Elkridge-Harford steeplechase team wins 101st running of Foxhall Farm Trophy Team Chase

Teammates Eddie Keating, left, and Amber Hodyka, clear the hedge jump, which signals the half point of the race.
Teammates Eddie Keating, left, and Amber Hodyka, clear the hedge jump, which signals the half point of the race. (Courtesy of Robert Keller)

Last year’s annual rite of spring, Maryland’s steeplechase season, like the majority of sporting events, was canceled due to the worldwide COVID pandemic situation. It returned quietly on Sunday, with the 101st anniversary running of the Foxhall Farm Trophy Team Chase held at Andor Farm on the Harford-Baltimore counties line.

Attendance was limited to competitors, horse handlers and race officials. The single race contest, held under strict COVID guidelines, saw a team from the host club, Elkridge-Harford, come home the winner in a time of 9:37 minutes over the 4-mile course.

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The Team Chase was initiated in 1920 under the sponsorship of nationally known sportsman, Foxhall P. Keene. Keene was recognized as an accomplished polo player, race car driver, fencer, steeplechase, foxhunter, and marksman.

He owned Foxhall Farm (now Andor Farm) for a period of years in the 1920s and it’s there that he conceived of the race. The current-day course closely replicates the original course designed by Keene himself.

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Initially held twice a year (spring and fall) it is now run yearly. Competitors ride in teams of three and must represent a recognized hunt club. This year’s renewal saw twenty-four teams competing from Maryland and Pennsylvania for the perpetual challenge cup. Winning hunts take turns hosting the race.

The winning Foxhall Farm Trophy Team Chase Team representing the Elkridge-Harford Hunt club are, from left, Willie White, Sara Katz and Colin Smith. The team is pictured with the perpetual trophy.
The winning Foxhall Farm Trophy Team Chase Team representing the Elkridge-Harford Hunt club are, from left, Willie White, Sara Katz and Colin Smith. The team is pictured with the perpetual trophy. (Courtesy of Robert Keller)

Winning team member Willie White, smiling broadly at the trophy presentation, expressed his happiness in being a part of keeping the trophy in the home country for another year. Fellow teammate, Colin Smith, becomes the second generation of his family to see his name engraved on the trophy. His mother, Mimi Schmitz, was a member of the 1997 winning Essex Fox Hounds team. The third team member, Sara Katz, now a professional horsewoman in Virginia, grew up in Maryland and was a member of the Elkridge-Harford Pony club in her youth.

The season continues in Harford County with the running of the Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point on April 3rd and the My Lady’s Manor on April 10th.

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