The largest of the East's horse shows, at Devon, Pa., lost some of its accustomed class and prestige a fortnight ago when it had the misfortune to open at the height of the horse-virus epidemic sweeping that section of the country. Despite more than a hundred cancellations of entries and the complete nonappearance of a few major stables, Devon was a thumping success in performance and attendance. Last year the committee turned over $83,000 to charity and this year's contribution will be even higher.
Hardest hit were the saddle and fine harness divisions, but a wealth of first-rate hackneys and ponies from the U.S. and Canada were present at Devon, and the usual fine collection of jumpers and hunters filled their classes. Avoiding the serious accidents that marred the 1962 event (SI, June 18, 1962), both hunters and riders came through unscathed this year. The outside course, on which the spills had taken place, had been completely fenced in, so spectators and cars were prevented from wandering in front of a galloping horse. Hunter performances were generally good, and in most of the divisions the competition was close, the judges wrestling with decisions like ladies splitting a luncheon check. The verdicts went first one way, then the other in the conformation hunter class, where Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Cunningham's Cap and Gown, who last year ran off with the green and young hunter honors, met Mrs. J. D. Rucker's Cold Climate, the handsome chestnut who has dominated the open division for the past few seasons. The final result, unhappily, was hardly decisive. Cap and Gown won by 10 points but Cold Climate had been sick and was less than his brilliant self. The winner's owner, Gene Cunningham, put it honestly, "We only beat about half a horse."
The jumper stake, last class of the show, turned out to be a cliffhanger, half a point deciding the title. Grey Aero, owned by the Frank Imperatore Motor Company and ridden by Dave Kelley, needed only to be placed in the points to win the overall championship; he did not have to win the class. But this powerful gray gelding, winner of the puissance the night before after jumping off four times to reach six feet, faulted out of the money in the stake. Four of the 14 jumpers went clean, however, including two others ridden by Kelley: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bird Jr.'s Skryne and Chance Hill Farm's Monte Carlo. Sonny Brooks, riding for Mr. and Mrs. Donald Shapiro on Uncle Max, and for Lawrence Golding on Ma-non, a French import, was faultless with both horses. First over the raised course was Uncle Max, who rubbed two fences, earning two faults. Next came Kelley on Skryne, sailing over the fences without a touch until they approached the brick wall. There, one obstacle away from a clean performance, Skryne cracked into the top of the wall, dislodging several blocks. Off balance, Kelley fell, but not until he had crossed the finish line and Skryne just had four faults for the knockdown. Things looked rosy for Golding and Manon for a while but by the end of the course Manon also had collected four faults, all by touches. Kelley then reentered the ring on Monte Carlo, earned only one and a half faults, and so became the stake winner by the small half point.
That left the overall championship deadlocked. The title is awarded on the basis of points won throughout the show, and Grey Aero and a mare named Red Shoes had 13 apiece. Red Shoes was passed over when good looks were apportioned by the fairy godmother of horses, but, carrying Olympic Rider Frank Chapot, she had won a class that afternoon as well as an earlier event. There was a delay while Red Shoes was awakened, tacked up and warmed up and then brought to the ring for a jump-off against Kelley and Grey Aero. Red Shoes could have stayed in bed. She racked up eight faults against Grey Aero's four, which was good enough to win the honors.
June 16, 1963
SPORTING LOOK: A RUN ON INDIA MADRAS
On Children's Day, the traditional opening event at Devon, it looked as if Main Line Philadelphia was where the population exploded with the biggest bang. There were so many entries in the day's classes that ribbons were still being awarded in the ring at midnight, and the fairgrounds resembled an enormous birthday party to which the invitation read, "Madras to be worn." For young lady spectators, age 3 and up, the uniform was a madras wraparound skirt with a matching kerchief tied under the chin. Young gentlemen wore madras shorts or madras jackets—just like the ones Dad wears to the club. And the snappiest new rig for the outdoor ring was a genuine India madras hacking jacket—like that worn by Cris Pistell, preparing to jump her pony hunter, Silver Scuff, in the picture at right.