The annual event known as the Radnor Hunt Races is much more than its name would indicate.
Sure, a sellout crowd of 20,000 will view six steeplechase races Saturday with a combined purse of $180,000 at stake at the Radnor Hunt Club's W. Burling Cocks Memorial Racecourse.
But . . . "as far as tradition goes, it is just one of those standbys in our sport," said Sean Chancy, a former jockey. "It's a good course, fun people, and a good celebration."
Like in previous years, spectators at the 81st annual event will be impeccably dressed. There will be a best-hat competition for the ladies. Some men will participate in the most-outrageous tie contest.
"I would say that it is an excitement for everyone that is here," said Betty Moran, chairwoman of the races. "Some of the people that come are avid race fans or owners or trainers. And others come here because they have a pretty hat, and their family wants to picnic and things like that."
It's also a place where corporate sponsors pay up to $80,000 for a tent.
But it all goes to a good cause. The event benefits the Brandywine Conservancy, which is committed to conserving the cultural and natural resources of the Brandywine River watershed and like areas.
"This becomes sort of an annual tradition," Moran said. "Families that come every year say 'It's May, we are going back to Radnor.' "
Those families also hope to see competitive races. The marquee race is the 23/8-mile National Hunt Cup, with a purse of $50,000 and post time of 3:45 p.m.
Tripleken, at 7-2, is the favorite. The 6-year-old gelding is one of four horses at the races trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard.
Tripleken, which is owned by Magalen O. Bryant, breezed to victory in the Queen's Cup Molly Parker Crosland 'Chase on April 30 after close to a year's absence from the track. That season concluded with a win in the Tanglewood allowance race last May.
Some of Tripleken's stiffest competition could come from All Together (4-1), Demonstrative (9-2), and Complete Zen (5-1). Complete Zen was second to Tripleken in the MPC 'Chase.
Complete Zen did, however, win the Georgia Cup by a head over All Together earlier this season.
Demonstrative won Foxfield Spring's Daniel Van Clief Memorial after starting the season with a second-place finish in an allowance at Aiken Spring on March 26.
The other races are the Milfern Cup ($25,000 purse), the Vita C. Thompson Memorial Steeplechase ($30,000), the Radnor Hunt Cup ($40,000), the James M. Moran Jr. Steeplechase ($25,000), and the Henry Collins Steeplechase ($10,000).
"A lot of people just come here to tailgate, to have a good time," said Skip Achuff, the event's director of racing. "Others are serious about the racing. You know people that follow racing - the owners, the trainers, and other people - go to these events [and] truly love steeplechasing."