The Fleet And The Fashionable

At the venerable Far Hills Race Meeting, the equestrian set parties in style.

Photo by Steve Greer.

Consider it Woodstock for the equestrian set. Of course, the 50,000 fans who converge on Moorland Farms in Somerset County every October for the Far Hills Race Meeting are more fashionable than the tie-dye types at that famous music fest 40 years ago.

Last fall was my first experience at the Hunt—as the race is known. It did not disappoint.

The Hunt takes place at an improvised track laid out in the center of an open field. Attendees reserve tent or tailgate spaces alongside the track, where they create elaborate party spreads or simple tailgate parties. The higher-priced spaces—often reserved by corporations, society types, and philanthropic organizations—are situated on the hill above the track, but there are plenty of plots on the infield, which can accommodate up to fifteen people and one car. Be forewarned: these spaces go quickly.

Attendees are free to decorate their reserved plots to their hearts’ content. You can bring chairs, purchase hay bales, and set up tables for food and drink. Decor ranges from utilitarian to ostentatious. Some parties use one of the approved caterers; others create their own feasts. The only rules: no loud music and no public intoxication.

My family’s space was on the practical side: a table, coolers for drinks, and five hay bales for seating. “Decorating is half the fun,” declared my sister. Easy for her to say. She wasn’t the one lugging hay bales.
The plots on the hill are more conducive to watching the races—which commence around 1 pm—but even spaces on the infield offer views of the track (and large-screen video coverage in  realtime). Those on the infield also enjoy the thrill of having the horses dash around them.

In all, there are six races. The main event, the Grand National, is the last leg and richest purse in the National Steeplechase Association circuit, and has been held in this location for 89 years. Since the 1950s, the Far Hills Race Meeting has raised more than $17 million for the Steeplechase Cancer Center at Somerset Medical Center.

This year’s event will be held October 17, rain or shine. For information, including plot and ticket pricing, call 908-685-2929 or visit farhillsrace.org.

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