For the first time ever, races at Point-to-Point were called off yesterday due to the relentless downpour that organizers say were unprecedented. While many speculated that the races would be held today (Monday), Winterthur has confirmed that the National Steeplechase Association has made no plans yet for rescheduling.
“We are 40-1 for races here,” a representative at Winterthur told TSD who added that the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of tailgaters. “I suspect that everyone knew what they were getting into and weren’t going to let that get I the way of a good time,” he said.
Indeed, most tailgaters seemed perfectly happy slogging their way through muddy walking paths on the grounds of Winterthur with an umbrella in one hand, a drink in the other. Still, the day was challenging for hosts. “Other than my car getting a little stuck in the mud and a couple of people bailing because of the weather, I think I’m Okay. But we’re still going to have a good time,” said Stacey Meyer.
Meyer, whose boyfriend was one of the jockeys, who was supposed to race yesterday afternoon, said that the forecast for May 5th was “100% rain for all 7 days leading up to it.” So she knew to come prepared with ‘cute rainboots,’ a tent and food that could be shared from the trunk of her car.
Catherine Short comes every year to Point to Point, where she typically hosts an elaborate tailgate party on the rails. For her, the heavy downpour prompted her to scale back. “Well, I had to completely change my outfit and wear a different hat. I usually have so many more flowers, but this year I have a lot less. I’ve really had to scale down. I usually bring all of my grandmother’s silver and china but this year I had to simplify. So I went with disposable plates and less food that I could offer from the back of my car. That was that’s the theme this year simplify, simplify.”
While everyone was prepared for the elements, there seemed to be a decided generational difference, with many younger women and girls wearing Hunter rainboots with sundresses and sweaters or a jean jacket, and older tailgaters wearing lined raincoats and jeans or long pants tucked into rain boots.
Wearing a pair of navy blue duck boots, Mary Casey said her high school daughter asked whether she didn’t have a more attractive pair of rainboots to wear. And Maureen Murphy said her daughter came to Point-to-Point wearing a white sundress. “My sister Michele texted my daughter and me before we all headed over here, and she wrote, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.’ But my daughter still showed up here today like it was a day on the beach.”
Attendance was noticeably down, with some tailgaters choosing to cancel or move their parties indoors to private residences. But there were two noticeable perks — staff didn’t seem to bother checking for the wrist bands as people entered the private tailgate area, and Winterthur planner Jill Abbott allowed hosts to erect tents at their spots for the first time. “There is no way we could have even had this party if we didn’t have a tent,” said Amy Mottola. “It would have been a complete wash-out.”
When hosts Gary and Dana Nitsche plan for their tailgate, they start with a new menu and make everything from scratch. “Well, we had to scale back on the food because a few of our guests bailed. But our outlook is always the same — it’s a great time because of the people who are here — good friends and family,” she said.
Wilmington Friends Junior Annabel Teaugue said the weather made a difference this year. “The ground is so slippery. So it’s honestly easier to stay in one place. And everything is better when the sun’s out! But we’re all in the same boat, and it’s nice that my friends are hanging out together at one tailgate all day.”
Point-to-Point first-timer Lexi Paterson said she and her friends were coming rain or shine. “It’s totally fine in the rain. We’re all here dressed up – with our boots on – and having fun with friends. Now I see why so many people come year after year,” she said.
When TSD talked to some of the tailgaters whose spots were not on the rails whether they were disappointed that the races were canceled, one confessed, “Oh, I guess I didn’t realize there were no races. We came to have fun with our friends, and we’re having a really good time.”