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Hats off to the International Gold Cup

Saturday - 10/19/2013, 5:54pm  ET

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A hat competition was one of the major events at the 76th International Gold Cup. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

International Gold Cup showcases horse races

WTOP's Kathy Stewart reports

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THE PLAINS, Va. - A well dressed crowd with fancy hats, horses, Jack Russell Terriers and plenty of food and drink -- these are the sights and sounds at the International Gold Cup.

A crowd of about 40,000 was expected Saturday at the 76th International Gold Cup, one of the largest horse jumping races in the country, at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va.

Although the main events are the steeplechase races, the Jack Russell terriers and hats are a big deal. Before the races, Jose Caldwell, of Fairfax, shopped around for that perfect hat.

"You're going to see a lot of hats, big hats with the feather and smaller hats," she says. "Some guys like to wear the hats as well."

Tailgaters -- but not with the usual plastic cups and chips and dip -- brought out their finest silver and tailgated out of the back of a Mercedes Benz. This was fine dining.

Houdini, a 4 year old rough coat Jack Russell Terrier was there for the races. His owner, John Masin, says they came out early to check out the course. Masin, of Warrenton, says Houdini's a competitor.

"He wants to make sure he comes in number one all the time," he says. The Hat Contest is another major highlight of the event. This year, Lauren King, of Herndon, won for the most outrageous hat. She sported a fake rooster on the top of her hat.

This year, the Gold Cup added more self-service kiosks so attendees can place their own bets, and some used their cell phones.

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