Celtic Venture is a very special steeplechase syndicate based in the Virginia Piedmont (Loudoun and Fauquier Counties). A small, but serious group of ladies who have enjoyed the sport, with “skin in the game” for over 18 years. The syndicate started informally when several friends, neighbors and fox hunting acquaintances coalesced around a local jockey and trainer with an older off-track thoroughbred. This horse was entered in Virginia point-to-point races in 2004, and the fun began. All of the initial members had attended these races over the years, but actually owning a race horse was a new and very exciting experience. The horse won a flat race at the Piedmont Hunt Races, and the group was hooked. So began the spark that ignited the small group to form a syndicate.
Celtic Venture Stable LLC was formed in late 2004 and has been an active participant in Virginia, Maryland and PA point-to point and NSA races since then. Membership has varied over the years, never to exceed 10. The syndicate has owned 10 horses during that time, usually one at a time, due to budget concerns. The membership has always been made up of horse lovers and horse owners, and standards have remained high. The managing partner ensures Celtic Venture is always in touch with the care, treatment and training of the horses it owns. Also, it is very important to all members that horses have a good home when they retire from racing with the syndicate
The trainers and jockeys who have worked with Celtic Venture over the years have been exemplary. Talent, work ethic and concern for the horses has been impressive. Charlie McCann, from Virginia, worked with Celtic Venture (CV) for 10 years and accomplished amazing results with the syndicate’s lower priced thoroughbreds and limited resources. Eva and Speedy Smithwick in Virginia trained for CV for 6 years and brought several of our horses to victory. Their training methods and care for the horses was also impressive. Last year, Joe Davies from Maryland became the trainer for CV and has brought the syndicate to another exciting level of competition. These trainers were key to finding steeplechase prospects that were in the appropriate budget range. They also understood and accommodated the interest of syndicate members in watching workouts as horses developed jumping skills and condition.
Over the years Celtic Venture horses have won at point-to- points and NSA meets as well as finishing “in the money”. This more than compensates for instances of last place finishes, pull ups, falls, veterinary bills and lay-ups. Having learned a lot in the 18 years as a participant in this sport, we have a deep respect for steeplechase racing and all that entails.
The managing partner and a founding member of Celtic Venture is Diane Ingoe of Philomont, Virginia. The Syndicate has seven members, all women of various professional backgrounds, five of us horse owners. Personal diciplines include fox hunting , endurance riding. trail riding and carriage driving. We enjoy periodic business meetings at members’ houses, followed by dinner and wine. We usually carpool to watch our horses race at steeplechase meets.
We are also involved with flat racing for the first time in a Maryland partnership; these races we watch on TV or online because of long commutes to Pennsylvania PARX, Penn National and Presque Isle.
Some memorable races for Celtic Venture are as follows: Winners of the VHBPA Virginia Bred Flat Series with Peakablue (2007) and Rockmani (2011). Morven Park Fairfax Hunt Point-to-Point Open Hurdle: Zulla Road ridden by Paddy Young won in a thrilling stretch duel. The Steeplethon at International Gold Cup meet 2012: 17 year old Gus Dahl rode Zulla Road to the win. Loudoun Hunt Point-to-Point Novice Timber 2019: Bridge Builder ridden by Woods Winant breaks his maiden, leads all the way. Potomac Hunt Races 2021 Open Timber: Bridge Builder ridden by Dan Nevins won in a thunderstorm.
The members of Celtic Venture salute the steeplechase community of horses, horsemen and staff, and hope to continue to participate in this wonderful sport for many years to come.