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The Manor Conservancy Land Preservation Award: The Sergeant Murphy Cup

08 Jun 2015 3:54 PM | Web Master (Administrator)

An award has been established to recognize individuals for their exceptional efforts toward the preservation of land in northern Baltimore and Harford Counties. Francis "Ike" Iglehart was recognized as the first recipient of the award presented in 2011.

The award brings new life to the Sergeant Murphy Trophy, whose history is particularly appropriate to its new intended use. It is a reflection of the heritage and countryside we seek to preserve in the Manor Area. The colorful history of the horse, Sergeant Murphy, his achievement as the first American owned horse to win the English Grand National at Aintree, his roots in Maryland, the Harford Hunt Races - a point to point held on the grounds of Harvey Ladew's Pleasant Valley - are just part of the story. The Sanford family's connections with the Manor and the fitting return of the trophy to honor those committed to preserving open space, agriculture and rural lifestyle, make for a very special denouement to Sergeant Murphy's journey.

Maryanna Skowronski, Director of the Harford County Historical Society, has researched its background and has written the following:

The Sergeant Murphy Point to Point was held from 1925 through 1934 (no race in 1931) as a part of the Harford Hunt Races held on the grounds of Pleasant Valley Farm, home to Harvey S. Ladew. The race was sponsored by Stephen "Laddie" Sanford and was named in honor of Sanford's 'chaser Sergeant Murphy, who in 1923 was the first American owned horse to win the English Grand National. British newsreel footage of the race still exists. Originally intended as a hunt horse for Sanford, The Sergeant, as he was known proved not suited for the field.

Stephen Sanford was the heir to the Sanford carpet fortune and hailed from New York. He was the son of John Sanford owner of Sanford Stud Farm and is best known as a member of the champion Hurricanes polo team. Sanford was married to the former stage and film actress Mary Duncan Sanford. Mary Sanford can be seen performing with Katharine Hepburn in the film Morning Glory.

During the height of the Harford Hunt's Long Island invasion, the Sanfords maintained a stable at Farmington (the club). According to newspaper accounts of the day, Mrs. Sanford was considered to be glamorous and popular. Not an accomplished equestrienne in the beginning, she rapidly learned to ride and astonished everyone by tackling her husband's horse Bright's Boy which became her favorite mount.

Among the noteworthy or recognizable names on the Sergeant Murphy Trophy are Redmond Stewart, Wassie Ball (winning rider of the last running) and A. C. Bostwick.


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