Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse, a centenarian who provided leadership for steeplechasing both in his native Virginia and nationally, died early Friday, April 7.
As he wished, he remained active to the end of his life and received the National Steeplechase Association’s highest honor, the F. Ambrose Clark Award, in person at the NSA Race Chairmen’s meetings in Middleburg in late January.
He was only the 26th recipient of the F. Ambrose Clark Award. Created in 1965, the award recognizes those individuals who have done the most to promote, improve, and encourage the growth and welfare of American Steeplechasing.
He also held the distinction of being the oldest trainer in North American Thoroughbred history to saddle a winner. He was 99 last April when his Hishi Soar won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring.
He is survived by his wife, Michele. They resided in Arlington, Va., and have a farm in Aldie.
Rouse’s contributions to steeplechase racing certainly were monumental and assisted the sport through some of its most challenging times in the 1970s, when he served as the NSA’s president from 1971 through 1974.
In that period, New York racing largely abandoned steeplechasing to accommodate off-track betting, and Rouse began the highly successful transition to a focus on race meets rather than a reliance on racetracks.
He also was instrumental in inaugurating the National Fence in 1974, at a time when both race meets and racetracks for having difficulty maintaining natural fences.
Born in Smithfield, Va., and raised in Newport News, he settled in Northern Virginia after graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1939 and serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He founded Randolph D. Rouse Enterprises, a construction and investment firm, in 1947.
Participating in the the Fairfax Hunt piqued his interest in hunting and jump racing. In time, he became master of foxhounds for the Fairfax Hunt and held that position for several decades. He also helped to launch the Fairfax Races and served as its chairman for more than three decades.
Funeral services are pending.