2016 Steeplechase: A rousing success

Published 12:14 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2016

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Written by Judy Heinrich

Photos by Dave Engel Photography, Chip Sloan Photography, Ted Conwell and Gerris Corley

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Wonderful weather, a great crowd, exciting racing, and a variety of other entertainment made for a perfect day at the 70th running of the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club’s Block House Steeplechase on May 7 at FENCE.

This year’s race meet was run in honor of the Ernst Mahler family, who first came to Tryon in 1935 and has since been supporting community and equestrian activities over 80-plus years and three generations. The Mahlers made the original donation of 117 acres to create FENCE, which has been hosting the Block House, many other equestrian events, and year-round nature education programs since the mid 1980s.

Also recognized this year were 59 “Heritage Families” who have been longtime supporters of TR&HC and the Block House, many of whom have been attending the races in the same tailgating spots for decades.

“Our goal this year has been to elevate the Block House experience for everyone involved, from spectators, sponsors and horse owners to grooms,” said TR&HC Executive Director Kathryn McMahon. “Enhancements introduced this year included more hospitality options for spectators, with onsite food trucks and craft beer kiosks; a new tent policy to provide shade; expanded merchandise selection in two official merchandise tents; and an onsite wireless network for ATM and credit card purchases.”

The Block House is the largest fundraiser each year for TR&HC, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, with proceeds used for the club’s “Community Support through Equestrian Sport,” including its academic scholarships and focused charitable giving program in the Foothills area.

“We gauge our success each year on four things: how many horses are here to race; how many spectators attend; how satisfied our sponsors are with the hospitality; and how much money we raise for charity,” McMahon added. “This year’s event was a success by all measures, with very positive attendee feedback and increased sales of reserved and ‘day of’ parking, as well as sales of food, beverage, Race Guides and merchandise.”

For many more Block House photos, visit Block House Steeplechase Races on Facebook.