Steeplechase sets new course at new location

Published 9:57 pm Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tryon Riding & Hunt Club (TR&HC) and Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) announced Saturday that they have formed a partnership to manage and produce the 71st running of the Tryon Block House Races, the historic steeplechase of Tryon Riding & Hunt Club.
Under the newly-penned agreement, the Steeplechase will be held on April 15, 2017 – and in the future on the third Saturday in April. This year’s race will have a total purse of $150,000 – the highest in the history of the event – and will move from the race’s most recent venue, the Foothills Nature Equestrian Center (FENCE) where it has taken place since 1988, to a new one-mile track on 115 acres of land managed by TIEC, located at 6881 N.C. Highway 9 in Columbus, N.C.
“This marks a new and exciting time for the Tryon Block House Steeplechase,” said Andrew Brannon, president of Tryon Riding & Hunt Club, which has been promoting equestrian sport since 1925. “Through this partnership, beginning this year the Block House will offer a competitive purse structure that will attract more horses and will improve the overall experience of race day for everyone. Most importantly, this partnership allows TR&HC to preserve and protect the 70-year tradition of this race for our community and ensures its viability for future generations. TR&HC is proud to be part of the Block House’s return to prominence among the spring NSA sanctioned steeplechases.”
“We are thrilled to be able to partner with TR&HC to produce the Tryon Block House Steeplechase,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners, whose properties include Tryon International Equestrian Center. “This collaboration brings together the rich history of TR&HC with our vision for the future of equestrian sport in this area.”
To be sure, the Tryon Block House Steeplechase has evolved from its early days when it was held on farmland surrounding a pre-Revolutionary War trading post and fort known as the Block House. In 1947 when Carter Brown started the race, he established Tryon as an important destination for distance horse racing in the region. As the event has expanded, so have the community’s participation, the size of the crowds, and the importance of having both a competitive purse and A-rated course to attract the highest level of owner, rider and trainer.   “We are committed to making this event a can’t-miss attraction for everyone – from owners to riders and from casual spectators to steeplechase enthusiasts,” said Sharon Decker, Chief Operating Officer of the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
The Tryon Block House Races is a tailgate event.  Entry is by the carload.  Parking Space Tickets go on sale Monday, February 28th to TR&HC Members only, by calling the TR&HC office at 828.863.0480.  To join/renew TR&HC membership visit Parking Space Tickets will go on sale to the public March 15th, online at  To learn more about the 71st running of the Tryon Block House races, please visit the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club online at or call the TR&HC office at 828-863-0480.  Information is also available at Tryon International Equestrian Center online at For sponsorship and advertising opportunities or other general inquiries, please email
Submitted by Tryon Riding & Hunt Club

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