Historic Steeplechase boasts new track, larger purse
Published 9:00 pm Saturday, April 1, 2017
Tickets are now on sale for the Tryon Block House Races, the historic
steeplechase of the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club. The 71st annual race, set for Saturday, April 15, 2017, will debut at a new equestrian track in Columbus, N.C. and feature a $150,000 purse, nearly double last year’s winnings.
For decades, this action-packed, equestrian competition has drawn thousands of spectators to the largest tailgate party in Polk County, N.C. Now under the management of the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), the races have the added support, resources and infrastructure of an international equestrian organization, attracting a more competitive field of jockeys, as well as a larger audience.
New Course and Venue
Over the past 70 years, the races have grown from their humble origins at Harmon Field to the course at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, which has a C-level rating from the National Steeplechase Association. This year, the Tryon Block House Races are being held at a new equestrian facility on Highway 9, in Columbus, N.C., equipped with an A-level rating.
The new venue can accommodate more than twice the spectators than in previous years. In addition, the races will now run clockwise instead of counterclockwise, which holds true to the races’ European origins, providing a unique experience for jockeys in the U.S. The improved course layout is attractive to riders with its soft footing and rolling hills. It also has a wide and even course, which is preferred by jockeys. Fans are rewarded with greater visibility of the track and much larger parking spaces.
New Partners, Bigger Purse
For the past three years, TIEC has been the feature race sponsor for The Tryon Block House Races, enabling TR&HC to increase its purse by $30,000 and bringing the 2016 purse to $80,000. Now, with the TR&HC and TIEC partnership comes an even bigger purse, $150,000, the largest in the event’s history. The nearly doubled prize purse is guaranteed to attract more riders to the event, which means more horses in the field and higher stakes for spectators to enjoy.
Old and New Entertainment
As the oldest running Steeplechase in the state of North Carolina, its consistent and strong attendance demonstrates that attendees enjoy the event’s longstanding tradition. Those traditions are expected to continue. For 70 years, the annual hat and tailgate contests have sparked playful competition among neighbors, families, and friends alike. The “Go to hell” pants contest will be back again, enticing ladies and gentlemen to wear their favorite “loud” pants.
But, new traditions will also start this year. TIEC is adding additional entertainment to enhance the spectator experience. Some of the new features include a sky-diving exhibition, live musical entertainment, a kids’ activity area, and paintball shooting lanes. All activities are free with admission to the event.
For more information on the 2017 Tryon Block House Races, visit www.tryon.com. Tickets as well as information about tailgate parking are available online at www.blockhouseraces.com or by calling 828-863-0480.