Tryon’s Historic Block House Steeplechase set for April 15
Published 11:33 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Fun, food and fashion for the entire family
POLK COUNTY–It’s time once again for the biggest outdoor celebration of spring when horses and riders from across the Southeast race to Tryon for the annual Block House Steeplechase Races.
The 75th running of Tryon’s Block House Steeplechase, sponsored by the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club and the Tryon International Equestrian Center, will be held Saturday, April 15, once again at the Green Creek Racetrack, located at 6881 Highway 9, Columbus, NC.
Tickets for the annual rite of spring horse race event are available at tryonsteeplechase.com.
This year’s event promises to invoke fond memories of historic races with the tailgate competition, fancy hat contest, hounds’ exhibition, and pony rides. But some additional plans for this year will ensure new memories for all ages.
Activities in the infield this year include a Kids Zone featuring a chance for kids to get up close and explore big trucks like fire trucks, big trailers and ambulances, and more. There will be live music, face painting, a magician, a caricature artist and a “gold rush” for prizes.
Hailing another gala prior to this year’s race, TR&HC is hosting an evening to celebrate the Steeplechase with entertainment, dinner and drinks at Tryon Fine Arts Center Friday, April 14. A limited number of tickets for this event are available by calling (828) 351-9709.
Tryon’s Block House Races are one of the oldest horse races in the United States, running since 1946. Now in its 75th year, the Tryon races were canceled twice–once in 2019 for poor track conditions and again in 2020 due to Covid.
“The Block House Steeplechase is a decades-long tradition for the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club,” says Club President Angie Millon. “It’s an amazing community event that offers something for every member of the family. It’s a great time to get together outdoors and enjoy the festivities.”
From Ireland, “steeplechasing” became popular when foxhunters would race to the nearest church steeple, chasing other horses and riders through natural terrain, over ditches and fences, galloping hard to be the first to reach the ‘finish line.’
Locally, the Block House races were started by Carter P. Brown in 1946 at Harmon Field. Known as the first steeplechase in western North Carolina, it was a single race with a tin cup as the winning prize.
Eventually Brown built a racecourse around what had been an old tavern called the Block House, which gives the Tryon race its name. The course crossed into North Carolina and South Carolina several times and included a daring ride up Heartbreak Hill. Officials used flags to let the jockeys know how many times they had been around the track.
Since then, the Block House Steeplechase has moved—first to Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) and, most recently, to TIEC’s Green Creek Racetrack, where it’s held today. This move was necessary to ensure better footing and improved safety for horses and riders.
Sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association, Tryon’s Block House races are an enduring and much-loved tradition in western North Carolina. Come join the fun, food, festivities and fast horses at the largest outdoor springtime event in the Carolina Foothills.
For more information about the Block House races, the pre-race gala or TR&HC, please call (828) 351-9709 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Sybil Jones