“We are thrilled to be able to partner with Tryon Riding & Hunt Club 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.”
So plan your day accordingly and get your outfits and picnics ready. The Gates open at 9:00 AM this Saturday, the 19th, for five fast and furious steeplechase races. A steeplechase is a distance horse race in which competitors are required to jump diverse fence and ditch obstacles. Renowned jockeys will be arriving from all over the United States for this event with thoroughbreds that possess speed, stamina and jumping ability. The purse this year is higher than ever, totaling $150,000 with attendance expected to be equally high. Entry to The Tryon Block House Steeplechase is by the carload, with parking areas priced by sections, and tickets can be purchased online at www.tryon.com.
The pre-race events are always fun to participate in and see. A 12-and-under and an adult Hat Contest (funniest, most appropriate, most unusual) starts at 10:00 AM and the “Go to Hell” Pants Contest (wild and rebellious pants) at 10:30 AM followed by many parades and events. A tailgate contest—the best Classic Hunt Country Theme, the Fanciest Table, the Most Original Theme, the Most Fun Theme— will be ongoing. The first race, the Carter Brown Memorial Race, named after the gentleman who launched the first Block House Steeplechase in 1947, begins at 1:00 PM. Brown founded the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club in 1925 to foster the growth of the equestrian population in Tryon. And indeed it has grown considerably since then.
Last year Mark Bellissimo announced that the TIEC had been selected as the host venue for the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018. The impact of this event next year on the economic health of Polk County, Rutherford County and Western North Carolina will undoubtedly be tremendous. Equestrian enthusiasts from over 70 countries trek to WEG host cities every four years to cheer on athletes from their native countries, much like the Olympic Games. The FEI World Equestrian Games™ is the world championship event for eight equestrian disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining—is considered one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the world. In 2014 the Normandy FEI WEG had a local economic impact of approximately $400 million and an attendance of over 500,000 spectators during the 14-day event. The next event will be held September 11-23, 2018, at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC. So a word to the wise, do be prepared, a massive influx of visitors to this area will undoubtedly take place.