Stoneybrook Steeplechase Closes In on 56th Running
The 56th running of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase takes place at Carolina Horse Park next Saturday.
The event, which will be held rain or shine, consists of four hurdle races and one flat race. Purse money for the day totals $60,000, with a new high purse of $25,000 for Stoneybrook's showcase race, The Sandhills Cup.
As a warm-up to the feature races, the fourth annual Busy Bee Fat Furlong will entertain all as children and their mounts race over a course of hay bale obstacles for glory, ribbons and prizes.
Since Stoneybrook's beginning, thousands of spectators have enjoyed this Sandhills rite of spring.
Stoneybrook thrives on tradition, and the 56th year will be no different. Tailgate spaces will be filled with race goers of all ages out to enjoy a day filled with horses, food and friends.
The horses are why people attend, but the chance to see family and friends and be outside under a Carolina blue sky are what keep them coming back each year.
Whatever your traditions may be, remember -- anything goes at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase.
You are likely to see a crowd dressed in fancy, feathered hats, sipping champagne at one tailgate, and a group relaxing in blue jeans and enjoying Budweiser at the next.
"Building on old traditions with new faces and entertainment is a great way to share this exciting sport with others," said Phoebe Walsh Robertson. "Race day is a lot of fun and there is, of course, great racing."
Robertson is the Stoneybrook co-race director, a position she shares with Toby Edwards, an accomplished racehorse trainer and resident of Camden, S.C. Robertson grew up with the old Stoneybrook, and comes from a family steeped in racing tradition.
Her grandfather Michael "Mickey" Walsh founded Stoneybrook at the family training stable in the 1940s, and more recently her cousin, Ruby Walsh, won the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup in England.
Robertson introduced Stoneybrook to the Carolina Horse Park, located in Hoke County, and not much has changed about Stoneybrook over the years except the diversity of the groups that Stoneybrook is attracting.
The gates will open to the public at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday for the 56th edition of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase.
A favorite for "children of all ages," the official course walk will begin at 10:15 a.m., followed by the opening ceremonies at 10:45 a.m.
Two of the highlights of the Stoneybrook experience, the Carriage Parade and Tailgate Contest judging will begin at 11 a.m.
The very popular Hat Contest starts at 11:30 a.m. in the infield.
The pony race, also known as the "Busy Bee Fat Furlong," will run at 11:45 a.m. Horses enter the paddock for the first steeplechase race at 12:30 p.m. with post time at 1 p.m.
The Carolina Horse Park relies on many organizations, including the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and members of the Hoke County Sheriff's Office to support Stoneybrook.
Volunteers continue to be one of the most important elements of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase, and this year the Carolina Horse Park is proud to partner with a number of civic groups including: the Boy Scouts of America Troop 410, the Hoke County baseball team, Hoke County High soccer club, Southern Pines Rotary Club, Raeford Kiwanis Club, Kiwanis of the Pines, and Community United Methodist Church. The Carolina Horse Park will make a contribution to each of these organizations as a "thank you" for managing the gates, will call window, ticket sales, parking and trash removal.
For more information, visit the Park Web site www.carolinahorsepark.com.
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