Author: Lindsay Strovilas

10 Winning Tailgate Recipes

Part of what makes the Steeplechase of Charleston such a fun event is that it is so much more than just a horse race. The accompanying tailgating is a steeplechase tradition that keeps people coming back year after year. And let’s be honest, the most important part of any tailgate is the food.

Bloody Mary

This classic drink is made with basic ingredients and like most things, can be greatly improved using quality ingredients to boost the flavor. You can make it even more appealing by adding garnishments like shrimp, cherry peppers, and beef jerky. 

Mint julepMint Julep


Made famous by the Kentucky Derby, this refreshing cocktail only has three ingredients (besides the crushed ice!).

Barbecued Meatballs

Meatballs seem to disappear about as fast as you can make them and these are no exception.  Pro tip: you can use the crackers in the previous recipe to scoop up the meatballs and extra sauce…you’re welcome!

Chicken and Waffle Skewers

What could be more Southern than chicken and waffles? What could be more Southern than chicken and waffles? It’s a simple combination of sweet and savory, accompanied by a side of syrup. Find the recipe here. 


Cabbage and Asian Pear Slaw

Light with a perfect texture, this side dish has it all: creaminess, tastiness, and crunchiness. It can be made in advance and transports easily. Find the recipe here.

Buffalo Chicken Dips

Packed with zesty flavor, these bite-size dips are perfect for a tailgate. Find the recipe here. 

Charleston Cheese Dip

How could you go wrong with a dish that includes cream cheese, bacon, mayonnaise and chips?  This dish has all of the hearty ingredients needed to keep up your stamina for a day outside.

Southern Living’s Crack Crackers


There’s a reason these crackers earned this name. They’re addictively good and a great snack to munch on while watching the races. Here’s the recipe. 

Lemon Bars

These sweet but tart treats are the perfect accompaniment to your tailgate spread.  The combination of lemon curd, shortbread crust and confectioner’s sugar results in an easy to eat dessert with the added benefit of vitamin C.

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats

We will be well into fall by November 15th, so of course we had to include a pumpkin treat. This recipe is easy to make and totally irresistible.



Steeplechase Around the World

As one of the oldest spectator sports in the world, horse racing, and specifically, the Steeplechase makes its presence known worldwide.


The tradition of racing runs very deep in Ireland. It is here that steeplechasing was born; it is here that many of the most illustrious horses in racing history have been bred over the course of several centuries. – Irish Racehorse Trainers Association 

The first recorded steeplechase occurred in Ireland in 1752 between horsemen Edmund Blake and Cornelius O’Callaghan. They raced the distance between the steeples of churches Buttevant and Doneraile in Cork County. Unfortunately, the winner of this race is still unknown.

The jump racing season spans the entire year, but the majority of the races fall between November and April. The largest races have accompanying festivals, each with their own traditions. The dress code is fairly informal in comparison to other places, except for Ladies Day when women of all ages don their most elegant and extravagant clothes. 


spectators at Royal Ascot

Horse racing is one of the largest spectator sports in Great Britain.

The world’s most well-known steeplechase is The Grand National. The event is held at the historic Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. Up to forty runners compete and the purse is £1 million.  Some avid steeplechase fans believe that the race has lost some of its character by implementing changes to the course in recent years (such as softening the fences). However, the race remains a popular and well-attended event. 

Following the dress code is not optional, especially at Royal Ascot, England’s most prestigious horse race. With The Queen and many other royals regularly in attendance, race attendees embrace tradition  and wear their best clothes for the occasion. 


Jump racing in France has never quite reached the same level of popularity as in neighboring England and Ireland. Though similar, French jump racing has a few noticeable differences. One of these differences is that the hurdles are not collapsible. Instead, many races have bullfinches, hedges up to 8 ft. tall, that horses have to jump through.

Another difference is that the racehorses are not exclusively Thoroughbreds. AQPS horses, a French breed developed by mixing Thoroughbreds with local breeds and saddle horses, are also used.

Auteuil in Paris is the most well-known racecourse. 

United States

Unlike in England and Ireland, where jump races are referred to as National Hunt Racing, Americans typically refer to jump races as steeplechasing. There are two major divisions: races over hurdles and races over timber fences.

American jump racing occurs in 11 states: South Carolina (obviously!), North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The National Steeplechase Association, founded in 1995, remains the governing body of jump racing in North America. Most tracks in the U.S. are privately owned, with the horses, trainers, and jockeys being independent contractors.

Steeplechase race in Middleburg, Virginia

The largest American steeplechase is the Breeder’s Cup Grand National Steeplechase (previously known as the American Grand National). It draws crowds of 50,000 and has a purse of $500,000.  Race-day fashion in the U.S. is largely focused on the elaborate hats. 


Jump racing was brought to the Land Down Under by British settlers. The obstacle sizes are reduced here due to an increased emphasis on safety in recent years.

Eagle Farm Racecourse, part of Melbourne Cup festival events 2011 Brisbane, Australia

The Grand Annual steeplechase in Warrnambool has more fences than any other steeplechase and as a whole, Australia has more racecourses than any other nation.

The jump season occurs from March to September, but Saturdays are considered the main day for racing.  Several racing carnivals are held throughout the season, the largest of which is the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.  


SC Horse Racing – Historical Timeline

South Carolina boasts a rich history in horse racing dating all the way back to the early 1700s. We've compiled a brief timeline to give you an idea of some of the key events.


Wealthy southern planters established the South Carolina Jockey club.

  • This created a demand for Thoroughbreds in the area and ultimately helped connect Charleston to breeders in England, globalizing the horse racing industry.
  • The first race in Charleston recorded by the Charleston Gazette in the same year


The New Market Course established.


Washington Race Course established.

  • The original track was located on Mary Murray Street, which encircles what is now Hampton Park.


Civil War

  • The start of the Civil War effectively put an end to horse racing.
    • However, some Confederate soldiers ignored regulations and held their own illicit horse races anyway.
  • In addition to the economic decline that followed the war, many Thoroughbreds lost their lives. The "Golden age of racing" became a distant memory.

late 1800s 

Thomas Hitchcock, known as the father of American steeplechasing, constructed a steeplechase training facility on his 3000-acre property in Aiken, SC and imported horses from England. He also helped several amateur riders along the way.


The South Carolina Jockey Club disbanded after efforts to revive the sport were unsuccessful.


4 stone pillars from the original Washington Race Course were installed as the gate to Belmont Park, which is where the Triple

Grandstands at Washington Race Track

Crown Belmont Stakes is held. 


Stono Ferry Plantation in Hollywood, SC held the first Charleston Cup Steeplechase (is now Steeplechase of Charleston).


The National Steeplechase Museum opened in Camden, SC. It is located on the grounds of the historic Springdale Race Course.


Steeplechase of Charleston partnered with the Post and Courier.

“Our aim is to make this a must-do event every year, and one that becomes the signature way to experience Charleston in the fall.” -publisher, P.J. Browning



Steeplechase returns!

“Steeplechase racing is the perfect outdoor, family and friend-centered event for this era,” said Chris Zoeller, Chief Marketing Officer for The Post and Courier, which owns the race. “With changes in our spectator policies, we’re putting more focus than ever on the horses, the riders, and the enjoyment of the Lowcountry in the autumn.” - Moultrie News


Who’s who of horses

who's who of horses

There are hundreds of different horse breeds, each with unique genetics. We've compiled a list of some of the most popular horse breeds to give you an idea of how they compare to the Thoroughbreds that race in Steeplechase of Charleston.

American Quarter Horse

horse breed type

The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States. American Quarter horses tend to be short and stocky with heavy muscular development. They are characterized by broad chests and a short, wide head.  Their coats are all solid and come in a variety of colors, with Sorrel and Chestnut being the most common.

The name 'Quarter' is derived from the race these horses excel at - the quarter mile. While they do not have the stamina Thoroughbreds do, Quarter horses have the speed to beat them in short races.

Because of their ability to make fast starts, turns, and stops, they are valuable in cattle herding. Overall, these are versatile horses with an easy-going temperament.

Height: 14.3 to 16 hands

Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds

American Paint Horse

American Paint Horses, sometimes referred to as Pinto, are easily recognizab

le due to their distinctive coloring. Each horse's coat pattern has a color combination of white and another color. The two most common patterns are Tobiano and Overo. No two Paint horses have exactly the same pattern.

Height: 14.2 to 16 hands

Weight: 1,150 pounds


Originally developed by the Native American tribe, Nez Pierce.  They are thought to have descended from Wild Mustangs. These horses have distinctive vertically striped hooves and spotted coats. Typically, these are stock horses but they can also be used in a variety of Western riding disciplines. They are light, but sturdy. 

Height: 14.2 to 16 hands

Weight: 1,000 to 1,100 pounds


horse breed

These horses are the oldest registered breed and are easy to spot thanks to their chiseled head, dished profile, and long arching neck. Since they are characteristically affectionate and bond well with humans, Arabian horses are often used in instructional programs and therapeutic riding. They are often praised for being one of the more intelligent horse breeds.

Height: 14.1 to 15.2 hands

Weight: 800 to 1,000 pounds

Morgan Horse

horse breed 2

The breed exists solely to please people. It's their heritage. - The American Morgan Horse Association

Because of their temperament, Morgan Horses are a great choice for beginner riders.

The Morgan Horse is the first documented American breed, descended from Justin Morgan (who shared his name with his owner).  Morgan Horses come in a variety of colors such as black, brown, chestnut, roan, and gray. They are attractive, with a nicely crested neck small ears, and expressive features.

Height: 14.1 to 15.2 hands

Weight: 900 to 1,100 pounds

Tennessee Walking Horse

"The word's greatest show, trail, and pleasure horse."  The Tennessee Walking Horse gets its name because of its gait. Instead of trotting, they do a running walk in which the front foot hits the ground before the diagonal hind foot. This provides riders with a smooth and comfortable ride. The running walk is faster than a typical flat-footed gait and has a speed of 6-8 miles per hour.

Its stature is heavier and stouter than those of American saddle horses. The Tennessee Walking Horse carries its head low and is less refined than other breeds. These horses come in a variety of colors.

Height: 15.2 hands (average)

Weight: 1,000 pounds


thoroughbred horse breed

What really sets Thoroughbreds apart from the rest is their stamina. They have large expressive eyes, long, sloping shoulders, and fine-boned legs with thin hooves. Their coats are primarily bay or chestnut.

Proper training is important, as these high-spirited horses need a suitable way to channel their energy.

Though this breed is best known for its athleticism and racing careers, Thoroughbreds are also used in eventing and can serve as riding or driving horses after they retire. Additionally, a number of them work as police horses in their communities.

Height: 15-17 hands

Weight: 1,000 to 1,200 pounds

What is a Steeplechase?

Steeplechase of Charleston

Not to be confused with the Olympic running race, the Steeplechase of Charleston is a distance horse race in which competitors are required to jump obstacles.


The first steeplechase race is thought to have taken place in County Cork Ireland in 1752. Horsemen O'Callaghan and Edmund Blake raced the distance of one church to another, around 4.5 miles.

This race and others like this, is how the steeplechase name came to be. Nearby churches (steeples) would be used as reference points for the course. This was because the towering structures were the largest landmarks. Chase signified the racing aspect. 

Steeplechase horse racing is also sometimes referred to as 'jumps racing.'


Horse racing is a primarily male-dominated sport, but there have been a number of female jockeys in recent years. Steeplechase jockeys are generally a little heavier than flat race jockeys with the minimum weight limit being about 135 pounds.

Jockeys all wear racing silks, 

whose colorful designs are representative of the horse's owner rather than the jockey. The patterns have to be unique, since no two owners can have the same one. As a safety precaution, jockeys are also required to wear padded vests and approved helmets. Most are professional riders, but there are still some amateurs in the mix. A lot of them hail from Europe; England and Ireland, where they gain experience before coming to the United States.


All horses that participate in the steeplechase are Thoroughbreds. Their lineage must be proven with official Jockey Club registration papers. Many steeplechase horses are geldings (castrated) that are continuing their racing career.

The age range for steeplechase horses is 3-12 years old. They can compete for such a long period since they only participate in around 10 races per year.

Horses that run in steeplechases are sometimes referred to as 'chasers and can run up to 30 miles per hour. No wonder we measure speed in terms of horsepower!

The Race

The typical race length is between 4 and 6 miles. This is longer than flat races which are around .6 to 1 mile long. The distance between obstacles and the total number of obstacles varies from race to race.

Many of the obstacles are National Fences, which are man-made and portable. Developed by the National Steeplechase Association, these fences consist of a steel frame stuffed with plastic "brush." On the takeoff side, there is a foam-rubber roll covered with green canvas.

Steeplechase of Charleston 2018

The race's purse money goes to the owner of the champion horse, who shares some of it with the jockey and trainers. However, they are not the only beneficiaries of the steeplechase. Aside from the camaraderie and sense of community the exciting event provides, the Steeplechase of Charleston gives back through the Good Cheer Fund.