Category: People

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. 

4-Ingredient Recipes for Tailgating

tickets 2019

There is no off-season when it comes to tailgating in South Carolina. Something about being outside, getting ready for a sporting event, makes everyone extra hungry. These simple 4-ingredient recipes for tailgating will make you a hit at any social gathering!

Watermelon Feta Salad

This may sound like an unusual combination, but the contrast between sweet and savory is perfect. Watermelon is a summer staple, and this recipe is so easy to make. Find the recipe here. 

Watermelon is considered by many to be the super fruit of summer. It is made up of 92% water and the remaining 8% consists of a variety of nutrients like vitamins and minerals. With the heat and humidity in South Carolina, that hydration factor is key! Still not convinced? Watermelon has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer, is good for your immune system, and is certified by the American Heart Association as a heart healthy food.

watermelon feta salad

Spiked Raspberry Lemonade

Look no further for a delicious summer cocktail. The best part is, you can make it just a few minutes! And, since all of the (four) ingredients get stirred together in a pitcher, there is hardly any clean up.

Torani raspberry syrup pairs well with lemonade, but you’re not limited to just raspberry! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can experiment with other Torani syrup flavors, such as strawberry, mango, peach, and passion fruit.

For a non-alcoholic, kid-friendly drink, simply leave out the vodka.

Spiked Raspberry Lemonade recipe ... an easy summer cocktail! This simple spiked lemonade recipe is made from homemade lemonade, vodka, and Torani Raspberry Syrup. Make a pitcher of this pink lemonade in minutes, and you'll have a refreshing party drink that's perfect for a crowd. Serve this spiked lemonade cocktail in mason jars or your favorite glasses for easy summer entertaining! A refreshing raspberry cocktail that's great for happy hour, baby showers, weddings, girls night, and more! | Hello Little Home

Skinny French Onion Dip

Who doesn't love a good french onion dip? You won't even feel (too) guilty about indulging in this one, because it is a healthier variation on this favorite recipe. Serving with vegetables is a nutritious alternative to chips or bread (but treat yourself to your favorite option!).

recipe image

Parmesan Chicken Bites

Chicken Parmesan without all the hard work! This easy recipe will save you so much time preparing for your tailgate and still tastes great. You can make this recipe in advance or on the day of the event.

Find the Parmesan Chicken Bites recipe here. 

4 Ingredient Chicken Parmesan Bites + Tailgate Food Ideas

We hope you enjoy these simple 4 ingredient recipes for tailgating. Grab the best spot for your tailgate with friends and family! Tickets are now live. 

2 minute interview



2 minute interview with Ross Geraghty

Steeplechase of Charleston 2019 will conclude with a 2 and 3/8 mile race. Strong horses can build their speed up to 30 miles per hour, clocking in a mile at around the 2 minute mark! We brought the pace of the races to a quick interview with Irish jockey, Ross Geraghty. Ross has enjoyed a long career with many victories. Ahead of Father's Day, Ross talks about the person who inspired him to become a winning jockey, his dad.

Ross Geraghty jockey

Q: What is your earliest memory of horse racing with your father?

Ross: I guess as a child going racing with him and horses he trained.

Q: What do you admire most about your father?

Ross: He has always been a great mentor and very encouraging to me and my siblings. He was strict, yet fair when we were kids.

Q: What is one word that describes your father and why?

Ross: Kind.

Q: What do you and your father have in common apart from horse racing?

Ross: We are the same person in so many ways.

Q: What's the best advice your father has given you?

Ross: Invest in property from early in my career.

Q: Any special memories with your father you would like to share?

Ross: I rode a lot of winners on horses he trained, which was brilliant. The most special is probably after winning the Irish Grand National and he greeting me on route to the winner's circle. He and my mum must have been in Fair Hills for some of my big days there.

The team at Steeplechase of Charleston wishes everyone a very happy Father's Day!

Have a few additional minutes to hear more from Ross Geraghty? We think you will love this interview with The National Steeplechase Association.

Equestrian Art | Evolution and History

Sam Robinson Artist

Equestrian Art and Steeplechase of Charleston

Equestrian art has been around for even longer than horse racing (read more about the history of horse racing in South Carolina here). Over time, it has grown and changed in order to remain relevant.

Early Equestrian Art

Early equestrian art dates back to the 16th century when monarchs and noblemen would commission portraits of their horses. Horses were often used in portraits to lend a sense of importance and splendor to their riders.

There were three common poses for the horses: standing still, trotting sedately, or balanced on its hind legs. In the trotting pose, the horses were usually portrayed with both front legs extended forward and both hind legs extended backward.

Wealthy Southern families in Charleston often imitated their European cousins by commissioning fashionable portraits of themselves and their horses from leading artists. Many of these portraits can currently be found on display at various art galleries in Charleston like the Gibbes Museum of Fine Art and the Dog and Horse Fine Art Gallery.

The Evolution


Attitudes of Animals in Motion,1879, printed 1881 - Eadweard Muybridge

Photography helped push artists from the traditional style of the late 1700s and early 1800s. Paintings traditionally depicted horses with tiny heads, long, rectangular bodies, and awkwardly flexed limbs. Eventually the paintings reflected a more realistic image.

Photographer Eadweard Muybridge captured photo sequences that showed the footfalls in a horse’s gallop. His photographs displayed the way the feet and legs of the horses were actually moving. As a result, artists have been able to accurately portray the natural gait of the horse.

Influential Artists

Edgar Degas Race Horses

Race Horses,ca. 1885–88 - Edgar Degas

As it grew in popularity, thoroughbred racing served as an inspiration for many 19th century impressionist artists. French impressionist painter Edgar Degas referenced Muybridge’s photographs of the horse in motion, studying them for his later work. In many of his paintings, he aimed to capture the moments just before the race started.

One of the most esteemed equine artists is Sir Alfred Munnings. He traveled around England in the early 1900s taking commissions for society figures with prized horses. His impressionist style gained popularity because of his attention-to-detail. He aimed to illustrate horses as they actually looked rather than over-stylizing them.

British painter George Stubbs is considered to be the first sporting artist. In the late 18th century, he examined the anatomy of horses, spending eighteen months dissecting equine carcasses.
His detailed, anatomical drawings aided other artists.

In America, Franklin Voss was one of the most prominent equine artists of his time. Voss participated in steeplechase races as a young man, which gave him a great understanding of horse racing. His knowledge of his subject matter really shows through in his work.

Equestrian Art at the Steeplechase of Charleston

Sam Robinson is an equine artist and the official artist for the National Steeplechase Association. He follows in the tradition and art styles of Munnings and Voss. For Robinson, art is more about telling the story rather than selling as many pieces he can.

While on location at a race, he paints as much as he can and then finishes his paintings back in his studio.

We caught up with Robinson at the Carolina Cup in March to learn more about his art.