More than just a day at the races, the Steeplechase at Callaway is a November tradition, which includes thoroughbred horses, pony rides, a hat competition and Jack Russell terrier races. The 27th annual Steeplechase at Callaway is Saturday. A steeplechase is a competitive sporting event that provides spectators an opportunity to watch the thrills, smarts and athletic ability of thoroughbreds jumping over 52-inch-high hurdles at premium speeds.
Steeplechasing gets its name from a race in Ireland, according to the National Steeplechase Association. In 1752, Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake raced about four-and-a-half miles from St. John’s Church at Buttevant to St. Mary’s Church in Doneraile — church steeples were the most prominent, and tallest, landmarks.
The first steeplechase in the United States is thought to have been held in 1834 in Washington, D.C. Now steeplechases are in 12 states, from New York to Florida, with millions of dollars raised for charity, according to the NSA.This year’s total purse for the Steeplechase at Callaway is $160,000.
The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens is a nonprofit organization and the event has raised millions for art organizations in the Columbus and surrounding areas. Last year $130,000 went to The Columbus Museum, The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, The Historic Columbus Foundation, The Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, and The Springer Opera House. An additional partnership with the Auburn Veterinary College of Medicine is made possible through the proceeds.
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Mark your calendars to attend Steeplechase the first Saturday of November every year.