A new event, the Georgia Steeplechase Race Meeting and Festival—The Tradition Lives On!, will stage its inaugural meet at Kingston Downs on Saturday, April 7, 2018.
Indeed, the tradition of steeplechase racing in the Atlanta region will live on as the Georgia Steeplechase takes over the site formerly occupied by the Atlanta Steeplechase. The Atlanta Steeplechase ceased operations in May after 52 years.
But the new meet will not be the former meet with a new name. Its organizers—all fans of the steeplechase meet—are planning for growth, new attractions, and a more diverse fan base. “This is an event for all of Georgia,” said co-chair Anthony-Scott Hobbs. “It is the premier Georgia outdoor social and sporting event each spring.”
The meet is the product of a rapid-fire, grass-roots effort by those fans, led by Hobbs and his wife, Phoebe, who are owners of Magnum Contact, a software and marketing company with contact center serving the automotive, mortgage, non-profit, financial, and real estate industries.
Like most race meets, the Georgia Steeplechase will have three major goals: top-flight Thoroughbred racing over fences, a memorable social event for those who attend the races, and a benefit to the community.
The Georgia Steeplechase already has designated three charitable beneficiaries, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Trinity Rescue, and Must Ministries Summer Lunch Program. Selecting local beneficiaries, Anthony-Scott Hobbs said, is part of an effort to generate charitable revenues that will remain in the Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd, Fulton, Gordon, Paulding, and the Pickens County region.
Among the new highlights of the race meeting and festival will be a Food Truck Furlong with a variety of savory foods; Vineyard Row, featuring wine tastings provided by local Georgia wineries; and some great bands for music. “You have to have things for different generations,” Hobbs said.
One element of the marketing effort will be to reach a younger generation that may never have been exposed to steeplechase racing or the enjoyment of a race meet. “Looking down the road, you have a generation, a new demographic known as the millennials, that we can introduce to steeplechase racing at the Georgia Steeplechase and Festival,” Hobbs said.
Steeplechase race meets historically have attracted friends and family, and the Hobbs family’s introduction to the sport began 12 years ago when they first attended the races at Kingston Downs. In time, they brought in friends and family to start up the Steeplechase Turf Club, which grew into Brunch on the Backstretch, a celebration of both the horses and the community.
“We started out, and it continued to grow,” Hobbs said. “It became a great tradition for us, and more and more people have become engaged in the event.”
When the closing was announced in May, the core of friends and family kicked into action. In late July, Hobbs contacted the National Steeplechase Association about taking over the event. He obtained the NSA sanctioning and the April 7 date in September, and arranged a long-term lease on 420-acre Kingston Downs. Hobbs announced the new meet in early October to the Adairsville Council of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce.
Already, the organizers are at work on the countless tasks, large and small, that go into running a major race meet. A kickoff event is being planned for November.
Atlanta-region jump racing moved to Kingston Downs, located on a bend of the Etowah River on the Bartow-Floyd County line, in 1997 after development forced it from its former site closer to Atlanta.
The Georgia Steeplechase will occupy an important position on the NSA calendar, one week after the Carolina Cup in Camden, S.C., and a week before the Tryon Block House in western North Carolina.
“The National Steeplechase Association is pleased to welcome the Georgia Steeplechase to the jump-racing community,” said NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri. “The commitment of Anthony-Scott Hobbs and his associates is a testament to the importance of a steeplechase race meet as a community event. We will do everything in our power to assure that the Georgia Steeplechase is a success in 2018 and for years to come.”