Steeplechasing is going virtual in the coming days and weeks.
The virtual Queen’s Cup will be held on Saturday, and the virtual Aiken Spring Steeplechase will come under starter’s orders on Saturday, May 2. Both meets had to cancel their live events—Aiken on March 23 and the Queen’s Cup on this coming Saturday—to protect the health and safety of their patrons as the new coronavirus pandemic spread rapidly through the United States.
On its Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram pages, the Queen’s Cup will feature five races from its 2019 meet. The Greater Charlotte was on track on stage its Silver Anniversary meet at Brooklandwood Race Course. The meet benefits the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
Queen’s Cup Co-chair Bill Price invited Queen’s Cup fans to create events in their backyards while observing social-distancing precautions.
“Don your Saturday finest (bowties and sunhats encouraged), set up a pop-up tailgate in your backyard for your family, or simply sip on a Mint Julep alongside friends and family via Zoom,” he said in a Facebook message. “No matter what this year’s virtual #QueensCup2020 looks like for you, we invite you to make the most of it.”
The Aiken Steeplechase Association and Alison South Marketing Group have partnered to bring people together virtually on May 2 for Aiken’s Virtual Steeplechase. The online event will allow Aiken Steeplechase fans an opportunity to enjoy horse racing (with stick horses), spring fashion, and tailgating from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
“Every year, the Steeplechase brings people from Aiken and all over the country to socialize, tailgate, and show off those amazing hats, bow ties, and pants,” said Jessica Miller, Aiken Steeplechase’s event manager. “Even though we couldn’t hold the event this year, we still wanted a way for people to enjoy the atmosphere of the event.”
The Aiken Steeplechase Association urges everyone to get outside May 2 and take photos of themselves with their decorated stick horses and their crazy pants, bow ties, and women’s hats. By uploading photos to AikenVirtualSteeplechase.com, Aiken Steeplechase fans can enter contests for Most Dapper Bowtie, Best Home Gate (tailgating at home), Most Creative Spring Hat, Best of Show Stick Horse, Best Turf Course, Drink of the Day and Wore it Best Crazy Pants. Photos also will be shared on the Aiken Virtual Steeplechase Facebook and Instagram pages.
Knowing that everyone who wants to participate might not have the materials to make stick horses, the Aiken Center for the Arts will donate kits to build 100 stick horses. Register for a free stick horse kit at AikenCenterForTheArts.org.
“We will put together two kits, one for older kids and one for younger kids,” said Tracy Seconi, the program manager for Aiken Center for the Arts. “We will also make videos to show people how to make their stick horses.”
A large part of the Spring Steeplechase is the Vendor’s Market, which brings local businesses to racetrack to show off their goods. The virtual event will bring together local restaurants to offer home-gating specials and local businesses to sponsor prizes for contest winners.
For more information, go to AikenVirtualSteeplechase.com and follow the Aiken Virtual Steeplechase page on Facebook.
“This is an event for the entire community to come together while maintaining social distancing,” Miller said. “We hope it will bring positivity and hope knowing that we are all in this together.”
Live National Steeplechase Association racing is scheduled to resume Saturday, June 13, with the Middleburg Spring Races, followed by the Cheshire Point-to-Point on Sunday, June 14, the Virginia Gold Cup on Saturday, June 20, and the Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday, June 27.