With springtime comes steeplechase season, where high society meets time-honored sport. From the sweet scent of freshly cut bluegrass to the flawless arch in each horse’s jump, steeplechases are an incredible showcase of Mother Nature’s works of art.
Even if you don’t know the first thing about horse racing, a steeplechase (a.k.a. “jump racing”) is a great chance for good people like you to break out some seersucker, enjoy the outdoors, and mingle with some interesting folks. We’ll break down a few important things to know about these classy events, like etiquette and tailgating, and even list some of the biggest races throughout the U.S.
Etiquette and Style
Now let’s be clear. While tailgating is totally appropriate at a steeplechase, this isn’t the same type of crowd you’ll find at a football game. While you don’t have to behave like a total stiff, crude language and lewd behavior is sort of frowned upon at steeplechases. You can definitely have a blast at a steeplechase, but don’t do anything you’d live to regret. ‘
Instead, think of a steeplechase as a giant outdoor cocktail party. Expect to see women in their best summer dresses sporting oversized sun hats and sipping wine or cocktails garnished with mint sprigs. Guys typically go with a pair of chinos or khaki trousers, paired up with a button-down and a blazer.
Keep in mind, temps are typically pretty warm throughout steeplechase season, so you’ll want to go with lightweight materials like linen, cotton (seersucker is about as light as cotton gets), and silk. One of the first things you’ll notice at a steeplechase is that almost every guy and their grandfathers will be sporting a seersucker blazer and a bowtie, which can sometimes make it difficult to look unique in this super style-conscious venue.
If you really want to make a big style statement at the race, forget the bowtie and go with an fun necktie instead. Squiddledee Ties offers a wide selection of unforgettable ties, each specially designed to speak volumes about your personality. With clever, yet classy tie designs like “The Prince” and “Cock Walk,” Squiddledee Ties are the sophisticated way to get noticed at the big race. And to top it off, they’re made right here in the U.S. with 100 percent of the finest silk, for quality that’s nothing short of stunning.
As mentioned before, tailgating at a steeplechase isn’t like anything you’re used to if you go to a lot of the major sports games. Leave your ping pong table and football at home and get a friendly game of Cornhole or Ladder Toss going. Bocce ball is another favorite at steeplechase tailgating events. In terms of food, think fancier picnic style setups, with families serving up dishes like pasta salad, mini chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sliders, salads, pimento cheese dips, etc. No alcoholic drinks are off limits, but be sure to bring plenty of bottled water so you can stay hydrated and not make a drunken fool of yourself in the heat of the summer.
Like horse racing on flat terrain, steeplechases don’t last very long, which is why the steeplechase is so highly valued as a social event. Below is a list of the biggest upcoming steeplechases in the U.S., courtesy of www.nationalsteeplechase.com.
Block House- May 2 Tryon, NC
Virginia Gold Cup- May 2 The Plains, VA
Winterthur- May 3 Winterthur, DE
Iroquois- May 9 Nashville, TN
Willowdale- May 10 Kennett Square, PA
Radnor Hunt Races-May 16 Malvern, PA
High Hope- May 17Lexington, KY
Fair Hill- May 23 Fair Hill, MD
Shawan Downs- September 26 Hunt Valley, MD
Foxfield Fall-September 27 Charlottesville, VA
Genesee Valley- October 10 Geneseo, NY
Virginia Fall- October 10 Middleburg, VA
Far Hills- October 17 Far Hills, NJ
International Gold Cup- October 24 The Plains, VA
Aiken Fall- October 31 Aiken, SC
Pennsylvania Hunt Cup- November 1 Unionville, PA
Off to the races!