Tryon Block House Steeplechase Increases Number of Jockeys and Races for 2017

Apr 12, 2017 - 4:01 PM
A $175,000 Purse and New A-Rated Course Has Resulted in Doubled Entries and Top-Tier Jockeys for 71st Annual Tryon Block House Races on Saturday, April 15, 2017
For Immediate Release
Columbus, NC – April 12, 2017 – The number of top-rated athletes competing in the 71st Tryon Block House Races on Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Columbus, NC, has more than doubled last year’s participation numbers. With 48 registered jockeys, the tally reverses a 10-year decline in the race’s participation. The drastic increase in attendance this year is credited to the new partnership between Tryon Riding & Hunt Club (TR&HC), the organization that founded and has produced this steeplechase for 71 years, and Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), a 1,600-acre state-of-the-art equestrian lifestyle destination in Polk County, NC. With the partnership came a new A-rated course, double the prize money from $80,000 to $175,000, and a new date that did not conflict with any other steeplechase events, all of which resulted in a stronger showing from champion jockeys.
Some of the top-rated athletes scheduled to compete at this Saturday’s Tryon Block House Races include: Paddy Young, five-time jockey champion by wins; Willie McCarthy, champion jockey by wins and purses in 2014; Kieran Norris, champion jockey by wins in 2016, Ross Geraghty, champion jockey by wins and purses in 2012; Sean McDermott, champion jockey by purses in 2016; Jack Doyle, champion jockey by purses in 2015; and Brendan Crowley, champion apprentice jockey in 2016.

The National Steeplechase Association (NSA) is supportive of the new partnership and the benefits it has provided.

“It’s all very exciting. It’s the 71st running of the Tryon Block House Races and I knew this partnership between Tryon Riding & Hunt Club and Tryon International Equestrian Center would succeed,” said NSA President Guy Torsilieri. “They have produced a spectacular event for Saturday and we have already added more races. The horsemen have embraced it and it’s a very strong card this year. The horsemen have high regards for this new course and it’s going to be a great event.”

A bigger prize purse attracted some of the sport’s top riders and allowed for more horses in the competition. For example, 15 horses were entered in the flat race, but not all could have competed in a single run. To accommodate the influx of interest from such high-level, professional talent, the Tryon Block House Races team added another $25,000 purse and split that race into one group of eight horses and another group of seven, which allowed all interested jockeys the opportunity to compete.

According to Torsilieri, the organizers’ commitment to accommodating these athletes sends a strong, positive message of support to the horsemen.

For Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP), that owns and operates Tryon International Equestrian Center and is the partner organization for the Tryon Block House Races, this historic steeplechase originally attracted his family to the Polk County, NC, area and is a critical event to grow for the region.

“I am incredibly fond of this historic steeplechase and its legacy to equestrian sport in this region and beyond,” said Bellissimo. “I am pleased that we can leverage our resources to enhance the race experience for both the horseman and the spectator. I am certain the Tryon Block House Races will continue to grow and become one of the most sought-after opportunities for both athletes and spectators.”

Tickets are still on sale for tailgating, VIP Legends Hospitality Tent, or walk-in admission, and will remain on sale until 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Gates open at 9:00 a.m. at the new facility located at 6881 South N.C. Hwy 9 in Columbus, NC. Start the party on Friday night with the Steeplechase Pre-Race Kickoff Celebration on Friday, April 14, from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. in The Legends Club at Tryon Resort. Lodging packages at Tryon Resort are also available for the ultimate steeplechase weekend getaway. Tickets can be purchased at

More Info
For more info on the Tryon Block House Races and lodging options, please visit

Like Tryon International Equestrian Center on Facebook to get the latest updates and info.

Media Inquiries: Michelle McConnell Yelton, or 828-286-9977.

About the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club
Formed in 1925, the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club seeks to enhance and preserve the traditions of the Tryon area by conducting equestrian and philanthropic programs that benefit the entire community. Learn more at

About the Tryon International Equestrian Center
Tryon International Equestrian Center at Tryon Resort is one of the world’s premier equestrian lifestyle and competition destinations. Open in 2014, the venue provides outstanding facilities for hunter/jumper, dressage, and eventing competitions and soon will accommodate all eight equestrian disciplines. Tryon International Equestrian Center is a spring, summer and fall haven for eastern and northeastern American equestrian competitors and enthusiasts, and a year-round destination for connoisseurs of diverse cuisine, lodging getaways and family entertainment. Learn more at


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