Saturday April 7, 2018 saw the inaugural Georgia Steeplechase race. An ambitious project taken on by Anthony-Scott and Phoebe Hobbs, who were unwilling to let a 52-year tradition die, Georgia Steeplechase was a blending of the old and new. Although keeping a tradition alive, this was a new event under an entirely new organization. It was a learning experience, but the race went extremely well. Both jockeys and teams were pleased by the smooth races throughout the day.
Despite morning rain and unseasonal cold in Rome, Georgia—the high was only in the mid-fifties!— die-hard Steeplechase fans turned out in their hats and finery to enjoy a day at the races. The event began with the new Brunch on the Backstretch, an affair that combined enjoyable cuisine and political networking. Afterward the main event began.
Bagpipers opened the ceremonies, followed by the presentation of colors by the Young Marines. 14-year-old Callista Clark sang the National Anthem, and the Outriders cleared the track. Music, food, and drinks entertained attendees in the Chairman’s Pavilion and the Guarantor’s Tent. Despite the chill, the aire was festive as participants signed up for the Hat Competition and the Best Dressed Gentleman Contest.
Four races took place during the day. All of them were two miles over national hurdles. The first, the Maiden Claiming Hurdle, was won by Gotta Get Away under by Michael Mitchell. The first place in the second race, Sport of Kings Maiden Hurdle, went to Go Get the Basil under jockey Ross Geraghty. Bullet Star won the Filly & Mare Maiden Hurdle under jockey Kieran Norris, and the final race was won by Barnacle Bill under Jack Doyle. While the festival was fun despite the chilly weather, it was the races that took center stage. Jockeys and teams agreed that the races went off beautifully, smooth and trouble free. For a new organization hosting its inaugural race, that is a triumph in itself.
The Georgia Steeplechase Association looks forward to using all they have learned in their next race and festival. Planning has already begun for the next event to be held on April 6th, 2019. Keep an eye on the organization’s website, georgiasteeplechase.org, for more information.