Willowdale announces $100K challenge

EAST MARLBOROUGH — A $100,000 Steeplechase Challenge is on the race card for the 25th Anniversary Running of The Willowdale Steeplechase! This “Challenge” will help to celebrate Willowdale’s 25th Anniversary and The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s 83rd running. The “Challenge” will take excitement for spectators to an even higher level while offering a major opportunity for amateur riders.

The 25th Anniversary Running of The Willowdale Steeplechase will take place on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, 2017. This Chester County tradition is a spectacular rite of spring and a traditional Mother’s Day event for people from all over the Philadelphia area and beyond. The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup wraps up the 2017 Pennsylvania steeplechase season on Sunday, November 5, 2017.

 The horse who wins both the Willowdale Steeplechase, Amateur Timber Stakes AND wins the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Open Timber Stakes will receive a $100,000 bonus! This timber challenge creates a great opportunity to increase awareness about steeplechasing while helping to promote amateur racing. This is a one-time challenge, not a perpetual race!

Steeplechase racing is an extreme sport. Both The Willowdale Steeplechase and The Pennsylvania Hunt cup offer a fun filled day of exciting races.  In every race, jockeys gallop their horses over rolling green terrain at speeds of up to thirty miles an hour. They jump over hedges and solid four -foot high timber fences – and at Willowdale, the famous Willowdale Water Jump, (which has just been re-built after 24 years).

The Willowdale Steeplechase signature race is an Amateur Timber Stakes run over a course of more than three and one half miles over 17 fences, one of them the famous Water Jump with its significant drop. This is an extremely challenging race for both horse and rider – but only amateur riders may compete in this race.

The winning horse may go on to compete in the “Challenge” by running in The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in November.

The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup is a Timber stakes race is run over four miles and 22 fences. From its inception, it has been intended as a substantial test of both horse and rider, and is one of just three 4-mile steeplechase races sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. First run in 1921 over a course in Whitemarsh , PA, the race moved to the present location in Unionville PA in 1964, where it has been held annually. The points earned at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup often determine the year end timber Champion. Since 1964 over $1,038,600 has been donated by the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Committee to a variety of charitable organizations. The Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, like The Willowdale Steeplechase, is a 501 (c)(3) institution. Last year the PHC Committee contributed $50,000 to the Chester County Food Bank.

The “open” race conditions of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup make no distinction between amateur and professional riders. This means that amateurs compete against professionals in this race! Whoever rides the winner of The Willowdale Steeplechase will be competing against both amateurs and professionals for the “Challenge”.

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