23rd Annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase held in Mineral Springs

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There is hardly a bigger event in Charlotte than The Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, and there definitely isn’t a bigger one in the Tri W area. If you’re living or working in Waxhaw, and not part of the equestrienne community, you may not even be aware that one of the largest and most important riding events of the year takes place right in our own backyard.

The term “steeplechase” originated in Ireland as a cross country horse race from church steeple to church steeple Today it is used to describe a type of racing where horses are asked to jump fences and ditches while racing 2-3 KM; mimicking its origins as a race through nature.

Going to a horse race- immersing yourself in a world full of new lingo, customs and expectations- can be daunting for those of us who have never been before; nevertheless, Mineral Springs has kept to its roots in southern hospitality even in this prestigious event.

Race day picnic in a tent on Spring House Row by Unbridled and McNeely Farms
Thoroughbred painted by Renae MaGuire

The steeplechase is an outing to see and be seen- full of pomp and circumstance. It’s a step back into a time dictated by different fashions and bygone decorum. Entering the raceway feels like walking into a portal in the fabric of time and finding oneself smack in the middle of a love spring afternoon in 1915. While the feeling of The Queen’s Cup may be overwhelmingly fantastical, that doesn’t mean its not easily accessible to everyone who’d like to enjoy it.

Hats and lovely ladies of Unbridled Tent

The official Queen’s Cup website has done an excellent job at making guests, new or returning, feel welcome and prepared for its annual event. The page lays out traditional dress expectations- which can be a point of concern for those who’ve never attended, since race day attire is usually composed of loud headwear and summer dresses for women, and throwback trousers and brightly colored collar shirts for men.

Jockies enter the field

Once you’ve got your outfit picked out, you’ll need to decide exactly where’d you’d like to view the race.

Options start with tickets for the lawn; where packing a picnic and cooler of beverages can make a day of relaxation and spectatorship easy and delicious. Families with little ones might find this the best choice for them- and will likely be surprised to find out what a family-friendly environment the Queen’s Cup is. Children under 12 are welcomed and even free of charge!

Race day attire

Lawn tickets are the most affordable, but they surely don’t skimp on viewing quality. These seats offer guests the ability to stand or sit right at the edge of the racetrack itself, feeling the powerful thundering of the hooves as the thoroughbreds wiz by.

Tailgating, which entails driving your vehicle into the actual center lawn of the racetrack, is another good option for those who need to consider accessibility. These tickets provide race-goers great views of the circuit while allowing them to spend the day dining on a packed buffet from home or from the concession stand within the racetrack.From here, ticket choices escalate to include more exclusive covered tents ringing the outer edge of nearly the entire track, to swanky Members Hill- where the royalty of racing rub elbows and observe the goings on below. These prime seats sit adjacent to the Winner’s Circle, and treat guests to fine dining as well as a fine vantagepoint of the entire track.

Hat contest winners

While to some, the events of the day center around a job well-done by their horse and his jockey, to many the day offerers a really neat and entertaining experience in a completely comfortable and affordable way. To the delight and chagrin of the Tri W readership area, this unique opportunity is easy to participate in; being only a hop, skip and a jump from home.

If you haven’t yet made a day of it at Queen’s Cup, put it on your agenda for next year- it’s always the last Saturday in April, rain or shine. Be sure to visit their website at www.queenscup.org in order to be thoroughly prepared for your day at the races, and don’t forget your hat!

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