The Steeplechase of Charleston, a Lowcountry event steeped in tradition, has been purchased by The Post and Courier, the South's oldest daily newspaper.
The Post and Courier purchased the Steeplechase of Charleston from The Randolph Company, a strategic advisory firm located on Sullivan's Island. P.J. Browning, publisher of the newspaper, said the plan is to build on the success The Randolph Company has achieved with the event over the past couple of years.
The Randolph Company rebranded the event to appeal to everyone, whether they were horse racing fans or not. The goal was to make the annual event, which was first held at Stono Ferry in Hollywood in 1986, a family-friendly outing.
When The Post and Courier was approached about taking over the event, Browning said the newspaper felt it could add even more to that family atmosphere.
“Our aim is to make this a must-do event every year, and one that becomes the signature way to experience Charleston in the fall,” Browning said Thursday at the acquisition announcement held at The Dewberry in downtown Charleston.
Steeplechase of Charleston is one of many races sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. Even though it is under new ownership, many of the staples of the event will stay the same.
The event will still include five high-stakes races with a total purse of at least $70,000, and will continue to offer a marketplace of local shops, vendors and artisans, along with food trucks and restaurant pop-ups.
Austin Walker, CEO of the Randolph Company and executive director of last year’s Steeplechase of Charleston, said the purchase of the event by the newspaper, whose roots go back to 1803, is important for the event and for the Lowcountry.
The first horse race in Charleston was held in 1792 as part of Washington Race week, which featured a one-mile loop around today's Hampton Park. The city became one of the most significant horse racing venues in the world and was home to as many as 10 racetracks. Charleston also is home to the nation’s first jockey club.
All of that rich history must be preserved, Walker said.
“Racing is woven into the very fabric of Charleston,” Walker said. “The new ownership has a very deep love and application for the sport, and unparalleled consumer reach in Charleston and beyond.”
The Charleston Steeplechase will be held Nov. 17 at Stono Ferry.