Inaugural Charleston Trials set for March 17
The South Carolina Jockey Club is pleased to announce the Inaugural Charleston Trials which will be held on Sunday, March 17 at the Plantation at Stono Ferry in Hollywood.
Sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association, the race card will consist of three flat races and two steeplechase races. Special St Patrick’s Day themed prizes will be given to the owners and trainers of the winning horses.
Gates open at 9 a.m. with the paddock call at noon.
General Admission tickets, reserved parking spaces, corporate ticket packages and race sponsorships are available.
Visit charlestontrials.net for more information or call 843-766-6202
The sport of horse racing in the South Carolina Lowcounty takes its origins from the Mother Country, England. The first recorded race was run on Feb. 1, 1734, in Charleston. According to the South Carolina Gazette, this event was held on a green opposite The Bowling Green, a popular tavern of the era, located on the neck near the vicinity of John and Meeting Streets, across from the new Charleston Museum.
In 1735, races were held at a new course laid our at Quarter House, near meeting Street Road and Success Street, in present day North Charleston. This course was called the York Course after the premier racing facility in England. The York Course was used until public opinion prevailed to build a more convenient tract closer to Charleston. This project was undertaken in 1754, and the first race on the new
track took place on Febr. 19, 1760.
Named New Market after another popular English race facility, this second track was sited between King and Meeting Streets, near present day Columbus Street, approximately one mile from town. It was here, in February of 1769 that an annual subscription plate and colt’s plate were established. In 1768 the first recorded reference to a “jockey club” appeared in the South Carolina Gazette, although it was not until some time between 1786-1788 that the South Carolina Jockey Club was formally founded by such nobles as Col. William Alston, Col. William Washington and Col. Wade Hampton, with the first president being General Jacob Read.
In 1791, the Jockey Club proprietors purchased land in the area of Hampton Park to develop a more sophisticated course than New Market. Called Washington Course, this property contained nearly 64 acres and became the focal point for racing in the South for almost a century.
After the Civil War and hard economic times of Reconstruction, interest in horse racing and horse breeding was severely diminished by the pressure of the Civil War and its universal debt. The last Jockey Club race at the Washington Course was held in 1833. By 1899, membership in North America’s oldest Jockey Club had dwindled to just 26 members, who voted unanimously on Dec. 29, 1899, to dispose of the club’s assets, via an endowment to the Charleston Library Society, and to dissolve their organization.
The Charter of The South Carolina Jockey Club was revived in 1984 and its first official race event, The Inaugural Charleston Cup, represented the rebirth of one of our state’s most hallowed and respected sporting events, organized and sanctioned horse racing in the Lowcountry, in its truest and most elegant sense. The Inaugural Charleston Trials will be yet another chapter in this rebirth.