Suzi Sale, tourism development director for Camden, filled us in on some of the city's history. Camden was on the Catawba trade path and King Haigler, whose face we had seen on Catawba pottery, is considered its patron saint for all the help he gave early residents.
The town had a large British presence, including General Cornwallis, and the Battle of Camden (August 1780) was one of the patriots' biggest losses. The next confrontation a year later, the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill, although a loss for the Patriots, prompted the British to abandon the city.
|Bloomsbury House, built between 1849 and 1854 by South Carolina's third-richest man for his daughter, is now the Bloomsbury Inn, a bed and breakfast.|
Carolina Cup steeplechase in March (March 28, 2015) then return for the Marion du Pont Scott Colonial Cup in November (Nov. 15, 2014) at Springdale Race Course.
Between those, the Camden Training Center and the South Carolina Equine Center, Suzi said there's an equine event of some sort every weekend year-round with the season running late September through May.
|A life-sized statue of Lonesome Glory, five-time Horse of the Year, fronts The National The Steeplechase Museum .|
|Colors of Mrs. George M. Sensor, owner of 2014 Carolina Cup winner Top Striker.|
|Colors of Gregory D. Hawkins, owner of 2013 Colonial Cup winner Alajmal.|
Inside, if you're lucky, you meet Hope Cooper, executive director.
Hope gave us a tour of the museum and information about steeplechasing, which, like all other forms of racing, began when one owner turned to another and said, "Mine is faster than yours."
In Ireland and England during the 17th century, church steeples were the most easily points for starts and finishes. Racers had to negotiate any obstacles - walls, hedges, creeks - in between and the steeplechase was born. When the numbers of proud horsemen grew, courses were laid on which more than two horses at a time could race and the sport as we know it today was formed. By the mid 19th century race meets were being held along America's East coast.
|Scene from The Grand National by Paul Brown.|
Steeplechase riders weigh in at around 130 pounds compared to flat race jocks at 112 pounds. Most are from England and Ireland; only one American rider was on last year's card. Unlike Thoroughbreds that race at 2, steeplechasers aren't allowed to race until the age of 3, giving legs an extra year to strengthen for the jumping efforts.
|Winners' silks and trophies.|
Purses are smaller and oh, in South Carolina there is no pari mutual wagering, putting steeplechasing more on the level of a sport than a business.
|Jockey silks surround the second floor cupola.|
|Spacious and interesting.|
|It wasn't the time for Judy to get in the saddle.|
|Hope Cooper shows Debi the proper racing form.|
|Debi was laughing but admitted it was a lot harder than she expected.|
|Springdale Race Course grounds.|