MINERAL SPRINGS — Like last year, the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase is “running for the horsemen,” according to Carrington Price, co-chair of the popular, local horse race.
Organizers of the Queen’s Cup made the difficult decision in January to host the race without an audience. The seven races will be live-streamed instead on Saturday, April 24 beginning at 12:30 p.m. Two races were added to this year’s program. The races will be full field with up to 14 horses in each race.
“It’s harder to put on a race for a small number of horsemen and officials and sponsors than it is to put on for 15,000 people…,” Price said when explaining what it is like to plan a downsized event. It’s more of a challenge, because there are details that can easily slip through the cracks during the planning process like accommodations for about 200 people which include horsemen, sponsors, officials, volunteers and Queen’s Cup staff. This year, Novant Health is a sponsor and will help ensure the event is COVID compliant.
The number of horsemen is dependent on the number of horses that are entered race week.
Price shared that horsemen (jockeys, grooms, farriers, vets, trainers, owners, etc.) need to keep the races going to keep the sport alive and to maintain a living.
“We’re running for the horsemen as we’ve said to everybody,” Price said, “when we had to make the decision and Governor Cooper had the mandates back in January we suspected that it wasn’t going to change much by April...We couldn’t run with an audience and it would be too expensive really run without an audience without some help financially, but we decided for the horses sake and the sport’s sake, we had to do that,” Price said.
The decision to not have an audience was made in January. Price said there was not enough time to pull everything necessary together (such as getting vendors) to have an audience in April.
She added that Bill Price worked hard to maintain sponsors.
The Queen’s Cup raises awareness for and donates money to the Alzheimer’s Association each year. This year, they’ve created a raffle to raise money.
Although the Queen’s Cup won’t have an audience, those who would have attended can make their homes or wherever they choose to celebrate to feel more like race day.
Price’s tips are: naming cocktails after horses in the races (like I’ll Have Another who raced in 2012 winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown); submitting photos of decorated hats and tailgates to the Queen’s Cup (entries will be accepted till 12 p.m., Monday, April 26. They can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org) and doning pastels and seersucker.
“There is no limit to one’s imagination on what you can do to make it creative,” Price said.
The Queen’s Cup will be the first race of the year, Price said. The Carolina Cup in Camden, South Carolina used to be held prior to Queen’s, but they moved the date to May 22.