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Chester County Press

Tickets now available for 30th anniversary running of the Willowdale Steeplechase

03/14/2023 12:18AM ● By Steven Hoffman
The 30th anniversary running of The Willowdale Steeplechase will take place on Saturday, May 13, 2023.  This Chester County tradition is a spectacular rite of spring for enthusiasts from all over the Wilmington and Philadelphia areas and beyond.  
Spend the afternoon at Willowdale and you will be transported to the English countryside.  Rolling green hills, majestic horses, dashing, dedicated horsemen and fashionable tailgate picnics are part of a tradition that has been preserved for generations.  You feel that you’re participating in something extraordinary. Taking place on 160 acres in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Hunt country, Willowdale attracts the country’s top steeplechase horses.  This year, they’ll compete for $105,000 in prize money.
“Willowdale truly is a community event,” said event chairman Dixon Stroud.  “Families from all over the area gather to enjoy a beautiful day in the country, watch the finest horse racing, reconnect with friends and show off some impressive hats—all the while helping to preserve our natural resources and support our worthy beneficiaries.”
These beneficiaries are the Stroud Water Research Center with its mission to advance knowledge and stewardship of freshwater systems through global research, education, and watershed restoration, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center, with its mission to train the next generation of veterinary leaders to advance healthcare outcomes and access, ensure global health and bolster sustainable agriculture practices.
The beneficiaries are leaders in preserving and safeguarding life in many different ways—so the fund-raising campaign is being called “Racing for Life.”
Steeplechase racing is an extreme sport. Horses and riders are top athletes. Willowdale features two courses set on its rolling turf: one race course features solid post and rail fences (timber) and European style hedges, open ditches, and water jumps. The other course consists of natural smaller hurdles which the horses can brush through.  These are usually ridden at a faster pace.
Unique to this part of the country is Willowdale’s natural amphitheater which allows attendees to follow most of the races’ action from all of the spectating areas. Each reserved parking space offers panoramic views of the course, whether from high on the hill or right on the rail, and best of all, general admission ticket holders can visit friends and watch the races from a variety of vantage points.
Best Dressed, Hat and Tailgate Contests will add to the usual fun and excitement this year as high fashion, elegant tailgating and a community known for its equestrian excellence join together.  This year’s Tailgate Contest is “Making a Splash!”
Throughout the day there are pony races, Jack Russell Terrier races, an antique car display, upscale boutique shopping and local food vendors. For the younger guests, there is a stick pony jumping course, a coloring contest and educational displays by representatives from the Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center and the Stroud Water Research Center. 
Visit to learn more and to purchase tickets.