“How to Willowdale” – FAQ
We are excited you will be joining us race day, Saturday May 14 for the 29th running of the Willowdale Steeplechase! We’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions as well as some helpful tips for you to get the most enjoyment from your day!
There is a course and grounds map and a race day schedule on the Willowdale Steeplechase web site.
1. Races run rain or shine – dress accordingly. It’s helpful to bring layers and a couple of shoe choices or waterproof boots. The event is outdoors – there is lot of ground to cover and some walking on grass so spike heels are not recommended!
2. Dress to impress – hats are encouraged and great to keep the sun out of your eyes. Sun block is a must. Participate in the hat and best dressed contests if you like!
3. What will you see? Six exciting horse races over various jumps (brush, timber and hurdles), pony races, a young riders’ race and even a Jack Russell Terrier race. NOTE, this is the only time spectators are allowed on the course, and must leave immediately following the last Jack Russell Terrier race.
4. Activities for children – The Kid’s Alley tent has stick ponies for children to make and race as well as fun educational activities managed by race beneficiaries – all free of charge.
5. Why do we have the races? To raise money for our two beneficiaries: The Stroud Water Research Center, and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine –The New Bolton Center. We are a 501 (c) (3) not- for- profit.
6. May I bring my own food or alcohol? Yes! And food and beverages (including beer) are available from vendors on site. No wine or spirits are available for sale, so bring your own.
7. Are pets welcome? Yes, but you must keep them on a leash at all times and bring water for them.
8. Where do I park, if I’m invited to a sponsor tent? Either in General Admission Parking off of Route 926 (which is free to park), Preferred Parking ($45 must be purchased in advance) or in Sponsor Parking if you have a sponsor hang tag. Everyone must have a general admission pass to be on the grounds regardless of where you park – however children 12 & under are free.
9. Will I need cash? Good to have for food purchases and Willowdale merchandise purchases. Most vendors will take credit cards.
10. Is it permitted to stand along the fence? Yes, as long as you don’t block the view of the tailgate parking patrons there.
11. Am I allowed to visit other parking areas? Yes, you may visit all of them. This privilege is unique to Willowdale.
12. How close can I get to the horses and jockeys? No one unauthorized is permitted on the course but be sure to visit the Paddock area (but stay outside the fence!) to get a close up view of the horses and jockeys getting ready for the race… and pick your winner. Trophies are also presented to the jockeys and owners after each race in the Winners Circle which is in the Paddock area.
13. Where are the antique cars? We’ll update the location soon!
14. What happens if a horse is hurt? The equine veterinarian and horse ambulance are on the race course to assess for injury.
15. How do you get to be a jockey? See race program to learn about jockeys.
16. How old are the horses? They are usually around 3-12 years old. See race program (Race Day Program Key) for more information about horses and jockeys.
17. What is a hurdle? An artificial hedge jump made by the NSA and used nationally.
18. What is a timber fence? A jump made out of wooden rails.
19. What does “brush” mean? Natural living hedge jump or bows cut from a live hedge.
20. How fast do the horses run? About 30 miles per hour, slower than flat race horses. Think of jump racing more like a long distance race vs flat racing which is run over a shorter distance at higher speeds.
21. How can I get a reserved tailgating space for this year? Email your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be added to our mailing list. Reserved parking spaces are now on sale to EVERYONE – PURCHASE HERE!