Camden, SC (WLTX) - The Colonial Cup steeplechase has been a November event for the past 46 years. Next year, however, the Carolina Cup Racing Association will combine their fall and spring meets into a one-day event.
"We have been struggling with this decision for as long as I've been associated with this facility,” says Nick Ellis, CEO of the Carolina Cup Racing Association. "Every year, despite changes we've made, nothing seems to significantly increase attendance." Ellis attributes much of the low attendance during the November meet to the popularity of college football games.
As a solution, both events will run during the spring.
"So it's going to be twice as much excitement if you like racing, and twice as much fun,” says Ellis.
The Colonial Cup normally costs about $650,000 to set up and run.
"The race is going to cost us $150,000 to put the purse up, but all of the infrastructure and event costs are all in place with the Carolina Cup," says John Cushman.
Cushman, a former Carolina Cup jockey, is a Carolina Cup Racing Association board member. He says they expect to save $500,000 by combining the races into one event.
The association wanted to make sure they kept the history of the Colonial Cup, which started in 1970, alive.
"It was Marion duPont Scott who owned this property and it was her vision to create this international race,” says Cushman. “It was the first steeplechase race in the world with a purse of $100,000."
The association hopes that the changes will be well received by families and the growing college fan base. There are also plans to enhance the entertainment at the 2018 Carolina Cup and make it more family-friendly.
"I think it's the right decision,” says Ellis. “A lot of people on the board and here locally have an emotional attachment to the Colonial Cup, and I think they have to realize that we believe this is the best way to keep the Colonial Cup alive and enhance the spring meet."