The 48th High Hope Steeplechase event at the Kentucky Horse Park this weekend will include two new lady sidesaddle races. High Hope Racing Director Michele Primm says it will represent the third leg in a sidesaddle series and feature European World Champion Susan Oaks.
Primm says steeplechase racing dates back centuries to when people in England raced from one church steeple to another church steeple.
The annual springtime competition typically attracts more than 10,000 race fans. Primm, who rides sidesaddle, says it started off as an idea and has grown into a key part of a racing series. She says jumping sidesaddle is not as hard as it might appear. “Your legs are over to the side, but you have one foot in the stirrup, the other, which goes around the head on the saddle,” Primm explained. “So you’re pushing up with one leg and pushing down with the other and so it gives you a lot of stability.”
According to Primm the High Hope event in Lexington is one of the last remaining steeplechase meets in the Midwest. The competition over brush and timber jumps runs much of the day on Sunday at the Horse Park.