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The times are a changin'

Carolina Cup infield makeover first of many changes to Camden spring classic

Posted: August 7, 2017 5:48 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2017 1:00 a.m.

THE CAROLINA CUP INFIELD has undergone a facelift and spaces in all areas for the 84th edition of the Camden spring classic, to be run on Saturday, March 31, 2018, are now on sale at or, in person at the Carolina Cup office located inside the National Steeplechase Museum on Knights Hill Rd. in Camden.

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For years, while other sporting and social events welcomed technology with open arms, the Carolina Cup languished while being forced to play catch-up.

Now, thanks to a complete overhaul from its website to infield parking spaces and down to general admission tickets, the Camden spring classic is joining its other colleagues in the industry by embracing social media. Starting now, there will be new ways of disseminating information and getting people to and from the annual steeplechase races in a timely and more orderly manner.

Last week, Carolina Cup interim executive director John Cushman brought the office staff together to go over all details pertaining to the races which features the $150,000 Colonial Cup which will be run in the spring for the first time in its 48 years of existence. The 84th renewal of the Carolina Cup at the Springdale Race Course in Camden will be contested on Saturday, March 31, 2018. Already, officials with the event have sold infield spaces, have fielded many calls regarding purchasing tickets from the event while last Tuesday, director of ticketing, Maggie Davis, fielded a call from a group already inquiring as to how to purchase a space in College Park.

For an event which usually begins getting into gear in January, these have hardly been the dog days of summer.

Following last Wednesday’s six-person meeting, Cushman discussed the changes with the Chronicle-Independent. Most of what he wanted to get out to the general public focused on the new-look infield. The former Carolina Cup race director, who has been brought back into the fold to oversee the event, said news as to changes to College Park will be released once those plans have been firmed.

As he looked over the new infield configuration --- which is available for viewing on the Carolina Cup’s revamped website --- and the new numbering system for reserved parking spaces in the area, Cushman pointed out that the changes are not only new to race patrons but the staff is also involved in what has been and will be a learning process. Patience, he stressed, must be exhibited by all parties as the expected first-time kinks in this new system are worked out.

Cushman said it is not too early for previous year spaceholders to start making plans for next spring’s race day. By purchasing spaces as soon as possible, it will take the pressure off the race patron and the workers fielding the parking space and ticket orders.

“It’s going to be a learning curve for our staff,” he said. “My message to our customers is, it would be a big help to us if, particularly the Carolina Cup spaceholder, they will come and reserve their spaces early,” Cushman said.  This first year is going to be very difficult because this is all so new but after year one, it’s going to be a breeze.

“From the inquiries that we’re already getting and the ticket sales which are happening right now, this is going to be a tremendous year. If you have a space and you don’t want to lose it, you have to act, that way, you can ensure that you have the same space that they’ve had.”

Earlier this year, the Carolina Cup Racing Association (CCRA) decided to shutter the fall Colonial Cup after 47 editions of the race. In making that announcement, CCRA officials devised a plan in which the $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Grade I) race would be incorporated into the spring Carolina Cup program and serve as the feature chase of a card which has the $75,000 Carolina Cup for novice jumpers as the co-feature.

With so many things in motion, Cushman said the first order of business was to tackle the situation in the infield. With two events being combined into one premier day of jump racing, Cushman wanted to lay down the ground rules in order to help avoid any problems in how the system of reacquiring former infield spaces will be handled.

“The infield is all brand new,” said the retired four-time champion steeplechase rider. “We need people to understand that the Carolina Cup customer gets first crack at their space. Then, the Colonial Cup space-holder gets a two-week period and then, it’s opened up to the public.

“It’s important to know that you are going to get your same placement but you’re number is definitely going to be different.”

The layout, including space numbers, are included on the organization’s website, located at, which Cushman urged past patrons and potential new ones to view for themselves. “People can physically look at the new map and the old map on the site. C60 on main walkway now C55 … same spot,” he said.

With the new map in hand, Cushman went over to the wall map which displayed the former infield spaces. He pointed out that the main walkway in which patrons can travel from the paddock side into the infield has new numbers for old spaces.

“There have been a lot of people who are concerned about losing their space,” he said. “For example, that main walkway where people have held their spaces for 30 or 40 years are still going to have them but they will now have a different number and a new letter.”

For those more comfortable viewing a larger version, Cushman extended the invitation to visit the Carolina Cup office, located inside the National Steeplechase Museum on Knights Hill Rd. in Camden, and ask for Davis or any other office worker.


The latter change is that no longer will the infield be a straight-lined series of rows from A to M. The new infield setup is a horseshoe-like design of six rows --- A through F --- which have a sliding price scale. For instance, spaces on row A, which allow unobstructed views of the race course, are $225 which includes two general admission tickets. Row A, which circles the entire infield has taken the space of the former row M, which was the final row and had clear views of the backside of the course. Spaces on row B are $200 per space; row C is $175 per space; row D is $150 per slot while rows E and F, which is closest to the center of the infield, are $125.

Rows G through M have been eliminated with spaces in those rows being parts of row B through F in the modernized infield structure.

“We’re excited about it,” Cushman said. “We’ve already staked out the infield and have all the rows ready to go.”

The reduced infield prices are not the only fan-friendly change. “The spaces are two-feet wider; they are 11-feet wide now,” Cushman said of spaces which will now be able to accommodate the popular “pop-up” tents which are common sights when looking into the infield portion of the race course.

In trying to blend the best of the Colonial Cup into the new-look Carolina Cup, Cushman said race officials have tried to keep what made the fall Cup unique and bring that experience to a larger audience.

“This is an important message, particularly to the Colonial Cup customer,” he said of the infield activities, “with the new layout, there is a large vendor village area in the center of the infield. About 80 percent of the vendors who were over behind the grandstand (for previous race meets) have expressed an interest of being (in the infield.) They will either have two tents or, move over to the infield. 

“The terrier races will be there and there will be new kids’ activities which you have not seen at the Colonial Cup in the past. We want to retain that family-friendly component of the Colonial Cup in the infield.”

In addition to the infield spaces, spaces on the ends of the front rows have been reduced by $100 from last year’s prices because “we weren’t selling them all,” said Cushman whose last race as Carolina Cup director drew a National Steeplechase Association crowd of more than 71,000 people to Springdale in the spring of 2000. “We’ve looked at every price here and if they weren’t selling out, the prices were reduced.”

All areas of the race course, including grandstand spaces and on-course, catered dining options, are currently on sale. Individual general admission tickets, if purchased in advance, remain at $30 until two weeks prior to the race. After that, tickets will increase to $45. Another change is general admission parking will be free.

There will be three options by which patrons can receive their tickets; either via cell phone, print-at-home or, have tickets mailed to you after calling in your order. More information on that, along with a new method of entry to the races will be released in the near future, Cushman said, in not wanting to try and confuse patrons who are still getting used to the new way of doing business.

Cushman said this first set of measures is helping the Carolina Cup keep up with the times. He said new technological advances will help in getting the word out to existing and potential patrons. The new and more user-friendly website is the first and, to this point, the biggest step in that direction.

“We realize that 60 percent of our customers are going to be purchasing tickets online,” he said in the way business is now being conducted. “I encourage people to check our new website. We will also start a new e-mail campaign and we have the ability to send emails directly to people for College Park and we can sent messages to people for infield and for the grandstand. We’re able to send a message which is pertinent to the area which you have always been in. If you’re in the grandstand, what’s happening in College Park does not have any bearing on what you are going to do and, vice-versa.”

Even though Carolina Cup day is still some seven months away, Cushman is hoping patrons will take advantage of what had normally been a down time for ticket sales for the spring classic to secure their space and get on with making plans for the biggest event in Kershaw County. Some people did not need an extra coaxing from Cushman and his team his get into the party and racing spirit.

“We have had a lot of interest and a lot of people purchasing tickets already,” he said with a smile. “Before, we never sold tickets until January. Now, there is a lot of buzz going on about what is changing with the event. We are strongly encouraging people to act now.”








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