Champion Equestrians Grace Tryon - TribPapers

Champion Equestrians Grace Tryon

Graham Watters and his wife, Rosie Watters, congratulate their horse, Make a Stand, on breaking his maiden (winning his first race) in the first race of the Block House Steeplechase this year. Photo by Catherine Hunter.

Tryon – National Steeplechase Champion jockey, Graham Watters won the first race in the 74th running of the historic Block House Steeplechases held on the Tryon International Equestrian Center’s (TIEC) Green Creek Race Course in April.

Keeping with the championship theme, Mill Spring Master of Foxhounds, Tot Goodwin, and his hound, “Indigo,” won national champion of this year’s Master of Foxhounds Association Performance Trial Championships in Hoffman, N.C. The two events are a perfect lead in to many of the Foothills’ equestrian activities coming up this year.

The Block House Steeplechase featured four races with a total of 23 entries. The steeplechase is a tradition of the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club. The course is 1 1/16 miles on turf (grass) with brush fences. 

Watters took the first race, the Cannon Harmon, on his own horse, “Make a Stand.” He finished second in the second race to an Irish bred horse, “Going Country,” ridden by Parker Hendricks. Hendricks also rode the winner, “Boulette,” to victory in the $30,000 feature race, The Block House. This feature race is two miles over brush fences and is open to four-year-olds (horses) and up. 

Though female steeplechase jockeys are rare in the United States, this year’s Block House meet included female jockey, Mell Boucher, who won the $20,000 Carter P. Brown, two miles over hurdles. Boucher ran second in the fourth and final race, the Block House feature race. 

TIEC continues this year’s equestrian events with their Saturday Night Live activities for the whole family. Free to the public, this event includes pony rides, carousel rides, bucking “horse” rides, face painting, magicians and jugglers for the kids. Adults enjoy live music and world class equestrian events such as Grand Prix show jumping, dressage and national eventing competitions.

The Tryon Spring Series opens this week with A&AA Hunter/Jumper competitions, the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby and three National Hunter Derbies in the series. Other events include the USHJA Pony Hunter Derby with TIEC’s highest level pony competition of the year.

The Summer Dressage series starts June 17-19 with a para-dressage competition. For more information about TIEC’s events visit

The Tryon Riding and Hunt Club’s Charity I Horse show will be held at TIEC June 7-12. Designated a Heritage Horse Show by the US Equestrian Federation, this A-rated hunter/jumper show was first held in 1926. For more information about the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club visit

To celebrate Goodwin’s Performance Trial Championships win, the spring issue of Covertside, a magazine, published by the Masters of Foxhounds Association, featured a photo by Mark Jump Photography, of Goodwin on the front cover. Goodwin is internationally accepted as a foremost authority on foxhounds and foxhunting. He is recognized as one of only two Black Master of Foxhounds in the United States, and is the only one still in office today.

Goodwin and his wife, Colleen Goodwin, bred, raised and trained the winning hound, “Indigo,” a four-year-old Crossbred doghound (male).

“He’s [Indigo] a great hunter with a lot of drive,” said Goodwin. “I like a fast hound.”

The Goodwins started Goodwin Hounds in 2017. For more information about Goodwin Hounds visit their facebook page,

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