The North Carolina
Stoneybrook and Walsh:
For the Love of the Race
The Sandhills area is noted for its wonderful golfing, moderate climate, lovely Longleaf Pines, and an ever-growing equine community. Part of the credit for this amazing growth in equine facilities and horse farms is due to the late Michael “Mickey” G. Walsh. This former Sandhills Irishman deserves to be commended, not for his “Irish luck,” but for his hard work, talent and the ongoing legacy he created for horse lovers, riders and race enthusiasts.
Mickey Walsh immigrated to the
In 1926, Mickey Walsh began competing in “hunting” and “jumping,” both English riding equestrian events. By the 1930’s, Walsh was winning top honors at most of the horse shows of the day, both as a rider and a trainer. Walsh moved to Southern Pines, NC, in 1939 and there, he earned another outstanding equestrian reputation as a trainer of steeplechase and timber horses.
Walsh continued riding on the hunter/jumper circuit during the 1940’s as well, gaining more blue ribbons and earnings. Having always worked for someone else, Mickey Walsh finally bought his own riding and training stable in Southern Pines in the late 1940’s with money that was earned through his hard work and a passion for horses. Thus, “Stoneybrook” was born - first as a training stable, then as a race track, and now as a legacy to Walsh and his ongoing Sandhills springtime steeplechase event.
The steeplechase originated in
Mickey Walsh passed away in 1993, and the fate of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase hung in the balance. Without its chief advocate, Walsh’s prized Stoneybrook land was sold for equine land development, and the race track closed in 1996. Even so, the demand for one of the Sandhills’ most beloved spring social events remained high. In 1998, a group of horse lovers developed the idea for the