Preview: America's Steeplechase

60 Minutes goes to the races when Charlie Rose reports on the century-old tradition of timber racing, an American Steeplechase

Strategically placed cameras capture the exhilarating action, while Charlie Rose provides the wit and reportage, when 60 Minutes goes to the Timber Races -- an American version of the Steeplechase. Rose’s story will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.  

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America’s Timber Races -- so named for the wooden fences horses and riders must jump --  are up to four miles long and contain as many as 22 jumps. The sport originated in Ireland 250 years ago when horses were raced across the countryside jumping hedge rows. Today, a series of run-up races in the Mid-Atlantic States culminates in the Maryland Hunt Cup event that will be held Saturday April 29.

Paddy Neilson has won the prestigious race three times; he comes from a family that’s been riding and racing since 1875. Now in his seventies, he’s considered the dean of Timber Racing.  He still rides for pleasure and wears the scars of old injuries that any timber jockey will tell you come with the turf.  Some of the injuries are serious, but it’s all worth it, says Neilson.

“There’s just some magic about the power of that animal underneath of you,” he tells Rose.  “And then when you ask him for everything he’s got the last quarter a mile...and there it is, it is a marvelous feeling that only comes from doing it, really.  It is great.”