Two of the biggest steeplechase races in the United States and England have come together to offer a $500,000 bonus to any horse who can win consecutively at both.
The Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge begins in 2016 at the Ladbrokes Group 1 World Hurdle on March 17 at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, England. The winning horse would be eligible for the bonus if he or she went on to take the Grade 1 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle Stakes on May 14 at the $150,000 Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tenn. If the winner of the World Hurdle is unable to repeat his efforts at the Iroquois, then the Iroquois winner could claim the bonus by winning the World Hurdle in 2017. Both races are 3 miles.
Next year the Iroquois Steeplechase will celebrate its 75th anniversary, and those behind it wanted to do something special to advertise their race internationally.
“We thought it would be a neat kind of idea,” said Iroquois Steeplechase chairman Dwight Hall, a former jockey and board member of the National Steeplechase Association. “To promote our race and take it to another level for the 75th anniversary and to promote international competition.”
While this bonus requires traveling back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, Hall isn’t worried about a lack of enthusiasm for the endeavor. He’s hoping it will bring better competition between England, Ireland and the United States.
“I think right now we certainly got the attention of people in England and Ireland,” Hall continued. “[British trainer] Nicky Henderson and [Irish trainer] Willie Mullins have expressed an interest in it, so we’re thinking about the horses that can run in the World Hurdle that are also suited to come run in America.”
Brown Advisory, an independent investment management firm based out of Baltimore, sponsors the incentive and has sponsored steeplechase races on both sides of the Atlantic for many years.
“I think it’s exciting for steeplechasing,” Hall said. “And hopefully we’ll get some participants and maybe revive the days when Flatterer went to England. We have a lot of horses now coming over to Europe that American owners are buying and running in England and Ireland, and hopefully this might encourage and foster some competition between our two countries.”