Cheltenham Festival News
|Monday 15th February 2016|
Nashville's Iroquois steeplechase sweetens the pot for inaugural Brown Advisory Cheltenham Challenge
Marquee Race Purse Increased by $50,000; Total Winnings Could Exceed $900K
In 2015, officials from the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tennessee, and Cheltenham Racecourse announced a $500,000 bonus to any horse that could win both the Iroquois and the Ryanair World Hurdle within one calendar year. The Volunteer State Horsemen's Foundation has now boosted the purse on the American side to $200,000, a $50,000 increase.
The Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge is straightforward: win both the Grade One Ryanair World Hurdle on March 17, 2016, and the Grade One Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle Stakes as part of the 75th Iroquois Steeplechase on May 14, 2016, in Nashville, or vice versa, within 12 months. Both contests take place over three miles.
"We saw this as a way to reignite the trans-Atlantic rivalry that has existed since the 19th century, and the Challenge has been very well received," said Iroquois Steeplechase Chairman Dwight Hall, a former jockey and board member of the National Steeplechase Association.
Hall continued: "Our goal is to offer an international opportunity for horsemen on both sides of the Atlantic. We recognize the expense involved so we raised our purse to make the Challenge more attractive.
"A foreign horse could recoup its travel expenses with a third-place finish in our race, or earn much more if it were to win. Altogether, considering their individual purses and the Brown Advisory Challenge bonus, a successful horse could earn more than $900,000."
The Iroquois track in Nashville is considered to be among the very best in the United States, with professional maintenance and irrigation that ensures safe and consistent going on par with international standards. Baltimore-based Brown Advisory saw the opportunity to support the Challenge, and signed on as the presenting sponsor.
Over the last 40 years, various American horses and riders have competed with credit in the United Kingdom, including George Sloan, who became the only jockey from the United States to win the British Amateur Championship in the 1977/78 season. The legendary gelding Flatterer, a four-time consecutive Eclipse Award winner, was second in the 1987 Champion Hurdle while Blythe Miller partnered Lonesome Glory to win at both Cheltenham and Iroquois in the 1990s.
More recently, the Calvin Houghland-owned Pierrot Lunaire came over from England to win the Iroquois Steeplechase in 2009, on his way to winning the Eclipse Award in 2012. The Iroquois race is named for a horse that was the first American to win the English Derby in 1881, before retiring to stud at General William Harding's Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville. All but a handful of horses that have won the Iroquois since 1941 descended from the race's namesake.
The Challenge is an opportunity to attract more American horses to compete at The Festival and to offer English, Irish and European horses an opportunity on the world stage.
For more information on the Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge, go to www.iroquoissteeplechase.org or www.cheltenham.thejockeyclub.uk . Competition terms and conditions can be found here .