I do not believe I'd ever really heard the word before Wednesday. I've seen it in movies and TV, though. Kind of a strange name for the event, however. Where'd they come up with the name steeplechase.
Good old Wiki to the rescue for a quick fill-in on steeplechases.
A Steeplechase is a distance horse race requiring jumping over diverse fences and ditch obstacles. It originated in Ireland and are run in the U.K., Canada, U.S., Australia and France.
In case you're wondering about the name, it comes from its early races where the course orientation was referenced by church steeples.
The most famous Steeplechase race in the world is the Grand National run annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, U.K, since 1836. I have been following the Andy Capp comic strip and that is where he and his buddies are of recent. Watch out for those water ditches, Andy!!
In the U.S., the hurdles are almost always over National fences, standardized plastic and steel fences standing 52 inches tall. One in S.C. is over packed pines and one in Vermont is over live hedges.
Thomas Hitchcock (1860-1941) is regarded as the father of American Steeplechases.
This looks to be a mighty dangerous race, both for horses and riders.
I Sure Would never Ride in One. Way Too Scared. --RoadDog
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