Jonathan Sheppard, a record-breaking horseman and a highly respected leader within the American Steeplechasing community, has been selected to receive the National Steeplechase Association’s prestigious F. Ambrose Clark Award. The award will be presented Nov. 22 at the National Steeplechase Museum in Camden, S.C.
“This is a great honor. There have been so many people who have put so much into steeplechasing, and I’m humbled to be among those receiving the F. Ambrose Clark Award,” Sheppard said.
Named for a legendary steeplechase horseman in the first half of the 20th century, the F. Ambrose Clark Award is presented periodically to those individuals who have been leaders in promoting, improving, and encouraging the growth and welfare of American Steeplechasing. The award was most recently awarded in 2007 to Austin A. Brown.
“Jonathan Sheppard exemplifies the finest virtues and values of American Steeplechasing,” said NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri. “As a horse trainer, he has no peer. He has trained young horsemen and sent them on to highly successful careers. He is the consummate sportsman and has contributed to the sport as an owner and breeder. And, he has provided consistent leadership for American Steeplechasing.”
Elected to Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame in 1990, Sheppard has established records for steeplechase victories by a trainer as well as for purse earnings in National Steeplechase Association races. Through the Saratoga meet, he had 1,045 victories over fences, and he has more than $21-million in NSA earnings in a career that began in 1966. He led the 2013 trainer standings by victories and purses through Saratoga.
Among the current trainers who worked under him are Janet Elliot, also a Hall of Fame member, and H. Graham Motion, trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby (Gr. 1) winner Animal Kingdom.
The 72-year-old native of Ashwell, England, is an active owner and breeder whose homebred Italian Wedding won the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 22. He also is the co-owner and co-breeder of Divine Fortune, a finalist for last year’s Eclipse Award.
In addition, he served as the National Steeplechase Association’s president from 2004 through 2006. As a Clark Award recipient, Sheppard joins two previous recipients who are longtime clients and former NSA presidents. George Strawbridge Jr., the sport’s all-time leading owner, received the F. Ambrose Clark Award in 1979, and Bill Pape was the recipient in 1988. Both Strawbridge and Pape served multiple terms as the NSA president.