The National Steeplechase Association’s Board of Directors hailed the launch of the innovative $500,000 Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge and pledged its continuing support to bringing top overseas horses to race in American Steeplechasing’s leading events.
The Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge will offer a $500,000 bonus to any horse that can win the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and the £260,000 Ladbrokes World Hurdle (Gr. 1) at England’s Cheltenham Festival in March within a 12-month period.
The 2016 Calvin Houghland Iroquois is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park. Iroquois Steeplechase Chairman Dwight Hall noted that any winner of the Brown Advisory Challenge would gallop away with approximately $850,000 in purses and bonus. Both races are contested at three miles over hurdles.
“The Brown Advisory Challenge is a valuable innovation for our sport, and the National Steeplechase Association supports it wholeheartedly,” NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri said.
“This year, we offered record race purses. Our race meets and host tracks added nearly $600,000 to their purses, an increase of more than 10%, and innovations such as the Brown Advisory Challenge help us to attract new fans and to build worldwide awareness of our growing jump-racing program,” he said. “We will do everything within our power to make the Brown Advisory Challenge a success.”
Michael D. Hankin, Brown Advisory’s CEO and a prominent steeplechase owner, was elected to a three-year term on the NSA’s Board of Directors at the organization’s annual meeting in Camden, S.C., on Nov. 20. Hall is an NSA board member and serves as the chairman of the Stewards Advisory Committee.
The historic Iroquois was first run in 1941 and celebrates the career of Iroquois, the first American-based horse to win the Epsom Derby, in 1881. After his return to the U.S., he stood at stud in Nashville. The race’s current name honors the memory of longtime Iroquois Steeplechase Chairman Calvin Houghland.
Among the Iroquois winners are Racing Hall of Fame members Flatterer (1987) and Lonesome Glory (1995), both of whom competed with distinction at Cheltenham. Demonstrative, the reigning Eclipse Award winner, is a two-time Iroquois winner.
“The Iroquois Steeplechase is proud to be a part of the Brown Advisory Challenge,” Iroquois Chairman Hall said. “It is our goal to attract top-level competitors worldwide to run in the Iroquois, which is the NSA spring season’s richest hurdle race.”
The Ladbrokes World Hurdle will be run next year on March 17 as the featured race of the Cheltenham Festival’s third day of world-class jumps racing. Formerly known as the Stayers’ Hurdle, it was first run in 1972 with the current conditions.
The Ladbrokes World Hurdle picked up two prominent candidates late in November after the £200,000 Hennessy Gold Cup over steeplechase fences. Trainer Paul Nicholls said he was pointing Andy Stewart’s Saphir Du Rheu to the 2016 World Hurdle after a fifth-place finish at Newbury. The six-year-old finished second in this year’s World Hurdle.
Also returning to long-distance hurdles is The Not Afraid Partnership’s Bobs Worth, who finished sixth in the Hennessy. The 10-year-old won the Hennessy in 2012 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following March for trainer Nicky Henderson.