Last fall, officials from the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tennessee and Cheltenham Racecourse in the United Kingdom announced a $500,000 bonus to any horse that could win both the Iroquois and the Cheltenham World Hurdle within one calendar year. Now the Volunteer State Horsemen’s Foundation has boosted the purse on the American side to $200,000, a $50,000 increase.
The Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge is straightforward: win first place in both the Cheltenham Group 1 World Hurdle on March 17, 2016, and the Grade 1 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 are three-mile races on turf over fences.
“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. “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 25 years, a handful of 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 1970s. The legendary gelding Flatterer, a four-time consecutive Eclipse Award winner, ran second at Cheltenham in the 1980s, and Blythe Miller on Lonesome Glory won 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 Cheltenham Festival has become England’s largest sporting event, attracting nearly 250,000 spectators to its annual four-day meet in March. The Challenge is an opportunity to attract more American horses to compete there, and to offer English, Irish and European horses a larger opportunity on the world stage.
Brown Advisory is an independent investment firm with a trans-Atlantic presence, with offices on the East Coast of America and in London. Founded in 1993 as an affiliate of Alex. Brown & Sons, a leading U.S. investment bank, Brown Advisory became independent in 1998 and established its international business in London, in 2008. The firm provides investment management services for individuals, families, charities and institutions based in over 35 countries worldwide. The firm’s employee ownership, experienced investment professionals, collaborative investment process and solutions-based culture help to make a material difference in the lives of its clients. To learn more about Brown Advisory please visit www.brownadvisory.com.