history

The Iroquois Steeplechase has been Nashville's rite of spring since 1941, a time-honored tradition of Middle Tennesseans for seven decades. Its rich history dates back to the pasture races in Middle Tennessee during the 1930s, creating a legacy that resonates within the Nashville community.

George Sloan

2011 Inductee

An amateur jockey with professional stature, George's legacy as a four time winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase is surpassed only by his contribution to the sport. Born and raised in Nashville, George’s father, John, was a co-founder of the Iroquois Steeplechase. George’s first taste of the Iroquois came at age eight when he jockeyed in a pony race. In 1961, at the age of 21, he won the 20th Annual Iroquois Steeplechase on “Local Run,” a horse owned by his father-in-law and friend, Calvin Houghland. He went on to win the Iroquois three more times: in 1964 on Calvin Houghland’s “Hidden Chance;” in 1970 on James P. Melton’s “Somaten;” and in 1976 on Carter Hills Farm’s “He’s Trouble,” becoming the first rider to win the race four times, a feat yet to be surpassed. In 1970, George was named the US Champion Amateur Steeplechase Jockey. By 1977, he had set his sights on the most ambitious goal: becoming the first foreigner to earn the same title in England. George’s friend and fox hunting companion, Henry Hooker, suggested to George that they form a syndicate to buy the necessary horses to compete for the England title and so the “Jubilee Sportsmen” was born. The 1977-78 drive for the championship took 10 months, 16 horses and two trainers, Josh Gifford and George Fairbairn. On June 3, 1987, George rode to his 23rd win of the season on “Crofter” at Stratford-upon-Avon, securing the title of Britain’s National Champion Amateur Jockey, an accomplishment often compared to having a British baseball team come to America and win the World Series. In total, George Sloan won 148 races in the US and England, topping all American amateurs at the time. Upon his death in 2001, George Sloan left behind more than just an impressive racing record – he left a lasting mark on the sport of steeplechasing, as well. As founder and chairman of the International Steeplechase Group, he created the Sport of Kings Challenge series of international races and encouraged the expansion of steeplechasing at racetracks and race meets around the country.