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.

Alan Dufton

2010 Inductee

Alan Dufton won the prestigious Iroquois in 1962 on “Navy Fighter”, owned by Guilford Dudley, Jr. He went on to win the Iroquois again in 1967. The chance to come to America came in 1950, at the age of 24, with a job in the cotton trade out of Memphis. Here, an unprecedented Steeplechase event was scheduled to be held – a first of seven steeplechase meetings. Dufton would later call it “the mountain coming to Mohammed” for it gave him the entre he needed to join the ranks of notable jockeys. Guilford Dudley offered him a job in 1952 and from there Dufton’s jockey career sustained a sure, steady climb. By 1961, he had become the National Champion Amateur Jockey. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, he dreamed as a boy of becoming a jockey while riding his own pony. Just out of the army, he jumped at the chance to work at a racing stable. This experience led him to amazing opportunities in steeplechase racing, such as the American trainer who hired Dufton to ride his horse in the most challenging steeplechase in Europe – the Grand National in Aintree, England. So tough is this race that of a field of 35 to 40 horses often only a third of the entries actually finish. Dufton came in ninth – an admirable spot for his first time. Invited back to England to ride in the Grand National in 1962, he was ‘jocked off’ his original mount and given another horse, named “Ernest”. Dufton remembers this as a good omen since he and his wife, Lou, had chosen the name Ernest for their son. Dufton finished ninth out of 32 starters. The horse he was originally supposed to ride never finished. His return to America in 1962 lead to the Iroquois victories for which he is honored today. His family – wife Lou, daughter Sarah and her husband Rick English, and son, Ernie — also a former jockey — are proud to share this moment of honor with their beloved father/husband who so encouraged their own love of these horse racing events.