What is steeplechase horse racing?

Steeplechase races are a type of thoroughbred contest where horses are asked to jump over obstacles, most often faux hedges, as they are racing.

The sport is believed to have originated sometime in the 18th century in Ireland as an offshoot of fox-hunting. The name is said to have been derived from the use of local landmarks, such as a church steeple, to identify the finish line.

Most steeplechase runners begin their careers racing “on the flat,” as traditional thoroughbred races are known. As a result, they tend to be a bit older than their flat racing counterparts like the Derby, Belmont and Preakness. The key to a successful transition from flat racing to steeplechase racing is stamina, and lots of it, as steeplechase runners are often asked to carry their speed over two miles or more.

In the U.S., steeplechase racing is primarily conducted along the East Coast, between Pennsylvania and South Carolina, according to the National Steeplechase Association.

The sport also remains popular in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and France.