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owners1What does it feel like to be an owner of a steeplechase horse?

Only an owner can tell you that. But it surely includes affection, compassion and pride. What differentiates steeplechase racing from flat racing is the connection that owners have with their horses. They are most likely part of their family with the prospect of enjoying a long career before joining their owners in the hunt field or on the occasional hack in countryside.

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Gil Johnston and Janet Elliot with Hiwasee Gem. It’s been said that horses are good for the soul. Tod Marks photo

Your 2015 NSA Award Winners

With autumn racing coming to a close, the National Steeplechase Association celebrated with the annual awards dinner at the National Steeplechase Museum.

Dawalan, owned by Irv Naylor and trained by Cyril Murphy, won the last stakes race of 2015, the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup Grade 1 Hurdles Stakes, a 2-3/4-mile race over National Fences, under jockey Ross Geraghty, at Springdale Race Course in Camden, SC.

“My biggest regret is that Irv isn’t here to see it. This is his great love,” Diane Naylor said after accepting the trophy on his behalf. “This is a team effort, everyone working together. I’m excited for Cyril and the barn. It’s a dream come true. Everyone ends the season on a good note.”

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2016 Owner-Trainer Symposium and Steeplechase Auction

The National Steeplechase Association (NSA) recently announced the dates of the second annual Owner-Trainer Symposium and Steeplechase Auction. It will be held Sunday, April 10, at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, VA.

The event will bring together industry leaders to share their insights on how to make American jump racing ownership a fulfilling and rewarding experience. The Steeplechase Auction portion of the program will feature horses that are ready to run, are progressing toward their first 2016 starts, or are prospects for racing over fences.

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Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge

Few sports have the kind of longevity that makes the announcement of the Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge so meaningful. Nearly 200 years after the USA recorded its first jump race and the first Cheltenham Gold Cup was held in England, a $500,000 bonus will be awarded for any horse that wins both the Ladbrokes Group 1 World Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse in England and the Grade 1 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle Stakes in Tennessee within a 12-month period.

“Throughout modern history, a number of great horses have crossed the Atlantic to race on these two historic courses, and we want to promote that international competition,” said Iroquois Steeplechase Chairman Dwight Hall, a former jockey and board member of the National Steeplechase Association.

“This is a new tradition with significant implications – a successful horse could earn more than $850,000 by winning both races, considering their individual purses and the Brown Advisory Challenge bonus.” For more information, visit or

Hope Cooper, National Steeplechase Museum Honoree

hopecooper"She is the rare person who just keeps giving," said of one of Springdale Race Course’s most dedicated during a reception to launch this year’s Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in Camden, SC. Hired in 1988, she was an integral part of establishing College Park, making Springdale a year-round training center and building the sponsor mounds. Named Curator of the National Steeplechase Museum when it opened in 1998, she built the collections and raised plenty of funds before passing her Executive Director title over in 2014 prior to retiring in 2015 when she celebrated her 58th year at the Carolina Cup. Hope Cooper’s perspective will add greatly in her new role as a recently elected member of the Board of Directors.

New Ratings System Helps Owners Stay in the Sport

owners3The NSA Ratings System is intended to provide more racing opportunities for horses after their maiden victories. All winners over hurdles will be assigned numerical ratings with races written for horses within specified rating ranges. For more information, contact the National Steeplechase Association,

photo by Tod Marks