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Directory of Steeplechasing Resources

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The name "steeplechasing" came from the quaint custom of horsemen (and ladies, when so inclined) to challenge one another to a race, often selecting the most notable and identifiable landscape feature - usually a far away church steeple - as the finish line. These impromptu races often took the form of a deadout run straight cross-country, hurtling every obstacle in the way - including hedges, walls, brush, livestock, and irate farmers - much to the exhilaration of the riders and whatever spectators happened to be standing within view.

In its more modern form, this delightful sport still involves a blistering gallop over fences and brush, however it now takes on far tamer turf, and is generally found in the company of "the finer set" who dress to the nines for the occasion, dragging out the china, silver and caviar for an appropriate "tailgate picnic" while ostensively viewing the galloping field from the vantage point of an enclosed paddock or a gentle, well-groomed hillside.

Among the more famous steeplechases are Ascot (which is known for not only for its astounding ability to encourage the most ostentatious ladies hats imaginable, but also played a delightful and memorable part in the movie My Fair Lady), The Grand National (another which found its way to the silver screen, launching a young Elizabeth Taylor to Hollywood stardom in the movie National Velvet), and The Maryland Hunt Cup (an American institution that proudly boasts a heritage predating the Revolutionary War).



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