Steeplechase is a distance horse race with obstacles for the horse to jump, such as fences, pools and ditches. Steeplechase is a form of horse racing popular in the United Kingdom and the United States that involves a distance horse race with diverse fence and ditch obstacles.
The origins of steeplechase date back to 18th century Ireland as a form of cross-country horse racing which went from church steeple to church steeple. The first steeplechase race is said to have been the result of a wager in 1752 between Cornelius O'Callaghan and Edmund Blake, racing four miles cross-country from Buttevant Church to St. Leger Church in Cork, Ireland. This race was indicative of early steeplechase races that were held cross-country instead of on a track. The first steeplechase on a track was run in Bedlam, North Yorshire in 1810. Thomas Hitchcock is known as the father of American steeplechasing. In the late 1800s, he built a steeplechase training center on his 3,000-acre property in Aiken, South Carolina and trained horses imported from England. No less important are the contributions by fellow Aiken seasonal resident F. Ambrose Clark. Clark held many important chases on his Brookville (Long Island) estate, Broad Hollow, in the 1920s and 1930's. Ford Conger Field was built by F. Ambrose Clark and is the site of the annual Aiken Steeplechase, a part of the Triple Crown in March. The first Steeplechase Meet in Aiken was held March 14, 1930 in Hitchcock Woods. In addition to the Aiken Steeplechase, South Carolina is also home to the Colonial Cup and the Carolina Cup, which is the largest event on the circuit. Both of these races are held in Camden, South Carolina.