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THE INSIDE TRACK

Now You Know

May 02, 1997|HOUSTON MITCHELL

Why is a horse race over an obstacle course called a steeplechase? According to the book "The Beginner's Guide to Horse Racing," a group of fox hunters in England in 1756 was returning home from an unproductive hunt when one of them suggested a race. A church steeple was visible in the distance. He bet that he could ride to the steeple and reach it before anyone else. It was agreed that the course to the steeple had to be straight, though, meaning riders had to jump obstacles on the way. The bet was accepted, and the "steeplechase" began.

It was such a hit, it became a monthly event, and later evolved into the obstacle course race it is now.

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