In order to lure steeplechase runners from Europe for the $200,000 Calvin Highland Iroquois Steeplechase last May a lucrative bonus was being dangled. The bonus, which is awarded to the owner of horse that wins the Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle March and the Iroquois Steeplechase, has been renewed for this year. As well, a sponsor has also been added in the form of private equity firm TVV Capital.
“That historical connection is strong, as is our longstanding relationship with the Iroquois, and so we are very pleased to announce the TVV Capital Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge,” said Byrd. “We wish to thank Mike Hankin and Brown Advisory, who first introduced us to the Cheltenham Festival and without whom the Challenge would have been impossible.”
Rawnaq won the Iroquois Steeplechase last year, but a training injury kept him from attempting to win the bonus. He did win the top steeplechase runner Eclipse Award last year though.
“The Challenge is a tremendous thing for international jump racing, and as horse owners we’re looking forward to having an opportunity to pursue it ourselves whilst continuing to support both the Cheltenham Festival and Iroquois Steeplechase,” said Brown Advisory Chief Executive Officer Mike Hankin.
According to Iroquois Chairman Dwight Hall, he sees this as an opportunity to show to the world the best jump racing the United States has to offer.
“The Iroquois last year was a race for the ages, and we fully anticipate the top trainers in Europe entering their best horses again here in May,” said Hall. “Our intent was to reignite that overseas rivalry, and I believe we succeeded in doing that. They’ve seen how our tracks run and they have experienced our hospitality, and we expect the word to spread.”