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Iroquois Steeplechase 2018


By Nancy & Tommy Brannon

The second Saturday in May (12th) turned out to be a hot one for the steeplechase horses for the 77th annual Iroquois Steeplechase at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN. With temperatures in the mid 90s, ice, cold water, and misting fans were a necessity to cool the horses after running for 2 to 3 miles over “national fences” (brush) or timber. New this year was a clever innovation: ice wraps around the horse’s shoulders, made from plastic gloves. They looked like someone had wrapped their arms around the horses’ necks.

Jockey Ross Geraghty rode Zanjabell to victory in the 77th Calvin Houghland Iroquois, the richest race on the National Steeplechase Association’s spring schedule. In the paddock parade prior to the race, handsome Mr. Hot Stuff won the best turn out. He, along with Modem and All the Way Jose were the favored horses. But Kremlin took the early lead and led the pack for the first mile of the race. Then All the Way Jose way took the lead, but fell coming off the tenth fence (neither he nor jockey Darren Nagle were injured), putting him out of the running, and allowing Modem to take over first position, and leading over the last fence before the finish.

But after clearing the last of the 18 brush fences, Zanjabeel came on strong and took the lead, beating Modem by five lengths. Third placed Jamarjo finished 10 ¾ lengths back, and Mr. Hot Stuff was fourth. Zanjabeel is a coming five-year-old and was the youngest horse in the field of seven.

Other races of the day:
The Green Pastures Hurdle: first, Lord Justice (IRE), ridden by Sean McDermott, trained by Jack Fisher. Second: Whitman’s Poetry; third: Down Royal; fourth: Last Shani.

The Bright Hour Hurdle: first, Three Kingdoms (IRE), ridden by Kieran Norris, trained by Julie Gomena. Second: Schoodic; third, Orchestra Leader; fourth: Able Archer.

The Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle: first, Iranistan, ridden by Darren Nagle, trained by Jonathan Sheppard. Second: Gibralfara (IRE); third: Barnacle Bill (IRE); fourth: Lachares (IRE).

The Margaret Currey Henley Hurdle: first, Sarah Joyce (IRE), ridden by Jack Doyle, trained by Elizabeth Voss. Second: Inverness; third: For Goodness Sake (IRE); fourth: Get Ready Set Goes.

The George Sloan and John Sloan Sr. Hurdle: first, Cite, ridden by Willie McCarthy, trained by Jack Fisher. Second: Belisarius (IRE); third: Jump to Juneau; fourth Foxhall Drive.

The Mason Houghland Memorial Timber Stakes: first, Plated, ridden by Jack Doyle, trained by Jimmy Day. Second: Shinobi (GER); third: Two’s Company (IRE); fourth: Cornhusker (GB).

Jack Doyle received the 2018 Leading Rider of the Day Award. He accumulated 14 points at this year’s Iroquois, winning the Margaret Currey Henley Stakes on Sarah Joyce, winning the Mason Houghland Memorial Timber Stakes on Plated, taking a second on Modem in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois, taking third on Barnacle Bill in the Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, and a fourth on Last Shani in the Green Pastures Hurdle.

Of course, the Iroquois Steeplechase would not be complete without the hat contest, following the third race, the Marcellus Frost. Hers was a hat that would have made Klinger (from M*A*S*H) proud. Inspired by Carmen Miranda, the late actress known for her large fruit basket headdresses, Carolyn Smith Bryant wore her version of the iconic hat proudly. The oversized green hat sported a variety of artificial fruit, including lemons and bananas, mixed with garlands of red flowers, sunflowers, a butterfly, green and red feathers.

And for the youngsters, three heats of the ever-popular stick horse race were run following the second race, the Bright Hour Stakes.

The main beneficiary of the steeplechase was the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, official charity of the event.

A full staff of veterinarians from Tennessee Equine Hospital was on hand to assure the health and safety of the horses.

Find more information about the Iroquois Steeplechase at: and on facebook at Iroquois Steeplechase. Read about the Iroquois and the other steeplechase races at:
For more photos from the steeplechase, visit Tod Marks Photography:

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