The Colonial Cup—America’s first international steeplechase
The $100,000 purse made it the richest steeplechase in America. Ranked just behind The Grand Steeplechase of Paris, it was the second richest steeplechase in the world.
Fifty years ago, a visionary American horsewoman, Marion duPont Scott, her equally ambitious race director, and a group of sport and civic-minded people launched America’s first international steeplechase, The Colonial Cup.
The inaugural running in 1970 attracted 22 runners including nine foreign entries. They came not only for the generous purse, but also the chance to compete against international stars in the only steeplechase in the world where no portion of the racecourse is repeated—all 18 fences jumped a single time.
For spectators, The Colonial Cup course offers unparalleled views because of the unique inner loop and outer loop course design. The 2 ¾ mile classic starts its inner loop with a straight run up the backside of the infield followed by a gentle left-hand turn toward the grandstand. The panoramic sight of the field as it takes the next four fences is one of the most memorable in jump racing.
The Marion DuPont Scott Colonial Cup is the bookend for the steeplechase year. As the last Grade I stake of the season, the undercard races are all championship races. It’s not uncommon for many of the coveted year-end awards to be decided on Colonial Cup day.
The Colonial Cup attracts the top horses, those still standing after a tough campaign at hunt meets and major racetracks on the East coast. For owners, trainers and riders, winning The Colonial Cup remains a career-making milestone.The Colonial Cup was founded by Marion DuPont Scott in 1970 and has been run annually since its inception. The race was the first major international steeplechase ever run in the US and its purse of $100,000 made it the second richest jump race in the world. The fall race meet at Springdale is usually the last hunt meeting of the year; hence, year-end awards are “in play” and the racing is as exciting as an NFL-playoff game.