Either of two distinct sporting events: (1) a horse race over a closed course with obstacles, including hedges and walls; or (2) a footrace of 3,000 m over hurdles and a water jump. The name derives from impromptu races by fox hunters in 18th-century Ireland over natural country in which church steeples served as course landmarks. Equestrian steeplechase is popular in England, France, and Ireland, and to a lesser extent in the U.S. The most famous equestrian steeplechase is the Grand National. Track-and-field steeplechase dates back to a cross-country race at the University of Oxford in 1850. The course and distance were standardized at the 1920 Olympic Games.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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