foxhunt at dawn
The Jumping Game
explores the ancient and passionate bond between people and horses,
and traces the 150-year history of the steeplechase in the United
States through archival film and photographs.
Born in Ireland in
1752 - when at the end of a days foxhunting, two riders
settled the argument of whose horse was best by racing to a distant
church steeple - the sport crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the United
States early in the 19th century. Steeplechase
historian Peter Winants:
has a rich heritage in this country. According to my research,
the first race that was reported in The Sporting Journal
was in 1834, and amazingly enough was right in Washington, DC.
That racecourse is now part of Rock Creek Park, so times do change."
At the turn of the
last century some want-to-be jockeys
test their skills at the amusement park. "One of the most
popular rides atConey Island was 'The Steeplechase.'" Winants
says, "It was six horses on rollers, on six individual tracks
and it was gravity driven, so that the guy that was the heaviest
would invariably win these races."