Pierrot Lunaire won back-to-back National Steeplechase Association grade I races.<br><a target="blank" href="http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/at-the-races-2012/22274956_jFd5jM#!i=2162763533&k=Mpd2RFR">Order This Photo</a>

Pierrot Lunaire won back-to-back National Steeplechase Association grade I races.
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Skip Dickstein

Champion Steeplechaser: Pierrot Lunaire

Son of War Chant won North American steeplechase racing's signature event.

Pierrot Lunaire pulled off what no other horse did over hurdles in 2012, winning back-to-back National Steeplechase Association grade I races to take home an Eclipse Award as outstanding steeplechaser.

Mary Ann Houghland's 8-year-old son of War Chant took the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Hurdle Stakes (NSA-I) at Belmont Park in September at odds of 48-1, digging in gamely to get his nose ahead on the line over A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-I) winner Spy in the Sky in the 2 1/2-mile hurdle contest.

He then returned to claim North American steeplechase racing's signature event, the $250,000 Grand National (NSA-I) in October at Far Hills, blasting past frontrunner Divine Fortune in the final stages of the 2 5/8-mile event for a three-quarter length win. Fourth in that field was another top Eclipse Awards contender, Demonstrative.

For Houghland, Pierrot Lunaire's Eclipse Award was sweet justification of a decision to persevere in spite of a nine-race winless streak. Before the Lonesome Glory,  you had to look back to 2009 to find a victory from this runner who had been imported by trainer Bruce Miller and the late Calvin Houghland after racing on the flat in France and over jumps in England. The newcomer upset the 2009 Iroquois Steeplechase (NSA-I) in his first U.S. start just six months before Calvin Houghland passed away, but he did not win again until the upset in the Lonesome Glory.

Although Mary Ann Houghland dispersed most of the stable after her husband's death, she kept faith in Pierrot Lunaire mostly due to Miller's urging. Transferred to the care of Miller's daughter, former champion jump rider Blythe Miller Davies, the big bay blossomed. Coincidentally, Davies was the regular rider of the champion steeplechaser Lonesome Glory, for whom Pierrot Lunaire's comeback victory was named.

Pierrot Lunaire, bred in Kentucky by Skymarc Farm out of the Hernando mare Playact, also claimed the Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year's leading earner on the steeplechase scene. He concluded 2012 with two wins and a third in the Temple Gwathmey Hurdle Handicap (NSA-III) for purses of $253,000. He was ridden by Bernie Dalton to both of his grade I wins.

Vote Totals
Horse Votes
Pierrot Lunaire 116
Demonstrative 99
Arcadius 1
Divine Fortune 1
Woodmont 1
Voter Absentions 36