E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A horse-race across fields, hedges, ditches, and obstacles of every sort that happen to lie in the way. The term arose from a party of fox-hunters on their return from an unsuccessful chase, who agreed to race to the village church, the steeple of which was in sight; he who first touched the church with his whip was to be the
winner. The entire distance was two miles.
The Grand National Steeplechase is run on the Aintree course, Liverpool.