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Guide To Jump Racing

Each of the different categories of Jump race has its Championship race at either the Cheltenham Festival or the Aintree Grand National Festival.

These festivals are the main events of the Jumps season, and two of the most historic and important events in racing anywhere on the planet.

Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the Jump racing calendar anywhere in the world. Every owner, trainer and jockey dreams of having a winner at the festival in front of the huge crowds and the famous Cheltenham Roar.

Every race, be it the Gold Cup or a Novices Hurdle, is a championship race. Virtually every top Chaser and Hurdler is aimed at the Festival from the start of the season, and for jumps racing fans too, all roads lead to Cheltenham in March.

Aintree Grand National Festival

Since its inaugural running in 1839, the John Smith's Grand National has become the most famous and most valuable chase in the world. There is nothing quite like that sensation of the heart-clutching expectation as the 40-strong field are persuaded into line, ready to tackle the first of the thirty fences.

Held on the Saturday of a top class three day meeting, It's the time when even your granny has a flutter, and for those visiting Aintree during the meeting it's time to experience something really special. There truly is no spectacle like this in the entire Jumps racing calendar.

Types Of Racing

National Hunt racing in the UK is divided into two major distinct branches: Hurdles and Steeple Chase. Alongside these there are "Bumpers" which are National Hunt flat races.

The Jump Racing programme runs on turf from Autumn through to Spring and takes advantage of a variety and geographical spread of racecourses.

Timber obstacles of a minimum 3'6" in height are cleared.

Hurdles races are divided into the following categories, determined by age, experience and distance:

•2 mile Juvenile
•2 mile Novice
•2 mile Open
•2½ mile Novice
•2½ mile Open
•3+ mile Novice
•3+ mile Open

Please note:
'Juvenile' races are those open only to 3 year old horses if the race is in October-December, or 4 year olds only if the race is in January-April.
'Novice' races are only open to horses who, at the start of the Jumps season, are yet to win a race. However, the horse can continue to run in Novice races all season even after it wins a race, so long as at the start of the season it had never won a race.
'Open' races are open to all horses.

Steeple Chase
Where there are a variety of obstacles to be cleared which can include:

•Plain fence: which are a minimum of 4'6" in height on the take off side
•Water Jump: where horses clear a fence of at least 3' in height and land in water 3" deep
•Open Ditch: Are a minimum of 4'6" in height on the take off side with a ditch on the take off side

Again, Steeplechasing is divided into the following categories based on age, experience and distance:

•2 mile Novice
•2 mile Open
•2½ mile Novice
•2½ mile Open
•3+ mile Novice
•3+ mile Open

Each category has a Championship race at either the Cheltenham Festival or the Aintree Grand National Meeting. Each of the above categories are then divided into Grades based on the quality of the horses involved.

Bumpers (National Hunt Flat Races)
Generally the last race on a Jumps card, Bumpers allow novice horses to race on flat ground in order to become accustomed to racing before facing the challenge of Jump racing.

There are also some other kinds of race, all of which sit among the above categories:

Handicap Race
Races where the horse will carry a certain amount of weight, depending on the horse's handicap rating. The better the horse, the higher the rating so the more weight it will carry, thus giving horses of a poorer quality an even chance of winning the race.

Claiming Race
Also known as a 'claimer'. This is a race in which any runner may be claimed after the race for an advertised sum or more. If the owner of any runner wishes it to carry less than the maximum weight, the price at which it may be claimed is reduced accordingly.

Selling Race
Also known as a 'seller', a selling race is a race in which the winner must be put up for auction.

Maiden Race
Horses who have not yet won a race are referred to as maidens, hence a Maiden race is a race for non winners.

Apprentice Race
A race for apprentice jockeys only.
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