With racegoers slowly but surely being welcomed back to meetings up and down the country, excitement is starting to build ahead of the next National Hunt Racing season.
Of course, spectators are already making their way to flat meetings, but with virtually the whole of the last jumps season going ahead without crowds, there’s a real urge for fans of the sport to get back to the likes of Prestbury Park, Kempton Park and Aintree.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some key dates for your dairy ahead of the next National Hunt Racing season, which will get underway later this year. Read on to find out more!
20 November: Lancashire Chase Day – Haydock Park
Lancashire Chase Day at Haydock Park is a great way to start the National Hunt Racing season. Pencilled in for 20 November, the racecard features a thrilling seven races, and is headlined by the Grade 1 Lancashire Chase, which will undoubtedly attract the best chasers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The three-mile, one-furlong race is part of the ‘Chase Triple Crown’, alongside the King George VI Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
26-27 December: The Christmas Festival – Kempton Park
The Christmas Festival at Kempton Park is hugely popular with racegoers, especially King George VI Chase Day. Traditionally held on Boxing Day, King George VI Day boasts three Grade 1 races, including the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, the Christmas Hurdle and of course the King George VI Chase. Day Two, known as Desert Orchid Day, boasts another jam-packed racecard, topped by the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Steeple Chase.
15-18 March: The Cheltenham Festival – Prestbury Park
The Cheltenham Festival is a National Hunt Racing fan-favourite. The four-day meeting, annually held at the iconic Prestbury Park in mid-March, features 14 Grade One races and attracts nothing but the best horses from UK and Ireland. With seven races held across each of the four days, there’s plenty to get excited about, including Day One’s Champion Hurdle, Day Two’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, The Ryanair Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle, which headline Day Three, and last but certainly not least, The Gold Cup, which is the pinnacle of the entire meeting! Willie Mullins’ Monkfish is already leading the Smarkets horse racing betting ahead of the Gold Cup.
7-9 April – The Grand National Festival – Aintree
Another meeting cherished by regular watchers of jumps racing is the Grand National Festival at Aintree. Of course, whilst the Grand National, which is widely regarded as the world’s greatest steeplechase, steals the headline on the final day of the meeting, there’s plenty of action to soak in across the three days. In fact, there’s a grand total of nine Grade 1 races across the course of the meeting.
Day One (Liverpool’s NHS Day) features three Grade 1 races, including The Bowl, The Aintree Hurdle and The 4YO Juvenile Hurdle, whilst the seven-race card on the renowned Ladies’ Day (Day Two) boasts four top-grade races, which includes the Novices’ Steeple Chase and the Melling Staple Chase. The build-up to the Grand National is second to none, with The Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, The Novices’ Steeple Chase and the Liverpool Hurdle, all Grade 1 races, setting the scene nicely for the main event.