If you’re a fan of the national hunt scene in the UK and Ireland, you haven’t got long left before the season officially ends. While there is jump racing all-year-round, the majority of it takes place between September and April every year. That means some of the biggest blue riband events are long gone. However, racing being racing, it leaves a selection of the most exciting until the death, just before the curtain drops. Which NH races are still ongoing, and which jockeys and trainers are looking to write their names into the record books? Keep reading to find out.
The Gold Cup, Cheltenham
The Cheltenham Festival is regarded as the premier sporting event in the horse racing calendar, with around a quarter-of-a-million supporters turning up to cheer on their favorite mounts.
The gold standard for the racing fraternity is the three-mile-and-two-furlong spectacle because it’s a true test of stamina, staying power, and skill. This year, two-time winner Al Boum Photo is slated to go for an unprecedented hat-trick of victories, which would make him one of the greatest chasers ever. The Cheltenham Festival betting seems to suggest that the favorite saddled by Willie Mullins will make light work of the competition.
However, he has drifted slightly in the betting – Al Boum was as short as 9/4 recently – so there’s a chance he might not make history. Either way, it’ll make for fascinating viewing.
The Grand National, Aintree
You might have heard of the Grand National as it’s one of the most popular races in British horse racing. It’s not as well-revered, mainly due to the fact that it’s a test of stamina and staying power more than anything else. However, it’s an institution in the hearts and minds of the UK public and draws huge audiences.
Covering four-and-a-half-miles, the contestants must safely navigate 30 ridiculously high fences. Just making it around the track is an achievement. However, if you want to win, your wager needs to get their second wind to claim the crown.
Unfortunately, there isn’t the same story as the Gold Cup, although there could have been if two-time champion Tiger Roll wasn’t awarded the top weight. He was, and as a result, was pulled from the race. Regardless, the galloping will be action-packed thanks to the size of the field and the relative skill level of the horses.
Triumph Hurde, Cheltenham
We’re back to Cheltenham for the Triumph Hurdle. As the first event on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, it holds significant esteem because it kicks-off the most important racing card and as a pre-cursor to the Gold Cup.
However, this year’s version is a quality standalone race, too. That’s down to the fact it’s dominated by two very smart juveniles, one from Ireland and one from the UK, and a few strong mounts that could easily take the victory. Zanahiyr is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles this season, but Tritonic will provide a stern test.
The dark horse is Quilixios. Trained by Henry De Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, it’s certainly got an outside chance with the festival’s top combination at the helm.