What to look forward to in this year’s Jump season

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The Jump Season Opener is now just weeks away, and anticipation for Chepstow is growing amongst National Hunt fans. The winter months always bring their fair share of drama and excitement and begin the long countdown to Cheltenham and Aintree in 2024. Granted the racing world still has its eyes locked on the remainder of the flat races this term, the jumps season is looming on the horizon and there is no better time to look ahead before runners stride out across the turf in October. Here’s what to look forward to ahead of the traditional National Hunt season.

Typically it’s during the winter months that the better quality horses compete, and the more prestigious fixtures occur and this year promises to be no different. The Betvictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham kicks November off in style. Many horses have made their seasonal debuts when it comes to this meeting which certainly adds its fair share of intrigue and mystery to the raceday. But more than that, it provides the first opportunity of the winter months to stride out on one of the most famous courses in the UK. Granted, the Cheltenham Festival is the more glamorous meet of the year, but the race track is arguably tougher to navigate given the much wider array of conditions during the winter months. Both the Old and New courses are known to be two of the most challenging not just in this country, but across the world and so with greater chances of softer ground in the latter stages of the year, jockeys and runners will have to be on top form to avoid any unforeseen upsets. Another key date in the calendar for all jockeys and trainers worth their salt is the Winter Festival at Newbury. Usually taking place in the last few days of November, this signature meetup features one of the big winter contests in the Coral Gold Cup on the Saturday. With a very similar layout, the outcome of this race can often give an indication of how runners will fare in the King George VI and Cheltenham Gold Cup events later on in the season. Le Milos won the event in 2022 and there were several suitors looking to wrestle that accolade away in 2023. Sandown in December brings competitors together for the Tingle Creek meeting at this historic racecourse. The hallowed turf in South West London has hosted some of the sport’s biggest names in Arkle, Mill Reef and Desert Orchid over the years and alongside the Tingle Creek hosts the Bet365 Gold Cup in April. It is a treasured track for race fans and always offers a spectacle whenever the winter months roll around. Rounding off the list of meets to look out for this Jumps season is February at Ascot. One of the oldest racecourses in the country, Ascot has a reputation as the royal family’s venue of choice for horse racing having catered to the monarchy every year at Royal Ascot. If you’re not one for the pomp and grandeur of that meet in 2024, then the challenging course in tough conditions in the winter months should be more than enough incentive to keep an eye on the track this Jump season.

As for the horses, there are several to keep track of this season. Willie Mullins is one of the most recognisable names in the sport of kings and with good reason. The Irishman has been in the winner’s circle on 864 occasions in his incredible career and does not look to be stopping that remarkable streak anytime soon. Mirazur West is his latest venture and after an impressive debut in a Naas bumper in April he is hotly tipped to be a consistent winner this winter. He is thought a lot of behind the scenes and is brimming with ability. Entering the campaign as a novice he is currently priced at 16/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2024 and based on current form that is an exceptional price for the talented newcomer. For those that need some betting inspiration you can always search the internet for the top tips for racing. Another novice to look out for will be Tiger Bay Queen. After sealing a glorious comeback victory at Fairyhouse in April in which the five-year-old came from last to win a Listed mares’ bumper, JP Mcmanus wasted no time in purchasing Tiger Bay Queen for himself. It is surely a piece of business that will come good too as the field that day was littered with some stiff competition. Peter Fahey has clearly done another excellent job with this mare and McManus’ new acquisition is one to take seriously heading into the new National Hunt season. Elsewhere there is a dark horse in the two-mile novice chasing division looking to usurp Marine Nationale and Facile Vega at the top of the pile. Mister Policeman is yet another Willie Mullins acquisition that has made a lot of progress in such a short amount of time. After a couple of runs as a four-year-old over in France, Policeman managed to make a winning start for the yard in an open-ceremony, two-mile hurdle at Cork. To come away with a win in only his third ever appearance on a racecourse is an impressive feat and justifies his billing at 16/1 for what is rumoured to be the long-term target, the Arkle.