Jumps racing: Rating the best courses in Britain

Jumps racing, also known as National Hunt racing, holds a special place in the hearts of British horse racing enthusiasts. With its thrilling blend of speed, stamina, and jumping ability, it offers some of the most exciting spectacles in the sport. For those looking to bet on horse racing, these venues provide top-class racing and the opportunity to engage with the sport at its highest level.  

Here, we rate the best jumps racing courses in Britain, each known for its unique challenges and illustrious history.

1. Aintree

Aintree Racecourse, located just north of Liverpool, is synonymous with the Grand National, arguably the most famous jumps race in the world. First run in 1839, the Grand National is a gruelling test of endurance and jumping ability over four miles and 30 fences, including the iconic Becher’s Brook and The Chair. 

Aintree’s course is known for its demanding obstacles and the unpredictability of its races, which contribute to the Grand National’s reputation as a race where anything can happen. The atmosphere during the Grand National Festival is electric, attracting huge crowds of over 100,000 and millions of viewers from around the globe. 

2. Cheltenham

Cheltenham Racecourse, set in the scenic Cotswolds, is the home of the Cheltenham Festival, the pinnacle of the jumps racing calendar. The Festival, held every March, features the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the Stayers’ Hurdle, among other top-class races. 

Cheltenham’s undulating course, with its stiff fences and demanding uphill finish, tests the mettle of the best horses and jockeys. The Festival’s unique atmosphere, known as the “Cheltenham Roar,” makes it a must-visit for racing fans and punters alike. 

3. Ascot

Ascot Racecourse, while primarily famous for its flat racing, also offers high-quality jumps racing, particularly during the winter months. The highlights of Ascot’s jumps season include the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase and the Ascot Chase, ran in January and February respectively. 

The course is known for its fair but challenging layout that test both speed and jumping ability. Ascot’s prestige, excellent facilities, and its close proximity to London make it a popular venue for both casual racegoers and serious bettors.

4. Sandown Park

Sandown Park, located in Surrey, is renowned for its excellent jumps racing, hosting key races such as the Tingle Creek Chase and the Sandown Gold Cup. The course features a unique mix of flat and jumps racing, with a demanding track that includes the famous Railway Fences. 

Sandown’s challenging layout requires horses to be both quick and agile. The aforementioned Tingle Creek Chase, held in December, attracts some of the best two-mile chasers in the sport, providing thrilling action for spectators and punters.

5. Kempton Park

Kempton Park, also situated in Surrey, is best known for the respected King George VI Chase, a major fixture in the jumps racing calendar held every Boxing Day. This race is second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in prestige among staying chasers. 

Kempton’s flat, right-handed track is known for its sharp turns and emphasis on speed and jumping accuracy. The course’s winter meetings, including the Christmas Festival, draw large crowds over the festive period and provide ample opportunities for those looking to bet on horse racing.