national hunt racing

What is National Hunt Racing?

In National Hunt Racing, there are obstacles* on the course (as opposed to Flat racing, where there are not). The two most iconic and well-known horse races of any kind held in Great Britain, the Grand National and the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, are National Hunt races.

  • The majority of the National Hunt races in Great Britain take place in the winter months, rather than summer. There is a good reason for this, as the race courses should be softer in winter (as of course there should be more rain). As horses have to jump obstacles, this makes it a lot less dangerous than in the summer months.
  • National Hunt racing can take the form of either hurdles or steeplechases.
  • In hurdles races the obstacles the horses must jump are hurdles. There will be a minimum of eight hurdles in any race. These hurdles have a minimum height of three and a half feet. The races are between two to three and a half miles.
    • A well known example of a National Hunt hurdles race is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, which is a Grade 1 race – this race is the first race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. At the start of this particular race you will hear the traditional Cheltenham Roar – as the crowd celebrate the start of the festival.
  • In a steeplechase, obstacles can be varied – e.g. open ditches, plainfences, or water jumps. The minimum height of the obstacles is higher than the hurdles races – four and half feet is the lowest height allowed. The distances of these races can be longer than the hurdles races – although they also start at two miles, they can be as long as four and a half miles.
    • The Grand National is, of course, the world’s most famous steeplechase. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is also a steeplechase.

* There is also a form of National Hunt racing, without obstacles – these races are called Bumpers, and are used for training less established horses before they begin their jumping career. These have distances of between one and a half to two and a half miles.

There are many National Hunt races for you to bet on – why not check out the markets?