What is the difference between a fence and a hurdle?

What is the difference between a fence and a hurdle?  In National Hunt racing, participants are required to jump two basic types of obstacle, namely fences and hurdles. Fences, which are jumped in steeplechases, or chases for short, come in three different varieties, plain, open ditch and water jump; with the exception of the water jump, which is optional in any case, they are higher, less rigid and less forgiving than hurdles. A plain fence, which must be at least 4’6″ in height, consists of a rigid frame, made from steel or timber, stuffed with real or artificial birch – the density of which determines the ‘stiffness’ of the fence – and sometimes, but not always, ‘dressed’ with loose spruce topping. An open ditch is simply a plain fence preceded by a shallow ditch, several feet wide, to create a broader, more challenging obstacle.

Hurdles, on the other hand, are lightweight, portable panels of cut brushwood, which are hammered into the ground, side by side, to create a so-called ‘flight’ or hurdles. Each flight of hurdles must stand at least 3’1″ high and at least 30′ wide, but is nonetheless a relatively flimsy obstacle when compared to even the most innocuous steeplechase fence. In a hurdle race, it is not unusual for horses to kick out the top bar or knock individual hurdles flat.

Which is the best racecourse in the world?

Which is the best racecourse in the world?  Horse racing is popular in many jurisdictions, including Europe, North America, Australia and Asia, so any discussion of the ‘best’ racecourse in the world is bound to be highly subjective. However, what makes a premier racecourse essentially boils down to the configuration, construction and location of the course, available facilities and the type, frequency and quality of the racing staged.

For example, Ascot Racecourse, in Berkshire, South East England, has enjoyed a prestigious association with the British Royal Family for over 300 years. Ascot is best known for the five-day Royal Ascot meeting, staged annually in June, but hosts numerous premier events throughout the year. Between September, 2004 and June, 2006, Ascot underwent a £200 million redevelopment, including a new, 45,000-capacity grandstand building and a new parade ring, with the express intention of becoming the ‘finest racecourse in the world’.

Just a short hop across the English Channel, in the Bois de Boulogne, west of Paris, Longchamp Racecourse is best known as the home of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, run annually on the first Sunday in October. Nowadays the most valuable race in Europe, with €5,000,000 in total prize money, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe celebrated its centenary in 2021. The roll of honour includes Ribot, Sea Bird, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave and Sea The Stars, to name but a handful. Redeveloped, at a cost of €140 million, in 2016 and 2017 and rebranded ‘ParisLongchamp’, the most iconic racecourse in France nows features a striking 160-metre long grandstand, offering uninterrupted, 180º views across the racecourse.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, in the Southeastern United States, is best known as the perennial home of the so-called ‘Run for the Roses’, the Kentucky Derby, which it has hosted annually, on the first Saturday in May, since 1875. Universally recognisable by its trademark twin spires, Churchill Downs is a National Historic Landmark but, in 2005, unveiled a 3½-year, $121 million facelift, which included a new, spacious clubhouse and luxury suites.

Elsewhere in the world, other candidates for the ‘best’ racecourse include Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, home of the Dubai World Cup, and Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia, home of the Melbourne Cup. Of course, there are many more, but ultimately the choice is a matter of personal preference.

Who founded Aintree?

Who founded Aintree?  Of course, nowadays, Aintree Racecourse is synonymous with the most famous steeplechase in the world, the Grand National. However, the race that became the Grand National, the ‘Grand Liverpool Steeplechase’, was not run for the first time until February, 1836, nearly seven years after Aintree staged its inaugural Flat meeting in July, 1829.

Horse racing at Aintree was the brainchild of local hotelier and sports promoter, William Lynn who, in 1829, approached William Molyneux, Second Earl of Sefton with a view to leasing the land on which the racecourse now stands. Molyneux sanctioned the use of his land for horse racing and, following the construction of a grandstand, the first race, the Croxteth Stakes, was run on July 7 the same year.

The venture proved highly successful and supported, financially, by Molyneux, the Jockey Club and others, Aintree Racecourse flourished. National Hunt racing was introduced in 1835 – although the National Hunt Committee would not be formed until three decades later – and the following year, drawing inspiration from an existing race, the Great St. Albans Steeplechase, Lynn staged his own version. The Grand Liverpool Steeplechase was still known by its original title until 1947, when it was renamed the Grand National, but the word ‘national’ was first used in connection with the 1839 renewal, which is now generally considered the first ‘official’ running of the Grand National.

Which racecourse originally hosted the Welsh National?

Which racecourse originally hosted the Welsh National?  Nowadays, the Coral Welsh Grand National is a Grade 3 handicap steeplechase run over 3 miles 6½ furlongs at Chepstow Racecourse, where it has been hosted since 1949. In its history, the race has assumed various positions in the calendar, but in recent years has been scheduled for December 27 each year. The race is also the subject of the longest-running commercial sponsorship in British horse racing, having been sponsored by Coral bookmakers since 1973; understandably, more often than not, it is referred to by its sponsored title.

Prior to Chepstow, the Welsh National was staged at Caerleon Racecourse, on the banks of the River Usk, just once before its closure in 1948. The race was established at Ely Racecourse, to the west of Cardiff, in 1895, largely as a result of the popularity of horse racing in the Principality. Indeed, the inaugural running was watched by 40,000 spectators, many of whom overwhelmed the stewards and effectively gatecrashed the meeting. The Welsh National remained at Ely Racecourse until its closure, in the face of dwindling attendances, in 1939. After a brief hiatus for World War II, the race was transferred, briefly, to Caerleon and hence to Chepstow.

1 2 3 4 5 7