What is jump racing?
As the same suggests, jump racing is the discipline of horse racing that involves jumping obstacles of one form or another. Jump, or National Hunt, races can be divided in hurdle races, steeplechases and, rather confusingly, National Hunt Flat races, which involve no obstacles at all. Hurdles are the smaller type of obstacle, standing a minium of 3’1″ high and consisting of lightweight, brushwood panels driven into the ground. Unlike hurdles, which are often knocked flat during a race, steeplechase fences are tallest, more rigid obstacles. They must be a minimum of 4’6″ high, but in the case of ‘The Chair’, which is the tallest fence on the Grand National course, can reach 5’3″ in height.
Jump races are typically run over distances between 2 miles and 4 miles 2½ furlongs, the latter being the distance of the world famous Grand National, run at Aintree Racecourse in April each year. Nowadays, jump racing takes place all year round, almost without interruption, but for National Hunt purists, the season ‘proper’ still starts in mid-October and ends in late April or early May. Aside from the Grand National, the highlight of the National Hunt season is undoubtedly the Cheltenham Festival, staged annually in March; the four-day Festival features the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup, which are ‘championship’ races in their respective disciplines.