Halloween has passed, and top class jump racing has begun at some of the country’s leading tracks. As we delve deeper into November, will you be watching the emerging jump season unfold?
Introduced to horse racing by my partner, who comes from a family of avid fans, my interest in National Hunt has grown over the last 10 years or so. I can distinctively recall my first outing to the races, a local point to point meet in Dingley (Leicestershire) with my partner. By the time I attended meetings such as Cheltenham, I was hooked.
Unfortunately this year, it is looking highly unlikely spectators will be able to attend. Although we have our tickets booked for December and over the Christmas/New Year holiday, this second national lockdown has certainly thrown a spanner in the works! I really hope we get to enjoy some great racing soon – I can’t wait to seeing how my picks fair on the course. So swap your fedoras, faux fur and tweed for your cosiest joggers and jumper, and follow from the comfort of your sofa.
Often called “the sport of kings,” horse racing has been perceived as a sport for only for the wealthy, putting many off. However, the purpose of this article is to show you quite the contrary, and I hope from writing this, at least one person will take away an interest in the sport that has so much to offer.
A typical day at the races might consist of parking up, bringing your own picnic, spectating and enjoying the buzz. Ticket prices can be purchased from as little as ten pounds, making it a great low-cost day out enjoying some top class British racing. Whether your with a group of friends or the kids, there is a jovial atmosphere of excitement and buzz in the air. Leading up to Christmas, you can also find a vast array of countryside related stalls exhibiting at many of the tracks, including country clothing, artisan food producers, country homeware or equestrian art – it’s the perfect place to spend some winnings! Not forgetting the children, there are plenty of marquees full of equestrian related activities to keep your kids occupied. So, have I got you interested yet?
You don’t need to put any bets on to enjoy the fun, and you don’t need to be an expert in horses either; the race card explains it all, with an easy to follow guide and explanations. Yet more often than not, many simply prefer to pick of a great sounding name or some preferred silk colours. Daunting as it seems, there is no need to get bogged down by all that form to study! There are plenty of expert punters out there giving tips, and I will gladly let them carry on. Instead with this article, I hope you fall in love with the idea of racing – regardless of your sporting knowledge. Though if you are interested, here’s a couple of distinctive beauties that I will be following this season.
Firstly, Champ, trained by none other than legendary Nicky Henderson. Despite an unfortunate fall at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, this 8yo gelding has performed remarkably well, winning the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. With some further sharpening on jumps, there’s no reason why this top class horse can’t come through at the 2021 Gold Cup. Afterall, he wasn’t named Champ for no reason.
Next up is The Big Breakaway from the Colin Tizzard stable. The Big Breakaway I feel is another distinctive horse, and is in fact owned by a syndicate local to my area of Northamptonshire. So far, he looks promising, with two out of three wins over jumps, and placing a respectable fourth in March this year at Cheltenham Festival – not bad for his third race. Overall, it’s sounding very promising for this 5yo. Trainer, Jonjo O’Neil has also spoke very highly of The Big Breakaway’s form over fences. A future Cheltenham winner? What do you think, let me know!
Regional Reporter - East Midlands
Female, 28 years old, Northamptonshire living (but also very familiar with Rutland due to parents living there), work full time in marketing. An avid lover of the British countryside and all that relates to it. I have an Instagram page with mostly countryside related content, and try to keep this updated as frequently as possible. In my spare time I enjoy travelling (although limited during COVID), hiking, camping and generally exploring what the UK’s countryside has to offer. When I have some spare time available, I enjoy a spot of clay shooting, home décor shopping (what women doesn’t love a bit of retail therapy?!) and thoroughly enjoy a day at the races with my other half, or a summers day spent at a country show. Always wanting to push my boundaries and try something new and exciting!