National Hunt horse racing is one of the finest sporting codes on show in the UK and Ireland throughout the year.
Watching horses leap over hurdles and fences, their teeth bared and nostrils flaring as they gun for the line, is what keeps horse racing betting punters coming back for more.
But newcomers to horse racing may not be too familiar with what the National Hunt actually is and when is starts! That’s why Paddy Power is here to help, as part of our Demystifying Racing series for new and experienced punters.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the National Hunt calendar, so you can bet more confidently when checking out the latest race cards in Paddy’s sportsbook!
What is National Hunt in horse racing?
National Hunt racing is a form of horse racing in the UK and Ireland where horses must leap obstacles like fences, hurdles or ditches during a race. This tests the skill of the horse and the jockey as the pair career round the racecourse at breakneck speeds.
The three different types of National Hunt race are hurdles, chases and bumpers.
National Hunt start date
Jump races are run in the UK and Ireland all year round but the National Hunt season can be said to start and end in line with the Jump Jockeys Championship.
The Jump Jockeys Championship begins at the start of July and runs to Finals Day at Sandown Park towards the end of April the following year.
The reason for defining the National Hunt season with a specific calendar date is so an annual Champion Jockey and Champion Trainer can be recognised.
Some jump races run between the end of April and start of July but these are not considered part of the Championship.
Meanwhile, the autumn Charlie Hall meeting at Wetherby is often seen as the date the racing world puts its full attention behind Nation Hunt meetings.
Famous jump jockey champions
- AP McCoy – 20 titles
- Peter Scudamore – 8 titles
- John Francome – 7 titles
- Richard Johnson – 4 titles and counting
How to bet on National Hunt races
If you’re looking for racing betting upsets then National Hunt races are one of the best formats for big-odds wins.
This is because the hurdles and fences horses must overcome during a National Hunt race can cause even the favourite to fall.
Big National Hunt races such as the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George VI Chase are famed for producing long-odds upsets down the years.
And this makes the races particularly attractive for horse racing betting enthusiasts who are seeking to make big gains on their bets.
- What does it mean when a horse is On the Bridle?
- What is a Black type horse race?
- What are the different types of going in horse racing?
- What is a bumper horse race?
- What are blinkers and why do some horses wear them?
- What is an Allowance Race in horse racing?
- What is the difference between hurdles and fences in National Hunt racing?
- What is a halter and why do some horses wear them?
- What does it mean when a horse has spread a plate?
- What is the Rule 4 betting rule in horse racing?
- What is the difference between graded, handicap and selling horse races?
- What does a novice hurdle in horse racing mean?
- What is a listed horse race?
- What does a novice chase in horse racing mean?
- Why do race horses have different ratings and what do they mean?
- Why are there different grades of horse race?
- Why are there 3 different types of National Hunt race?
- Why are race horses given different weights and what does it mean?
- How many different classes of horse race are there?
- What is a claiming race and what do they mean?
- What is an optional claimer in horse racing?
- What is a shadow roll and why do some race horses wear them?
- Why do some races start from stalls and some not?
- What is the difference between Derby and Oaks races?
- What does it mean when a horse knuckles during a horse race?
- What is a stayer in horse racing?
- What is a yearling horse and when are they ready to race?
- What does it mean if a horse has won a point race?
- What does a maiden mean in horse racing?
- How are horses’ ages calculated and why is it not the same as humans?
- What advantages do apprentice jockeys get when riding against professionals?
- What is a conditional jockey?
- What does the term ‘connections’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear cheekpieces?
- Who are the stewards in horse racing?
- What does ‘weighed in’ mean at the end of a horse race?
- What is a nursery race?
- Why are some National Hunt races run without fences?
- Why are some horses given a tongue tie during races?