As the flat season draws towards its thrilling conclusion at British Champions Day at Ascot next month, National Hunt racing is gearing up for its much-anticipated return, and with the added bonus of racegoers returning to jump meetings for the first time since the Cheltenham Festival in 2020, it promises to be a tantalising campaign over the thrills and spills of fences and hurdles.
However, why wait around until the likes of the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National meeting to get a slice of the action when there are plenty of big meetings to get your teeth stuck into before the end of 2021? That said, read on as we take a look at some of the more illustrious meetings to come over the course of the next few months.
The November Meeting – Cheltenham Racecourse
Seen as the traditional curtain raiser to the new jumps season, the November Meeting, held at Cheltenham Racecourse between 12-14 November, boasts three fantastic days of top-class action, and it’s a great chance to see some big names, who could return to Prestbury Park later in the season to compete in The Festival’s biggest races. Day One features the Paddy Power Handicap Chase and the Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase, two races sure to attract a lot of attention in the horse racing odds, whilst Day Two is topped by the huge Paddy Power Gold Cup. The Greatwood Handicap Hurdle is the stand-out outing from the finals day’s six races.
Betfair Tingle Creek Festival – Sandown Park
Held at Sandown Park between 3-4 December, the two-day Betfair Tingle Creek Festival offers a thrilling weekend of jumps racing. The Grade Two Winter Novices’ Hurdle, contested over two-and-a-half miles, is the headline race on Day One’s six-race card, whilst Day Two features two Grade One races, the Henry VII Novices’ Chase before the meeting’s showpiece race — the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase. One of the top races in the two-mile category, the Tingle Creek’s biggest winners include Altior, the famed grey Desert Orchid and Kauto Star. This festival is another great chance to uncover this season’s gems.
Christmas Festival – Kempton Park
Traditionally starting on Boxing Day, the Christmas Festival at Kempton Park is one of the standout meetings of the entire jumps calendar, and given the two days’ fantastic racecards, it’s no surprise that it is such a hit with racegoers. Day One, known as King George VI Chase Day, plays host to three Grade 1 races, including the Boxing Day Showpiece, the Christmas Hurdle and, of course, the King George VI. Frodon and Bryony Frost upset the horse racing betting tips last year to win the showpiece race from 20/1. Day Two boasts six more exhilarating races, with the Desert Orchid Chase the feature race.
Welsh Grand National – Chepstow
The Christmas Festival at Kempton Park isn’t the only big meeting to look forward to over the festive period, as the Welsh Grand National takes place at Chepstow Racecourse on December 27th. Winners of the three and three-quarter mile race, which boasts a prize purse of £150,000, often go on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup later in their career, with 2016 Welsh Grand National winner Native River being the latest horse to do so, winning the Gold Cup in 2018. The Grade 1 Finale Junior Hurdle and the Grade 2 Championship Bumper ensure that it is a fantastic day of racing in South Wales.