Beginners Guide to Horse racing
“Newbies” to horse racing often become confused by the various types of horse races, which can be divided into 2 main categories:
Flat racing is what it says, namely turf racing with no obstacles to negotiate. Distances range from 5 furlongs (5f) to 2 miles 6 furlongs (2m 6f or 2╬ miles). The flat racing season runs from April-November. The most prestigious races in the flat season are the five Classic races. These comprise the 2000 Guineas (for 3-y-o colts) and 1000 Guineas (for 3-y-o fillies) run over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket in May. Soon after come the “Blue Riband” events for 3-y-o colts and fillies, namely the Derby and Oaks, run over the 1╫ mile course at Epsom Downs, in early June. The final Classic, the St. Leger, is run over 1m 6f at Doncaster, in September and is open to both sexes.
All-weather racing is a sub-division of flat racing, run on specially-designed surfaces, namely Polytrack at Kempton, Wolverhampton and Lingfield and Fibresand at Southwell. Its inception provided racing when winter National Hunt (see below) meetings were abandoned. Meetings generally take place from November-March.
National Hunt Racing
National Hunt or “jump” racing requires horses to negotiate obstacles, known as hurdles or fences, in a race. Race distances range from 2m to the 4╫ miles of the world`s best known race, the arduous Grand National, over 30 stiff fences, at Aintree, in early April. Many newcomers to the sport of horse racing overlook the fact that the Grand National is supported by other top-quality jump races, comprising a 3-day meeting from the Thursday to the Saturday. These include 7 Grade 1 races, with the 3m 1f Totesport Bowl, the 2m 4f Melling `Chase and the 2m 4f Aintree Hurdle amongst the highlights.
Although the Grand National is generally the most widely recognised race in the National Hunt calendar, aficionados of the sport of horse racing regard the Cheltenham Festival, in March, as the premier fixture of the National Hunt season. Included in its 5-day programme, running from Tuesday to Saturday are 27 prestigious hurdle and steeplechase races. Feature races are the 2m Champion Hurdle, the 2m Queen Mother Champion `Chase, the 3m World Hurdle and the “Blue Riband” steeplechase of the year, the 3╪ mile Cheltenham Gold Cup. Additionally, the King George VI `Chase, over 3 miles, at Kempton on Boxing Day, is a valuable and prestigious race in itself, but also an important guide to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with many previous winners going on to success at the March Festival.
In recent years, there has been much consternation amongst the public regarding injuries sustained by racehorses, both in training and during races. The latest of these is a near fore tendon injury sustained by top-class steeplechaser, Denman, in preparation for Leopardstown`s Lexus `Chase. The enormously popular 11-y-o dual winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup and 7l conqueror of stablemate Kauto Star in the 2008 Gold Cup has been retired, as of 9th December 2011. However, the Animalintex poultice, approved for many equine injuries and conditions, is a valuable health restoration aid and may help on this champion`s road to recovery.