National hunt races
National hunt races just as on the flat there are various levels of ability but of course, they are different categories all together as there are four types of obstacles to negotiate.
Hurdle races contain the smallest obstacles that horses have to negotiate, they are around three and a half feet in height, can be different from course to course, and some hurdles are stiffer and harder than others.
Brush Fixed Hurdles is a smaller version of fences in that they are built in a similar way, both are fixed and can’t be flattened like hurdles during a race. These type of hurdles were developed in France and some of our courses, such as Haydock and Southwell have adopted these for use instead of British-made hurdles.
Fences (A Steeplechase race), are larger obstacles which are usually around four feet and six inches high, they can be made from a variety of material, usually, Birch and again can differ in height slightly, width and strength at each course.
Grand National fences are unique, only reserved for Aintree racecourse, and the fences vary in height size from one to another, width, material makeup and furthermore there is a variation of the contours of the surface before liftoff and landing on some of these fences.
As with flat racing, pattern events are the races that attract the best horses, however, unlike the flat, these races are known as graded races as opposed to group races despite the fact they have the same meaning.
Here below are the race classification list for National Hunt Racing.
Pattern Races; Grade 1,2,3 and listed races. Grade one is the highest class race available and listed races are just one level below grade three races.
Unlike the flat, it is possible to have a grade two race which is a handicap with certain rating parameters in place, for example, a grade two race containing horses only rated between 120-140, although there are different parameters for different races within this class group.
Grade three races can also be an open handicap sometimes with a wider bandwidth of rated horses allowing to enter based on the conditions set at the time.
Handicap races are broken into five divisions based on a horses rating.
Class 1: Includes pattern races as above for Grade 2, 3 and listed races.
Class 2: Horse rated from 0-140
Class 3: 0-120 and 0-135
Class 4: 0-100 and 0-115
Class 5: 0-85 and 0-95
Other types of jump races include the following;
Novice Hurdle races which are for horses that have not won over this discipline in the previous season. This also applies to a novice handicap.
Novice Chase races which are for horses that have not won over this discipline in the previous season.This also applies to a novice handicap.
Juvenile races are races over hurdles confined to three-year-olds from October to December and four-year-olds from January to April.
Amateur/conditional races. Races in which only an Amateur can ride or a conditional event where only conditional (ie; apprentice) jockeys can ride.
Hunter Chase is for horses that must have been used in a hunting event and only amateur jockeys can ride these horses.
Selling Hurdle/Chase for horses at the very low end of the spectrum in terms of ability and are offered for sale, usually by auction after the event.