Early Highlights Of 2020/21 National Hunt Season

Published 2020/09/16

Early Highlights Of 2020/21 National Hunt Season

Jumps fans will be starting to get very excited about the new National Hunt season which will be quickly upon us.

As ever in National Hunt racing, all roads lead to Cheltenham for the Festival in March. There are, however, a number of highlights on the calendar before then. Here are a few races to look forward to in the early stages of the season.

Betfair Chase (21st November)

The first major Grade One contest in the 3m+ division is the Betfair Chase at Haydock and this is often where many of the major players make their seasonal reappearances.

Recent winners of this race include Cue Card, Bristol De Mai and Lostintranslation. The latter came out on top in 2019 and is the ante-post favourite in the betting on horse racing to defend his crown.

This year’s race could also include one of last season’s leading novices Champ. He was successful in the RSA back in March and has a great chance of making an impact against his older rivals over the next six months.

Haydock is a great test of jumping as the fences at the Lancashire course are some of the stiffest in the UK. This early season challenge is always a fascinating watch and it may give us a clearer picture of who are the leading challengers for the Cheltenham Gold Cup later in the campaign.

Tingle Creek (5th December)

Run over two miles, the Tingle Creek sees the fastest chasers in the UK and Ireland face each other around Sandown. This is a great race to watch as the speed the runners go over their fences is something to behold.

The winner of the Tingle Creek normally goes on to be one of the prominent runners in the betting for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival. In 2018, Altior was successful in this race before defeating his rivals at Cheltenham.

This year’s contest should see Altior return to action. Nicky Henderson’s superstar missed the back end of last season due to a splint injury. He could take on Defi Du Seuil and Politologue in an excellent renewal of the contest in early December.

King George VI Chase (26th December)

The King George VI Chase is the second most prestigious National Hunt contest of the season. It is behind only the Blue Riband event in the sport, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

This traditional Boxing Day feature is a hugely popular December horse racing fixture during the Festival period and always attracts a quality field.

Clan Des Obeaux has won the last two renewals of the King George and will be bidding to do what only Desert Orchid and Kauto Star have done before by making it a hat-trick of wins at Kempton.

Unlike at Cheltenham, this course suits horses who have a turn of foot, as it is a much flatter course. Clan Des Obeaux is unlikely to have it all his own way this year as the field is likely to include Champ, Santini and Lostintranslation.

Hopefully, all three of the above races don’t disappoint and they get the new National Hunt season off to a flyer.