Apart From Home, where else can you watch Jump Racing?
Modern jump racing began in the 18th century in England. Since then, horse racing events in Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Berkshire have shaped the nationÔÇÖs identity in the sport. The success of trainers like Kerry Lee and Henry Daly has also put England on the map for horse racing, but what other countries are actively involved in this sport? TodayÔÇÖs article will explore a few beyond those like France you’ll already be aware of.
There are over 250 racecourses across the USA, most practising flat racing only.Indeed, states like Ohio are known for horse racing, including some of the most famous racing tracks like Mahoning Valley Racecourse, Scioto Downs, and Belterra Park. Like in England, betting on horse racing is very popular in Ohio. This interest spreads across a range of sports, however, and BonusFinderÔÇÖs in-depth reviews and guides on OhioÔÇÖs different sportsbooks and apps demonstrate this. These sportsbooks include BetMGM, one of the biggest names in the American online gambling business. BetMGM compares to the UKÔÇÖs Paddy Power or Betway when it comes to horse racing.
Less well known is the east coast – centric calendar of steeplechase and hurdle meets sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. The season runs late March to June, then from September-November. Top among these is Maryland, which hosts a variety of fixtures and Point-to-Points too, but Virginia is also well horsed. Further south, Callaway Gardens, the new Florida Steeplechase, and of course, the marquee event, the Iroquois, make for an eclectic calendar of events with a modern day slant on Victorian era America. Tailgate parties have as much in common with a smart British Point-to-Point as with Cheltenham or Ascot, and some of the faces will be very familiar. Gordon Elliott enjoyed a double at Far Hills, New Jersey, this October, on the same day that Shark Hanlon’s Hewick won their valuable Grand National Hurdle. He is now quoted as low as 20/1 for the Gold Cup. Jockey Tom Garner is among the leading riders.
France & Belgium
We know that Jump racing is big in France for no better reason than that many of our runners over here are now French-breds. Auteuil, Clairefontaine and others trip off the tongues as well-known destinations where you can be assured of competitive racing and a very Gallic experience. Yet the charm of France lies as much in its wide range of rural courses, like Lion d’Angers, in the Mayenne, a picturesque course by the river, or Pau, which runs splendid Jump races through the winter where its training centre expands to include itinerant trainers from Lamorlaye and Chantilly, who set up shop there for its two month season. The variety is just as marked as in the UK, and the cost of admission (often free) and champagne makes it a very attractive day out.
In neighbouring Belgium, Jumps fans need focus on just one day a year, the Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday, when 40,000 spectators cram into Waregem Racecourse, an otherwise nondescript town in Flanders, to watch their big steeplechase.
The hotbed of Jump racing east of France is the Czech Republic, led by Pardubicka Racecourse, an hour’s drive from Prague. British or Irish success has been sporadic in the feature race, the Pardubice Chase each October, albeit not for want of trying. Adventurer Charlie Mann was the first and last to succeed with It’s A Snip in 1995. Local trainer rider Josef Vana is the man to follow in the great race, a winner no less than 8 times.
But you’ll also find jumping in Bratislava at Zavodisko. Whilst this is very much the junior partner to a flat programme, the Jump races are well received.
Germany, Austria & Switzerland
Jump racing has all but died out in Germany, although sporadic races take place at venues like Hamburg, better known as home of the Deutsher Derby, and at Bad Harzburg, where the horses race through shoulder-deep water in one obstacle! Course specialists hold sway here.
Austria has virtually no racecourses; trotting is the name of the game here, but Jumps enthuiasts can see Jump racing in the verdant pastures of Maienfeld in Switzerland. Two days a week apart in October comprise the calendar with cross country and steeplechase races against a spectacular backdrop of Alpine meadows.
Australia & New Zealand
Older racegoers may recall that West Country trainer David Barons enjoyed much success with New Zealand bred horses in the eighties, notably Playschool, winner of the race then known as the Hennessy under no less a man than Paul Nicholls. New Zealand’s temperate climate lends itself perfectly to horse breeding, but Jump racing here, like so many other places, is under pressure. Around 100 Jump races take place each year from May – September, including the Great Northern Steeplechase, and its hurdle equivalent, the Great Northern Hurdle. Riccarton Park and Trentham are the leading lights.
The vast continent of Australia is racing mad. In no other territory will you see the same level of enthusiasm as in the UK. In fact, racing competes well with Aussie Rules football and even cricket for exposure. That said, Jump racing is restricted pretty much to Victoria.┬á There’s been recent angst about the cessation of Jump racing at the popular Easter Oakbank fixture, and the reality of the fixture list is that the horse population oscillates between middle and long distance flat races and hurdles. There are very few Jumps only cards. Try attending the Warrnambool Carnival in May if you’re visiting in their autumn, or if in the Spring, there is really only one event you must attend – the Lexus Melbourne Cup in November. Marked by a public holiday, it enjoyed a British success this year even if trainer David Eustace is now domiciled there. Maisie Rollason, who rides Gold Trip at home, is an Englishwoman. Her mother Wendy works for Stratford Racecourse, and is often found driving Tom Scudamore to the races!
Japan & the Far East
It may come of something of a surprise that Japan even figures in a compendium of nations staging Jump races, yet its two main races are among the most valuable of their genre anywhere in the world. The Nakayama Jump in April has been in existence since 1999 and offers a staggering $1.3m for its 2m 5f dash. It remains for the large part a Japanese benefit however; the Aussies have won the race three times, New Zealand once and that globe-trotting Irishman Willie Mullins once, with Blackstairmountain, in 2013.
While not a country, it is also worth mentioning that Hong Kong has a big horse racing culture, albeit entirely flat-centric. There are different Group 1 races held in Hong Kong, like the Hong Kong Cup, all held at Sha Tin Racecourse. This is one of two racecourses in the city, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club manages it. It’s one of the most successful turf authorities in the world and its wealth allows it to promote itself through racing sponsorship across other developed nations where it can harvest interest.
England may get much of the recognition when it comes to Jump racing, but there are many other countries actively involved in the sport. Not only do these countries host great racing events, but thereÔÇÖs a betting culture surrounding them.