Every week we bring you tips of the weeks best horse racing. The tips run every Saturday – hence the name – and cover every race that’s televised on live TV in the UK. Normally there are six or seven races shown on ITV4, although this can vary slightly throughout the year. Tips are added each Friday afternoon.
ITV Racing Tips for 31 October 2020 (Wetherby, Ascot and Down Royal)
A combination of the weather and restrictions on movement mean that huge numbers of people will spend the coming weekend largely indoors. Fortunately, there is some excellent sporting action to enjoy over the weekend including Saturday’s ITV Racing offering.
There are Gold Cup trials, ultra competitive handicaps and important novice races spread across Wetherby, Ascot and Down Royal on Saturday. To help add to the excitement we’ve gone through all eight ITV races and made our best Saturday racing tips below.
1:20 Ascot Underwriting Novices' Limited Handicap Chase
Class 3, 2m3f
There are several potentially smart horses in this handicap chase for novices which opens up the Saturday racing action on ITV. Falco Blitz has winning form at Ascot from last season when he had a good time of it over hurdles. Smarty Wild is another hurdle winner who is also hardy and consistent so should be right in the mix. Then there’s Trincomalee who made an impression on his chasing debut at the start of the month.
However, all of those contenders will need their best run to date if they are to get the better of the bookies’ favourite, Dr Sanderson. Confidence is high around Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old as he arrives hot on the heels of a win at Plumpton just 12 days ago. A second-season novice, Dr Sanderson could have a good time of it this campaign and should pick up a second win at what we fancy are cracking odds of 11/2.
1:35 bet365 Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m3½f
Many of the horses appearing across the high quality meetings this weekend are making their first appearances of the season. That’s not the case with Guy who already has a win under his belt thanks to a strong performance at Huntingdon earlier in the month. Nigel Twiston-Davies was happy with the run of his five-year-old and will expect it to lay the foundation for more success. There is every chance that he’ll enjoy more success as early as Saturday as Guy is the worthy favourite for the bet365 Handicap Chase at what looks likely to be a wet Wetherby.
The most impressive element of Guy’s recent success was that it was his first over fences. Indeed, he looked a horse transformed tackling the bigger obstacles as he was a rather unremarkable hurdler to say the least. Of all those in with a chance of challenging the 3/1 favourite, She’sasupermack represents the best value at decent each way odds of 12/1. Unlike Guy, she actually had some success over hurdles and built upon that last season over fences, so she must rate as a danger at a tempting each way price.
1:55 tote.co.uk Handicap Chase
Bryony Frost and Paul Nicholls are starting to move into dream team territory given some of the success they have had together over the last few years. Those two have already earned some big wins this season and there is plenty of support for them earning another win in the tote.co.uk Handicap Chase with Capeland the narrow favourite at 3/1.
The problem for Capeland is that he’ll have to do it under the burden of top weight which could be just beyond him. Connections of Ibleo know all about how tough it can be to win from the top of the weights. The seven-year-old went into his final race of last season chasing a hat-trick and although he ran well he just tired for the burden of the 12st 4lb he had to carry. It is a different story this time around for Venetia Williams’ talented gelding who is relatively well treated and can resume winning ways at 5/2.
2:10 bet365 Mares’ Hurdle
Verdana Blue featured prominently in the betting for the bet365 Mares’ Hurdle as soon as the market was priced up. The popular eight-year-old has seen her price crash in though since Paul Nicholls confirmed that Stormy Ireland would not be heading to Wetherby.
It is a shame that racing fans won’t get to see those two face off against one another and that there are now only seven confirmed runners out of a possible 20. Interest in the race is maintained by the fact that Verdana Blue lost when an odds-on favourite just a fortnight ago at Kempton. She can be forgiven for that disappointing run as it was her first over hurdles having run very well on the flat over the summer. Verdana Blue should return to form at Wetherby and we cannot oppose the big favourite here.
2:25 Ladbrokes Champion Chase
Grade 1, 3m
The build-up for the Cheltenham Festival always begins months before the racing starts at Prestbury Park. Indeed, punters will be taking a close look at the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal in the hope that it gives some helpful pointers ahead of March’s Gold Cup.
Delta Work is the current bookies’ favourite for this highly prestigious Grade 1 contest. He has already had a run in the Gold Cup and the feeling is that he will learn and improve from the credible fifth place that he secured last March. However, it is another Gordon Elliott-trained horse who gets the nod for us, with Presenting Percy looming large at the decent price of 3/1.
Presenting Percy is another with previous Gold Cup experience although he has never seriously challenged for the win. He does have winning form at the Cheltenham Festival though, with the 2018 RSA Chase, and connections are hopeful that the best is yet to come now that he has been added to Elliott’s yard. This should be a cracking battle, with that little bit extra that Elliott is able to coax out of Presenting Percy potentially the difference maker.
2:45 bet365 Hurdle
Grade 2, 3m
As strong a Saturday of racing as this is, some big races have been hit by top quality withdrawals. That is very much the case for the bet365 Hurdle as Thyme Hill will no long be heading to West Yorkshire to take on Lisnagar Oscar, Roksana and company. It won’t be too long before we see Thyme Hill in action but in his absence this does look a very good chance for Copperhead to bag a Grade 2 win.
Lisnagar Oscar provided one of the shocks of the Cheltenham Festival when he won the Stayers’ Hurdle at the crazy price of 50/1. A repeat of that performance would be too much for his competition on Saturday but when you look through his form there isn’t much to back that run up with. He also carries a 6lb penalty which is a real challenge over 3m, especially with the ground on the soft side.
Copperhead has no such penalty and has lots of good form over this sort of trip. Colin Tizzard’s six-year-old spent last season among the novice chasing division, earning some good wins before falling in the RSA Chase. It will be interesting to see which route connections take with him this year but for now he can remind everybody of his class with a win at a very generous price of 16/1.
3:05 Sodexo Handicap Hurdle
It has been very wet around Britain over the last week but the going is holding up as good to soft at Ascot. Connections of Kid Commando will hope that it eases out a little bit in the lead up to the Sodexo Handicap Hurdle as their talented six-year-old has done his best work on soft ground. The worry is that a lack of cut in the ground will be especially challenging for him as he is bred to be better over longer distances than this 1m7½f trip but the market expects his class to get him through and that looks the right reading of this race.
The pace was just a little bit too quick for him over 2m in the Dovecote Hurdle back in February but he was a very good winner at Plumpton on his hurdle debut and he is the class horse in the field. Anthony Honeypot’s gelding has also been given a generous mark of 136 for his handicap debut so should take this before stepping up in trip and class as the season progresses.
3:20 Charlie Hall Chase
Class 2, 3m1f
Next we have one of Wetherby’s biggest races and what a tremendous renewal of the Grade 2 Charlier Hall Chase we have ahead of us on Saturday. Most of the talk ahead of the contest is about the market leader, Cyrname. Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old had an up and down time of it last time. He started his campaign by lowering the colours of Altior at Ascot but was unable to follow that win up in the King George and then put in a laboured performance in the Ascot Chase where he fell at the last.
Nicholls has had plenty of time to put Cyrname right but there are enough questions about him to believe that 2/1 is a little short for a race of this calibre. That is especially true as Cyrname doesn’t have a great record going left-handed.
Those concerns should open the door for Vinndication who can score at 9/4. Kim Bailey is bullish about the chances of his seven-year-old getting the better of Britain’s highest rated chaser. Bailey has reported that Vinndication is stronger than ever which could be ominous given the quality of his run when last seen at Cheltenham after the handicapper rather sternly raised him 8lb for his win in a tough handicap at Ascot.
3:40 Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap
Group 3, 3m
On a Saturday full of highlights, there are few more appealing betting races than the Sodexo Gold Cup. The decision to send Cyrname to Wetherby has given a chance to a few horses who have been able to sneak in at the bottom of the weights. Seven of the last 10 winners of this race were carrying 11st or less so this does look a very tough ask for the top weighted Black Corton even though he will carry the support of racing fans around the country with Bryony Frost on board.
Former Gold Cup contender, Might Bite, is another who would prove to be a popular winner but this does look a race where punters would be advised to have a couple of each way options on board. The first horse to consider in this regard is Valtor at 10/1 who should have ideal conditions for a big run. Preference narrowly goes to Flying Angel though at a bigger price of 20/1. He has run well in big field races at Ascot before and tends to go well fresh so has every chance of earning a place for a nice return.
- ITV Racing Tips for 24th October 2020 (Cheltenham, Doncaster & Newbury)
- ITV Racing Tips for 17th October 2020 (Ascot)
- ITV Racing Tips for 10th October 2020 (Newmarket & York)
- ITV Racing Tips for 3rd October 2020 (Ascot, Newmarket & Redcar)
- ITV Racing Tips for 26th September 2020 (Newmarket, Haydock & Curragh)
- ITV Racing Tips for 19th September 2020 (Ayr & Newbury)
- ITV Racing Tips for 12th September 2020 (Doncaster, Chester & Leopardstown)
- ITV Racing Tips for 5th September 2020 (Haydock, Ascot & Kempton)
- ITV Racing Tips for 29th August 2020 (Goodwood, Windsor & Newmarket)
- ITV Racing Tips for 22nd August 2020 (York & Sandown)
Saturday Racing Highlights
The hope for many of the owners in racing is that their horse is able to progress up the handicap ratings so they get a run in one of the big Saturday handicaps that take place all year round. Big field handicaps play an important role on the best Saturday meetings on the flat and over jumps as do prestigious Graded and Group level races.
Saturday usually brings the best racing of the week but not all Saturdays are equal. There are some real highlights in the horse racing calendar which we have detailed for you below. There is huge variety in terms of what we see, with the most famous NH contest in the world, Saturday at Royal Ascot and a number of Classics. Saturday racing highlights also include certain trials days, as well as standalone contests that may not have quite the same global appeal as, say, the Grand National, but are really big fixtures in the UK none the less.
Major Saturday Meetings
As you can see from this table, there is a great variety of races and meetings on Saturday for racing fans and punters to get their teeth stuck into. What’s more, with big meetings taking place every single month of the year, the wait for exciting racing should never be too hard to bear!
|Festival Trials Day||Cheltenham||January|
|Clarence House Chase||Ascot||January|
|Ascot Chase Day||Ascot||February|
|The Grand National||Aintree||April|
|Scottish Grand National||Ayr||April|
|Jumps Finale||Sandown Park||April|
|The Derby||Epsom Downs||June|
|King George Weekend||Ascot||July|
|Sprint Cup||Haydock Park||September|
|Ayr Gold Cup||Ayr||September|
|British Champions Day||Ascot||October|
|Vertem Futurity Trophy||Doncaster||October|
|The November Meeting||Cheltenham||November|
|Fighting Fifth Hurdle||Newcastle||November|
|Tingle Creek Chase||Sandown Park||December|
Festival Trials Day, Cheltenham
The biggest and most prestigious NH festival in the world takes place Tuesday to Friday in March but Cheltenham Trials Day is a major stepping stone towards the big one. This really marks the countdown to the Festival and sees a cracking day of racing.
It is also a great day to keep your racing notebook handy. In 2019, for example, Frodon, Paisley Park and Siruh Du Lac all delivered the goods on Trials Day before doubling up on the third day of the Festival a couple of months later. The card is full of interesting contests but the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle, the Cleeve Hurdle and the feature, the Cotswold Chase, are the main highlights.
Clarence House Chase, Ascot
As well as its huge flat meeting later in the year, Ascot hosts some top notch NH racing at the start of the year and Clarence House Chase Day is certainly a brilliant Saturday of jumps horseracing. The feature is the 2m1f Grade 1 that lends its name to the day and is a great indication of who to look out for in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Seven horses have doubled up, including Sprinter Sacre and Altior.
Of course, the rest of the day’s card doesn’t quite live up to that, but the Mares’ Hurdle, a relatively recent addition and a Grade 2, and the Grade 3 Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle are the main supporting cast.
Ascot Chase Day, Ascot
The Ascot Chase is the last of three Grade 1 jumps contests held at the Berkshire course each year. Won by Kauto Star and twice by Cue Card, this is a really classy affair, with winners of this also often taking big prizes at Cheltenham the following month.
As well as the eponymous race, this Saturday, typically in mid-February, hosts a number of other really interesting races as well. The Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase, a Grade 2 run over three miles, is a key contest for those hoping to thrive in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Also, look out for the Swinley Chase, a handicap that is always a great betting heat.
Winter Derby, Lingfield
The Winter Derby is one of the highlights of the year at Lingfield in Surrey. A Group 3, it is run on Lingfield’s all-weather surface and is one of the biggest winter contests for racing fans who like their action on the flat. Run over 1m2f, it was established in 1998 and is one of a very limited number of Group class races not to take place on turf.
Frankie Dettori has won the day’s feature race a record four times and he also has a win in the day’s other major race, the Hever Sprint Stakes. The Italian won that aboard No Time in 2004.
The Grand National, Aintree
The Grand National is the biggest race in all of British horseracing. It is the one race of the year that does more than any other to draw the attention of fans outside of racing to the sport. It is the feature race of the Grand National Festival at Aintree and comes on the final of the three days, always a Saturday.
It isn’t just about the big one though and other big races of the day include three Grade 1s – the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, the Maghull Novices’ Chase and the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle. It’s the marathon four mile two and a half furlong Grand National that draws the fans to the Merseyside track and sees millions tune from around the world though.
Scottish Grand National, Ayr
The Grand National at Aintree isn’t the only prestigious, long distance handicap of the year that takes place on a Saturday. The Scottish Grand National at Ayr follows its equivalent on Merseyside by just a few weeks. Several horses who ran at Aintree also contest the Scottish Grand National but the legendary Red Rum is the only horse to complete the double.
The Scottish Grand National features around 30 horses, all of which have to slog it around the 4 mile 1 furlong circuit (or as far as they can go before falling or being pulled up). It is always a fascinating watch and a race full of each way opportunities for punters.
Jumps Finale, Sandown Park
By the time April rolls around spring is very much in the air, which means racing fans are starting to turn their attention from jumps to the flat. The two-day Jumps Finale meeting at Sandown is a great way to celebrate the National Hunt season with some very big races taking place on Saturday including the Celebration Chase, the Gold Cup and the Select Hurdle.
Big name trainers like to send some of their top string to Sandown for one last hurrah before taking a break over the summer, but the Jumps Finale is also a chance for some improving sorts to lay down a marker for next season.
2,000 Guineas, Newmarket
The build-up to and early stages of the new Flat racing season always revolve around Newmarket in May for the first Classics of the season. The 2,000 Guineas is that first Classic, featuring a selection of the best three-year-old colts in training. Run over 1 mile, this historic race has been won by some of the best horses of all time since its inauguration all the way back in 1809.
The 2,000 Guineas always takes place on a Saturday in May and is followed by the fillies’ equivalent, the 1,000 Guineas, the next day. The day’s racing also includes the Palace House Stakes (a Group 3 sprint) and the Dahlia Fillies’ States (a Group 2 held over 1 mile 2 furlongs).
Lockinge Day, Newbury
The Lockinge is one of the major highlights at Newbury, a Group 1 of around a mile that includes the likes of Brigadier Gerard, Cape Cross and Frankel on the roll of honour. Held in mid-May, this is the clear highlight of the day and is the course’s only top level race on the calendar.
The Group 3 Aston Park Stakes is another one to watch out for on the day though, the one and a half mile race won back to back in 2018 and 2019 by Crystal Ocean. With a nice mix of other contests, including a couple of listed races, this is definitely a great Saturday to make a trip to Newbury.
The Derby, Epsom
The Derby is the second colts’ Classic of the season. Like the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby is open only to three-year-olds but is a markedly different race. For a start, the Derby takes place over 1½ miles so is a significantly tougher test of stamina. Then there are the severe undulations at Epsom that make life all the more challenging for the horses. Having the speed and early season fitness for the 2000 Guineas and then following that up with the stamina to win the Derby is the mark of an absolute star.
The Derby is arguably the most prestigious flat race in the entire world. It is certainly a contest that all owners, trainers and breeders want to have on their CV so it often sees international entries. Each of the jockeys competing in the Derby dream of winning it but they’re also enthused by some of the other races on the June card at Epsom including the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, the Diomed Stakes and the fillies’ Classic, the Oaks, which takes place the following day.
Royal Ascot, Ascot
There is no Flat racing meeting quite like Royal Ascot. It is Britain’s most valuable meeting by far, with over £7 million of prize money given out across its five days. The final day falls on Saturday and is massively popular with the racegoing public and those who prefer to watch on from the comfort of their own homes.
The organisers at Ascot like will often make changes to the schedule of the five days but they always ensure that there are several top class races to bring the curtain down on Saturday. The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Coronation Stakes and Wokingham Handicap have all played key roles on the final day of Royal Ascot in recent years but whatever the exact lineup, it is always a cracker.
Northumberland Plate, Newcastle
When Newcastle Racecourse decided to rip up its flat turf course and replace it with an all-weather layout there were more than a handful of dissenting voices. It is fair to say the decision has proven to be a wise one though as Newcastle now hosts a string of excellent all-weather contests whilst important historical races such as the Northumberland Plate have been given a new lease of life.
The Northumberland Plate is one of the richest 2 mile handicaps in Flat racing. It is always a hugely entertaining race and the betting is incredibly competitive. That has remained the case with the race taking place on the new Tapeta surface, even if it wasn’t one of those races threatened by unsuitable ground, taking place as it does in either late June or early July.
Eclipse Stakes, Sandown Park
Sandown Park hosts some top class Flat and National Hunt racing. When it comes to the summer months there is no bigger race at Sandown than the Eclipse Stakes (also known as the Coral-Eclipse). Named after one of racing’s early superstars from the 18th century, the Eclipse is a prestigious Group 1 race that takes place over the exact distance of 1 mile 1 furlong and 209 yards. It always hosts a high class field and is supported by a good card including the Coral Charge, Coral Distaff and some valuable handicaps.
Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Sadler’s Wells and Sea The Stars are just some of the equine legends to have landed the Eclipse in its long history. With a handsome purse up for grabs a top class field is guaranteed so this really is an excellent Saturday of racing.
July Festival, Newmarket
The July Festival isn’t at the same level as Royal Ascot but it is still a very important fixture on the Flat racing calendar. It was originally a midweek fixture but has been moved later in the week so that it now ends on a Saturday. The highlight on Saturday for many is the July Cup, a Group 1 sprint which can often throw up a surprise result. Those who prefer the opportunities presented by big field handicaps are also well catered for, with the Bunbury Cup the standout in that regard.
King George Weekend, Ascot
Top level racing makes a quick return to Ascot after the Royal meeting with King George Weekend which is held every July. As the name suggests, the headline of the meeting is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Run over a mile and a half, the Group 1 race is up there with the very best middle distance contests for older horses in Europe, on a par with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France.
The calibre of horses competing in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is always of the highest level. Every winner of this race is one of the best horses around but there is a special place for horses like Enable and Galileo who were able to serve it up to their elders in the July of their three-year-old campaign.
Glorious Goodwood, Goodwood
Like Royal Ascot and the Newmarket July Festival, Glorious Goodwoood is one of the jewels in the crown of the Flat racing season. Set in the picturesque course in the Sussex Downs, Glorious Goodwood is a huge draw for racing fans and includes more than enough high class racing to keep punters busy throughout the five days of superb action which culminate on a Saturday.
The pick of the races on Glorious Goodwood’s Saturday is the Stewards’ Cup, a sprint handicap in which a large field of over 20 horses compete in a mad dash for the line over 6 furlongs. A true cavalry charge, not only is the Stewards’ Cup one of the racing spectacles of the year, it’s also one of the most active betting markets.
Ebor Handicap, York
For many racing fans, the Ebor Festival at York is better than any of the prestigious meetings taking place at Ascot, Goodwood or Newmarket. York Racecourse has a passionate group of fans who always make the trip to the Saturday of the Ebor Festival which includes its feature race, the Ebor Handicap.
For some trainers and owners, the entire season is targeted around the Ebor Handicap. There are few staying handicaps with as much prestige or as big a prize fund as this 1 mile 5 furlong 188 yard contest. With its scheduling in mid-August, the weather even sometimes plays ball, making for a truly brilliant Saturday of racing in North Yorkshire.
Sprint Cup, Haydock
Jumps racing fans know Haydock as a haven for mudlarks. The ground at Haydock quickly becomes incredibly demanding if the rain falls. That doesn’t only happen in the winter months though as the going can often be testing for the Sprint Cup which takes place at Haydock in September. For that reason, this Group 1 sprint can often be won by an outsider, even though top class sprinters regularly head to Haydock for a race that awards the best part of £150,000 to the winner.
Ayr Gold Cup, Ayr
The Ayr Gold Cup is another huge prize in the Flat racing season. It’s an incredibly competitive six furlong handicap which attracts a big field to Scotland for one of Ayr’s most important Saturdays. Competition for a place is such that only horses with a high handicap rating get in which ensures that there are several horses with a realistic chance of winning once the race gets underway.
As if it wasn’t already a tough enough puzzle for punters to piece together, there are always hard luck stories in running in this frantic race. It really is a contest that often demands bravery on behalf of the winning jockey to take advantage of a space as soon as it opens up, so experience and skill in the saddle are a must.
Cambridgeshire Handicap, Newmarket
By the time the Cambridgeshire Handicap comes around in late September the vast majority of the Flat racing season is behind us and thoughts are beginning to turn to the jumps. Oftentimes that means more inclement weather and softer ground, so horses who haven’t had much success over the summer months can often roar back to form. That is, of course, providing that they’ve done well enough to maintain an official rating high enough to get into this 1m1f race which takes place on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
British Champions Day, Ascot
The anticipation and excitement about certain horses at the start of the Flat racing season doesn’t always translate into success during it. Some horses simply fail to fire as expected whilst others improve seemingly out of nowhere to win massive races. So it is that the stars of British Champions Day at Ascot always include horses who had rather modest ambitions in the spring.
British Champions Day was introduced in 2011 as a way to celebrate the success of the season and create another top class card. There are four Group 1 races during the day – the British Champions Sprint Stakes, British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes – and a Group 2, the British Champions Long Distance Cup; as well as the Balmoral Handicap to round the meeting off.
Vertem Futurity Trophy, Doncaster
The Vertem Futurity Trophy is the final Group 1 of the Flat racing season. Many racing fans may still call it the Racing Post Trophy, so long was it known by that moniker. Whatever you call it, it is a race for top class two-year-olds to show what they are capable of over 1 mile and has produced a number of top class winners over the years. No fewer than five winners of the Vertem Futurity Trophy have gone on to win the Derby, whilst 2019 winner, Kameko, followed up with victory in the 2,000 Guineas as well.
Kameko’s win also created history as it was the first Group 1 to be held on an all-weather track in Britain after the race was switched to Newcastle after the course at the usual host, Doncaster, was waterlogged. Abandonment of the final day of the Autumn Afternoon Meeting at Doncaster is rare but soft ground certainly is not at this time of year.
The November Meeting, Cheltenham
The November Meeting (formerly known as the Open Meeting) at Cheltenham is the first major meeting of the British jumps season. In many ways this is the start of the winter season of racing and in others it’s a precursor for the Cheltenham Festival.
There are some key differences between this and the Festival in March though. For one, the November Meeting takes place over the weekend from Friday to Sunday. Saturday’s card features many of the highlights of the November Meeting including the BetVictor Gold Cup, a 2½ mile, Grade 3 steeplechase.
Betfair Chase, Haydock
The Betfair Chase is the highlight of the racing calendar at Haydock and this November slog is the course’s only Grade 1. It has been won four times by Kauto Star, with Cue Card successful thrice. Run over more than three miles, it is the first Grade 1 of the NH season and has at times been part of a £1m scheme for any horse that could land it as well as enjoy success in other races.
The Betfair Million has changed format over the years and is now known as the Stayers’ Chase Triple Crown. This contest is the first leg, with success in the King George VI and Cheltenham Golden Cup needed for connections to scoop the million. Aside from this potentially lucrative chase, the Saturday’s racing action also includes the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle, a Grade 3.
Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Newcastle
It isn’t just chasing that has its Triple Crown and the hurdling equivalent kicks off with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle at the end of November or start of December. Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham complete the £1m set, the brilliant Buveur d’Air claiming the bonus in 2017/18 as part of a streak of five consecutive Triple Crown titles.
As well as the eponymous Grade 1, Newcastle’s biggest Saturday of racing also typically hosts six other races, with an early start before midday. There is a nice mix of hurdles and chase action, with novices, maidens and juvenile contests all taking place.
Ladbrokes Trophy, Newbury
The Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury is the feature race of the course’s Winter Festival. The event organisers at Newbury do a very good job of putting on an excellent day of festivities for the large numbers of fans who pour through the gates whilst the racing itself is well worth getting excited about.
At 3 mile 2 furlongs, the Ladbrokes Trophy is a proper test of stamina. The Grade 3 race has been won by some top class chasers over the years as they are tested out against other quality competitors. Punters and racing fans always have a keen eye on Newbury for the next Denman, Native River or Many Clouds.
Tingle Creek Chase, Sandown Park
December is a massive month for jumps racing thanks largely to a packed Christmas schedule. Before the King George VI Chase at Kempton it’s all eyes on Sandown Park for the Tingle Creek Chase.
This contest is run over the minimum distance for a steeplechase of 2 miles and is therefore often used by some of the leading hopes for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Several horses have won both races including Altior and Sprinter Sacre but it has also been won by future Cheltenham Gold Cup horses, including the legendary Desert Orchid and Kauto Star.