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Is NH Racing let down by Schedule?

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  • #3979
    Daylight
    Member
    • Total Posts 369

    Is NH Racing let down by Schedule?

    I’m a firm believer that most of the National Hunt season is a complete wasted of space to the viewing public and is probably half the reason why all weather racing is growing in popularity. In my opinion I don’t find NH as interesting as flat racing is because there are some real good races, but not many before all horses are wrapped up in cotton wool until March. You could count all the really good races before March on one hand with all other slightly interesting races being handicaps or small field races where a Cheltenham bound horse has their only run against weak opposition before March.

    For me what makes the flat season is the structure in that throughout the season races get tougher until peaking with an away match on where conditions will be at their disadvantage. I know a top flat horse only has a 1 season’s shelf life before becoming too valuable but the second half of the season really changes the gears as the older horses come into the reckoning too.

    Surely a better structure for National Hunt races would be by shifting some of the festivials prize money elsewhere as at the moment Cheltenham is the real start of the season for some of the leading fancies, and should disaster strike then a recovery mission at Aintree or Punchestown beckons. But what the foot & mouth abbandonment of the festival should have pointed out was sometimes Cheltenham is not always run and horses have too short a racing career as it is to be having one target every year. Cheltenham has too much of a say in a top horses season so I feel the BHB should be sitting down & restructuring the prize money in the NH racing to help it more appealing as I don’t want to be watch average 6 horse races or competative handicaps every Saturday without seeing the top horses taking on each other and not just waiting until March.

    I know I’ve sort of brought this up every year know but it does seem to be getting worse and I honestly believe the BHB could do a ‘quick fix’ to make it a more interesting winter for all of us!

    #92035
    Meshaheer
    Member
    • Total Posts 486

    The problem with NH racing is probably that there is less prize money on offer compared to the Flat, but on the other hand there are plenty of good horses around and a lot are wrapped up for the big festival races.

    Before Cheltenham we do have some good races as you mention, the Thomas Pink, Hennesy, Tingle Creek, King George, Pillar, AON, Christmas Hurdle – often plenty of decent races in Ireland, but I agree wholeheartedly that the structure of the season is so unbalanced.

    Some forumites prefer NH to Flat, and considering the lack of balance in the season it shows some dedication to the sport and the BHB can’t let this be ruined by replacing it with AW. I prefer the flat but in the winter I’d much rather be seeing some top class jump racing than the sand donkeys (I would hardly say that the quality of AW racing is improving drastically).

    We need more incentives for the top class horses. Best Mate only runs 3 times a year. Some say it’s a good idea – he will be around for longer and will be saved and fresh for the Blue Riband. On the other hand horses like him don’t come along very often and it would be nice to see him out a lot more.

    The Cheltenham Festival is amazing but it’s the be all and end all. Aintree is often an afterthought for most, unless it’s the National itself, and the problem with Punchestown is that it’s not televised over here and overlaps with the flat a bit much. Plus by that time of year the ground can be firming up, which is not that much of a positive on the whole for NH horses. With the Flat, it’s a constant wave of good racing, save for the odd very mundane week. Then again there is the Pattern, whereas over jumps there is the clash between the Red Square Gold Cup at Haydock and the Racing Post Chase.

    What let’s NH down? Schedule, prize money and bad weather!

    #92037
    Happy Jack
    Participant
    • Total Posts 515

    The main problem with the jumps season at present is the ghastly use (misuse?) of the word trial. It seems that every time a big race is run during the months of October-February it is just classed as a trial race for Cheltenham/Aintree. Nowadays even races such as the King George & Hennessy are unofficially classified as Gold Cup/Grand National trials and that is taking the lustre off their position as very important & worthy titles in their own right.

    #92039
    rory
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2685

    Are you having a laugh??

    Every year between early August and October I feel myself losing the will to live as I see the dross that passes as flat action either side of the festival meetings. Mondays and Tuesdays in particular are so awful it makes me want to chuck myself under the nearest train.

    Meetings at Fontwell, Exeter, Kelso etc on windswept winter afternoons are unlikely to throw up many Cheltenham winners (Haldon Gold Cup aside), but always get my pulse racing a little faster than Redcar and Brighton.

    Come back Towcester ~ we love you!!

    #92040
    Tete Rouge
    Participant
    • Total Posts 119

    Absolutely, Rory.

    In any event, as far as I’m concerned, the moans and groans about the Cheltenham domination of the season are utter twaddle.

    Not only is there a good spread of decent races right through from the end of October to the end of April (and that doesn’t even take Punchestown into consideration) but we have the pleasure of the build-up towards Cheltenham – the emergence of the new stars, the move of last year’s novices into the senior ranks and the answer to the question "are they as good as we think they are", the renewal of old rivalries …. and so on.

    For me, the season isn’t unbalanced, it’s a crescendo towards the best three days’ racing in the world – and then on to Aintree and Punchestown.

    And, finally, gaff jump racing beats gaff flat racing into a cocked hat – even if the weather’s foul.

    Each to his own, eh?

    #92042
    Pocket Rocket
    Member
    • Total Posts 15

    Personally, i find NH interesting because its season is geared towards its Cheltenham climax.  <br>As a child, i found flat racing far more exciting. Admittedly, this could have had something to do with flat race jockeys being infinitely more pleasing on the eye than the NH jockeys of the time.  (No jokes about Seamus Durack, Rory; times change!)<br>There was also always the added interest of the horse’s breeding.  I found it intriguing having watched a horse’s parents race to then see their progeny on the track.<br>I would often watch the big NH races & the great horses, but still always be waiting with anticipation for the flat season to begin at Doncaster.

    However, the 2000-2001 season really converted me to the fact that the NH season over the winter is absolutely fantastic.  Possible Cheltenham winners are not going to appear at every run if the mill meeting but there is always the possibilty that you may have seen a horse good enough for a race at the Festival.<br>I was devastated that there was no festival that year. For me as the end of the NH season becomes more fascinating every year, the Doncaster Lincoln meeting becomes more of a damp squib.

    PS.  Mesh, on behalf of any donkeys out there, I put it to you that AW racing would be a LOT more exciting if it actually were donkeys that were racing.  You cannot beat a donkey for it’s sense of humour.

    #92043
    Happy Jack
    Participant
    • Total Posts 515

    I’m certainly not knocking the jump racing calender at all, in fact there’s nobody that enjoys a wet January afternoon at Plumpton or Folkestone more than I (as some of you well know!).<br>I was just saying that I wish people would stop using the word trial with regards to the big winter races. There are some fantastic races all the way through the year, all of which should be judged on their own merits, whether it be the Hennessy, King George, Tote Gold Trophy, Christmas Hurdle, Royal Artillary Gold Cup or the Bet Direct on 08002348274897 Conditional Jockeys Selling Handicap Hurdle (Class G).

    #92045
    prince regent
    Member
    • Total Posts 221

    <br>yes but its silly when a horse wins the tote gold trophy or  the hennessy  to just carry on about what a good trial it is for cheltenham they are excellent races in their own right

      you dont say after the st james place stakes at ra what a good trial for the bc mile

    #92046
    Daylight
    Member
    • Total Posts 369

    TDK pretty much sums up my feelings in that EVERYTHING is about Cheltenham and the good races in their own right suffer as trainers and owners do not respect the top races running horses simply for a blow out and should they win then bonus! The problem is not probably as straight forward as I thought as chucking more money at the races to make connections take them seriously does work as Ascot tried that last year with appalling results. Maybe the only answer is to just pray Limestone Lad’s connections attitude rub off on many?

    #92047
    apracing
    Participant
    • Total Posts 3105

    <br>The over-riding importance of Cheltenham isn’t just in the minds of owners and trainers. Every year I get invited to do two or three Cheltenham preview sessions and at the one held by the LRC, around three hundred people regularly attend.

    These previews are held all over the country, as well as in Ireland and I’d guess the total attendance is on a par with a good Saturday racecourse crowd.

    But I’ve never been asked to do a preview for any flat meeting!

    I don’t think it’s the program that’s at fault, but the modern fashion not to run top class horses in handicaps. The season didn’t revolve around Cheltenham when Desert Orchid was turning out in the Tingle Creek, the Victor Chandler, the Racing Post Chase and the Whitbread.

    But the likes of Best Mate, Flagship Uberalles, One Man etc have very rarely turned out in a handicap. If we could look forward to Best Mate carrying 12st in the Hennessey, as Burrough Hill Lad did (not to mention Arkle), then the anticipation would eliminate any talk of Cheltenham.

    But as long as our superstar is trained by someone that doesn’t like running horses from May to October (ground too fast), or in January and February (ground too soft), there’s not much chance of a change in the trend.

    BTW, that’s not intended as a criticism of HK, just a comment on her own reported remarks. Her handling of Best Mate has been superb and beyond criticism in my view and his Gold Cup win last March is a race I can recall without any need to use a VCR. The continued enthusiasm of Edredon Bleu last season was another testament to her skills – she is undoubtedly a great trainer of chasers.

    She has used the approach of not running horses too often and giving them a break before Cheltenham, and it’s worked so well that others were bound to follow her example.

    AP

    #92050
    Pocket Rocket
    Member
    • Total Posts 15

    Cheltenham does seem to have worked the media oracle in making everyone believe that to win there is the ultimate accolade.  If a horse is not capable of winning at the Festival then the media will class them as just short of top class. <br>One Man seemed to always get awfully bad press after each of his Gold Cup failures.  Yet after his Queen Mother Champion Chase triumph all was forgiven.

    On another front, I do always feel a little sad that come mid June four of the five Classics have already been run.  Yes, there is Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood, York etc and the excitement of seeing the three year olds take on the older horses. But all too often it is a case of watching those equines below top class slowly slip down the grades.  

    No one can say that The November Handicap is as great a finale to a season as the Attheraces Gold Cup at Sandown.  So maybe the flat schedule is the one with the real problem…

    (Edited by Pocket Rocket at 7:48 pm on Sep. 17, 2003)

    #92057
    Meshaheer
    Member
    • Total Posts 486

    I think in the case of NH and Flat racing, if there was a really well defined and exciting start and end to each season both would be all the better for it.

    The end of the jumps season is great – a mixed card at Sandown with some top class chases and hurdles, and the Whitbread (Attheraces Gold Cup just isn’t the same). But the fact it starts just a couple of days later for the summer season really lets it down. I’m not the biggest fan of summer jumping (or winter flat racing) because you can’t anticipate the next season in quite the same way, apart with the Flat it’s a switch to turf which always means more quality. However, Doncaster’s Lincoln meeting is pretty useless and in recent years it has clashed with the DWC meeting. The flat also ends with a Handicap, back at Donny, and it’s not the most rivetting end you could think of. If the seasons were made clearer, I might anticipate them more, especially the jumps.

    #92059
    runandskip
    Member
    • Total Posts 412

    what a cracking topic;) <br>theres no doubt that the jump season is very different than a decade or so ago possibly for following reasons:<br>1.cheltenhams bigger than ever especially since ch4 has coverd it <br>2. aintee is so valuble now that it makes the season even more bottom heavy<br>3 trainers have worked out how to get horses fit at home instead of on the racecourse<br>4.the mild winters meen you can now plan a programme for a horse knowing youd be unlucky for a race to be abandoned rather than expecting it.<br>5.horses dont seem as robust now hence no class horses in handicaps anymore i dream of seeing best mate in hennessy but it will never happen.<br>but i do think that its unfair to single out its just a jumping problem as apart from the derby king george and the internatinal the major flat races are too not like they once were witness last years champion stakes.<br>all in all theres still a lot right about the jump season ( the success of the tingle creek as a grade one for example) and cant wait for those great saturdays to get going in the autumn.<br>its all about preferance isnt it,,,for me no matter what a flat horse achives it never even begins to compaire with what the likes of best mate give us each winter:biggrin:  

    #92060
    rory
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2685

    Mesh,

    that’s already the case for some of us. As far as I’m concerned, the NH season finished with a pop concert by Bjorn Again, an attempt to jump the first of the Railway fences, and a peck on the cheek from Gee Armytage (not necessarily in that order) at Sandown on the 26th April.

    It starts again with the first race of my jump season ~ the SkyBet.com Handicap Chase at Chepstow on the 4th October. Everything in between doesn’t count in my eyes.

    #92061
    apracing
    Participant
    • Total Posts 3105

    <br>It isn’t just that the horses seem to run less, many trainers also seem terrified of carrying top weight in the big races.

    How many times recently have we read a quote in the week before one of the features handicaps to the effect that ‘my horse won’t run if the weights go up’.

    The result is that all the best horses stay at home and we see races like the Tote Gold Trophy with a top weight rated 157, but only three runners set to carry 11st+

    Or the Racing Post Chase, with a top rated of 152.

    Not only did horses run more often in the 70’s and 80’s, they cheerfully carried bigger weights as well. And it didn’t seem to do them any harm – for example, Desert Orchid won three handicaps under 12st in the season 88/89 prior to taking the Gold Cup.

    And he won the Racing Post Chase under 12st 3lbs, at a time when I believe his official rating was 183.

    AP

    AP

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