2m½f Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) – Tuesday 10th March 2020
You don’t need me to tell you that this year’s renewal of the Champion Hurdle isn’t a vintage one – countless pundits and writers have been saying the same thing for months now. It’s funny how much a year changes a division in National Hunt Racing; it was only 12 months ago that we were licking our lips at the prospect of Laurina vs Apple’s Jade vs Buveur D’Air! As it turned out, the first two flopped and the latter named former Champion got injured on his sole start this season. In addition to the sad loss of last year’s brilliant winner Espoir D’Allen, the already fairly undistinguished 2019/20 two-mile Hurdle division has been blown apart – crying out for a new Champion to arise.
3m6f National Hunt Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) – Tuesday 10th March 2020
The National Hunt Chase is the longest race run at the Cheltenham Festival, traditionally being dubbed the ‘four-miler’. After the controversies of last year’s renewal with only four Horses finishing the race however, a BHA review has made several changes to the race conditions for 2020. Significantly, the race distance has been reduced to 3m6f, with the number of fences jumped decreasing from 25 to 23. The participants also have more boxes to tick; Horses must have a minimum rating of 120, have ran at least twice over fences (including finishing in the first four of a Chase over 2m7f+), and have ran at least once during the current season. With the race being for Amateur riders, the Jockey’s also have new conditions to meet; they must have ridden a minimum of 20 times over fences, achieving at least five winners, all under National Hunt rules. Safety is clearly paramount in Racing, so fingers crossed these changes to the race conditions will provide a middle ground – as some fantastic Horses have graduated from this race in recent years including; Cause Of Causes, Minella Rocco, Rathvinden, Native River and of course the legendary Tiger Roll.
It’s that time of year again – the National Hunt season is about to kick-off proper at Chepstow this weekend, meaning we sadly have to say good-bye to one of my favourite racecourses in Newton Abbot – until the spring at least! Their finale fixture is always a belter, last year producing the likes of Black Corton and Maria’s Benefit, who both went on to record Graded success thereafter. This year we are treated to another brilliant card, with over £100,000 worth of prize money up for grabs. Headlined by the Class 2 Intermediate Chase, Cheltenham Festival third Benatar is the stand-out entry and it will be fascinating to see how he does on his seasonal return. I will be at Newton Abbot tomorrow live tweeting the event, so be sure to follow me on twitter @JakePriceTips if you don’t already. If you want to read more from me, you can check out my National Hunt Horses to Follow 2018/19 here.
It may be ‘Super Saturday’ on the Flat, but down in the South-West the summer jumping continues at Newton Abbot, with a valuable card worth nearly £80,000. The feature race of the day is the Class 2 Handicap Chase with Tempestatefloresco (rated 143) heading a field of seven. Elsewhere, exciting Novice Chaser The Unit (rated 140) will also have a spin around the Devon track. It promises to be another fantastic race-day, and the perfect excuse to avoid watching England play in the third place play-off (although screens will be showing the game)!